Being on a week’s leave was weird, mainly because I didn’t have to listen to the news, or read it, or watch it, and what I discovered in having a week out of the daily news hustle, is that I didn’t miss anything. It’s all predictable at the moment.
This election build up has been one of the most boring ever. All favourable coverage has been given to the incumbent. The usual predictable stories of throngs gathering to fan girl Jacinda Ardern, much the same way Key was mobbed when he was Prime Minister.
It's a thing we do, the cult of celebrity is alive and well. We see a familiar face, a camera crew, a security entourage, we go nuts. I’m not sure how much of it has to do with the policies, the party or the person; it seems we just get excited by a fuss in our main street and we go crazy for selfies.
But you have to hand it to Labour, they’re marketing has been slick. Not entirely a surprise given their leader is a communications graduate – making things look good is what they do, tapping into the right places and saying the right things is something they’ve nailed, and National’s failed.
If ever a party smacked of boomerism and outdated profile, it’s the current Nats. The in fighting they haven’t managed to stop, the leaking, the undermining of their leader who to be fair to Judith, has worked her butt off and thrown everything at it.
But I can’t help think she’s been undermined every step of the way. She’s been surrounded by lightweights. From the bad advice early on to tone herself down, to missing accurate timings for key diary appointments, to the drop kicks in her caucus who still think it’s advantageous to leak and whine. They look shambolic and for that reason alone they don’t deserve to win.
They haven’t proved anything, and they needed to. They needed to look fit to govern, cohesive and a solid alternative to a party big on buzzwords, short on delivery.
Labour, a party arguably more stacked with lightweights, has been smart enough to keep them all at arms length. Anyone seen Phil Twyford, Kelvin Davis or David Clark this campaign? Me neither. It’s Jacinda 24/7. She’s hanging on every billboard in every mall, she’s all over your social media feed, and if she isn’t, her media savvy fiancée is. She’s all the places National isn’t.
If the budgets for campaign marketing are the same, Labour wins for spending theirs more wisely in better places – it’s saturation coverage. And that’s before we get to the adoring media. How can Judith compete with that? She’s given it her best shot, I genuinely feel sorry for her. She needs the Denise Lee’s of this world like a hole in the head.
But the big winner out of all of this? Chris Luxon. He'll be making mental notes here. Who to surround yourself with, who not to, how to play a campaign, how much advice to take, how much you trust your gut, how to unite a caucus. I don't doubt he'll be raring to go as soon as he gets the opportunity.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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