Barry Soper: Christopher Luxons biggest mistake in first showdown with Jacinda Ardern


The thing is, Jacinda Ardern can never be taken on at her own game. For her there’s only one game in town and she plays it to near perfection, even if we don’t always agree with the route she’s taking to get to the end of it.

Covid for Ardern and her band of weary warriors is their ticket to ride.

The noise from the Covid cacophony is deafening and that’s the way this Government likes it. Trying to get cut through with anything else is a bit like chipping away at granite with a toothpick.

Ask Judith Collins how it felt at the last election and since then.

Jacinda Ardern has until now been the undisputed Covid Queen, although now that she’s finally had to accept it’s here to stay, the crown is beginning to slip and Kiwis will start looking at some of the other issues facing the country.

And that’s exactly what National’s new leader Chris Luxon should have done when he had his first face-off against Ardern in the debating chamber. He should have thrown a few curlers about the Crown Accounts and GDP to debt and questions over the independence of the Reserve Bank.

Facing the prospect of grilling her, he was cocky enough, although with some humility saying he really wanted to master it and get good at it over time. Asked whether he had enough mongrel to foot it in what’s known as the bear-pit full of grizzlies, he was confident:”Don’t you worry mate, we’ve got enough mongrel, it’ll be good,” he declared.

His first couple of questions to Ardern seemed to rattle her a bit, but she recovered quickly because they were after all about her Mastermind topic, Covid.

Essentially, she was given her platform to perform and Luxon was left floundering, at one point seeming to lose his place, having a brain freeze, and apologising as he tried to regain his composure. For this corporate high flyer it would have been mortifying, his blood would have run cold, and the images of the fluff on television will come back to haunt him. It may have only been a moment in time but it’s a moment he won’t be allowed to forget.

By contrast, Act’s David Seymour cut in with the acquiescence of the Speaker with a concise, articulate jibe at Ardern which would have added to Luxon’s discomfort.

But like he said, he’ll learn and get good at it. One mistake does not an election loss make.

This man who has in his life only been used to success will bounce back and promises to be a formidable opponent of Ardern, providing more care is taken with the topic.

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