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A humbug

Written By: - Date published: 4:50 pm, January 13th, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: john key, spin - Tags:

Back in July of 2009 I wrote a post about John Key’s promises of a plan to stop job losses. At the time I pointed out his trail of empty and unfulfilled promises and predicted that the big plan to stop job losses would be one of them.

Unfortunately I was right. There was no plan and there has been no halt to job losses.

Today Key is promising a secret plan to stop whaling. As much as I’d like to see this happen I don’t think it will.

In fact I think this is like all his other plentiful promises: designed to get a quick PR fix on a hot-button topic and then to disappear by the next news cycle leaving only a residual non-specific good feeling about that nice man Mr Key.

I also doubt very much whether the headlines in a few weeks, or months, will be “Key fails to stop whaling” in fact I think that as soon as the whaling season is over the issue will be off the radar and there will be more hollow promises being made to create more sugar-rush headlines.

Back in June of 2008
I wrote a post about National’s use of these “hit and run” tactics. At the time I figured the technique was one that could only work in opposition. Surely, I thought, the inherent accountability that comes with government would render such a PR trick useless.

It turns out I misjudged the immense power of the memory hole.

The whole thing is starting to feel like that scene from the Wizard of Oz. You know, the one where the curtain is pulled open to reveal the wizard is nothing but a wee fella desperately working the levers of a big smoke and mirrors machine.

The only difference is that every time the curtain is drawn closed again the media get right back to pretending the Wizard still exists.

If only a sane reality was just a heel-tap away.

27 comments on “A humbug ”

  1. fizzleplug 1

    I’m assuming by “sane reality” you mean a Labour government. If that’s your sane reality, you might want to ask the Wizard for a new brain the next time the curtain is pulled aside.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      I mean a reality in which the media hold the government to account rather than falling for the same stupid trick day-in, day-out.

      You can consider yourself on a final warning for the wisecrack too.

      • fizzleplug 1.1.1

        A shame he doesn’t hand out senses of humour either. Some people are just so damn sensitive.

        • IrishBill

          That’s the fist time anyone’s ever called me sensitive.

          Have you got anything to say about Key’s string of broken promises (you know, the actual topic of this post) or are you just here to misdirect?

          • fizzleplug

            I don’t think anyone would mistake my posts for misdirection, unless they also get easily confused by the maps that used to be on Happy Meal boxes.

            As for the topic… I actually do have an opinion, but you won’t like it. My opinion is “nothing new”. People forget quickly for the most part, governments lie and make false promises (not just John Key), and the media will always be more forgiving to a sitting government than people of conflicting political persuasions would like. There is nothing new in this post, indeed you specifically point out times in the past when you have blogged about the same thing. Politicians breaking promises doesn’t distress me because I don’t see them as promises to begin with.

            Therefore, I decided to lighten up this tired and dreary topic with humour (which sailed over your head by some way before reflecting off something and seemingly insulting you). I guess I know better now than to bother in future.

            • Bored

              Have to agree with you on the partiality of the media towards incumbent governments regardless of what reality is staring them in the face. Kunstlers post this morning included this wonderful line describing how the media operates..to quote “maybe the great groaning tramp steamer of media opinion is turning in the water and charting a new course for the port of reality”.

            • IrishBill

              This may not be new to you but I’ve not seen a New Zealand government so carelessly make and break promises since the Bolger government and I’ve never seen a government get away with it as easily as this lot do.

              Oh and I have a sense of humour. You’re just not funny. Not even a little bit.

            • logie97

              You must know that our ‘independent’ MSM is owned and run by the “Money” (actually foreign) and has lapdog local management. It will always be less than sympathetic towards social democracy – you don’t have to go back far for examples either – see how hostile it was to the last administration and favoured the right during and subsequent to the election. They have consistently accepted Ministerial spin, giving no critical analysis to any of their pronouncements, (ACC / Country indebtedness / educational woes … )

              There are none so blind as those who will not see fizzleplug.

      • Jim McDonald 1.1.2

        The media is complicit in the National Government trading on hope, hype and myth to delude the people.

        • burt

          Yes, which is really weird because just two years ago they were complicit in the Labour Government trading on hope, hype and myth to delude the people.

          fizzleplug is absolutely correct, swap “National” for “Labour” and change the subject de jour and the same indignation was on DPF’s & Whale’s blog throughout Labour’s tenure.

          This is indeed “nothing new’ IrishBill, Surely you must remember the constant call of ‘left leaning media’ when the left were in power?

  2. tc 2

    When you believe that a PM making announcements that they aren’t held accountable for a “tired and dreary topic ” then you forfeit the right to be taken seriously….like Johnny clown has.

    As for “media will always be more forgiving to a sitting government….” you obviously live in a parrallel universe where there’s even handed intelligent reporting by our media not this one and never read the Herald through 2008.

    Love the happy meal box reference as it’s a McDonalds style gov’t….cheap, lacking substance and ultimately not good for you.

  3. bobo 3

    “Prime Minister John Key told a media conference this afternoon that the Government had drafted a deal that would see an end to commercial whaling over an undisclosed timeframe.” – sounds like policy under name suppression..

    Maybe his target date will be as pathetic as 2050 like his climate change policy and Japan will argue they are not “commercially whaling” they are taking them for research purposes. Classic media power puff piece, as if Key has any clout with Japan, if this gov cant even influence Fiji.. or Tuvalu or anywhere..

    Maybe Kiesha Castle Hughes should say to Key to stick to holidaying in Hawaii and buy a save the whales tie and y-fronts gift set to wear at his next golf club or marina grand openings.

    • Tigger 3.1

      Yep, the deal is about ‘commerical’ whaling. But aren’t Japan only taking whales for research purposes? So i”s a deal to end something that isn’t happening and will have no effect.

      Bill – superb post.

      • bobo 3.1.1

        Very true Tigger , that was kind of my point. Just reinforces my view that Key blindly follows what his advisers tell him with little background knowledge of his own on any issues really.

        Japan has been playing the cute game of “Oh no its just for science” for years now, maybe if whales were Pokemon characters there might be more outrage in Japan, who knows…

  4. Bored 4

    As an aside on the quality (or lack there of) of media commentary one would wonder if the current crop of journos have the skill to do anything other than regurgitate press releases?
    A good example is the online Herald currently has a headline that states tax cuts are still on Keys agenda….you can bet good cash that none of the journos will ask the obvious question which is “why did Key already give tax cuts when it was obvious that we were in a recession?” Also “how much of the cost of borrowing for unemployment benefits etc would have been off set by not giving cuts OR by raising tax rates?”

    • quenchino 4.1

      The top tax rate will be dropped to 30%. (And/or it’s threshold will be pushed up substantially.)

      The tax rules around rental property will be changed and across the board rents will rise 20-30% in response. GST will be bumped to 15%.

      No you won’t read this in the Herald.

  5. Eddie 5

    No-one analyses the meta-narrative better than you Bill. excellent post.

    I did my own one where I try to find some substance in Key’s announcement, it’s like clutching at sand, I’ll save it till tomorrow.

  6. chuck 6

    The NZ media is simply following overseas trends. I don’t think NZ is large enough to do anything different. Having a true state broadcaster would help, but thats another issue.

    News is and has been, for maybe 20 years, a product, and how do we like our products? Tasty, slimming and easy to swallow. And that’s exactly what we get with both TV and paper news. We have a product that is sold in pieces rarely longer than 2 minutes. You can’t expect to get any level of detail or investigation in such a short amount of time.

    So its natural to have politicians who are experts at sound bites and are never asked to go deeper – because there just aint nowhere to sell it.

  7. Unfortunately, I believe you’re right. Someone’s pointed out to Key that whales are popular this week and he’s decided to get some mileage out of it. The idea that he seriously gives a rat’s ass for the subject is just ludicrous.

  8. No doubt substantial progress will be promised over the medium term and he will stand on his record. Unfortunately “medium term” means more than 5 years away so we will never know if he will actually achieve anything before the next two elections.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    There’s one promise JK did keep – he lowered wages.

  10. I know what the deal is! If the Japanese promise to stop hunting whales in the sub antarctic John Key will give them a licence to hunt whales at Kaikoura, as long as they promise not to tell anyone until 2015 …

    • burt 10.1

      I hear he is eating a big plate of babies while he reads this and laughs;

      mawhahahaha – privatise the Kaikoura whales’s, brilliant mawhahahahahaha – I can confiscate the foreshore and seabed, then I can sell them, mawhahahaha

  11. Anne 11

    @ Psycho Milt. You’re bang on. It was my first thought. Key is just jumping on the whale band-wagon. My own take is :he’s into PR damage control after that idiot McCully’s comments re-anti whalers wanting to kill people. I doubt Key gives a damm for whales, dolphins, penguins or any other endangered species.

  12. prism 12

    the wizard of oz has been mentioned- which Natwoman matches the wicked witch of the north?

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