PM’s announcement of a Covid lockdown might trigger more Jacindamania – but Govt gaffes have triggered a slide in support

New Zealand’s first Covid community case  in many months struck  just as  the  country  has  been  fretting over  how  the  government   might  frame  its  re-opening to  the  world after the  pandemic.

The government’s response – another Alert Level Four lockdown – was announced (eventually) during  a prime ministerial press conference, televised live, which dominated 6pm news programmes.

Whether this will provoke  a  fresh  bout  of  Jacindamania, like that New Zealand  experienced  before the  last  election,  is  far from  certain.

The  mood  of the nation has   been  shifting  in  recent months,  showing  the  signs  of  tetchiness  that  should  put  any government  on high  alert.

Coincidentally,  a new  poll  by UMR  has   pointed  to  Labour’s  support  sliding from  48%  in  July  to 43%  this  month,  with  the  Greens  on  7%,  down  one.

On the  other  side  of the political  fence,  National has risen  4 points  to 28%  and ACT  to 13%,  up 2%, but that still leaves a  big  gap  to  be  closed  by  the  centre-right  parties.

The  latest  Covid  case  could again   cast  a  shadow  over  the  parties  of  the  right, which might otherwise  have  expected  their  resurgence of support to  continue.

Together  they  had  moved back  to  within  shouting  range  and  the  trend  has  become  marked:  the parties  on  the  left  have  been  on  a  steady decline  while   those  on the  right  have  been  advancing.

Note,  too,  that  support for the  Greens  consistently  is higher  in  opinion  polls  between  elections  than  is recorded on election  night,  a  fate that  also  afflicts  NZ First,  which  according  to  UMR  in  its  latest  sampling,  is  at 4.4%.

In the latest poll UMR  has recorded a fall in the  number  who believe  NZ  is  on the  right  track.  It’s down from  historic  highs of  78%    during the  lockdowns  last  year   to  62%.

Given   events    like  the   power  blackout  early last week, that  is   not   surprising.  Labour   stalwarts   may  dismiss  one political  foul-up  like  that,   but  when  there  is  a  run  of  them,  the  cumulative  effect  takes its  own  political toll.

Though  Labour  back-benchers,  many   of  them  newbies,   appear tolerant of  ministerial  fumbles,  these  are   beginning  to  stack  up.

Strangely,   the recent   problems  that have thrown the   government  off  balance    have  involved ministers  regarded  among   the  most  capable  in  the  Ardern  team:

  • Energy  Minister  Megan  Woods,  who  cast  herself  among  the  fumblers  with her  performance  (or  was  it  non-performance?)  in  the  power  shemozzle
  • Health  Minister  Andrew  Little    who blew  his  top  with  the  Cancer  Society (which,  he  said,   was  “off  the  planet”);  and
  • Transport  Minister   Michael  Wood,  who  hatched   the  Auckland bridge   for cyclists/ walkers (now  so  unpopular  it  has  been  virtually  disowned  by  senior  ministers.

Then  there  is  the  “ute  tax”,   which  took  some of the  gloss  off  Ardern’s  credibility.

Meanwhile   Kris  Faafoi  has  taken  to   peering  skyward,  as  if  looking  for  help  from  someone  up there,   as  he  blunders  around  while trying  to explain   the  “hate speech” legislation  and other  esoteric  measures.

And  simmering  beneath  the  surface  are  the   really   big  issues  within   the  economy – the  build-up of inflationary  pressures,  the  shortages  of  skilled  labour,   the  supply  chain  headaches, not  forgetting  the  looming  decisions to  be  made on climate  change.

Ministers   must   surely  flinch, too,  whenever  they  think   of     how  their  solutions   to the  problems  of  child  poverty and  homelessness  have  – if  anything – made  those  problems,  worse.

2 thoughts on “PM’s announcement of a Covid lockdown might trigger more Jacindamania – but Govt gaffes have triggered a slide in support

  1. And it seems to be dawning on more and more people that instead of tending to real problems (say bolstering the health system in case there is a breakout of Covid), the govt has been spending its time passing laws to do with conversion therapy and hate speech.
    It also appears that more and more people are twigging to the govt’s intentions with regard to co-governance with Maori in many spheres of NZ life. I see Groundswell has included the Three Waters reforms in its list of grievances. They didn’t specify co-governance with iwi but it’s an undercurrent rumbling beneath the surface.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have noticed when dipping into Jacinda’s live Facebook feed to catch up on the latest spin that many of her most fervent admirers reside in Pakistan. Perhaps they have an opening there?


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