Leadership was under media examination this week with the release of the first political polls of the year.
Initially it's the party leader figures, then the parties, and then how the House would shape up based on the seats that would be allocated. The results so far: the PM doing great, the Labour Party surpassing National, the Opposition leader not so great. In fact, very poorly. How much does leadership count? After all, National is still the only opposition, and although taking a hit, still well in the game. Leadership accounts for quite a lot, actually, but there is another important factor. What is framing the political debate now, give or take 18 months out from the election, will not be dictating the discussion in the immediate lead-up.
To adapt a well worn quote, 18 months is a hell of a long time in politics. If you need an example, take John Key's total surprise resignation. Then, cometh the hour, cometh the man or woman, but scan the horizon and tell me who you see.
Britain is another country where leadership is in the spotlight, and this week with immigration.
Young males and some females have, over the past few years, deserted their country of birth or adoption to join with a bunch of thugs and killers in the Middle East. Collectively they have created problems by returning to their country of citizenship when they have had enough of the torture and slaughter. And in some cases, returned with the intention of spreading the violence and hate.
The case of Shamima Begum who, at the age of 15 ran off seeking glamour and adventure and offered her body as a breeding machine for future Isis foot soldiers, has antagonised the discussion. Now she wants home, and at 19, having birthed three children in a war zone, thinks not only is it her right to return but people should feel sorry for her. No regrets, no remorse, no realisation of how stupid she is. According to news reports, the first two of those children have recently died of malnutrition and illness in the refugee camp she fled to. It is not wrong to notice that in the media interviews she has done in the last week, Begum shows no indication of malnutrition herself. Indeed, she looks in very good condition.
The nub of the matter is, should she be permitted to return to the comfort and care of Britain's taxpayers. To the free accommodation, to the free medical care, to the paid education, and who knows what sort of education, for her child. On February 19 the British Home Office advised her family that the Home Secretary had deprived their daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British Citizenship. They also advised that she could appeal the decision within 28 days…at taxpayers expense, of course.
It is against the law to create a stateless person. After law changes in 2006, over a hundred immigrants to Britain have had their citizenship revoked, due to their involvement in terrorism. Though apparently not a duel citizen of Bangladesh, Begum can apply for citizenship on a familial basis. May I suggest that the British Home Secretary is showing leadership in a world of cowards, when dealing in areas that should be cut and dried. I can hear the wails already, but suggest again that this is consistent in a world where children have been gifted with premature adulthood and with rights without responsibility or expectation.
There are many categories of leadership. Business leaders, military leader, political, education and scientific leaders. I liken it to a shoe shop…different styles, sizes, materials, uses etc etc.
You could wear sports shoes with a dinner suit and you could put an education leader into a political role, but neither is necessarily a good fit.
Jordon Peterson is in the country this week. Is Professor Peterson a leader in his field? By all measures, he is an outstanding leader. Do I really need to explain why? Instead, a question. Why does he draw such antagonism from certain quarters? Because, for a larger and growing audience, Peterson has re-established a foothold for life that has been disregarded, if not stolen, by the very philosophy of those who hate him. If you think hate is too strong a term, you haven't been paying attention. And for all those in the media who try to take him down, a note of advice — he is smarter than you and much more rational. Then, of all people, Rachael Stewart, in her Wednesday Herald column, wrote one of the most balanced pieces I have seen in a long time.
Just by the way, I have little doubt that the British legal system will invalidate the Home Secretary's decision, but it will likely be a long and very expensive battle.
•Listen to the Leighton Smith Podcast at newstalkzb.co.nz, and nzherald.co.nz and on iHeart Radio.