Jack Tame's Q&A interview on 31 July with the Prime Minister is compulsory viewing for anyone wanting to understand what is wrong with her ministry. A key fact about Jacinda on display throughout the interview is that she has difficulty understanding the meaning of questions. Or does she just use a technique she learned when studying communications, of hitting on one word used in the question, discussing it, while ignoring the central thrust of what she was being asked? Tame had to ask her three times whether, in addition to all the overseas forces contributing to New Zealand's current inflation, some of her government's decisions were adding to the magnitude of our current problem. Floods of words flowed out; she disagreed with the assumptions of the questioner, and used big words like "counterfactuals" before in effect saying she "didn't accept" there were any problems caused by her ministry. It was obvious that the Prime Minister had little or no knowledge about what causes inflation, or about how it might be controlled or eradicated. Perhaps this is understandable. She was only aged 4 when the Fourth Labour Government began its ultimately successful effort to rid the country of decades of inflation. It isn't a menace that she has had to live with in her own life until her government set about feeding it in 2021.
The Prime Minister was then questioned by Tame about whether some government allowances like the heating allowance paid to a great many people who don't need the extra money should continue to be paid, or whether the money could be more carefully targeted to those in real need. This was too much for her. She lapsed into sentimental twaddle about retirees and beneficiaries rather than provide a careful, reasoned answer.
Tame then turned to questions about democracy. He wanted to find out whether she agreed with her Minister of Maori Affairs, Willie Jackson, who recently suggested that modern concepts of democracy are outdated. In Tame's view, and to anyone with a serious interest in the democratic process, one person-one vote is democracy's cornerstone and has been for a century or more. Tame asked her directly whether she accepted that the principle was endangered by co-governance arrangements that in effect give Maori three votes for every one enjoyed by other racial groups. Jacinda found the question "overly simplistic", whatever that meant. Reaching a consensus was more important. Floods of words couldn't mask her discomfort. All she did was display that whatever else she has studied in life, it isn't political science or history, and that she has read almost nothing about democracy. As she talked over Tame, and quite often down to him, she oozed a smug certainty that her simple mind was on top of all issues.
If I were one of the Prime Minister's minders I'd have been seriously alarmed by that interview. I'd make sure she was better prepared for the next. Life is going to get harder for Jacinda. It's five years since she took office, and it is much less credible to blame previous governments and other people for the manifold failures of her ministry. There will, or perhaps I should say there ought to be, many more such hard interviews when she will have to concentrate to the best of her ability, to try to understand the question that is being asked of her, and do her best to provide a credible answer. It's possible that her minders are tempted to give up on her? And is that why the Prime Minister is off-shore so much these days? The biggest problem is that she is so smug about herself that she'd never acknowledge that she has a problem. But for most of them their jobs depend on her credibility.
This is where it will pay to watch the Main Stream Media carefully. At this stage in the electoral cycle a government and a prime minister as bad as this would be well on the way to the history books. But make no mistake about it, the Public Interest Journalism Fund is protecting this Labour Government like no government has ever experienced before. For the New Zealand Herald lots of things are off limits. There is no discussion in its pages of co-governance and the implicit departure from the principle of one-person-one-vote. Nor is the tribal system and the absence of democracy for selecting Maori representatives subjected to scrutiny. So many of the Herald's columns are produced by state-funded journalists that there'd be only a skeletal paper left if it were not for the taxpayer-funded trough the editors have their snouts into.
All of which makes Jack Tame's interview on TV-ONE last Sunday the more remarkable. The channel deserves our thanks for revealing Jacinda's shallowness for us all to see.