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Why Can’t We Be More Like New Zealand?

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s 40th prime minister, sets the tone for a revolution in world leadership

New Zealand..a land far, far away but yet so near in the cultural agenda.

One little Google search tells me all I need to know. Jacinda Ardern, 39 years old, New Zealand prime minister and book author:

‘Jacinda Ardern (I Know This To Be True): On kindness, empathy, and strength.

How refreshing, a prime minister who holds kindness above power, and evidently knows something of it.

If there ever was an education for a prime minister, this is one far more powerful than the halls of Eton.

Okay, it is just a book title, but it says a lot. 

What more of Jacinda Ardern?

This title has been edited by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and foretells Ardern’s journey into politics. It highlights the importance of authenticity and compassion for others, and this is the foundation for the modern leader.

“People need authenticity, not, I think, some manufactured idea of what political leadership is meant to be.”

Jacinda Ardern on the current crisis in politics, from her aforementioned book and extracted from The Guardian.

Ardern believes the world needs leaders who are strong on the inside, rather than on the outside, and who know the difference. Ardern’s view is to reach people and include them, rather than ostracise them. 

This figures, that if ever there were a country to implement a new world leader in the modern era, New Zealand would be it. Ardern is the third female prime minister. Female leaders not making the commonality but certainly more of a presence within New Zealand politics. Britain has seen two female leaders to date: Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. 

Female Leadership To Date

Thatcher was famously known to rule with an ‘iron fist. It was widely speculated that Thatcher was not able to gain respect from her party by any other means, and in order to survive, became one of the men.

As much as this was true, Margaret Thatcher also sat in her femininity and used this to her strength. Women have been in leadership roles for centuries, millennia even. Leadership is not new and I think Margaret knew this. It was just, her best-kept secret.

Thatcher commanded respect, and this is where Ardern and Thatcher are similar. Yet it is done in very different ways. It is a different time of course.

Here we are, in the year 2020 and one of the world’s most powerful countries has a woman at its helm. A female leader who proffers intuition before all else and makes waves.

In stark contrast, New Zealand also has Judith Collins chomping at the heels of Ardern:

“I am very straightforward, people who are threatened by that will be threatened by me.”

Collins hopes to be New Zealand’s next prime minister.

Let’s hope that is not the case.

Ardern: Most Popular Leader in a Century

However, Collins has an uphill battle on hand because Jacinda is popular. The New Zealand people are grateful for Labour’s response during the pandemic. New Zealand opted for ‘elimination’ and successfully controlled the virus early on. Aviation was banned from the get-go and this is believed to have gone towards the suppression of the virus. 

In fact, New Zealand was one of the first countries to proclaim ‘elimination’ from the virus on the 8th of June. In hindsight, however, this was a little precarious.

Without getting too comfortable, the opposition leader is known as ‘Crusher Collins’. It looks like Ardern has a rookie Thatcher right behind her.

Fear, not Ardern, the people of New Zealand are the real people behind you.

Ardern is the most popular prime minister in a century. Polls look set to put the Labour government at a majority. This is not hard to understand, here Arden is filmed at a press conference, revealing the suppression of Covid 19.

Why can’t Britain be more like New Zealand?

Britain, if nothing else, needs someone relatable. Someone who leads with the people in mind, and not an ‘ideology’ or to the tune of privileged learning.

A posh accent, let’s face it, does not make a leader and neither do credentials. This is other than ones that speak of wisdom, virtue, and real-world knowledge.

This all may seem out of a storybook, but it is actually real life.

What is not real life, is the leadership Britain has become accustomed to. Dominic Cummings speaks of the very same thing. For example, looking for expertise at the helm, rather than a degree in politics’ and a ‘belief’ that, ‘politics may be a good move’ in one’s career.

Technocracy is a government led by people of expertise. This current pandemic would have been disastrous without the medical and scientific expertise of Sir Patrick Valance and Chris Whitty. Not to mention, the vast array of individuals behind them, steering the ship.

Whilst I do not want to take away from Boris Johnson, who I feel has done a great job in the face of crisis. I do feel, in this instance, that ‘politics’ does not govern a country. A strong message that came out of this whole debacle, was the wish for politics to be left aside. This was particularly in reference to the union working ensemble. Sturgeon has let this fall by the wayside unfortunately, politics has definitely re-entered the arena. 

This is not what we need.

A government led by technocracy or expertise is perhaps a further step in the future. Nevertheless, we do need people that come from common ground and see the bigger picture.

I do believe politics/world leadership, whatever you want to call it, needs female leadership to cultivate such a transition. The current ideals in leadership are old, they are of the past and do not deal with common sense, or the bigger picture.

On the other hand, Boris has routinely taken a ‘science-led’ approach to the virus. This is wonderful, but the numbers are only one part of the puzzle. A leader looks at what is represented, compares it to experience, and takes action. A leader does not ‘follow the science’ like a sheep, but uses it to cultivate a response. In Britain, we waited until we had numbers, to take any action.

Paradoxically, Ardern was quick to react to Coronavirus, their approach was strict, and it worked. Britain was hasty and paid the price.

Ardern is a prime example of a real leader, she has set the precedent for what we are all crying out for.

Let’s hope it catches on.