Labour goes full speed Ardern

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern

EDITORIAL: Labour has a new leader, a new look. It's refreshed. But is it revived?

We're about to find out, and with extraordinary speed. The substance of Jacinda Ardern's leadership, the "different stamp" she has pledged to bring to the campaign will need to emerge with breathtaking swiftness.

Will there be substance to it? The change of party leadership with Ardern replacing Andrew Little, and Kelvin Davis standing at her shoulder as deputy,  can easily be portrayed as purely a cosmetic change. 

That is not entirely fair to Ardern who, although young and hardly seasoned with decades of real-world experience, couldn't fairly be portrayed as a political naif either.

READ MORE: Ardern promises "relentless positivity"

There is hardly time to come up with much that is new in terms of researched, persuasive new policy, so in large part this may prove to be essentially a matter of better connecting the public with party policies that have not, to date, sufficiently engaged them.

Or, let's face it, it may simply be about having a more appealing shop window.

The party was clearly at the "we must do something" stage, and it was hardly overbrimming with somethings.

The leadership change is an act of desperation but that doesn't in itself mean that it's doomed. There's perhaps a chance to impress by showing an ability to react decisively and well to adverse circumstances (albeit less so when they're of your own making).

 It's no small matter that Ardern is widely seen as a better communicator than Little, and breaks what might have been seen as, stylistically anyway, the Tweedledum Tweedledee similarities between Little and Bill English.

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She has pledged a "relentlessly positive" campaign. We are entitled to some curiosity about whether that is achievable, especially from an Opposition leader.

And, at the risk of just playing with science metaphors, relentless positivity in objects means they repel each other rather than connecting. Ardern may be right, however, that Labour's problem has been that its campaign has had too much of a negative charge.

Furthermore, since imagery isn't an inconsequential thing, there's a real problem for Labour in that its freshened leadership has rendered campaign billboards the length and breadth of the country old, stale and outdated. Lacking , as it does, the resourcing simply to replace them, something must presumably be done to replace Little's face on each of them.

Clumsy patch-overs would themselves be more an object of derision than of anything else, so the need for corrections to be seamless, or close to it, is no small matter.

That's the thing about even cosmetic changes. Details matter.


 - Stuff

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