Wairoa Star – 22 August 2017
What a tumulus month in politics! At the beginning of August, with 8 weeks to go until voting day, we were heading for a rather boring election. The knowledgable commentators and political journalists were all predicting a low turnout as neither National’s Bill English or Labour’s Andrew Little seemed to inspire anyone but the faithful and the politically engaged.
Fast forward to the end of August. Andrew Little is gone; the Greens co-leader Metiria Turei has left the building; long serving United Future leader Peter Dunne has thrown in the towel and we are facing one of the most interesting political contests in a generation.
New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has inspired people in a way that no politician has since Lange (and arguably more so). Young people and first time voters are now talking about politics. The status quo is being turned upside down and the establishment is having to completely rethink strategies that a month ago seemed solid.
Personally, I admit that I completely under-estimated the impact Jacinda would have. She has always been an extremely competent MP with a wonderful outlook on life and an amazingly positive disposition, but she has exceeded all expectations in terms of extreme competency, voter engagement and level of energy and excitement she is generating.
Of course, I am well aware that simply changing leaders doesn’t automatically mean a change in government. What it does mean, however, is that people are now listening to Labour’s messages, where with Andrew (who, incidentally, is a man of real integrity and passion) the conversations and commentaries were about the competency of the messenger rather than the message itself.
I am loving the increased level of engagement within the electorate. The questions and conversations at my street corner meetings are now more about policy, than local issues. On that note, I am in Wairoa and Mahia next weekend for street corner meetings and so if you would like to find out about what is happening – or discuss local issues and solutions – then please do come along. Until then, I am thoroughly enjoying being a part of a very exciting political campaign that will come to an exciting climate on 23rd September. Can’t wait.