Posts Tagged ‘John Key’

Some mandate

November 10, 2008

The kiwiblogright seem to think that Saturday’s election represents a great victory. Sorry to spoil the party, but here’s what happened last week…

First off, we saw the end of the Reagan era in the right’s ideological heartland. On “Face the Nation” this morning, leading conservative commentator David Brooks sees the US conservative movement with “no leaders,” in a “world of pain,” and “lacking a coherent belief system.” Very soon, the most powerful man in the world will be a redistributing “socialist.”

In NZ, the right-wing bloc got 49.17% on election night. Some majority. Okay, I’ll be generous, 50.06% if you count Dunne. But that could reduce with specials. The left bloc got 45.34% (including Winnie on the left), 4.72% less than the right bloc. A 2.5% swing would see a change of government in three years.

The 43 or 44 strong Labour caucus includes at least 13 capable new members, and Goff will be a formidable leader. It will provide serious oppostion. (Don’t believe me? Listen to Richard Prebble agreeing with Mark Goshe about this.) Forty-three or four seats is a useful base — look at the come-back National staged in 2005 with a whole lot less.

And remember, the National Party might have won, but its ideology didn’t. It spent 9 years out of power because it took so long to wake up to how deeply unpopular neo-liberal ideas are in NZ, and then got into power after frantically working to convince NZers that it would only tamper a little bit — promise, hand on heart –with much of what Labour’s done over those 9 years.

Perhaps, we should let the kiwiblogright relish the victory while they can. it may be a very long time before they get another to celebrate.

Day after analysis

November 9, 2008

The victor takes the stage and eloquently frames the  historic moment for the cheering masses. He understands the grave economic and other perils facing the nation, and the need to tackle the problems collaboratively, and extends a bipartisan hand to his beaten opponents.

The sad thing for NZ is that, bar the odd kiwiblogright fanatic who has strayed this way, no-one reading this would mistake it for NZ last night. Our new prime minister’s delusions notwithstanding, the difference between this week’s two victors is measured in light-years, and is captured in the contrast between the election night speeches.

NZ’s new leader has demonstrated little grasp of the economic situation confronting the country, or of what leadership entails. He sleepwalked his way to power, winning an election notable for the lack of excitement and charisma on display. The small parties provided the interest. Otherwise, it was a tawdry, uninspiring affair.

His party’s win was not a triumph of policy. National has spent the last couple of years frantically trying to convince people it would not undo much of what has been achieved over the past nine years. The party won, but its ideology lost. (Although not completely. Labour’s third-way social democracy has been a corporatist compromise with neo-liberalism rather than a repudiation of it.)

Nor was it that the “men couldn’t cope with the idea of being led by an intelligent, idealistic, free-spirited woman … voted [her] out of office” as Chris Trotter argues. Certainly Clark has benefitted from the devotion of a generation of women (and some of their daughters) who were socialised in the 1960s and 1970s. There may be an element of male chauvinism, but if it were simply about that, how to account for three election wins in a row (albeit against weak opponents)?

If anything, the electorate succumbed to Helen-fatigue, or was repulsed by the arrogance with which initiatives such as the anti-smacking and electoral finance bills were imposed rather than sold, and economic policy rolled out. Clark’s not the only culprit there, but her own superiority complex did not equip her to rein in such behaviour by others. NZ voters will put up with a lot if they perceive competence and decisiveness (rightly or, as in the case of Muldoon, not), but inevitably there is a corrosive effect.

For the meantime though, John Key has the helm, and he will need our goodwill and support if he — and we — are to manage the issues that beset the world. He has a great deal to learn. I sincerely hope that he is up to the challenge.

Flip flop #9,087,425

September 9, 2008

Seems that John Key has done it again. Announced policy off-the-cuff and back-tracked later. TV3 reports that, speaking to an Auckland families forum yesterday, Key “veered away from a written speech … appearing to announce in off the cuff remarks that National would axe the commission.”

“He said there was “a ton of money being spent on it”, and he would rather give the money to non-government organisations delivering front-line services.”

Someone must have reminded him later that he might need the suport of Peter Dunne and the United Future Party, whose baby it is (its establishment was a key condition of the Party’s support agreement with Labour after the 2002 election).

Today we have the inevitable backtrack:

“… National would merely “rebalance” the commission and he expected United Future to find the changes acceptable. [Key] refused to comment on the details of National’s policy, but said there was still a place for advocacy for families somewhere in the bureaucracy.”

Inexperienced, muddled, duplicitous. For a righter future, vote National.

Barack or Paris?

September 1, 2008

John Key has compared himself with Barack Obama in today’s Financial Times.

“I’m a bit like Obama. I am not institutionalised in Wellington,” Mr Key told the Financial Times from his parliamentary office. “I had 18 years in the commercial world and I will be quite pragmatic.”

Umm, Obama didn’t have 18 years in the commercial world. He worked as a community organizer and practised as a civil rights lawyer, which is vastly different from working at Merrill Lynch.

He’s not promising pragmatism, either. Rather, “change you can believe in.”

He’s proposing a detailed programme of progressive reform. Not odd scraps of policy in bullet points that are deliberately vague in the places where right-wing reforms are planned.

The FT does make the point that should he win Key, “will become the most inexperienced politician to lead New Zealand in more than 100 years if he succeeds in winning government. Hadn’t heard that before, but then I’ve been reading the Herald. Note to self: read more quality overseas papers to learn the truth about what’s going on in NZ.

Key like Obama? I would have thought Paris Hilton, but then, she put on a flawless performance in that last video.

[Update: Helen Clark has labelled the comparison “ludicrous”.]

Did SFO tip off Key?

September 1, 2008

Prime Minister Clark aired her suspicions this morning on TV One’s Breakfast programme that the Serious Fraud Office tipped off the National Party last week about its intention to investigate NZ First:

“I find the National Party’s statement and timing interesting because I would say it’s almost certain they got a tip from the Serious Fraud Office that it was about to move.”

It’s a fair point. That exact same thought occurred to me last week. The timing, as with the whole series of revelations about donations to Winston Peters, was just too neatly timed. In the real world you expect a little messiness. But messiness detracts from PR impact (as John McCain is finding to his cost this week).

Clark’s “challenged Key and the SFO “directly to come clean because I think it’s a very serious thing if an agency like the SFO is leaking to the Opposition.”

Inspector Keyseau on the case — nyot anymeur

August 13, 2008

Inspector Clouseau’s a.k.a. John Key’s hunt for the mysterious taper has been foiled by fuzzy security camera tapes.

In some ways this is disappointing. It has been suggested that the Nats would be better off looking for “hip” anarchists than young Labourites. It was pretty damn daring, after all. Imagine Key’s embarrassment if it turned out to be the case that it was an anarchist.

Meanwhile, Steve Pierson at The Standard points out that we’ve missed something important in the Loose Lips English recording. I think he’s right. The words “But it’s working” have been construed as referring to Kiwibank, but that always did sound a little strange. Banks don’t “work”. But strategies do. Take another look:

ENGLISH: So we’re sitting here saying the punters are keen to keep it. They’re facing a recession. The last thing we want is to spend the whole election campaign with families of four on TV saying “Mr Key’s taking money off us”. You can’t do that. So later on we’re gonna have to have a bit of a sort out. Yeah, we’re gonna do something, but we can’t do it now…
DELEGATE: What about getting rid of Kiwibank, I mean…
ENGLISH: Well, eventually, but not now. Well, its working. A lot of our supporters get a bit antsy about it, but it’s working. It’s like a lot of things…”

So, the Crosby-Textor managed “Labour-lite” strategy is working — as we know — the conservatives get antsy about that — as they would — but it’s just a matter of getting through the election and then we can have a “bit of a sort out.”

I think we should know now what is going to be “sorted out”, thanks.

Oh, and the tapes. It was always a lame-brained idea, John.

That is what we have been saying you fewl!

Oh the hypocrisy!

August 10, 2008

Today’s SST breaks the story that John Key has been lining up Don “Brethren, what Brethren?” Brash for High Commissioner in London. Yep, that’s the plumiest job there is within the purview of the NZ government.

“Key told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday that no decision had been made ‘at this point’. However ‘we’re not saying it’s not possible that he could be used in some capacity by a future National government’.”

Recent incumbents include John “Mind that table” Collinge, former National Party president, and Jonathan Hunt a.k.a. the well-fed state, former Labour Party appendage personage.

Apparently, Key discussed giving Brash a post in either London or Washington when he replaced him in 2006 as party leader, as part of an effort to assuage the losers after the Key take-over. The report notes that “Key plans to end [the career diplomat incumbent’s] posting early and replace him with Brash in 2009.”

But wait! The effort to placate Brash and his people with job promises was lead by Murray McCully, you say? Surely not the same McCully who has been leading the Nats’ attack on political appointments all year?

Should we be surprised? Hypocrites.

[Update: QB at The Hive prides herself on being close to these matters — they loom so large in the close and incestuous little village that is Wellington. QB says, “We are frankly unconvinced. Washington would be our choice. There is talk around town about Bolger being offered London.” The SST’s analysis seems more sound. There is a very good reason not to send Brash to Washington: “Gone by lunchtime.”]

Fran(k) assessment of the damage to Nats

August 9, 2008

Amazingly, a fairly balanced assessment of the fallout from National’s week from hell from Fran O’Salivatin’ in this morning’s Granny: “Loose words sparking talk of hidden agenda.”

National’s been stung, but not by Bill “Loose Lips” English, writes Fran. Nonetheless:

“There will be more chatter during the election campaign as National’s opponents try to draw a link between him and the publication of emails that ended Don Brash’s reign.

“But the vexed relationship on show is between Key and English.”

And that’s the fascinating part. Fran then retails the “story that emerged after two journalistic confidantes, who went with Key on a social spree in the Capital earlier this year, let loose that Key expected English to attempt a coup some day, perhaps to wrestle the prime ministership away (assuming he gets there).”

This was first reported on The Standard in June. (In respect of the previous post here but one, that the blog “reported” the story, now the journos are picking it up.)

Fran also opines that the affair has given:

“Labour an opening to spin into proof positive that National has a hidden agenda which will result in cutbacks to the tax credits programme and the sale of Kiwibank if it takes office.”

But she goes on to note that “Key and English had already helped create perceptions of a hidden agenda.” Too true. Good one Fran.

She’s certainly right about National’s opponents using this opportunity to shed light on National’s internal fracturing. They are already on the case… see the video below (hat-tip: The Standard.) Just imagine what would happen if National lose the election. Pure Tarantino.

Chief suspect in Key rubbish case collared

August 8, 2008

Woof!

Note: At least Granny had the decency to publish this picture in this morning’s paper.

Memo to National Caucus

August 6, 2008

Another National Party email has been leaked, this time to jafapete. It appears to refer to secretly taped conversations with senior National MPs Bill “Loose Lips” English and Lockwood Smith.

CONFIDENTIAL
From: CT

To: John Key

4 August 2008

What’s up with you guys?! First English, now this Smith guy. The Plan depends on everyone sticking to the message and only the message. All the time. Hell, even Boris managed that much, after we stopped his booze supply.

You will need to reiterate to Caucus that all our polling and focus group data shows clearly that to win you need the Labour Plus voters thinking that they can bank Labour’s social policies and that they don’t have to worry about another round of Ruthanasia. This is a precondition to them accepting your tax cuts. ANY deviation from this line jeopardises the election.

They do not need to worry about party members. The big donors are sorted, and that’s all that matters at this point.

In the meantime, proceed with the “red herring” strategy we discussed yesterday. Our papers have promised to stress this aspect of the story. We need to bury it quickly so that it doesn’t interfere with the Peters scam.

Mark

[Update: The Standard note, in respect of the diversionary tactics employed by Key (i.e. say it’s Labour’s doing, even when you have no evidence) that, “Labour denies all knowledge and frankly they wouldn’t have the balls to do something like this. In desperation, Key also suggested that the tape is somehow doctored, which is ludicrous, seeing as English has already confessed to his comments…”]