Wow. That old saying, A Week Is A Long Time In Politics, re-truthed this week as a couple of bad polls confirm that our Labour Party has been polling badly, and Andrew Little - bless him, decent man that he is - fell on his sword, stepped down as leader and nominated the obvious successor, Jacinda Ardern, to succeed him. Bang. Labour has a relatively inexperienced leader but a photogenic one (don't minimise the importance of that in our televisual age) and, much more importantly, a brilliant performer in the media. Jacinda is an eloquent, thinking quickly on her feet star and it is right and proper that she now leads the only serious alternative party of governance in our land. If Labour do not lead the government on 24 September 2017, they will do after the election in 2020. You can pretty much bet your house on that.
But what does all this mean for Christians contemplating who to vote for in this year's election? I suggest it means very little(bad pun!). While it matters that we have competent leadership, what matters more is what ideology drives the government of the day and thus what we theologically make of that ideology. Policy substance is more important for Christians electing a government than personality.
Sure, Jacinda may now make a play for some policy change that she wants to emphasise and to sell with her own cheerful ("relentlessly positive"), pleasing manner. But we should determine whether we will vote for the Labour Party on its policy first and on its leadership secondly. Ditto other parties.
I have my own views on what Labour Party policy would mean for our country if elected. Ditto other parties. My choice and yours is not much different today than yesterday. But it might be a little bit different in this way: if we reckon each party's policies are a mix of good, bad and indifferent, and if we reckon they are all (pluses and minuses added up) equally good or bad or simply indifferent, then it would be right and proper to think about the style of leadership of our future government. The "Jacinda-effect" might then kick in. So might, and especially for Christians, the Bill English effect (that he is a committed Christian and public with it).
On one matter of leadership I am prepared to be very public in my views about leadership: there are no circumstances in which I think Winston Peters would be a good Prime Minister for Aotearoa New Zealand (as some are calculating might happen). Of all the things a country might appreciate in its human leader, maverick tendencies are not one. Need I point you in a certain north-eastern direction to remind what a disaster having a maverick for a leader is?
UPDATE: I find my blogging colleague, Michael Reddell, at Croaking Cassandra makes a lot of sense here as he gives Jacinda Ardern and her party advice which could help elect them AND more importantly, help a huge number of Kiwis!