BY ETHAN GRIFFITHS

Yep, it’s that time of month again. Trump and Kim, the fancy new conservatives, Winnie as PM and our own Prime Miniature. This month has certainly been another crazy one. Jump in with me and let’s explore the month that was June in politics.

 

The Conservatives take a ‘new’ approach

You may have never heard of the Conservative Party, and there sure is a lot to hear about. The party’s policies include opposition to abortion, immigration and same sex marriage. A few of the more interesting policies is a flat out ban of pornography in New Zealand, and their belief that it should be legal to smack children if they are misbehaving.

They formed in 2011, founded by businessman Colin Craig, and contested the 2011 election with almost no luck. In 2014, they looked to have found their feet, with polls before the election showing they’d get a few seats in Parliament, and the media alluding to the possibility of a National and Conservative coalition government. Just before the election however, the party’s press secretary, Rachel MacGregor resigned, citing party leader Colin Craig’s alleged manipulative behaviour and sexual harassment. Craig denied these allegations, but in the end admitted to “acting inappropriately”. Subsequently, the party only got 3.9% of the votes, meaning no seats in Parliament.

Since then, the party found itself a new leader, builder Leighton Baker, who was leader during the 2017 election. Despite the party distancing themselves heavily from Colin Craig, the party only got  0.2% of the vote, almost 20 times fewer votes than three years earlier, and obviously with those numbers, not a single seat in Parliament.

This month, however, party leader Leighton Baker announced a refresh, and a new name. Now known as the ‘New Conservatives’, the party aims to win enough votes in 2020 to become a viable coalition partner for National, who have little to no chance ever forming a government again with no coalition partners, or ‘friends’, in Parliament.

Trump and Kim sit down, have a feed and talk nukes

History was made this month when US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time at a resort in Singapore, which was also the first time a US President has ever met a North Korean leader. The two shook hands, shared a meal and talked international relations with one another, while the world watched on. The talks were miraculously progressive, considering the fact the two shared insults with each other in 2017, when Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’ and refused to rule out full scale nuclear warfare. The two met to discuss North Korea no longer working on nuclear missiles, and an eventual full scale denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The talks looked successful, with 8000 journalists from around the world who traveled to Singapore watching on as North Korea vowed to destroy its nuclear weapon sites and stop its campaign to arm itself with the worlds deadliest weapon. The pair even seemed to get along so well that Trump escorted Kim outside and showed him inside his presidential limousine, some thinking because of Kims well known love for cars. Despite the fun times and good will, NBC in the States reported the other day that North Korea is instead planning to up its production of nuclear weapons, in case something goes wrong. Its seeming that both sides are gearing up for a game of cat and mouse.

Prime Miniature Neve Gayford is born!

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Clarke Gayford and Governor General Dame Patsy Ready on Waitangi Day. Released by Governor Generals Office.

Arguably the proudest moment for new mum Jacinda Ardern was holding her new born baby in her arms after the most tumultuous year of her life. Early in the morning on the 21st of June, Ardern was rushed to hospital in her own car, driven by her TV Presenter partner Clarke Gayford to give birth at Auckland Hospital, awaited by millions of people here in New Zealand and around the world.

As the “labour leader in labour” jokes rolled in on Twitter, the Prime Minister gave birth to a baby girl weighing 3.31 kilos at 4.45pm in the afternoon. The Prime Minister announced the birth by sharing a photo of her and Clarke with the baby on Instagram, sending the internet into a frenzy and almost receiving more likes on the photo than she had followers following her Instagram. The news broke all over the world on CNN, the BBC and the New York Times, and she received well wishes from well known celebrities like P!NK, Lorde, the Kardashians, world leaders and the Queen. The world got their first glimpse of the newborn as Ardern and Gayford left the hospital, as well as announcing her name; Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford. Jacinda will now spend six weeks on maternity leave at her home in Sandringham, Auckland, after which First Bloke Clarke Gayford will become a stay-at-home dad.

Prime Minister Winston Peters?!

It looks as if the man we know as Uncle Winston has finally done it… well, sort of. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern entered hospital to give birth to her baby girl, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters became Acting Prime Minister for six weeks, while Ardern is on maternity leave looking after her baby Neve.

Its not a new title for Winston; he’s done it before when he was made deputy to National’s Prime Minister Jim Bolger in 1996, but its the first time he’s been an acting PM in nineteen years, prompting some to wonder just exactly what is on the cards for the next few weeks. He’s already shown some hostility to the media in his first two post-cabinet meeting press conferences, but is there a storm brewing ahead for the government with Winston at the helm? Only time will tell.

Simon Bridges stuffs up, live on air

Simon Bridges speaking at the International Transport Forum in 2015. Sourced from International Transport Forum

Arguably still getting used to the position, recently appointed National party leader Simon Bridges made some comments that some have taken as offensive, live on air in an interview for Radio Hauraki. Bridges said that “she should be made to go to school in boys clothes right?”, alluding to the fact that Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford’s new child had progressive and liberal parents. He was also asked if it was ‘politically correct’ to have a female baby, to which he responded “only under a Labour government”. He even went as far as to call the two day old baby a ‘pinko’, which drew heavy distaste from Twitter.

Bridges’ comments have caused offence to members of the transgender community, with some speaking out, demanding Bridges to apologise. An opinion item from Newshub’s Tova O’Brien, calling out Bridges’ transphobia and demanding an apology, was shared hundreds of times on social media by members of the public across all political divides. Despite that however, Bridges refused to apologised, saying it was all in the ‘context’ of the interview, and even went as far as encouraging people to listen to it.

National party leaders have a known history with controversial interviews on Radio Hauraki, when in 2015, then Prime Minister John Key caused offence and was ridiculed when he was asked and then answered questions like “was Mary really a virgin?”, “do you pee in the shower?” and “have you ever sent a dick pic?”. The interview went viral around the world, even doing the rounds on late-night US talk show comedy, most notably on John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight.

Another month, been and gone. This next one is already geared up to be an interesting one, with Jacinda away, Winston at the helm, and Simon still coming to terms with his new position. Make sure to chuck Tearaway in your bookmarks bar, you won’t want to miss this one.

Young, passionate and a wannabe babysitter for Jacinda’s baby, Ethan won’t stop talking about politics. Likes a bit of cricket, wearing trendy ties and is in love with Jeff the purple wiggle. Check out more of his work below:

An Interview With Jehan Casinader

Why is Interest in Politics Dying?

Tom Sainsbury: The Face of Election 2017 Memes

Womad: More Than Just Music

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