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Why the Right is worried 2: Key

Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, October 19th, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: brand key - Tags: ,

Key’s tarnished brand – While the economy burns, Key is fiddling with spiders. He is the good times PM, all about getting himself in front of a camera and having a grin – as if he’s on a 3 year project in collecting pictures for his photo album, rather than Prime Minister and leader of the country. The way Key responded to Paul Henry’s  racist outburst against the Governor-General by just sitting there grinning and making a joke was a very public exposure of the fact that the man is not a leader and has no principles.

David Farrar has admitted that Key’s personal brand is all that National has; as it loses lustre, the party is stuffed. People want a government that they think is working for their interests, not what one National MP calls ‘The John Key Show‘. We want someone who does the job they were chosen to do, not a circus clown who tries to make us feel like everything is OK when it isn’t.

Key got away with failures of leadership in the past, but the Henry incident marked a turning point. Now, Key is being embarrassed for refusing to congratulate the Nobel Peace Prize winner for fear of annoying China and looking cold-hearted for not stepping in to prevent the deportation of three Kiwi kids to the Indian slums. The Teflon is flaking off and we’re seeing there’s nothing underneath.

So, expect to see more and more the Right go from leading hero worship of Key to attacking Goff and Labour. They know there’s a fight on now, and they’ll go hammer and tongs. The first tactic will be a mantra of ‘Goff can’t win’. As the poll numbers continue to sour, it’ll get more personal. They won’t try to fight on policy (they never do), instead they’ll try to frame every policy as hypocrisy by comparing it to something in the past. But none of these are offensive tactics, they’re all attempts to slow down the loss of votes to the Left.

Next – Part 3: Policy. Full series here.

54 comments on “Why the Right is worried 2: Key”

  1. comedy 1

    One of the most ironic posts ever.

    Oh what joy, a presidential type campaign from both sets of drongos with two of the nicest yet most uninspiring, boring and vapid candidates for PM since…… well since last election.. and the time before that…….. and the time before that.

    • Bright Red 1.1

      vote on policy then, not personality. That’s what I’ll be doing.

      It’s the drongos who vote for Key because they think he’s funny that worry me… and that National depends on to win.

      • comedy 1.1.1

        Are those the same drongos who voted for Helen in 2005 because they were scared of the religious bogeymen ?

        And as for policy all well and good but I trust you remember the old Whittakers chocolate ad ?

        • Lanthanide 1.1.1.1

          Labour won the 2005 election because of the late-breaking interest-free-student-loans bribe. The fact that it is also bloody sensible policy doesn’t hurt, either.

          • bbfloyd 1.1.1.1.1

            L…if it was “bloody sensible policy”, then why would you need to call it a bribe?

            • Lanthanide 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Because it was a bribe. Just because it’s sensible, doesn’t mean it isn’t also a bribe.

              If they’d announced it, say, 4-5 months before the election, as opposed to a few days before, then it wouldn’t be as obviously a bribe.

        • Irascible 1.1.1.2

          More than likely the same persons who think that Paul Henry, Paul Holmes, Michael Laws and Key are deep thinking individuals with rational analysis based on informed evidence. Even the mis-managers at TVNZ have realised that the Henry-Key exercise in informed debate was beyond the pale…

        • Vicky32 1.1.1.3

          “Are those the same drongos who voted for Helen in 2005 because they were scared of the religious bogeymen ?”
          You are editing history, comedy. As you well know, the issue was not the EBs, it was the Nats’ dishonesty. The “last straw”, that was…

          • comedy 1.1.1.3.1

            Vicky

            I think you’ll find that a number of drongos did vote against the Nats purely because of the EB bogeymen, that does not however discount Lathanide and yourself making the point that some also voted due to the student loan bribe and the Nats dishonesty.

            Just like the last election some voted due to the tax bribe, some voted against Labour dishonesty and some voted due to the nanny state bogeyman and a proportion, of course, just vote for the team they’ve always voted for

            • bbfloyd 1.1.1.3.1.1

              C… if you keep going round in ever decreasing circles like that, you are in danger of disappearing up your own arse..

            • Vicky32 1.1.1.3.1.2

              I think you’ll find, comedy, that I know a tad more about why people voted *against* National than you do! Perhaps the only person who would have voted against the Nats specifically on religious grounds would have been Leighton Smith – if he voted which he doesn’t because he wishes he was American and so won’t get NZ citizenship…
              I shouldn’t ask, but er – what Labour dishonesty?
              Deb

              • Bill

                The right to vote isn’t reliant upon having citizenship.

                • Vicky32

                  Ah, I didn’t know that – and it seems neither did Leighton Smith back in the days I used to listen to him! (He specifically said he didn’t want NZ citizenship because he wanted to go (back) to the USA, having been there when he was 2 years old.) :D
                  Deb

  2. deemac 2

    the local election results have certainly got the right worried hence the move from belittling Goff as ineffective to attacking him as dangerous. Shows Labour is on the right track! We need policies to help NZ not image manipulation and spin, and as more voters feel the pain in their wallets, the smile and wave approach will wear thin.

  3. Sweetd 3

    deemac

    While the local elections are interesting, I wouldn’t see this as the start of a trend. Brown ran and was elected as an independent, and while I know people that voted for him, these same people have not and will not vote labour in the national election.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      That’s why Brown spoke at the Labour conference, right? And why the media have called him “the Labour candidate for Auckland”?

      All of the major centres went left in the local elections, except for CHCH where Parker’s no-campaign campaign after the quake got him over the line, although he clearly doesn’t deserve it for simply doing his job as any other responsible mayor would have.

      • Rob 3.1.1

        I think the point is that voting Brown in the local may not be the same as voting Labour in the national election. There was a general apathy to the local thing, lots of people did not vote. They are unsure on how it is all going to work and a still a little naive to how big it is all going to be , the super city et al.

        Also I think you need to be careful labelling JK as a good time prime minister – he inherited a shit sandwich as a result of a whole lot of things. He did not ride the previous good environment, where a lot of things could have been actioned that wern’t. Be careful, people that are looking to cast their vote in a discerned manner do have memories.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          I think the point is that voting Brown in the local may not be the same as voting Labour in the national election. There was a general apathy to the local thing, lots of people did not vote.

          Yes there was a lot of apathy. Amongst Banks’ National leaning supporters.

          Len’s Labour leading supporters did just fine with their turn out however, as you may have noticed.

          By the way we are not saying that JK is a Prime Minister for good times. We are saying that the reason he is Prime Minister is because he wants to have a good time.

          • Rob 3.1.1.1.1

            Exactly the point, so what happens when the same degree of apathy is not there, and they are committed to vote. Remember the memories of the previous years was carter, tizard, king et al having a fuken great time.

        • Irascible 3.1.1.2

          Key made his own sandwich at the Double Dipton Cafe. He selected his own fillings.

      • Sweetd 3.1.2

        So the way to get a labour candidate elected is to have them all stand as independents and not under the labour brand? For all the trend of going left in local elections, it is not reflected to any great degree in the national scene. Therefore, I think local and national elections are comparing apples and oranges. People vote for different things at different government levels.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1

          People vote for different things at different government levels.

          Yeah at a local level we really like public transport.

          Too bad National backed the roading horse then,

          Out they go!

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Conference showed what Goff is made of. As well as sticking it to Guyon, an interviewer who simply and obviously overplayed his hand at every turn.

    NATs will be nervous now the whole party has swung in hard behind the Goff-Father in readiness for the battle of 2011.

  5. Carol 5

    They won’t try to fight on policy (they never do), instead they’ll try to frame every policy as hypocrisy by comparing it to something in the past.

    I think this is a big danger, so there needs to be a concerted effort to show what is new about Labour/left policies. Rod Oram made some good points on Nat Rad this morning. Firstly he said that National spent the 9 years in opposition working on how to get re-elected, rather than working on policies. So they’ve scrambled while in office to cobble together some policies.

    IMO, they’ve done the country no good by falling back on neoliberal policies, and loads of PR and spin. I recall on one of the Sunday shows (Qu & A or the Nation), someone said that, while cutting workers in parliamentary services, National has increased the workers in the finance dept, as well as significantly increasing the people working on PR. But, IMO, that sort of approach can only fool people for so long.

    Key (plus a load of spin, and whispering smear campaigns) got National elected, and kept them high in the polls, but he has little else to offer as a PM. And National is the party just recycling old neoliberal policies that are now shown to have caused global disaster and dissarray.

    Oram also highlighted the fact that Labour needs to work with all interested people (business people, scientists, unions etc) to develop a NEW way forward, in fleshing out the broad approach they’ve oultined.

    I’m glad that Labour has returned to its traditional principles. But I think it needs to show how they have learned something from the last two decades, and have policies that are suited to the 21st century.

    Key’s approach of spin and a hollow man with no principles, are fast becoming an anachronism, especially since the GFC. Relying on “celebrity culture”, PR and spin, is so 80s/90s, and has little to offer the majority of people that are now struggling with the very real uncertainties and insecurity of work, the economy and resources that have been exposed in the 21st century.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I think you are on to it Carol. This is not simply a cross-disciplinary approach that Labour needs to build but a cross-societal approach. One which will involve of a lot of different groups.

      But this is also not time for feel good talk fests. 2011 is a battle and Labour must provide the political leadership within the process to ensure that strong cohesion and strong direction ensues.

    • National spent the 9 years in opposition working on how to get re-elected, rather than working on policies

      Good point Carol. They sure did. In contrast Labour has spent two years thinking about things and they are in the process of developing a coherent plan.

      You know that when people such as Hickey, Pellett, Ganesh Wana and Walleycome out and advocate radical change you know something is happening. These guys are not cloth cap wearing trade unionists from the North of England, these are some of business’s elite.

      We live in interesting times …

  6. the sprout 6

    Key’s inability to handle Paul Henry like a real leader put a deep scratch in his Teflon. The brand is fading.

    exactly.
    of course there have been numerous demonstrable failures of leadership from Key,
    but that one really cemented in the perception across a broad base of constituencies.

    the problem is compounded for Key by Henry having to resign (something probably avoidable had Key acted like a leader at the time and nipped it in the bud then and there), because that’s just pissed-off his ‘PC-gone-mad’ redneck voters.

    Key’s leadership failure over Henry has been a lose-lose for him, costing him the respect of civilised and redneck voters alike.

    no wonder Key’s minders don’t let him front up to the media if he can botch even patsy interviews so badly.

  7. freedom 7

    a small issue but this has got to be one of the more honest photos of the PM we have ever seen in the media

    no smiling facade just a very natural portait,

    • BLiP 7.1

      Looks tired out.

      • Maynard J 7.1.1

        Disagree – I reckon he just looks normal, if not determined. Like someone who could get things done, and not to be messed with. Yes all he tries to do is smile, and wave, and look a bit silly.

  8. tc 8

    Gonna be interesting how the nat friendly MSM whores go about their business as the facade crumbles, the lack of plan/vision comes to focus and sideshow/blinglish’s continued harping on about ‘9 yrs of economic mis management under labour’ cuts both ways as the numbers don’t lie despite their best efforts to smudge and deceive.

    Yes the economy was already in recession (drought) but cullen/clark had prepared us for it by paying off debt and maintaining near full employment (as noted by world commentators)……you can only spin so far but when GST/gerry’s electricity meddling/cuts to frontline/beating up education and welfare continue to gnaw away the tide will turn and those tax cuts for the rich could be the straw that breaks this PR fixated camel in 2.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      “tax cuts for the rich could be the straw that breaks this PR fixated camel in 2″

      Interesting point. Had National actually passed the tax-cuts (which were still unaffordable) that it had campaigned on and then “postponed indefinitely” instead of the tax-cuts-for-the-rich they ended up delivering, they certainly wouldn’t have had the potential downside that this move has given them. A top rate of 37% is much preferable than a top rate of 33% as we now have.

  9. Carol 9

    Key doesn’t even sound like a competent politician in parliament. When he answers questions in parliament, he always makes me wonder what sort of a lunch he has had. He slurs his words, sticks out his chest, and looks very satisfied with his own jokes – like a drunken after dinner speaker:

    eg, answering questions from his own team he starts, ‘What an exshellent queshtion…”

    • come get some 9.1

      he then almost falls back into his seat and slumps down into slouch mode, never looks like he’s having a good day.

      eg, answering questions from his own team he starts, ‘What an exshellent queshtion…”

      Reminds you of “it dshodsent give my oppsonshents smuch times eisha”

    • Blue 9.2

      Key’s on the good juice. In his world, wages are rising, he single-handedly slew the inflation beast, and NZ is a land of foreign-owned milk and honey.

      He’s showing impressive control just being able to stand up in Parliament when his name is called.

  10. ak 10

    It’s the Big Picture that swings moods. And changes governments.

    Lange’s “Big, Inclusive smile” swept the 81 gore and division out, and Spud’s “Decent Society” put the nails in their traitorous, infighting coffin.

    “Helen and the Optomilleniumism” swept the 90s misery behind us, and the heavily-promoted fantasy “Grinny Me-too” mesmerised with its “financial wizard” optimism in the shadow of the looming GFC.

    Now showing (in glorious new Lenslide multi-media): “Keynute”: the tragi-comic odyssey of one ordinary salesman flailing against history while hilariously assailed by his own petards.

    For early release next year, the epic docu-drama: “Out of the Cuckoos Nest: Progression Reboot”.

  11. Tanz 11

    Key is loved by millions still, and the Left find that hard to stomach. Key is anoher Lange, but for the right.

    • Bright Red 11.1

      Lange? the man who smiled and waved and made people laugh while his Cabinet betrayed the public, broke every promise they made, and sold the country down the river?

      Hey, they do sound a lot alike.

      Funnily, enough Lange was also a sprinter – PM after only two terms like Key – and it turned out to be a disaster.

    • Bright Red 11.2

      Tanz. another few questions. Is ‘loving’ Key enough? Don’t you want a good government?

      Or is all you want from a government just a PM that you ‘love’?

      When you think about your ‘love’ for Key does it excite you?

    • lprent 11.3

      I’d have to say that I was never particularly impressed with Lange either, and for much the same reasons as for Key.

      Both of them were/are far better on the smile’n’wave and simple rhetoric than they are at running a government.

      Both of them were/are incapable of getting their cabinet (or caucus) heading in a coherent common direction.

      Both of them look like bloody useless managers of the country, and pretty damn spineless at controlling rogue ministers.

      I suspect that the end of Keys reign will be the same catastrophic mess that we were left with when Lange stepped down – for most of the same underlying reasons.

      I’m uninterested in having a entertainer in charge of the country. I’d prefer having someone capable of actually managing to move the place in a coherent and clear manner. John Key isn’t that person. About the only thing he is competent at appears to be sprouting what he thinks is a good idea every few months that he is incapable of following through on, hanging around waiting for a camera to focus on him, and being charming in social occasions.

      Not prime ministerial material in my opinion…

      • comedy 11.3.1

        One thing I will say for Lange is that he was a very capable orator, especially in his later years post politics. I attended some excellent dinners where he was the after dinner speaker and he leaves the current lot that you see debating in parliament for dead.

      • Rob 11.3.2

        But hey, if you load the cabinet up with whole lot of Cater’s , Tizards, Benson Popes and the like , I am sure you can have a very co-ordinated a peaceful cabinet. Not much gets acheived and you have the collective wisdom of a light bulb , but I am sure it is lovely place to have a cup of tea.

  12. Tanz 12

    You keep going on about Key’s lack of leadership re the Paul Henry affair, but if it’s such a big deal, how come the MSM arn’t interested and have only focussed on Henry and not Key? They must love him, too, I’d say he';ll get another two terms at least, barring an absolute disaster happening. The public are gaga over Key, for whatever reasons.

  13. Pascal's bookie 13

    “MSM arn’t interested and have only focussed on Henry and not Key”

    That’s not even close to true. There was plenty of comment about Key’s response.

  14. Chills 14

    The “smile and wave” brand of Key definitely has it’s limitations, but we musn’t forget that next year we have the World Cup, which Key will no doubt use as a vehicle for copius smiling and waving. If the cup goes well both on and off the field Key will be able to ride it for all it’s worth all the way back to office.

    I for one am a massive rugby and ABs supporter but success that arena next year doesn’t bode well for next year’s elections…

  15. markus 15

    “The first tactic will be a mantra of ‘Goff can’t win’.”

    This is what has me a little concerned about the Mana by-election (as a Labour supporter and Mana voter). The Nats, the Tory blogosphere and the MSM have all greatly exaggerated the strength of Labour’s hold on Mana (much emphasis on it supposedly being one of the great Labour strongholds of all time / conflation of old staunchly-Labour Porirua seat of pre-1996 FPP days with greatly expanded and much more marginal Mana / National as enormous underdog fighting impossible odds…).

    Result: Very high benchmark / enormously raised expectations for Labour’s Fa’afoi. Much emphasis in MSM and Tory blogosphere on the idea that anything other than a significant Fa’afoi majority (some suggesting at least 6000) would constitute disaster for Labour and Goff / vote of confidence in National.

    Problem is: Mana is not quite the stronghold portrayed.
    – Two-thirds of all current Electorate MPs have majorities larger than Laban’s 6155.
    – Of Laban’s 6155 majority, 4452 votes came from people who split their vote (casting their Party- Vote for parties other than Lab in 2008). Without the luxury of two votes, it’s not entirely beyond reason that these 4452 could return to their preferred Party in the (one-vote) by-election (for example the 1757 Greens who in 2008 split their vote between the Greens (Party-Vote) and Labour’s Laban (Candidate-Vote), simply voting for the Green candidate this time rather than Fa’afoi). Arguably, then, the Party-Vote may be a better reflection of Mana’s political complexion than Laban’s Candidate-Vote. And Lab’s majority over the Nats in the Party-Vote in Mana in 2008 was just 2508. Relatively marginal.
    – On top of this, by-elections almost always involve a much lower turnout. And, more often than not, those staying at home are lower-income Labour voters (South Aucklanders at recent local election excepted, of course).

    Hence, Labour may be being set-up for a fall in Mana. Given the above, it’s more than possible that Fa’afoi will win with a reduced majority (quite possibly despite a genuine swing in sentiment towards Labour). Result: the Nats, the Tory blogosphere and,most importantly, the MSM (certainly the DomPost’s Tracy Watkins) will attempt to make mincemeat of the Party.

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