Beware the young advisers – they reflect their masters

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, June 27th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: australian politics, brand key, kremlinology - Tags:

An interesting parallel between Kevin Rudd  and the Key government’s leadership style surfaced in our papers this weekend.

On Saturday, Tracy Watkins had this to say in the DomPost:

Dislike of the Australian leader seems to have reached legendary proportions in the three years since he won the election a dislike surpassed only by the antagonism toward his team of cocky young advisers, who appear to have supplanted long-time MPs and senior ministers as his trusted inner circle.

This snippet was in the Friday Insider, page 27 in the Herald Business section, always  interesting but alas not on-line:

Eyebrows began being raised soon after the election over the role of the Government 20-something “ministerial advisers”, mostly recent graduates from the Young Nats. At Beehive meetings, business leaders have been startled to find these youngsters interrupting their own ministers, sometimes even taking over the discussion. One foreign government is now said to have raised a formal diplomatic complaint after an “adviser”, still barely shaving, decided to take it on himself during an overseas trip to negotiate directly with its minister, sidelining his own boss. Labour and National have always promoted party activists to Beehive roles above their abilities, but seasoned observers say they’ve never known them to be quite so full of themselves.

Far from being full of themselves, the best advisers in my experience on both sides of the Tasman have been those who are both willing and able to speak truth to power; because they know that values and policies are more important than personalities. The worst are those who throw around them the cloak of power that is not theirs.

Why the worst are so unpopular is hinted at  in a perceptive comment from Kevin Bolt in the Herald-Sun, writing about Rudd:

Rudd chose as his most intimate advisers, mostly people barely 30, eminently bully-able..

If the young advisers in Canberra and Wellington behave like bullies it is because they are just mirrors; they don’t have opinions of their own, but being bully-able they do reflect what they see in their masters.

The Greeks and Romans long ago identified hubris as the besetting sin in politics.  It always – sometimes swiftly as Rudd found out – leads to Nemesis.

It would appear to be pervasive in the Beehive right now.

24 comments on “Beware the young advisers – they reflect their masters”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Perhaps Key will have learned a valuable lesson from the demise of Rudd.

    • felix 1.1

      Certainly looks that way. Do let us know if you find one.

      • felix 1.1.1

        Note to self:

        Always wait more than 6 minutes before replying to Tony.

        Before “editing” his comment read “This must be what is known as clutching at straws”.

        • tsmithfield

          Yep. I did think the article above was searching for a pin prick of light in a dark sky of negativity. However, I thought my comment was stating the obvious and not adding anything more than anyone could see by reading the article. So I decided to change my comment, which is what the edit function enables one to do, of course.

          BTW, my point about Key learning a lesson is a fair one considering he made this observation himself on the news the other day.

          • felix

            “However, I thought my comment was stating the obvious and not adding anything more than anyone could see by reading the article.”

            That doesn’t usually prompt you to delete your comments. What changed?

            And yes of course the edit function allows you to do that, but removing an entire comment and writing something completely unrelated after someone has replied is a straight up dick move.

            Of course, as a tory this will mean nothing as the edit function allowed you to do it.

            Anyway it’s Sunday. Shouldn’t you be cheating on your taxes? Cock.

            • tsmithfield

              Ummm…I don’t seem to be the one who can’t exercise self-restraint in waiting until the edit option has closed off before responding. Had you done so, you wouldn’t have ended up looking like a twat with a response completely unrelated to my statement.

              • tsmithfield

                BTW, your comment wasn’t visible when I was editing. If I had seen the comment, I wouldn’t have edited.

                • felix

                  Tony you fucking douche, that’s why I made the mental note.

                  How about YOU excersise some restraint and have the balls to leave your comments in place. Coward.

                  [lprent: I strongly suspect that was over the top. Rein the anger in. ]

    • lprent 1.2

      What? That a style only political position isn’t particularly politically sustainable over the long term if there is little political substance backing it?

  2. davidg 2

    Political advisers to a failed Labour PM in AU – long bow, keep pulling it.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Would those same , ministerial advisers’ be the one using personal flybuys cards when making purchases on office cards

    A study of ministers’ expenses by the Herald on Sunday found 19 cases of staff earning personal FlyBuys points over the past year.

    [lprent: A link makes this more useful. ]

    • Margaret 3.1

      You must remember the spending scandal appeared straight after the first poll showing a slide in support for National.

      I think they had the story ready for just an event, when you slide in the polls bring out a nasty about the opposition.

      You see the same thing happening with the Mayoral elections in Auckland.
      Len Brown was ahead in the polls and hey presto a nasty campaign against him.

  4. davidg 4

    Only in NZ could ‘FlyBuys’ be a political issue. Putting the P in Pikey.

    [lprent: Use the Reply button. It makes it easier for others when a side topic spawns off. ]

    • felix 4.1

      If watching a porn movie and paying for it later is a political issue then surely taking airpoints for flights you DIDN’T pay for and keeping them for yourself is a bigger one, no?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      Its all ways the hubris. How they do it doesnt really matter

  5. joe90 5

    Goff can influence Australian court decisions, who woudda thunk it.

  6. freedom 6

    The article at least shows she was up front and direct in her admission of guilt. What happened behind the scenes will probably never be known or really of much importance. It was Ecstasy, not meth or heroin. May as well have been a bottle of tequila and a Guarana pill. The cock up is what her Daddy said. Goff’s ‘ my daughter has never taken drugs’ is one of the stupidest comments from a parent of an adult in the 21st century I have seen. Which he then trumps by reminding us of the ‘legal drug, alcohol’ which causes more damage to society than all of the mainstream social narcotics combined.

    Maybe if there was a little more common sense and honesty and a little less hysterical and hypocritical regurgitation of drug war propaganda then some real progress could be made in the battle against narcotics. Drugs always have been and always will be part of society.

  7. lprent 7

    A discussion unrelated to this post was moved to OpenMike. If I see any further attempts to divert discussion here then people will get an abrupt ban.

  8. Dancr 8

    Really interesting issue here – and whether it is possible to provide well balanced political advice (and access to networks) if all one has ever done is politics. Given the speed at which ministers lead their lives, I think it is vital to have people offering advice who are connected to the real world, not just the political. Also suggests that good inter-personal skills should not undervalued!

  9. Yeh agree, if Rudd had hired a few union heavies as advisors they would have bullied him into taxcuts for miners instead of a big new tax. Come to think of it he should have hired Key’s advisors. Maybe he could have even been a Key clone. That would have simplified things. Trouble is the bosses have this annoying habit of using two parties with different names to alternate in power just to confuse us that its all about personalities and not profits.

  10. Santi 10

    That would include Farrar, “unofficial” National Party advisor and cheerleader supreme, who if the price is right would sell Jupiter and Mars.

  11. f_t 11

    Ultimately public preference for PM is the main prerequisite for a leadership change. It looks like Key won’t have to worry about this for quite a while yet.

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