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Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges at Diwali in Auckland
Jacinda ARdern and Simon Bridges at Diwali (Getty Images)

PoliticsJanuary 17, 2020

Four new year’s resolutions for Jacinda Ardern. And four for Simon Bridges

Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges at Diwali in Auckland
Jacinda ARdern and Simon Bridges at Diwali (Getty Images)

We’re half a month into the year, and the political wheels are just beginning to turn. To celebrate, Brigitte Morton proffers some resolutions for the leaders of the two big parties.

Like most people, for me the reality of the New Year and those shiny resolutions are starting to wear off. Sure, I brought a salad for lunch yesterday, but I quickly ran out of lettuce and it will be back to a takeaway burrito today. So instead of holding myself to account on my resolutions, I thought it would be much easier to create resolutions for our politicians. After all, they are paid to be accountable to us.

Assuming that their overarching 2020 resolution is to lead a government post-election, here are some helpful hints for our major party leaders on what they should be aiming for.

Jacinda Ardern

Hugs not drugs

The more hugs the prime minister gives the more her popularity rises; the more time she has to talk about tricky policy issues like the marijuana referendum her popularity goes down. In 2020, election success for the PM hinges on her personal warmth.

Book some holidays

Not for herself, of course: that will just generate more of this “part-time PM” rhetoric. But for a couple of her more troublesome ministers a getaway is a good idea. Surely there must be a part of the provinces where the press gallery can’t find Shane Jones and his risky comments that the PM then has to explain away. Or perhaps Andrew Little may like to head to an international conference where he can share his thoughts on justice reform, rather than talking about them here, where any moves to treat criminals with compassion will cause friction with coalition partner NZ First.

Avoid SMART goals

Anyone who has read the plethora of New Year, New Me articles will know that the experts say your resolutions should be specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time based (SMART). Targets on child poverty and housing affordability aren’t looking too flash for the prime minister – probably best to move away from those hard numbers just like she did on Kiwibuild.

Inbox Zero

If you want more time for hugs (see above) you need to get those hard issues off your plate. Ardern did a good job of delegating some tricky stuff to Megan Woods and Kris Faafoi in 2019 – maybe just set up an auto-forward to maximum efficiency?

Simon Bridges

Name more things after dinosaurs

Yeah, that Strike Force Raptor name might have been ridiculed in the press but the opposition got multiple days of media for a tough-on-crime policy that, without the name, would have most likely only have lasted half a day. Rrrraaahhh.

Make new friends

Or maybe just put some time in to the old ones.  ACT is looking pretty good to get some more MPs, but unless the New Conservatives, the Māori Party or someone new gets some love, it is unlikely that National will be able to form a government even if they perform exceptionally well in the polls.

Be just like Scott Morrison

Or, wait, maybe not any more. It is not even a year since the Australian Prime Minister pulled off the miracle win in their election. This meant many looked across the Tasman for tips on how National could emulate this success – including their tough on crime approach. But ScoMo (as he calls himself) has taking a flaking over his response to the Australian bushfires – namely doing things like forcing people to shake his hand. So maybe Simon should borrow one of the PM’s resolutions – more hugs, less tough on drugs.

Read less

Namely, just one book. Judith Collins has made no secret that she is writing a book. She has been dropping little teasers on its progress for the last few months. There are going to be some uncomfortable truths in the book which Simon Bridges is probably not going to want to hear (or have to comment on) in an election year.

Brigitte Morton worked as a ministerial adviser in the last National government 

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