The Importance of Being Close To Jacinda (Photo RNZ)

The kerfuffle over the Meka Whaitiri allegations has highlighted the perceived importance of party-political solidarity line-ups. Whaitiri is the MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti and was very unhappy with her press secretary when she learned she had missed out on the photo-op with Jacinda Ardern in Gisborne. Whaitiri’s response – allegedly leading to to bruising of the press secretary’s arm – led to Ardern’s sacking th minister. No doubt Whaitiri will be back. The Maori caucius is strong, Ardern cannot afford to annoy the Maori caucus too long. Missing a photo op might with the popular PM will have been annoying for Whaitiri, She is the local MP seeking recognition for an outpost in a far- flung electorate. Carmen Sepuloni took the coveted position position on Jacinta’s wing. Maybe the press secretary cocked up. Maybe she did not. Maybe she was poorly trained. You wonder of the PM’s phalanx of minders had any role  ensuring that the local MP was around, especially when Whaitiri had a rookie press secretary. Beyond that, why do media allow politicians to create line ups of supporters? It has become like wedding photographer lining up the bride’s family. If it implies solidarity. I’m not sure the public buys it. Solidarity shots have been around for a long time, but it seems to have become formalised for most political gatherings outside Parliament. I guess it offers a better backdrop for TV networks. More importntly it is a publicity shot keeps the TV networks in good fvour with the parties. Maybe it is not as important to the public as Meka Whaitiri thinkw.

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