Politicians need to be judged on their policy achievements. As has been well-canvassed, there emerged a significant gap between what Jacinda believed in and what she was able to achieve.
Mr Hipkins is part of the problem in that regard. It is the old story of the complete political failure being kicked upstairs.
I have no problems with his political management – the ability to wield the many resources of the state to achieve certain goals.
With the huge Covid workforce and unlimited resources under his command, he was able to manage the pandemic very well.
Any half competent manager would be able to.
But let’s look at education, which required significant political leadership.
School attendance and school achievement has been falling for years due to neglect and dumb policies.
Labour instituted a review of the whole shebang and then failed to implement most of the findings.
Every school is still governed by a parent-led Board of Trustees. Two and a half thousand committees making often dumb and parochial decisions that help school achievement sink further. If you remember last year I was involved in a controversy over an extreme right wing activist standing for the board of Te Aratai College in Christchurch. All quite unnecessary. And scary. I had a taste of what Jacinda puts up with every day, the f***ing c*** language, the personal abuse. Disgraceful behaviour!
What we have needed for a long time in education now has been vision, determination and excellent policies for all. We used to be the best in the world. People came from all over the world to see and copy our schooling system. Now we are not even average. We squandered our position through dumb neo-lib policies. A crying shame.
Hipkins turned the simple five year practice of calculating school deprivation levels on the basis of the census into an industry employing a huge number of people making endless little adjustments based on the untested statistics database called the IDI. And is it any better? No, it’s not. Worse, and opaque and murky.
A group I work with are about to release research that shows that, at the end of 2022, less than 5 out of ten students attend school regularly, and school achievement has plummeted again. Motivation is down the toilet. This is Hipkins’ legacy – the complete breakdown of the schooling system. Who is to fix it?
Then he was given the police portfolio in order to politically manage the fallout from the failed education policies – young people with no education, no place, no future and no hope. Round them up and lock them away, why don’t you?
Let’s also briefly contemplate the mess in which he is leaving the polytechnic sector as he is kicked upstairs. He amalgamated the whole sector, thus stamping out everything that was good and individual about it, failed to provide the funding necessary to fix it properly, added a layer of management – highly incompetent management, I should say – that seemed to have no vision or foresight and has thus continued to bring the sector to its knees.
I have heard that Carmel Sepuloni is likely to be Deputy. Her legacy is that she has failed to do in the crucial MSD portfolio what Chris has failed with in education. That is the new Labour leadership for you.
We should expect impeccably managed non-policies this year, and then oblivion for this government. My dream, the dream of many of us, was a more equal society, the end of neo-liberal economic and social policies and the fixing of our social institutions. The dream has been a little dead for some years, really, masked by Jacinda Ardern’s own personal charisma and caring. It has just got deader.