The Right’s crying we should be talking about policy, not certain tapes. Funny, until recently they were mocking Labour for putting out so much policy. Fact is, we don’t elect policy implementing automatons. We elect leaders for their policies and because we trust them to act with integrity on our behalf. The tea tapes matter because they go to Key’s integrity.
This is the heart of this issue: Key’s integrity.
What did he say to Banks when he thought no-one was listening? Obviously some pretty bad stuff. Politicians should say the same thing in private as in public. If you do that, you have integrity and you won’t have any problems (unless what you say in public and private is consistently batshit crazy, like Brash). If you are a leader who says one thing to the public and another in private, you have no integrity and you have a serious problem if (when) you get caught.
Integrity is also an issue in how Key’s run his response: Trying to bully the media with the Police. Jumping the shark by immorally comparing himself to the family of a murder victim and parents of suicidal teens. Refusing to answer valid questions. Pretending not to remember a conversation he had a few days earlier (if he really doesn’t remember, then it’s a question of his mental integrity, rather than is moral integrity)
Or, as BLiP put it:
It just isn’t credible.
So, the orders yesterday were to shut it down by refusing to engage. But it turned into a shocker of a day for Key and Banks.
Was Key meant to have a tantrum and storm off? Nah. He was meant to stonewall, provide no more soundbites for the sixes but he cracked. Storming off and later claiming that there was no second stand up for the day, despite it being in the media advisory, wrecked that effort. It was great TV. And it created a new story as people speculated whether it was staged.
And very, very un-Prime Ministerial. When you’re the leader of a country you don’t get to run away when the questions get hard. You have to stand up and answer. That’s a matter of integrity. It’s a matter of doing the job you’re paid to do. Even Hooton think Key’s behaviour was a disgrace.
Then Banks blew a hole in Key’s integrity when he wrecked the cover-up by offering shifting answers to Gower. First said he hadn’t said anything about Brash to Key. Then that he couldn’t remember. Then that he couldn’t say. Then he couldn’t remember what he said to 3news on Monday. Then he could remember his conversation with the PM but couldn’t discuss it. There can be no doubt after that interview that Banks is lying to try to keep the contents of the conversation secret. Therefore, Key is covering up too. Finally settling on ‘I can’t possibly tell you what I said in a conversation with the Prime Minister’ only puts more pressure on Key to front up.
One final point on integrity. Key’s behaviour towards the media has put Garner and the Herald’s integrity on the line. Bad move. The Herald buys ink by the barrel and has 700K readers. Garner is the next de facto leader of the press gallery when Espiner leaves. He won’t put up with being humiliated and bullied. He doesn’t need to. And Garner has the power in this face-off. He is sitting on the ultimate way to defend his integrity – air the recording. He can do that with the endorsement of the Media Freedom Committee (that’s all the country’s major media organisations) which has declared there is public interest value in the recording.
Key will be hoping now to deny the story further oxygen. He’ll refuse to answer questions. He’ll gamble that the public will turn against the media. But, if Garner thinks that is happening, the recording will come out. It will come out anyway on Sunday. So, the best option for Key to save the tatters of his integrity is, surely, to front up now.