But wait there’s more


From the moment she entered office in 2017, the international coverage of Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, has been nothing short of slavering.

Ardern is a female political leader at a time when sections of the press still talk about this like women politicians are unicorns. A year later she added to that advantage by giving birth while in office, which was reported on as though giving birth while holding down a job is unheard of.

Coverage has continued in the same vein ever since, helped by the fact that her more important public statements are delivered with lashings of forced empathy.

But those of us who are allergic to such bogus forms of communication and who judge people by their actions rather than their capabilities at emoting are noticing that, increasingly, Ardern’s behaviour stinks.

Last month her oh-so-progressive government made an unprecedented step. It refused to join a Five-Eyes statement which was critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network (the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) is the world’s most successful and important intelligence-sharing partnership. In being a member of it New Zealand is at an extraordinary advantage – an advantage that far outweighs the miniscule resources it actually puts into intelligence or other defence capabilities.
But the refusal was not an oversight by the Ardern government. Rather, it was part of a disgraceful and pro-totalitarian political turn. Ardern’s foreign affairs minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said that New Zealand now has a preference for moving on from the Five Eyes alliance and looking for new “multilateral opportunities”.

Except no such better opportunities exist for such a small and isolated power. What is going on is that sweet, lovely Jacinda Ardern and her government are in the process of seeking as much Chinese investment as possible to boost their economy, and doing everything that the CCP wants to ensure that the investment roars in.

It is a cynical and immoral policy because Ardern knows that Chinese investment always comes with strings attached: Australia welcomed it in the 2000s, only to spend the past decade trying to disentangle itself from the boa constrictor that is the CCP when it moves into any foreign market.

Earlier this week she gave a speech in which she tried to claw back some of her moral capital by insisting that she had raised questions about the CCP’s human rights record in private. And she said that she really was worried about how to “reconcile” New Zealand and Chinese Communist Party attitudes towards human rights.

Well, here’s a tip. It can’t be done. You’re either in favour of forced labour camps, neo-colonialism and forced abortions on women who are nine-months pregnant, or you’re not.

Ardern perhaps hopes that we’ll glide over these awkward facts. And the international press might well. On Wednesday, the New Zealand prime minister announced with wonderful timing that she and her partner have set a “summer wedding” date. So, yay. Sweet Ardern is back. Pity she sold her country.

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