You could be excused for thinking the arrival of a new Labour party leader is a game-changer. Jacinda Ardern has been in charge of Labour for over a week and the latest polls have shown big increases in support for Labour.
But polls come and polls go. They don’t really matter in the greater scheme of things. When historians look back and assess the achievements of a great person, it’s not their polling that matters. It’s the shit they get done.
But what has Jacinda Arden achieved during the last week in terms of concrete and lasting reform? How many children has she lifted out of poverty? Zero. How many new jobs has she created? Absolutely none, if you don’t count the personnel changes within the Labour party itself over the last week.
It wasn’t meant to be like this. We were promised something special. We were made to believe things would be different. With Jacinda in charge we would change the world. But the Israelis and Palestinians still hate each other, North Korea and the US are threatening nuclear war, and the Auckland Blues are still the worst New Zealand franchise.
“But she’s barely been in power for a week,” I hear you say. “Give her a chance!” A week? The lifespan of a mayfly lasts barely 24 hours, and yet in 24 hours the mayfly grows to maturity, breeds, put its children through school, pays off the mortgage and still has time for hobbies. A week is plenty of time to get shit done.
The entire reign of Louis XIX lasted a mere 20 minutes and he still managed to be noteworthy enough to justify a mention in the annals of history. Israel won a major war in six days. Six days! Contrast this with Jacinda Ardern. How many Middle Eastern countries has Jacinda Arden invaded since taking over the Labour leadership?
Maybe people are right when they say Labour’s new leader just doesn’t have the experience for this gig. When I look at her nine years in Parliament I see precious few achievements. No international arms limitation treaties negotiated, no intergalactic space colonies established, and little or no effort to get to the bottom of the Crewe murders. And why no Nobel Prize?
Some people talk about Labour’s new leader as if they expect her to make all the bad things better overnight. These people have a tenuous grasp on reality, failing to see that politics is a tough and difficult game and that genuine and lasting change takes time. A great leader needs to build consensus within their party, put together policies that are properly costed and well thought out, and then convince the public that their way is the only way. Nobody should expect miracles. You can’t solve a problem like global warming overnight. But it’s been more than ten days now, Ms Arden. Your delays are literally killing the planet!
To be fair to Ms Ardern, she never promised to save our entire species from destruction. But she knew that was what we wanted and still she took the job. It would be dishonest of her to now seek to wriggle out of all those promises she never actually made.
I’m not sure where Labour goes from here, now its latest gamble has so utterly failed. But it’s clear Ardern can’t stay. She seems no closer to curing cancer than she was last week, our efforts to save the kakapo don’t seem to have accelerated at all, and water still comes from my taps when by now it should have been wine.
Shame on you, Jacinda Arden! You gave us so much hope. You let us dream of a world without disease or violence or poverty, but that’s all they ever were—dreams.