So apparently there were some further details about Metiria Tureis time on the benefit that she didnt reveal a couple of weeks ago. I dont see how they affect her ability to lead in the present. Nobody seems to be currently badgering Prime Minister Bill English about double-dipping into his ministerial housing allowance, which I would have thought was more relevant. The Greens remain the only party with both the concern for economic justice this country needs and any show of getting into Parliament, and Metirias public profile is a major buttress for the maintenance of both. But I seem to be in the minority on that score, and the proof will be in the election.
Meanwhile, the Greens prospective coalition partner Labour is in trouble too. It doesnt usually bode well for a party to change leaders shortly before the election. I think theyve finally made the right choice, but theyve taken an unconscionably long time to figure it out. Can Jacinda Ardern lead Labour? Im sure she can. Can she lead a Government? I dont seriously doubt it. But can she bring Labour from under 25% in the polls to an election victory in just eight weeks? Thats a much tougher proposition, especially considering Labour now has to redo its campaign (which heavily featured her predecessor Andrew Little) from scratch.
If that does prove to be too much to ask, I do hope Labour wont blame Jacinda and drop her a tactic always to be suspected when a woman is suddenly placed in a leadership role with likely disaster looming ahead. Leadership is important, obviously; often your leader is the difference between winning and losing. But Jacinda is the fifth leader the New Zealand Labour Party has appointed since Helen Clark left office in 2008. None of the previous four were obvious bumblers, but none of them managed to revive Labours polls. Something is wrong with Labour as a party that isnt reducible to its leadership.
Im not a Labour voter; I still intend to vote Green on 23 September. But Im not foolish enough to think the Greens are going to be able to help govern without Labour any time soon. Nor vice versa, if it comes to that. There is some small comfort in the fact that National is struggling in the mid-40s and that their coalition partners dont look like picking up any of the slack. I put coalition partners in scare-quotes because they consist of three parties with four Members of Parliament between them. Unfortunately that only means that Winston Peters is likely to be holding the kingmaker position again come 24 September, and Im old enough to remember how that went last time.