David Chaston says the sudden ascent of Jacinda Ardern says a lot about us as voters, and not in a good way. He wishes party positions counted for more

By David Chaston

OK, so this is just my personal view. But I think the jump in support for Jacinda Ardern reveals a problem we have, as voters.

She may be a better leader than Andrew Little. It is hard to know at this stage.

But voters who have been polled think so.

And the Labour Party polling has benefited.

But here is my problem. It just reinforces that most people make their political judgements based on personality. 

It can’t be the party policies causing this shift, because none of those have changed.

And I think that is very superficial.

And an essential worry for our democracy.

It is not the issues that moves voters, it seems. It is the ‘presentation’ – the showmanship.

Seems wrong to me.

Now, I am not saying that ‘trust’ and ‘integrity’ and the like should not be part of a political judgement. They should be. And these issues may be behind the sudden fall from public grace for the Green Party leadership.

However, the Greens have not changed policy.

Nor has the Labour Party.

And yet the political landscape leading up to September 23 has changed, and dramatically.

All due to personalities.

I can understand why political reporters can get overly excited by such changes. Fair enough – who of them really wants to just report party policies. A good cat fight will get their reports on to the front page.

But voters need to be more considered than any political reporter. Or should be, in my opinion.

We should vote for policies we want, choosing the parties and candidates that offer them.

But we seem blind to that, captured by the beauty contests being run on social media, on the radio, and on TV.

Unfortunately we will get the politicians we deserve that way, rather than governments and policies we collectively want and need.

You can compare more than 110 policies from all parties in Parliament (and a new more) using this resource.

Personally, I don’t think we should mind if political leaders are bland on TV if they have a great program to address issues we need addressed.

Competence should count for more in political and election decision making.

I think Andrew Little got a raw deal from his colleagues. But let’s hope Jacinda Ardern has more than just media excitement justifying her elevation.