24 hours is a long time in politics. Winston Churchill

Changing the political landscape

By Roger Childs

Last night we were at the wonderful comedy show Destination Beehive, centred on the election battle for the Tinakori Heights electorate.

Whereas on Monday evening the audience saw Andrew Little creeping round the stage, we were treated to the new Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern, striding the boards like a Colossus.

The political pundits will argue that it is unwise to change horses in mid-stream leading into an election campaign.

Back in 2013 the egotistical, unpredictable Kevin Rudd stabbed Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the back and took Australian Labor down to its worst election defeat in decades.

But this horse has a great set of teeth and plenty of substance behind them. Jacinda is no show pony.

The dynamic duo

The Rudd coup left the Aussie Labor floor awash with blood. In contrast, the decent, principled Andrew Little stepped aside for the good of the party. There was no apparent acrimony and the New Zealand Labour Party has quickly united behind the new leader and the talented new deputy, Kelvin Davis.

The choice of leadership is a master stroke. Jacinda is an Auckland-based electorate MP and Kelvin is the MP for Te Tai Tokerau. In John Kennedy’s words the torch has been passed to a new generation …

Ardern is a very good speaker, a perceptive analyst, and has performed well in parliament. She has genuine charisma and will have wide appeal.

Kelvin Davis also projects a confident image, tells it straight and has an excellent grasp of political issues. He was a very effective Labour spokesman on Corrections.

Selling the message with life changing policies

With seven weeks to the election the new team has time to convince the electorate that it is time to ditch the tired National government. But a change in leadership in itself is not enough.

Labour needs to sell its message, highlighting policies which will solve the country’s pressing problems:

  • the yawning income gap
  • widespread poverty
  • homelessness and housing shortages
  • poisoning the land
  • the environmental damage done by dairying
  • the politicised curriculum and over-assessment in education
  • under-funding of schools
  • the need for better targeted funding of the health system
  • the privatisation of social services
  • getting big business to pay their fair share of tax.

It is definitely time for a change of government and a pressing need to address these issues.

Labour has made a timely leadership change, and the way is now open for the party, in concert with the Greens, to take the Treasury benches in late September.