So, this is what Key is reduced to: refusing to read the Police Report on John Banks so that he can avoid answering questions on it. Key’s circular position is that Banks will remain a minister as long as he has Key’s confidence. The test: Banks’ll continue to have Key’s confidence as long as Key trusts him and Key has to believe whatever Banks tells him.
In the real world, of course, you lose confidence in someone when they tell you one thing and everyone else tells you the opposite. But because Key refuses to examine the veracity of Banks’ statement, refuses to even look at the evidence, he can continue to pretend to believe him.
It’s all fake. All Key’s shifting semantic games are fake. He doesn’t believe a word of it.
The truth is, Key is too weak to fire Banks. He knows that, if he does, Banks could do anything – most likely, resign from the House and leave the Right with 60 votes, a tie with the Left (plus the Maori Party) and unable to pass any of its agenda.
That leaves Key weak and twisting in the wind in interview after interview.
There’s heaps in the Police Report to keep this going for weeks. I predict Key will stonewall until November, then he’ll sack Banks and trigger a by-election to be held very early in 2013. It’ll be a purely cynical attempt to get Banks out of the way with as little disruption to the government’s legislative time table as possible.
But what will happen to Key’s public image in the meantime?