Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Election 2020: The low stakes final leaders' debate

Power Play - Few political debates have seemed to matter so little.

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins went head-to-head in a muted final face-off on Thursday night, in what seemed at times to be an exercise in warding off the inevitable.

The preceding 1News-Colmar Brunton poll brought more confirmation of what is becoming increasingly obvious: National does not have a path to power.

The magnitude of advance voting only added to the sense of futility. A staggering 1.5 million people had already cast a ballot before the debate's opening.

Collins said she hoped none would have "buyer's remorse", but, in truth, there was little in the debate likely to change anyone's mind.

The two leaders arrived with starkly different agendas.

In her final comments, Ardern made a direct appeal to long-time National supporters, to those who "have never voted for Labour before".

"Every vote for Labour is delivering strong and stable government - and that's what we need right now."

In contrast, Collins went after the 14 percent of voters who wouldn't reveal their preference and former supporters who'd strayed to the minor parties.

"I don't think the people voting New Conservatives actually want to have a Labour-Greens government," she said. "I don't think the New Zealand First people do either."

For the first half of the debate, both leaders seemed to be going through the motions after what has been a long and tiring campaign.

Not until the fourth and penultimate segment did the leaders jolt awake when Collins again suggested Labour would adopt the Green Party's wealth tax.

Ardern, clearly anticipating the line of attack, immediately countered.

"I'm going to call you out on this," Ardern said. "It is a desperate political strategy to try and get votes and it is wrong.

"This is a blatant campaign of misinformation that I'm putting an end to."

Collins pushed back, pointing to the Greens' long list of "extremely expensive" policies which would need to be funded somehow.

"I would never stand here and blatantly call someone a liar, and that is unfortunately what Judith Collins is doing now," Ardern said.

"How many broken promises before we start to say this?" Collins shot back, listing Labour's failings on KiwiBuild and light rail.

The final word on the topic, though, went to Ardern: "This is a desperate tactic, and frankly, it's sad."

Much of what was canvassed over the hour-long show fell in well-worn territory, a challenge often encountered in the final debate of a campaign.

There were some fresh revelations. Ardern declared she would step down as leader if she lost the election. It seemed a fairly safe commitment to make.

In contrast, Collins insisted she would stay on in the role. Asked whether her former leader Simon Bridges would be doing a better job, she swiftly threw him under the bus, revealing National's internal polling dropped to the mid-20s under Bridges' watch post-Covid.

As the debate neared its end, Collins remarked that she preferred politics to be "entertaining".

"Otherwise people just turn off and they can't be bothered," Collins said.

The irony is, by then, much of the audience and voting public had likely already tuned out.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Boris Johnson At Sea: Coronavirus Confusion In The UK

The tide has been turning against UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Oafishly, he has managed to convert that tide into a deluge of dissatisfaction assisted by the gravitational pull of singular incompetence. Much of this is due to such errors of ... More>>

Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Rightwing Populism Will Make You Sick—Really

The four countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 infections in the world are all led by rightwing populists: the US, India, Brazil, and Russia. Throw in the United Kingdom, which has the largest infection rate in Europe, and you have a common pattern. ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Early Voting Is OK, If You Know Who To Vote For

Early voting is now open which is great for the 80% or so of the population whose vote does not change from one election to the next. They can go out and vote at their convenience without having to wait for election day. But for those who are yet even ... More>>

The Conversation: Biodiversity: Where The World Is Making Progress – And Where It’s Not

The future of biodiversity hangs in the balance. World leaders are gathering to review international targets and make new pledges for action to stem wildlife declines. Depending on whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty person, you’re likely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On How The US Supreme Court Is Undermining American Democracy

If Joe Biden is elected President next week, here comes the bad news. If Biden tries to defend Obamacare, combat climate change (via say, a variant of the Green New Deal) or tries to improve the access of US women to abortion services , he will run afoul ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog