A bad start, don’t expect improvement

Written By: - Date published: 11:18 am, December 16th, 2008 - 16 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

We’ve seen a plethora of commentators criticising the National/ACT’s performance thus far. Colin James sums it up well:

Key’s past week was mixed at best, notably in the House where his take on mandate reeks of FPP arrogance. His tap-dancing on climate change risks serious consequences. He badly needs lessons in international relations.

James goes on to express the hope that things will get better but I fear that hope may be in vain. We are seeing a continuation in a pattern of behaviour that has been long-established; the Tories aren’t going to change. Key is not going to become more democratic, more open, more consistent, more diligent, or take care to learn how to govern well for the simple reason that Toryism is not about governing well it is about being in government – maintaining and extending the existing system of class privilege by keeping the Left out.

16 comments on “A bad start, don’t expect improvement”

  1. Chris G 1

    And all we hear in return is “We won, you lost, eat that”

    Congratulations NZ.

  2. Daveski 2

    Predictable post by SP so a predictable response from me.

    Not all commentators have been so critical. Indeed, many have commented favourably on the way in which Key put his government together. The comments about the “Tories” not being more democratic are laughable when you compare with Labour’s power at all costs mentality particularly over the last 6-12 months.

    I do agree that the events of the last week or so are either a step backwards or a strategy based on a bit of risk – get the dramatic and difficult decisions out of the way and build partnerships around it.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    SP you appear to have overlooked some of the context of the article. In doing so I think you’ve misrepresented its purpose. For example, James also wrote:

    She too quickly saw an enemy in a would-be friend, though she did also forge some unlikely working and personal relationships.

    She had blind spots, among them her too-slow-to-change suspicion of non-government ways of devising and delivering social services and not recognising until too late that tax cuts could be important even for low-income people as a surrogate wage increase when real wages were growing slowly.

    Clark kept her government too close. Public servants who would eagerly have worked with a forward-looking, imaginative Cabinet were treated not as colleagues but as servants, kept below stairs.

    She erroneously judged in 2005 that there had been a structural shift in the economy and the Budget and accelerated spending when actually the economic lift was an illusion fabricated on debt. She went past the warning signs that the social/moral liberalisation wave was reaching high tide.

    The article also went on to praise Clark for the very high regard she was held in international circles, and describes her as the politician of the decade. Apart from what you quote above re: Key, James also wrote:

    But Key was fast and sure-footed en route to the top and in the first days. He has a keen instinct for middle New Zealand. He is indubitably the politician of 2008.

    SP when you link to an article like that, I think you risk treating us as stupid when you selectively quote one thing to misrepresent an article. We can all read, and can see that selective quoting is mischievous at best and dishonest at worst. The article certainly doesn’t reinforce the thrust of your post, which appears to be that a “plethora” of commentators are critical of the new government.

  4. Daveski 4

    My badness – I shouldn’t have trusted (that word again!) SP to summarise the article.

    As TE notes, the precis that SP has given completely distorts the whole article.

    Here’s a quick post of mine from the same article that shows how easy it is to do:

    James says Key’s a winner
    Clark had large faults.
    John Key has star quality: he combines the ordinary and extraordinary.

    Note that the comment about Key having star quality was directly about SP’s quote from the article.

    More fool me for not reading the full article before posting

  5. Janet 5

    Colin James is a well-known long-time right wing commentator. The fact that he has any criticism of Key and National is newsworthy.

  6. I don’t see why having ‘star quality’ is a good thing in a PM. Care to explain Daveski?

    Tim. I don’t deny he talked about Clark and criticised her. But I’m writing about the current government and the only substantive comments James makes about Key’s performance in the business of governing are the ones I quoted.

  7. Daveski 7

    SP No doubt if he’d said Clark had had star quality, it would be headlines until Xmas.

    Your crusade to bag Key is at least highly committed.

    An acknowledgement that someone has star quality indicates they have skills or strengths that can be of use to the person, the political party and the country.

    I think you would be forced to acknowledge that in defeat, Clark has been attributed to credit from the right for her strengths. Indeed, Key is on record as saying he would support Clark’s interest in serious overseas postings.

    Compare that with your inability to find any positives in Key – and your attempt to spin a pretty balanced article on both Clark and Key into “a plethora of commentators criticising the National/ACT’s performance thus far”.

    You should be doing the explaining, not me 🙂

  8. gingercrush 8

    Colin James can hardly be described as right-wing.

  9. Chris G 9

    true, Richard Long aint so bad either, eh GC.

  10. gingercrush 10

    Richard Long is a great journalist but nobody can deny that he is right-leaning. On the other hand, you can’t accuse Colin James of being right-leaning. Because the truth is, that out of any political reporter/columnist James is the last person to not be balanced. He does not vote, he is apolitical. And it may surprise you but he is a lifetime member of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. That doesn’t mean he leans left either.

    Most journalists in this country are clearly bias. But you can not accuse Colin James of being one.

  11. Tane 11

    Colin James can hardly be described as right-wing.

    He’s not partisan but he’s consistently pro-business at the expense of other sections of society. Read some of his earlier work when Labour was repealing the Employment Contracts Act, you’d think the sky was falling in. Still, he’s a good journalist and I’ve got a lot of time for his work.

    Richard Long is a great journalist but nobody can deny that he is right-leaning.

    Now Long is not a great journalist. He may have once been but now he’s nothing more than a partisan hack who runs lines for the Nats. Read the Hollow Men, the man is a disgrace.

  12. lprent 12

    Daveski:
    Indeed, Key is on record as saying he would support Clark’s interest in serious overseas postings.

    I’m sure he is. I would be too if I had Helen laying her eye over my deficencies as a PM. The mere fact she is in the house is forever going to run the comparison between her and Key.

    I’m afraid that he simply doesn’t measure up. Lots of frantic fluffing and no real substance. For instance this ‘100 days of meaningless activity’. That is the classic case of getting a slogan to drive your policy. Almost all of this legislation could have been put through in the usual way.

    I’m not even going to mention that appalling speech that he got the GG to read out. Imagine if the queen had been there and was told that she was going to “turbo charge” the economy. Campaign slogans are all very well for campaigns. But you’d think that the Key would have it rewritten for the head of state to read.

    Hey – just my two cents worth…

  13. Tim Ellis 13

    LP, to be fair you were saying that John Key didn’t measure up and wasn’t competent to be PM well before the election. It’s good of you to be consistent, but I very much doubt you would have reached a different conclusion post-election irrespective of Key’s performance. The public appear to have had a different opinion than you did before the election and I wouldn’t be surprised if polls in the near future show that their confidence in Key remains strong

    If it is a hundred days of meaningless activity, then why are the Labour Party and the union movement up in arms over so many of these activities?

  14. Kerry 14

    Come on…even.my 2 week old niece knows John boys incompetent.

    What would these tories do without Helen to run to for advice every 2 minutes????

    First John gives her a call to find out what to do at APEC, secondly I see old Murr has been hunting down Hel to find out what to do with Fiji……Tragic seeing as this women was meant to be satan!!!!!

    Again this proves that right wingers have no shame or idea!!!!!!!!

  15. Janet 15

    Colin James wrote a book about Rogernomics that did nothing but praise the TINA philosophy – There is No Alternative.

  16. re C. James, journalist (and author of I recall correctly) — an early advocate for kiwi reagononomics, Mr James was to mellow some with the experiece of that particular failure until finally settling as a staunch supporter of Jim Bolger, PM. I reckon more mellowing and a position of greater objectivity has now evolved in his writing.

    As others have said what he observes is worthy of note — pro or anti.

    And regarding the new PM there will understandably be rough edges. They can either run to political or PM shoddiness or improvement/s. Much will depend on how well external impacts force further consideration/s and/or rethinks. How ‘his team’ weather their roles also.

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