Guy Wil­liams

Sunday Star-Times - - Escape Check In -

Is late-night telly the Key to lead­er­ship?

I had a ter­ri­ble seg­ment at the time where I would in­ter­view ‘‘celebrities’’ with the help of an 8-year-old child feed­ing me ques­tions through an ear­piece while the likes of Auck­land mayor Len Brown looked con­fused. (If Len Brown sounds like a good get, he wasn’t. We in­ter­viewed him one week be­fore his sex scan­dal broke).

My sec­ond in­ter­view was a young, me­dia-savvy, back­bench Labour MP called Jacinda Ardern. Wow, was that a dra­matic re­veal? It was to me.

Just eight years later Ardern be­came the Prime Min­is­ter of New Zealand! Thanks al­most en­tirely to her in­ter­view with me.

I’m jok­ing, but after that hid­den ear­piece in­ter­view went well, Ardern be­came a reg­u­lar guest on Jono and Ben – ap­pear­ing at least once a year, she was a guest on my ter­ri­ble in­ter­view seg­ment The Guy Wil­liams Show just months be­fore she be­came PM.

Will ap­pear­ing on dodgy late-night shows be­come a new po­lit­i­cal tradition for our fu­ture lead­ers? Ob­vi­ously, it’s not a given it will work, and many MPs have left the 7 Days’ ‘‘Yes Min­is­ter’’ seg­ment in a huff.

Al­most ev­ery failed Labour leader ap­peared on Jono and Ben: Phil Goff was good, David Shearer tried hard, David Cun­liffe re­fused. We later learned why when we ac­costed him on the street... it was the right call, the dude was ter­ri­fy­ing.

In a spe­cial way that only he can, Win­ston Peters some­how got us into trou­ble al­most ev­ery time he ap­peared on the show. I was sur­prised at how up for any­thing Si­mon Bridges was, and Paula Ben­nett pop­ping out of nowhere and say­ing ‘‘come to mummy’’ to me is some­thing that will haunt me for the rest of my life (but it was very funny).

For bet­ter or worse, Key and Ardern set a new stan­dard for our politi­cians, be­ing nor­mal peo­ple who can have a laugh at them­selves. It’s a high bar we should all as­pire to.

Just eight short years after I in­ter­viewed Jacinda Ardern on Jono and Ben, she be­came our leader.

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