Jessica Mutch McKay: PM sees shift after protest and hecklers

Jessica Mutch McKay
Source: 1News

Opinion: This week will have been a new experience for our Prime Minister.

She’s been heckled in Northland, forced out the back door by protesters in Whanganui, and angry crowds meant she had to call off her visit to Hunterville.

Over the election campaign the Prime Minister was mobbed by her adoring public, desperate for a handshake and a photo for the ‘gram.

This week, the Prime Minister will feel the contrast.

Usually if the public are around they’ll be hissing at the media for asking tough questions. This week she has been the target, and she hasn’t had that before.  

It's not the tide turning for the Prime Minister, but a shift in current.

There’s no way the events in Northland and Whanganui look good for the Prime Minister.

I think she handled the Northland heckler well, she shut him down and moved away, it stopped a messy stoush. But that’s not what she wants to be talking about or dealing with. She’s got vaccination rates to get up. When it comes to leaving out the back door and missing pre-planned engagements - it ain’t pretty.

It may only be a few hundred anti-vaxers protesting, but that’s enough to shake up the Prime Minister's schedule and change the daily news narrative.   

Over the years, I’ve covered my fair share of protests and there's energy, but not usually anger. Yesterday on the ground it was pretty aggressive.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to Auckland next week for the first time in three months. She’ll be hoping those scenes don’t get repeated in our biggest city.