Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kate Hawkesby: Gloves are coming off heading into second debate


As we head into another debate tonight, I just wonder if the gloves are coming off a bit.

Is the kindness and positivity that the Labour leader beamed would be the marker of her campaign, starting to wear off?

Has she given that up already?

Yesterday when Judith Collins announced a doubling of the SFO's budget under National, Jacinda Ardern took a swipe.

She referred to Collin's past dealings with the SFO in 2014.. "obviously there's a little history there.." she said condescendingly, only to fire the final barb.. "her engagement with the SFO led to her job loss."

Ouch, a burn from Ardern.

Collins says it was a low blow, that she was disgusted, that she was cleared of any inappropriate action and that the Labour leader was wrong. She also asked where the kindness had gone.

So is this a precursor to a bit more fiesty behaviour? A bit more punch from the Labour leader after a lacklustre performance last debate? Is she a bit put out at Collin's momentum and energy?

It would behoove the Labour leader to try to stay positive and on brand, otherwise the whole 'kind positive' campaign thing just turns out to be empty words.

Facts are important too, and both leaders will be wanting to make sure they get those straight tonight.

Last debate Ardern was pulled up by AAP FactCheck for making misleading statements about child poverty.

That she'd made out of context, incorrectly presented, statements. She wasn't buying this of course, as is standard practice now for this government, there was denial. "That's wrong", was Ardern's teams response. Which is par for the course whenever they're challenged on anything or presented with actual facts. "I reject that..". "It's simply not true.." these are the common rebuttals from Labour ministers when presented with facts they don't like.

So how much spin is too much? You could argue the master of it, Winston Peters, is now seeing the great undoing of that approach. I don't know how much those British spin doctors are being paid for his campaign but I hope it's not too much given NZ First's current poll results.  

Steven Joyce mentioned spin a couple of months ago when he wrote about the government’s failures at the border. He referred to the ideology inside the Labour party that politics was a game of spin.. how to spin your way out of everything.. something he said, had to stop. He said 'spin' was the party's achilles heel.. because you risk the public not believing you anymore, they get sick of the political catchphrases, sick of the buzz words. He said the very best you can actually do for the public is be straight with them.

So will tonight's leaders debate see less spin, more facts, less snark, more kindness?

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.

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