Jacinda Ardern quits while she’s ahead… of being booted out by lockdown-weary voters

Jacinda Ardern quits while she’s ahead… of being booted out by lockdown-weary voters

Updated: 9 days, 23 hours, 36 minutes, 35 seconds ago

THERE was something quietly impressive in the way Jacinda Ardern announced this week that she was stepping down as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.

She hadn’t lost an election and there was no bloody behind-the-scenes coup by party rebels.

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There was something impressive in the way Jacinda Ardern announced that she was stepping down

Credit: AFP

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Ardern’s promise to be there for Neve when she starts school this year spoke volumes

Credit: AFP or licensors

It was simply, she said, that, after five “challenging” years, she had “nothing left in the tank”.

But I don’t think that’s all there is to it.

Once wildly popular, Ardern’s draconian response to Covid has sent her poll ratings plummeting.

Her Labour Party is now trailing behind its Conservative rivals, and the next election is just months away, in October.

This will be Kiwi voters’ first chance to have their say since she locked them down with some of the harshest anti-Covid restrictions in the world.

Ardern closed New Zealand’s borders for more than two years, forcing families apart and trapping expats abroad.

Loved ones died alone and unvisited, friends were kept away from funerals, new babies remained strangers to their grandparents.

In a clumsy attempt to appear more caring, her government introduced an online lottery in which residents trapped overseas could win the right to enter their own country.

More than 50,000 applied every month but only 5,000 were allowed in, via expensive quarantine hotels, guarded by the army.

It didn’t help that these tough rules didn’t apply to the rich or famous. Those who could afford to arrive by private jet were allowed to quarantine at home.

There were mass, sometimes violent, protests after Ardern made vaccination compulsory for teachers, police officers, the Armed Forces and healthcare workers.

And the country’s economy is still reeling from the knock-on effect of her tough lockdown, putting it on the back foot for dealing with the global cost-of- living crisis.

Undeterred by the backlash over that, she has introduced laws that will gradually raise the minimum smoking age until it becomes completely illegal — a classic “nanny knows best” move.

Ardern’s five-year journey from beloved national darling to micro-manager is an object lesson for all politicians.

Even in dictatorial China, a rebellious public, weary of tough lockdown restrictions, has managed to force change.

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Jacinda is still only 42 and mum to four-year-old Neve with husband Clarke

Credit: Getty

People like their freedom. And one of the freedoms they like most is the right to change their minds about leaders.

That said, when Jacinda Ardern claims she is suffering from burnout, I believe her. She had a tough job at a tough time, and it’s clearly taken its toll.

“I am not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election but because I believe we can and will,” she insisted, calling for someone new to shoulder the burden.

Still only 42, and mum to four-year-old Neve, born not long after she took office, she said she had considered her future over the Christmas break, hoping to find the heart and energy to go on.

“But unfortunately I haven’t, and I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand to continue,” she explained.

Ardern’s promise to be there for Neve when she starts school this year spoke volumes.

Her admission, as she struggled to maintain her composure, that she was simply running on empty rang true.

But she won’t convince me that if her party was steaming ahead in the polls, she would still be walking away.

She’s not so much quitting while she’s ahead, as quitting ahead of a potential electoral disaster.

And one of her own making.

Time to shut it, Harry

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New polling suggests that less than a quarter of us hold a favourable view of Prince Harry

Credit: Getty

THE popularity of Prince Harry is plummeting – and is anyone surprised?

New polling suggests that less than a quarter of us hold a favourable view of the Montecito moaner after the release of his tell-all memoir Spare.

Harry has seen a steep decline in his personal popularity in recent years. But since his book was published, it appears only to have escalated things.

And it’s having an impact on the wider family, too.

All members of the Royal Family were found to be less popular in recent days than they had been in December, except for the Queen Consort, whose popularity rating did not change.

In his book, Harry charmingly mused over whether Camilla would become his “wicked stepmother” and recalls begging Charles not to marry her.

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Since his book was published, it appears only to have escalated his falling popularity

Credit: Darren Fletcher

There’s a rather pleasing irony that she is the one who remains unscathed.

But if Harry wants to improve those ratings then he’d be wise to put a sock in it.

Peter's got every reason to feel very Abbey

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Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch have been married for 11 years and have four kids

Credit: Instagram

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The former England striker revealed that on their first date he took his stunning wife to an 'old man’s pub'

Credit: Mega

PETER CROUCH may have been Premier League class on the pitch but off it he was strictly lower league. 

The former England striker and stunning wife Abbey Clancy  revealed that on their first date he took her to an “old man’s pub”.

And when she eventually went home with him for the first time, he didn’t have any sheets on the bed – and the toilet was filthy.

Luckily for Peter, Abbey decided he was “the one” on that date.

It seems she was spot on, as the couple have been married for 11 years and have four kids. 

Peter summed it up best when he was famously asked what he would have been if he hadn’t been a footballer. 

“A virgin,” he wittily replied.

Age old story for us women

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Tammy Wynette who famously sang 'sometimes it’s hard to be a woman'

Credit: Redferns

IT was Tammy Wynette who famously sang “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”.

I hate to disagree with her but I’m afraid she’s wrong. It’s hard all the bloody time. 

New figures this week found that mothers in England and Wales are older than ever before. 

There are lots of reasons for that,  but probably the biggest is  more women are pursuing a career, which means putting off having children until later in life. 

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in 2021, the average age of giving birth hit 30.9 – nearly five years older than in the 1970s, when the average was just 26.4 years.

The birth rate has also fallen even more than previously estimated and now sits at a record low. 

Births in women over the age of 40 now double those of teenagers yet, just five decades ago, there were nine times as many teenage mothers having babies as those over 40.

It seems as if we can never win. If you wait until you are stable in your 30s, with a decent career and financial independence, society tells you you’re too old to have a baby. 

But if you have babies in your 20s and have to rely on benefits, you’re labelled a scrounger.

This really is a female struggle.

No one comments negatively about a man’s age when he has a baby. 

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If you’re in your 20s you’re a lad, and if you are 90-odd like Bernie Ecclestone you’re a stud

Credit: Alamy

If you’re in your 20s you’re a lad, and if you are  90-odd like Bernie Ecclestone you’re a stud!

If anyone is reading those stats and worrying, then here’s some advice for free: The best age to have a baby is when you are ready, whatever age that might be.

And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Rob's a nana

WHILE Robert Pattinson might have been the stuff of teenage dreams in Twilight, it appears his new target audience may be a little, er, older.

The former heart-throb appeared at Dior’s Paris Fashion Week show the other day dressed in this  knee-length tweed skirt and a fluffy brown jacket.

Coupled with a turtleneck and sheer, knee-high socks, it looked as if Rob had raided my late grandma’s wardrobe.

The designs are part of the French fashion house’s latest collection and, as brand ambassador, I can’t help but wonder how much they paid him to wear this get up.

A lot, I hope.

Met goes from bad to worse

A HOTLINE to report abuse complaints against Met cops after the PC David Carrick rape scandal hit 700 calls in ONE day.

It’s tragic that we even need such a phone line, let alone  so many people would feel the need to dial in.

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PC David Carrick admitted more than 80 sex offences, including at least 48 rapes

Credit: Reuters

It came after Carrick admitted more than 80 sex offences, including at least 48 rapes. 

He came to police attention nine times for allegations including rape but kept his job.

The new Met chief Sir Mark Rowley admitted the police force had “failed” – but words are not enough.

The force is now investigating 1,000 sexual and domestic abuse claims involving about 800 of its officers, the commissioner has said.  

Sir Mark has also announced all 45,000 Met officers and staff would be rechecked for previously missed offending.

I truly believe  he wants things to change, and they need to. Women should be able to trust and rely on police,  but we’re a long way off at the moment.