Jacinda knows what to focus on

10 August 2017

One thing that’s been impressive from Jacinda Ardern since she took the Labour leadership is how she has been selective about what to comment on.

When a negative issue hits a political party or business, leaders usually need to front up to put their side of the story. But if its not that serious or they are not the focus, sometimes it’s best to avoid comment.


For a politician, they want people to vote for them. That’s why they need to keep the focus on the things that might convince people to tick their name or party at the ballot box.

Labour won’t win any votes by commenting on the crisis in the Green Party. Ardern said she would not have Meteria Turei as a minister in a Labour-led government. After that she had no comment on the problems in the Greens. Why should she?

Lots of people would still comment, but there is no need. Labour are best to focus on things like housing and education policy. Remember that people remember very little of what they hear, so the more they say, the less likely people are to remember it.

Ardern also made a good decision not to ask Prime Minister Bill English any more question in the house about Todd Barclay. She knows that focusing on that won’t win any votes, so she might as well use up her questions and time with things people care about.

It’s interesting that the only party that has persisted with this has lost a huge amount of support in recent opinion polls. Winston Peters has used up most of his time in the house with questions about this. He’d be better to focus on how his party can help people and grow the economy.

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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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