Suit and Tie

Sports can sometimes be such a great analogy for life, which is why sports movies often make compelling watching. This week Jacinda Ardern decided to treat us to her very own spin on a much-loved classic.

There is that famous scene in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise’s character Jerry is on the doorstep pleading his love to Dorothy, played by Renee Zellweger. Filled with emotion, he looks her straight in the eyes and says “I love you. You complete me”. It reinforces the characters’ love and connection for each other, and it works because it comes across as heartfelt and true.

Now let’s cut to November 10th, 2021: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, after having been MIA for a staggering 86 days while Auckland went through what she proudly declared as “some of the harshest lockdown conditions in the world”, is finally ready to reconnect, understand and listen to the stories of pain and suffering from people in her home city.

Cue the opening scene at JMP Engineering where the PM was naturally expecting a “you had me at hello” response from Managing Director Michael Thornton.

Instead, she receives a cynical ‘why on earth are you here?’ And have a look at this photo of me smiling in my MAGA “Make Arden Go Away” cap for her troubles.

Now, to say JMP was an interesting choice for a visit is simply not doing it justice. JMP is a kiwi success story in its own right, but importantly it has managed to stay open and keep operating throughout the entire lockdown: good on them. So if you are wanting tales of hardship, and struggling to make ends meet during the last 86 days, move along, there is nothing to see here folks. Three months to prepare a goodwill, show of faith tour and you pick a business completely unaffected. One can only put this down to a situation where stupidity and incompetence collide. Whoever set this visit up for the PM was clearly getting misinformation on a level unrivaled even by the hardcore anti-vax crowd.

And so to the final scene. For Jerry Maguire, it was standing at the front door on a porch asking Dorothy to come back to him. To reconnect, to complete him.

For Jacinda Ardern, her final scene was in a South Auckland youth vaccination centre. Appearing in a carefully draped, colourful lei in an attempt to show she was indeed a PM of the people, her people, Aucklanders.

The twist.

But just like Jerry Maguire in another pivotal scene, where he had lost his number one signing the day before the NFL draft, she also found herself in a similar position. Wearing a metaphorical cloak, a cloak of failure.

In her final scene, the PM tried to convince the assembled journalists that she simply didn’t have enough time to visit those businesses in need that had been crushed by the lockdown. Not enough time to visit the very people that made her trip necessary in the first place. Not enough time to listen to some of the people who had done the heavy lifting, made the sacrifices, struggled to put food on the table, and in some cases lost everything they had worked so hard for.

Here was the PM standing in front of Aucklanders asking them to complete her. To welcome her back. To reconnect with her. But there was no emotion, just poor acting. Instead of waiting for a response, it was time to roll credits, with the promise of a return sequel at a later date yet to be confirmed.

And then it was lights up, she was gone, whisked away to the waiting jet. The total running time for the PM’s Auckland feature was a mind-numbing 185 minutes. After this performance, I would give the sequel a miss.

PM Tells Auckland ‘You Complete Me’
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