The new Labour Party leader, Jacinda Ardern, a photo probably taken a few years ago.

We have begun looking at a few national policy issues that particularly affect Waikanae people before the election in 8 weeks, but this week’s Labour leadership change gives you fresh cause to wonder how much policies really matter and how much it’s nearly all about the leaders’ personalities.

Unlike in the U.S., the ideological differences between the major parties aren’t huge; often the differences are ones of emphasis and vested interest groups affect how much attention they get: the Road Transport Forum, big business people, small to medium business people, farmers, retailers, a range of service sector worker groups, and so on.

Nonetheless, there are policy differences, but do they matter to anyone other than those affected by them?  Is the most important thing looking and sounding good on TV?  Labour’s Andrew Little had experience as a union leader and can be forthright (admittedly, not always in the best way), but that didn’t resonate much in the opinions polls; out he went and in came his deputy.  We’ve seen the same happen across the Tasman a few times in the last several years.

Personality is one key factor (no pun intended) in elections; another is the state of the economy: if it’s good the government has a good chance of being re-elected, if not then a change may happen.  At present the economy is reasonably good, so the personality thing becomes big.

It’s regrettable, though; elections should be about strategy and policy, not about who has the cutest face and the catchiest slogan.

Even on here, we’ve despaired often about the amount of attention personality conflicts in the council get relative to issues that are important.

Sadly, that’s the way it is.