Jacinda Ardern resignation shows moral politicians can’t survive the circus for long


JACINDA Ardern, New Zealand’s prominent centre-left Prime Minister, has resigned, citing “burnout” as the reason for stepping down.

The Labour leader – who would perhaps put her UK counterpart Sir Keir Starmer to shame with progressive and proactive policymaking – said she didn’t “have enough in the tank” after five years in the hot seat.

Her decision, while admirable – it is always well worth knowing when to quit, and never to outstay one’s welcome – highlights a wider issue of progressive politicians trying to navigate the parliamentary circus.

The question of whether decent, moral politicians can survive in a parliamentary democracy filled with lobbyists, special interests and greed is now in the spotlight again.

Politics, to no one’s surprise, is a murky game. But it’s also a revolving door. Leaders, ministers and prominent backbenchers often enter or leave politics from or two other elite industries, whether it is finance, the media or anything else with substantial repatriation.

As such, the game is filled with such characters who pursue the interests of the few against the many.

Those who try and enter with moral ambitions often fail as their opponents are well-backed, either in the race itself or from birth.

When someone does rise, they are often subject to intense and often unfair scrutiny from the media, opposition and even their own party.

Ardern’s allies have suggested this abuse played a part in her stepping down. As a progressive female leader, the odds were stacked against Ardern – but for five years, she made it work before it got too much.

One other politician closer to home who has faced similar treatment was of course, Jeremy Corbyn.

The former Labour leader inspired tens of thousands to believe in progressive causes and policies in Britain after decades of Toryism and insipid New Labour rule.

And yet, even now, Corbyn is still maligned. Suspended by his own party, beaten down by the press and mocked by Tories and Labour alike.

In Latin America, it goes further, with violent coups deposing left-wing leaders. Other continents see harsh sanctions placed on leaders who oppose the Western order.

Parliamentary democracy is a tough environment to navigate as a progressive, to say the least. Those who succeed will inevitably be short lived.

It’s why extra-parliamentary action – through trade unions, action groups and general demonstrations – are also a key part of progressive politics.

If leftists rely on their favourite progressive becoming (and staying on as) leader, they will be sorely disappointed, sooner or later.

Featured Image: NATO @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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