JACINDA ARDERN is a woman you would want as your best friend, never mind as Prime Minister of your country.
She has shown strength, empathy and warmth on a scale we don’t see or expect from our politicians any more.
When New Zealand was traumatised by the vile terror attacks on mosques in Christchurch she instinctively knew what had to be done.
Jacinda showed decisive leadership but also real empathy and seemed to enfold the nation in a massive hug.
She gave reassurance and offered deep-felt sympathy to the bereaved and wounded.
The photo of her embracing those in distress was from the heart, not for the cameras.
As if that wasn’t enough to convince us Jacinda is some sort of superwoman, she took immediate action to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws.
She vowed to ban all semi- automatic and assault weapons and expects new laws to be fully in place by mid-April.
We know it will be. This is a politician who listens to her people, rolls up her sleeves and gets things done.
Americans urging Trump to stand up to the powerful gun lobby cheered Jacinda’s stance, while despairing about what happens over in the States after similar atrocities.
US politicians, many of them mere puppets of the NRA, refuse to change the gun laws.
They offer mealy-mouthed “thoughts and prayers” while people are killed in mass shootings that have become almost commonplace.
After the murders of 16 children and their teacher in Dunblane in 1996, the UK government brought in strict gun controls to prevent further massacres by madmen.
It was their duty and responsibility to all of us.
Jacinda Ardern knew she had to do the same in New Zealand. Not only to help the bereaved, but so other people — no matter their class, colour or faith — feel safer.
DON’T GIVE IN TO HATE
Like Jacinda, I will not name the bastard who killed 50 innocent Muslims. Just like I refuse to utter the name of the Dunblane killer.
The terrorist in Christchurch wanted publicity. He wanted to strike fear into the hearts of a peaceful, integrated society.
He even posted live footage of the shootings on social media.
I will never, ever look at that inhumane video.
Why give this sicko and his ilk what they want? Why let him make you feel threatened?
We should hold these mass murderers in contempt and mock them for being cowards.
I will not let myself be terrorised. Neither will Jacinda and the people of New Zealand.
Their response has been magnificent.
They have stood shoulder to shoulder with Muslim citizens, assuring them of support and friendship.
I was moved to tears by the sight of teenagers performing the Maori haka to honour the dead. The stories of bravery and heroism are humbling.
And astonishingly, survivors have even found it in their hearts to forgive the monster who targeted them.
That is the definition of humanity, and that is something Jacinda has shown the world.
She is only 38. She gave birth while in office and has a ten-month-old baby.
Some questioned whether a new mum was up to the job.
She emphatically proved them wrong and emerged as one of the finest leaders the free world has ever produced.
Her words “You Are Us” to the NZ Muslim community set the tone for everything that came next.
She vowed her government would pay for funerals and provide financial assistance for the bereaved.
This is crisp, no-nonsense practical help that took away a difficult burden from people trying to come to terms with the worst possible tragedy.
She stressed how inclusive, welcoming, fair, decent and honest her nation is, and showed an integrity and strength that’s sadly lacking in almost all our UK politicians.
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What a bunch of pygmies they appear in contrast.
Jacinda is what a modern- day PM looks and sounds like.
She is the kind of woman you want in a crisis, calmly fighting fires and making the world a better place.
I only wish there were more like her.
Fish film left me chipper
IF YOU are looking for a feel-good film with heart that will have you smiling, crying and even singing along, check out Fisherman’s Friends.
It’s based on the real-life story of a group of Cornish fishermen who loved to sing traditional sea shanties and somehow found themselves with a record deal, after being dubbed “the oldest boyband in the music business”.
It has the same sort of atmosphere as the 1983 film Local Hero, about a brash outsider who discovers there’s more to life than money and possessions.
The cast includes the always excellent Daniel Mays as the fish out of water, David Hayman at the heart of the story, and a rugged, grumpy but ridiculously fanciable James Purefoy as the alpha male of the group.
For James it was a chance to add yet another completely different character to his already impressive acting CV – and also to spend hours “rehearsing” in the local pub with the rest of the cast and crew.
He even sings rather impressively and will no doubt spark a demand for cable-knit jumpers. There are no big surprises, but the film is as comforting as tucking into fish and chips in front of a roaring fire in your cosy local pub.
Catherine the great
I TAKE my hat off to Catherine Tyldesley, who looked sensational this week in her holiday snaps from Dubai.
The ex-Corrie star could have been a supermodel posing for a glossy magazine.
I know in the past she’s struggled with her weight, but exercise and healthy eating have given her the body she deserves. Catherine has also kept the weight off and, after the birth of her son Alfie five years ago, looks better than ever.
It must help having personal trainer Tom Pitford as a hubby, but she still has to put in the work.
Corrie has left the door open for her to return as ditsy Eva Price, and we will see her soon in Channel 5 crime drama 15 Days.
Meanwhile, I hope Catherine enjoys the sunshine and spending time with the family.
DIY test is Jade legacy
IT’S ten years since poor Jade Goody died of cervical cancer.
Sadly, she will never know the extent of the “Jade Effect” that has seen thousands of young women have smear tests.
I’ve met women whose lives were saved purely because they read about Jade. But in recent years there has been a fall in the number of women turning up for tests, with nearly a third ignoring appointment letters.
As a result, more than 800 females a year are dying needlessly. But if caught early enough, cervical cancer can be treated successfully.
To try to save lives, it was announced this week that a “home kit” will be sent through the post to women who don’t turn up for smear tests at their local GP surgery or clinic.
It’s apparently as easy to use as a tampon, and will be available at the end of this year. Then there will be no excuse for those who feel awkward about having the procedure done by a nurse.
Jade died aged 27, leaving two little boys without a mother.
I know she would urge every single woman to have a test, whether it’s DIY at home or by a quick and efficient nurse.
She’d be the first one to say how stupid it would be to die because of embarrassment.
Let Sam be Sam
I COULDN’T care less whether singer Sam Smith identifies as male, female or neither.
It’s up to him and has nothing to do with the rest of us.
All that should really matter is this talented individual keeps making beautiful music for us all to enjoy.
I fail to understand why everyone gets so incensed about how people choose to define themselves.
Just let people live their lives without being constantly judged and, in far too many cases, abused and ridiculed.
It’s actually easier and better for your own mental and physical health to be kind rather than mean-spirited. So why not give it a go?
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