ON AIR: The Sunday Session

9AM - 12PM

Mike's Minute: One disaster and PM's political capital is gone

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Monday, 16 September 2019, 9:46AM

Political tragics and students will study and write about the current scandal enveloping the Labour Party and the Prime Minister.

So far it's playing to type. When things get really ugly, get a scalp. Currently, we have two.

Helen Clark entering the fray was another classic tactic. Roll out someone with gravitas to try to shore up some sort of support. Clark on Friday said Ardern had handled the matter well and would move on.

A couple of things wrong with that. One, Clark said it on Friday and Friday is never a day to say anything because the country has gone to the pub. That is why this Government has been making announcements lately on a Sunday. Line up some headlines for the week ahead. Fridays are for dumping bad news, and hoping everyone forgets about it over the weekend. But there is no chance something this big will have been forgotten over the weekend.

Two, Clark was also wrong in saying Ardern has handed the matter well. Clark is alone in thinking this, and I doubt in her quiet moments even Ardern thinks she's handled this the way she should have, or could have.

Where Clark is right, is that time is the key here. Time fixes just about everything, political or not.

They still have major issues around the scope of the so-called QC inquiry, and even with its limitations, what it eventually says. They still have major issues around Grant Robertson who has come out of this appallingly, given as the Prime Minister bends over backwards answering questions, Robertson is answering none.

Normally a government's approach is co-ordinated, if you're talking, you're talking, and the trick is to say the same thing.

Ardern is being overtly open, or as open as she can be given the potential that she did indeed know about the sexual allegations side of the whole mess. But while she's doing that, Robertson is doing the opposite. And in taking that approach he looks worse, and worse.

Assuming the QC report is opaque, assuming no one falls on their sword and mea culpas, and drops Robertson and or Ardern in it, then after a while there are no more questions to ask. And with a lack of fresh material, something always comes up to take its place.

Clark is right, Ardern and life moves on. At that point, in the wash up, the damage is examined. Was this just a bit of beltway noise? Was it something with tangible impact? What about the next poll? What if it's bad? And how bad is it? And does it stay bad? Or what has changed permanently ?

And that's what makes this such a big deal. Ardern has used up all her political capital in one disaster. And not just that, she's destroyed her greatest asset, her political gift, heart.

Say what you like about the policies, leadership, and a chaotic sort of approach to government, most people thought well of her. She's a decent likeable sort of person who appeared deeply interested in others, she's taken that and wrecked it.

Even if this doesn't get any worse, and that's still a massive question mark, as she tries to move on, the Teflon around EQ has been blown to pieces.

ON AIR: The Sunday Session

9AM - 12PM