by Tim Watkin

As a practical people we have been well served by a focus on policy and outcomes. But the Jami-Lee Ross controversies raise the question, 'how much does character and integrity matter?'

I'm a big believer in the maxim, 'play the ball, not the person'. Indeed, it’s the golden rule of behaviour on Pundit and has helped keep this site a pretty respectful place for over a decade.

The leaders of the main two parties both seem determined to miss a moment when voters would love to see them grapple with the unhealthy culture pervading our political life. It's time to move beyond the same old excuses

One of my first memories of government  –  mingled in my childhood mind as around the time of carless days and the omnipotence of Robert Muldoon – is The Knobz class ‘Culture’. Y’know, the song that goes, “Don’t give me culture, I’m not hearing it Rob. I could run around like a Beehive Boy, but I’d like to see you do my job”.

New Zealand First's push for an immigrants 'values test' has taken a dark turn, so let's have a look at all the things New Zealand First is getting wrong here

The devil is always in the detail. It's often not until you get down to the nitty gritty of an idea that you can tell it doesn't just look bad on the surface, it's truly rotten all the way through. Such it is with New Zealand First's dead-end bill on a values test for immigrants.

Jacinda Ardern may have been misguided showing mercy to Clare Curran two weeks ago given the odds of more coming out. But at least she's not left with a low bar precedent around her neck 

This will be a lesson for a still evolving Prime Minister. Better the Band-Aid is pulled off quickly than the slow, painful tear. The now former Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran could have been shown the door two weeks ago when she admitted to a second failure to properly declare a meeting in her role as minister.

UPDATED: This post is a different version from one published on RNZ this morning. It takes into account Trevor Mallard's decision to halt the inquiry into the leak of Simon Bridge's travel expenses. A decision that doesn't resolve anything

Well that’s as clear as mud. And, in way or another, rather sad. We now know that last Thursday both Opposition leader and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard received a text from someone claiming to be a National MP and taking responsibility for the leak to Newshub of Bridges’ travel expenses.

Let's not remember the visit of Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux for the division and insults. That way, they win. Let's instead remember what we have in common and keep talking

This past weekend my Twitter feed was filled with fear. And some of the anger that stems from it. Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern - thanks for coming. I got bombarded with insults from a handful of people convinced that the pair are right to insist their culture is superior and - contradictorily - in jeopardy from others.

The coalition government has lost its way after the burst of policy in its first 100 days. So Jacinda Ardern's return this weekend signals a key moment in its life... and its path to 2020

Jacinda Ardern returns to Wellington and the full-time job of Prime Minister this weekend carrying not just bags of baby gear - and a new baby - but a whole bundle of political capital.

Debating the rights and wrongs of rights starts with the acknowledgement there is no right and wrong... so where do you draw the line?

I argued in my previous post that a free speech debate played into the hands of the numpties - Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux - who wanted to come to New Zealand to make their case for racial superiority and prejudice. I said it was better to defeat them than ban or martyr them, but I also can't resist dipping my toe in the free speech ripples. 

The national debate over free speech is in many ways a sucker punch  - "Squirrel!" - that has drawn our view away from the equally important job of winning the argument against the racist and ignorant views being expressed by the alt-right commentators

Now I'm up for a free speech stoush as much as the next person, however I can't help but see the debate that has arisen in the past week about the now-abandoned show in New Zealand by a pair of far-right activists as a missed opportunity. 

The birth of a child is almost always a joyous event, but it's especially so for a government that desperately needs the time-out to re-set itself and rediscover its discipline and competence 

As Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters stand poised to fulfill very different dreams, neither of them will be terribly happy with where the government stands on the brink of this wee bit of history.