Hard News by Russell Brown


Event Season

Some people complained on Twitter last night that the America's Cup, and not the election of a a new Labour leader, led both the major TV news bulletins. Yeah, nah.

Scheduling a result for mid-afternoon Sunday was one facet of a process thoughtfully designed by the party's own members. Most weeks, it would have won them the Sunday evening news lead.

But this week it was up against tremendous drama in a contest in which there is great national interest -- a contest with significant economic implications. I think even David Cunliffe would agree that pictures of the vessel Aotearoa literally teetering at the brink of disaster are more compelling than pictures of David Cunliffe.

And, really, it's not a big deal. When Parliament sits again tomorrow, it follows a break of 12 days, one in which the prevailing political narrative -- one in which the Opposition loses and lacks agency -- have been set aside in favour of a focus on Labour. Even the odd excesses of punditry have confirmed that this was where the story was.

Last week's favourable Roy Morgan poll was conducted from August 26 -- four days after David Shearer resigned. Perhaps Shearer's Labour (and, of course, the Greens) already had momentum. Or perhaps the public is inclined to reward the party for showing some agency.

What the process may have done is rehabilitate Labour as a political party capable of conceiving good ideas and executing them. It was well-run and well-received by members, although party leaders should count themselves lucky that the partisan idiocy of the two leading candidates' less sage supporters hasn't really registered with the public.

Political Idol has turned out pretty well. The winner has a deal and the audience knows a lot more about the other contenders than it did three weeks ago. The thing now would be not screwing it up.

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