I can’t quite understand the fixation people have with trying to force Jacinda Ardern to tell us how she’s going to vote in the cannabis referendum.
She was asked again last night in the debate and, again, she refused to say.
But why should she?
Every argument I’ve seen for why she should come clean is weak. I get the feeling that the real reason people want her to declare her hand is because if she says she’s voting yes, it’ll help save the referendum.
But will it?. Outside of a miracle, I think the referendum is a lost cause. And anyway, this isn’t Ardern’s referendum to save. This is the Green Party’s referendum to save.
What’s more, a private vote is not within the purview of her job as either PM or Labour Party leader, so on what grounds exactly do people think she’s obligated to confess?
Having said that, Ardern going to have to come up with a better excuse than the lame lines we got last night.
She told Patrick Gower last night: "You know that I made a clear decision that I want the public of New Zealand to decide this, and I want this to not be about politics."
That doesn’t wash. We’re all smart enough to figure out that the most likely real reason she doesn’t want to say, is that it’s politically risky for her.
If she says she’s voting against the legalisation of cannabis, she dents her own credibility as a true progressive. If she says she’s voting for legalisation, she risks losing a whole horde of conservative voters who she’s just managed to win over from National because of Covid.
The faffing around last night was the low point of the debate for her. It made her look political. And once again, it might have reminded voters that Ardern represents a lot of progressive values but consistently fails to deliver on them.
Long run, bit of a problem for her brand. Short term, she can probably keep batting it away.
But out of respect for our intelligence as voters, can she please come up with a better answer than that transparent excuse we got last night.