Jacinda effect not dead just yet
Second place isn’t the terrible prize it may feels like for Labour. By Adam Dudding.
LABOUR leader Jacinda Ardern may have come up second best last night, but she immediately fronted up to her supporters: ‘‘Let’s keep doing this!’’
She phoned English to concede that he has the most seats – but said the final decision would come down, not to voters, but to other politicians.
At Labour’s election party at Aotea Centre, Ardern referred to All Black great Colin Meads’ famous line: if you come off the field not feeling you’ve given your all, you’ve let your team down.
‘‘I came off the field knowing we gave it our all,’’ she said. ‘‘As Labour leader I will take responsibility. But the final outcome of tonight’s election won’t be decided by us. It will be decided by MMP.’’
But this morning, Labour voter Luciana Tieni is probably wanting a glass of whisky for breakfast.
‘‘I don’t think we’ll be too happy,’’ she said in anticipation of the National win. ‘‘If National stays in, we’re not going to have a change.’’
Tieni, 37, voted for Labour specifically because of Ardern. The waitress and mother of three was a Labour stalwart up till Helen Clark’s 2008 loss to John Key, then switched to Greens, because ‘‘the last few people coming through Labour have been just s***’’. She will never vote National.
New Zealand had just eight weeks to hear Ardern’s voice after her emergency succession as leader, but that was long enough for many to decide they liked what they heard. Her poll numbers swiftly eclipsed those of her five predecessors, then bounced back and forth until last night’s results showed the Jacinda Effect just wasn’t quite effective enough.
This morning the party’s tight five – Ardern, her finance guy Grant Robertson, her deputy leader Kelvin Davis plus Chris Hipkins and Phil Twyford – will dial in for a teleconference catchup there’ll be disappointment, sure. It was all too easy for everyone to get their hopes up in
We’ve dealt with three terms of National so far, so what’s another?’ LUCIANA TIENI
the face of Ardern’s magnetism, her surefootedness under pressure, her ‘‘captain’s call’’ decisiveness (even if some of those calls didn’t end well), the size of the crowds she drew, the clamour for selfies, the online buzz. And yes, trailing Bill English’s national in votes and seats, the looming prospect of another three years of Nationalled government is a bitter pill.
But there’s still plenty to celebrate.
Eight weeks ago, with Andrew Little at the helm, a Labour win was unimaginable, yet after a whirlwind campaign built mostly on personal popularity, Ardern made it seem entirely possible. That’s an achievement in itself.
The leap in Labour’s support means more Labour MPs in parliament, and every additional Labour MP, however inexperienced, represents not just new energy and a bigger
Jacinda Adern,in slippers, watches the progress of the election at home with friends and staff.