Political doesn’t have to get personal

The first editor I worked for kept telling his reporters, people sell papers.

He was encouraging us to get a personal angle on stories because people like to read about people and relate better to stories with people.

It’s advice that can apply to some aspects of politics. Those making policy should consider the impact it will have on people, not just those at whom the policy is aimed but those who it will affect, including those who will pay for it.

Like the editor, politicians know the power of the personal and use people, real or imagined, to sell their own policies and to criticise those of their opponents.

Personalising politics in that way should always be done with care. It can backfire, as it did when the couple paraded at the launch of one of the first KiwiBuild homes was found to be better off than many would consider in need of government assistance.

It can be tempting to turn a disagreement on issues and policies into personal attacks on the people promoting them, but it is a temptation best resisted, as should criticising people for carrying out their roles just because we don’t agree with their politics.

Regardless of whether we voted for her, regardless of whether we support her, the PM is the PM of New Zealand and acting as such, not as leader of the Labour Party, not as leader of the government, but leader of the country, in her response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

Just as any recent Prime Minister, regardless of his or her political colour would have.

Just as Anne Tolley, is doing all  she can and should as the local MP.

People throwing mud at them over this should remember that it sticks to the hand that throws it and that attacking someone personally means, as Margaret Thatcher said, that the attacker has not a single political argument left.

 

 

 

2 Responses to Political doesn’t have to get personal

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    An interesting observation with which I agree with conceptually, but I still find Ardern’s PR around matters like this nauseating

  2. Andrei says:

    90% of politics is perception.

    The thing is in a crisis J. Ardern emotes – her brow furows and her face adopts an expression of (caring?) concern. The same expression used by a kindy teacher when a three year old tells her how their guinea pig died in the night

    She uses expressions such as “I am advised…” this distancing herself from the information she is imparting should it turn out to be wrong – this is not leadership, nor is it taking ownership, it is mama kissing a grazed knee better.

    One of the funniest images i ever saw was Phill Goff after the Rena grounded. He was in a suit, wearing shiny shiny shoes, on a beach with a shovel poking at a bit of congealed bunker C that had washed ashore. I was quite familair with bunker C in my youth and overalls with heavy boots was the appropriate attire when in its vicinity

    One of G W Bush’s finest moments was when he stood on a pile of rubble after 9/11 and addressed the first reponders (and the nation indirectly) through a megaphone and inspired virtually everybody

    And here is an historical example of great note

    “My loving people,

    We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery. But I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people.

    Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

    I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm: to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

    I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

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