Sunday, August 20, 2017

Change may come

Today the New Zealand Labour Party officially launched its campaign (Facebook video above). The turnout was far larger than planned—some 2400 people who had to split among four venues to get them all in, and that was after reportedly turning away hundreds of people. Party launches are usually for hardcore supporters, but this—this was something next level.

I’ve seen quite a few of these campaign launches over the years, including several I was at in person. But even from home I could tell that the energy was very different, stronger, than I have seen. Even the sometimes negative Patrick Gower of newshub said, “I have covered the Labour Party for 10 years and never seen scenes like today.”

I’ve been watching New Zealand politics for over two decades, and the last time I saw this much energy around a Labour campaign was 1999, the year NZ Labour won government from National. Could this year be like that? Could Labour be about to win government? Absolutely.

The energy behind this campaign is only one of the reasons for this increasing possibility. We’re also looking at generational change. The National Party Leader, Bill English, is 55 and has been in Parliament for 27 years. Labour’s Jacinda Ardern is 37, and has been in Parliament since 2008. This freshness is why so many people have been comparing her to Emmanuel Macron, 39, who came out of almost nowhere to become President of France, or Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, seen as a young leader for a new era, though he’s the ripe old age of 45. I don’t know that the international comparisons are relevant—people will say what people will say, after all—but what is indisputable is that Jacinda Ardern is very different from anyone New Zealand has ever seen. If she becomes Prime Minister, she will be the youngest Prime Minister since Edward Stafford became Premier (as the office was then called) in 1856.

It’s also important to point out that Labour will see the Green Party back in Parliament. Yesterday, I wrote about how support for the Green Party is there, but there’s more evidence: Polls. The latest Roy Morgan poll has the Greens on 9%. The latest UMR poll has the Greens on 8%. Stuff’s “Poll of Polls” has the Greens on 8%. The only logical conclusion is that the Colmar Brunton poll is an outlier, and the Greens WILL be back. The stronger they are, the more likely that the Greens will be in government, and the stronger they are, the more influence they will have.

So, what sort of government will Jacinda Ardern lead? She outlines that in her speech (at roughly the 48 minute mark in the video above). It will be a government that’s committed to lifting children out of poverty. She will lead a government that recognises that climate change is the “nuclear free” issue of this generation. A government that cares about the people of this country, and not just those who are already well off. The kind of government New Zealand needs—and deserves.

Let’s do this.

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