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.