Written By: - Date published: 10:41 am, September 9th, 2013 - 158 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, capitalism, class war, david cunliffe, democratic participation, economy, grant robertson, john key, labour, Shane Jones, slippery, telecommunications, workers' rights - Tags: income inequality
In his post today quoting Shane Jones, Tim Selwyn calls John Key the gorilla in the House: the one that the next Labour caucus leader needs to “take it to“. John Key has always been the current National government’s greatest strength in using his wily bankster ways to sell their anti-democratic, economy damaging, international pro-corporate agenda: one that is damaging for the long term prospects for the country and the majority of New Zealanders, especially those struggling on low incomes.
John Key’s strength and weakness is in the way he treats the New Zealand government as a corporate entity and manages it in a top-down way, like a CEO. Key likes to be top dog, is highly competitive, does not easily accept criticism, and will fight tough to maintain that status. When challenged, as he was by Dotcom during the GCSB public submissions process, he can turn defense into attack. Or he will use the downplay ploy: shrug, deny the criticism is of any consequence, and us and aw-shucks, shrug to convey that he’s not bovered. (As he did when talking, 2 minutes into the video, about the current Labour leadership contest).
Key is not to be underestimated. He bided his time while John Campbell continually undermined Key’s agenda to extend the powers of the GCSB. It’s highly likely Team key were working on his lines and strategies, so that when he did front up to Campbell, Key showed just what a formidable opponent he can be.
John Key honed his strategies and made his fortune and reputation in the world of speculative banking. It’s a macho world of competition and macho bravado.
Joris Luyendijk, posted recently in the Guardian about this bankster world and its players, based on his conversations with a former trader. The trader describes the competitive buzz of working in the financial trading market. the trader explains:
“It’s really hard to convey what makes a trading floor such a mesmerising place. Guys jumping up and down, shouting ‘yours’ or ‘mine’ … bam bam bam. You ask if it’s about power? Well, the financial markets are an important part of the mechanisms that enforce capitalism.
“Trading is a quintessentially male environment. You have to be on your toes all the time. Say one clumsy thing and it will stick with you for years. Sometimes that’s okay because there is often a bit of humour attached to these things. Just as often people are humiliated.
“We play pranks. We once raided the bank’s stores of Blu-Tack, a substance used for sticking papers on a wall. Then we put Blu-Tack all over a guy’s desk. How it works, you taunt someone but at the same time it’s all fun and games. It’s a way to let off steam and also a way of signalling to him: I’m in your camp.
“Where I worked people seemed obsessed with power structures and keeping on top. For instance when someone was made redundant a remaining trader would do a deal between his book and that person’s, creating a profit in his book and a loss in that of the person leaving.
“Many of the people I worked with seemed fixated with money and status. Several guys who would tell anybody about the value of their car or their house through to the size of the tips they had given during their last holiday. I mean, how boring can that be?
“Many did extreme sports for charity, for example run a marathon. We’d be expected to contribute and you could see who of your colleagues gave what – substantial amounts. It’s another competition for them.
Part of the mythology that Key trades on is his state house to debating House journey, promoted as being a walking example of meritocracy. Such a mythology also seems rife in the bankster world, while cronyism and nepotism is actually pretty strong. The former trader told Luyendijk,
“There seems to be this general impression that most traders are upper middle-class types. I found that the traders were mostly barrow boys from Essex, really tough working class. Tough and churlish. What I found strange was that although several were obviously working class, they would constantly disparage ‘chavs’ and people with tattoos etc.
“One of my colleagues would talk to his wife, hang up the phone and then make fun of her in front of us. That was perceived as normal. Guys often refer to females as ‘wallets’, as in wallet-chasers. Perhaps that is actually the reality for some of these guys.
Nice finishing school that John Key went to! No wonder his government has not been friendly to women, using them in supporting roles, while their bennie bashing hits single mothers hardest. The callous disregard of bankster for the lives they damage, is played well by Bill Nighy in this video,
The title of this post loosely refers to the spy movie the Quiller Memorandum. Let’s hope that, if Cunliffe does became Labour caucus leader (not yet a certainty), he really does have Key’s number, and he can use it successfully. (h/t micky savage). During the Labour leadership roadshow at Dunedin, Cunliffe is reported as saying:
Labour has underestimated John Key. I won’t. I have his number and he knows it.
Cunliffe’s reference is to numbers in gambling, not phone numbers. But for Key it is all gambling, status and profit seeking. For the left, the way forward is by genuine 2-way, and multiply-connected communications. It’s time to end Key’s stint as casino capitalist, and work towards a government that engages democratically with the NZ public: in person, through the media, and through the communications technologies available, and through democratic processes.
The left and it’s political representatives need to find a way to successfully work together to re-build a democratic, fair, inclusive and just NZ.
[Update] The published version of Cunliffe’s speech at Dunedin uses the word “measure” not “number”.
Labour has consistently under-estimated John Key. I won’t. But I’ve got his measure and he knows it.