Brand Key, a do nothing Government & the hidden agenda

Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, February 14th, 2012 - 40 comments
Categories: brand key, national - Tags: ,

A number of terms are bandied about to describe both John Key and the John Key Government. Using such terms and trying to reconcile their seeming contradictions can prove confusing. Indeed, from time to time we have seen such confusion manifest itself on this blog amongst the right wing who argue how Key can indeed have a ‘hidden agenda’ whilst simultaneously being ‘smile and wave’ or ‘clueless’ and ‘doing nothing’.

Whilst trying to piece together this enigma myself I have settled on 3 variables that I think go some way toward explaining the DNA of the Key Government. The terms ‘Brand Key’, ‘clueless’ and ‘hidden agenda’ encapsulate fairly nicely the realities of each variable.

‘Brand Key’, ‘smile and wave’, a ‘Ronald McDonald type Prime Minister’, that ‘nice man’. All terms I have seen used to describe John Key himself. The popularity of the Government rests squarely on Key. He is the reason for their election and re-election. Damage Brand Key and damage his Government. It is possible to point to numerous examples of this. John Banks last election piggy backed on ‘Brand Key’. The 2008 had Bill English talking about that ‘nice man John Key getting me some more’ (tax cuts). Every national party billboard of the past 2 elections has had Key front and centre, even to the point of overshadowing the local candidate.

This Government is very brand aware, skilled at cultivating and maintaining brand Key. So the first variable is Brand Key – a deliberate managed public relations strategy. The Ronald McDonaldisation of the Prime Ministers image.

‘Clueless’ and ‘do nothing’ refers to the inability of the Key Government to deliver some of the necessary social-environmental-economic changes New Zealand needs. Write a long list of issues and write a short list of Key Government solutions. I will not attempt to develop a comprehensive list but will use one example to illustrate my point.

Having being elected in late 2008 the Key Government rammed through parliament a series of bills, some of very low value, and then went on holiday. One pressing issue of rising unemployment and a stalling economy was put to one side during this summer break. It took weeks of ongoing criticism to goad the Key Government into announcing its ‘Jobs Summit’ as a response. ‘Brand Key’ was threatened. From that summit we got the cycle way, a promise for a ‘unrelenting focus on jobs’ and a ‘rolling maul of initiatives’. Both the manner in which the Key Government initially reacted, i.e. they didn’t, and the flagging nature of job creation policies exemplify this ‘do nothingness’. When required to do something the country required, Key and his government were found wanting.

So, ‘do nothing’ refers to the inability of Key and his Government to take the policy prescriptions New Zealand actually needs.

The ‘hidden agenda’ is about the world view the Key Government holds, broadly. Neo-liberal. Despite whatever else it says or does, Key et al believe in neo-liberal policy prescriptions. The primacy of the market, rational economic man, trickle down (whereas the reality is trickle up), deregulation, small government etc. Irrespective of claims about being pragmatic, a neo-liberal philosophy taints the Key Governments responses to the world around it. A couple of examples will illustrate the point.

Election in 2008 saw the Key Government introduce National Standards in Primary schooling. Election 2011 saw the unveiling of charter schools. Neither policy is necessary, our education system will do very nicely without either. Both policies are standard neo-liberal fare overseas and should be of little surprise that they have arrived on our shores.

Asset sales are another policy that New Zealand does not need. The introduction of a capital gains tax will nicely cover the gap in our budget deficit should we wish to retain our state owned assets. Neo-liberal policy however is never to raise taxes and certainly not in the area of financial capital. It is however all about passing state assets into private ownership.

Asset sales, National Standards and charter schools are not necessary for our future development. Why are they being implemented? The ‘hidden agenda’ of the Key Government is neo-liberal. The DNA within compels it to follow this line. As we breathe without conscious effort to survive, key et al neo-liberalise without conscious effort to govern.

So, for me, utilising the variables of ‘Brand Key’, ‘doing nothing’ and a ‘hidden (neo-liberal) agenda’ to analyse the ongoing interactions of the Key Government go a long way toward helping me understand why things occur as they do.

George.com

40 comments on “Brand Key, a do nothing Government & the hidden agenda”

  1. Nick K 1

    How does that ad go where the friends of the woman are complaining about her drinking?

    Oh yeah, the woman says “boring, boring, boring, boring”.

    • Bunji 1.1

      If it’s so dull you don’t have to read it Nick…

      And then you might not have to discuss how the government is failing to create jobs, raise wages, ‘grow the pie’ (as I’m sure it aims to do), protect the environment, look after our children…
      Or how asset sales is going to help with any of that.

    • bbfloys 1.2

      nicky… i suggest next time you attempt to read a post such as this one, you scroll down to see how many paragraphs long it is…. that would help you to avoid information overload…

  2. Peter 2

    “Doing nothing” for a conservative party such as National is precisely what they intend. From their perspective Governments are at best a necessary evil incapable of addressing any issues be they economic or social. These things will look after themselves providing private enterprise is allowed to do what it wants. Policy and strategy are the enemy to “doing nothing”.

    • Mike 2.1

      What would make you call the current National government conservative? They’ve run up record levels of government borrowing for starters, that ain’t conservative.

  3. Not only is this agenda not hidden, its not neoliberal either.
    Its just business as usual. The capitalists make their profits from expropriating workers’ labour.
    They don’t want to pay any of that profit out as a ‘social wage’ to maintain workers unless they are guaranteed a profit in return. Situation gets much worse when their profits fall because they can’t screw workers hard enough and system goes into crisis. To call this neoliberalism is to hide the agenda behind an act of will. When really to save themselves they have take our skins as well.
    Therefore, for the working class to survive, capitalism must die.
    Just use this template and save yourself nasty surprises.

    • Tiger Mountain 3.1

      “the tendency for the rate of profit to fall” (with attendant problems) continues, despite what bourgeois economists have tried arguing to the contrary over many years. The capitalists have tried various methods, technical and ideological, to change this long observed phenomenon.

      • speed ups/dependent contracting/precarious employment
      • anti unionism
      • moving offshore to lower wage locations/leveraged buy outs (they can run but can’t hide for ever)
      • authoritarian repression of workers via state forces
      • ideological control via neo liberal individualism-atomisation/religion/msm
      • permanent unemployment “lumpen” degraded status for significant numbers
      • divide and rule tactics-e.g. racism to split communities
      • excessive use of finance capital sector, which lead to the ’08 meltdown (and worker bailouts for the fleas)

      Need I go on? Ultimately these negative and unpleasant tactics gain only temporary if any, relief for todays capitalist bastards. “Castro is a colour redder than red” attitudes are making a deserved comeback. Also Occupy/99%ers provide a simple outline of a class analysis without having to know who marx was or belong to any particluar social group. A lot more people now know exploitation when they see it and who is responsible.

    • Georgecom 3.2

      Dave, the Nats approach is neo-liberal. I agree with your short summation of capitalism. That however does not nagate the fact that there are varying ‘flavours’ of capitalism, as there are with socialism. The variety of capitalism in ascendancy during the postwar long boom is different from the neo-liberal project. Both capitalisms but with seriously different inflections.

      The neo-liberal variant of capitalism has been the ‘orthodox’ for over 30 years internationally, a bit under that for NZ.

      Without even doing the analysis I would wager that the Nats neo-liberalism pretty much lines up alongside the international neo-liberal blueprint.

      What replaces it is an open question. There are other types of capitalism just as there are variants of socialism that could come to the fore. The economic-social-environmental condition we leave our planet and societies in for our grand children will be determined by the the answer.

  4. her 4

    I thought it was obvious. He is being useless as it suits.

    Borrowing 40 billion and acheiving no growth.
    Who does he borrow it off?
    What industry is he in?

    Paying the ANZ 100 million to advise on the selling the power station billions is just the cream.

  5. ianmac 5

    Watched a video of the 17 minute speech given to a Teacher Conference in January, by Hekia Parata Min Ed. A breathtaking wonderful speech without notes delivered with flare and flourish. A pity she is on the other side but as a future top politician watch out! She hinted that not only would National Standards continue but mentioned that “Competition between teachers would be introduced.”
    If you are interested in her ability/style try watching part of the clip especially after the first 5 minutes of intro.
    Where Key is sneaky and vague and enigmatic as George says in his post above, the opposite can be said of Hekia!

  6. George D 6

    I’ve always said that describing this government as ‘do nothing’ or ‘smile and wave’ is rather dangerous. They are doing things, quite dramatic things. It’s not worth the confusion these terms engender.

  7. The anti christ has finally been unvieled, his name is John Key.

  8. james 111 8

    Another day another shot at John Key who is Labours greatest stumbling block. Lets look at hidden agendas
    1) Homosexual Law reform
    2)Privy Council
    3)Anti smacking bill none of these were even out in the electorates prior to the elections. So its a bit rich for the left to be talking so called hidden agendas.

    Now lets look objectively the biggest problem for Labour its called The buy in Theory can be found in books by John Maxwell

    1) First the People buy into the Leader
    2) Secondly the people buy into the vision

    Looks pretty simple to me Labour hasnt even got past first base, and your rantings on here to the converted doesnt change the wider public perception at all.

    • Te Reo Putake 8.1

      Listen up, you homophobic, racist tool, none of the above examples were hidden in any way shape or form. Homosexual Law reform was the result of petitions, a series of private members bills in the decade prior and thousands of Kiwis marching up the main streets of NZ cities. It was no surprise at all and was supported by the majority of Kiwis then and now.
       
      Changes to the Privy council role were flagged well before they came up as legislation and, again, enjoyed wide support, though not so much with Maori, who were rightly concerned about the effect on the treaty and their rights to go to London for redress.
       
      The bill to stop legalised violence against children was not a Labour initiative, but again, it was widely supported, even by the National Party, who, to their credit, could see that we cannot end violence in the family home if it is regarded as a parent’s right.
       
      3 strikes. You’re out.

      • Warren 8.1.1

        +1
        Nailed it.

      • james 111 8.1.2

        Te Reo
        You have a short memeory my friend none of these were campaigned on prior to the election because she knew she would lose support. Some chose to forget face the facts man

        • Blighty 8.1.2.1

          who is ‘she’?

          Homosexual Law Reform passed in 1986, as a Private Members’ Bill. It wasn’t any party’s policy, so how could they have campaigned on it?

          Replacing the Privy Council was actually first raised by a National Bill in 1996. In 1999, Labour put out a discussion paper. In 2002, it was Labour policy to replace the right to go to the Privy Council with the Supreme Court. They passed the law in 2003.

          The anti-smacking Bill was a Private Members’ Bill. It wasn’t any party’s policy, so how could they have campaigned on it?

          This is all on wikipedia. I think your memory might be faulty.

          • ianmac 8.1.2.1.1

            Good one Blighty.

            • Te Reo Putake 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Cheers, Blighty. Almost feel sorry for our own whining Jim Jim.*
               
              *Lou Reed’s term for the con artists and street hustlers who would badger people into buying worthless goods, adulterated drugs etc. to feed their own pathetic addictions.

          • james 111 8.1.2.1.2

            You telling me that Helen Clark didnt know what Chris Carter was proposing she would have married him instead of Peter if she had met him first.,
            So why did she make her MPs block vote on the Bradford child beating bill. Which incedently has done nothing to reduce beating As those that were beating their kids in the firat place still do there behaviour hasnt changed one iota

            [lprent: That really does make you the biggest winner of the month so far.

            Literally everything in the comment was inaccurate. I pretty much define comments that are that inaccurate as either indicating a troll trying to start a flame or someone determined to be the dumbest and laziest commentator. Either way you are rewarded with a time off to do some historical research.

            Banned for a week…. ]

            • Blighty 8.1.2.1.2.1

              The Homosexual Law Reform Bill was Fran Wilde’s private member’s bill. Chris Carter didn’t enter Parliament until 7 years later.

              National voted for Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law too.

              Moron.

            • Ordinary_Bloke 8.1.2.1.2.2

              Leave personalities out of it. Focus on the argument. We all start somewhere ..

              [lprent: That badly? That has to be deliberate. Non-one could be that ignorant surely? ]

            • Lanthanide 8.1.2.1.2.3

              IMO that deserves a 2 week ban.

              [lprent: You just want some peace and quiet. But I’ve never had to give him a ban before. In fact I can’t recall warning him. So a week is the usual educational and gentle first time reminder not to cause the moderators to notice you. ]

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2.1.2.4

              Which incedently has done nothing to reduce beating

              Fuck, you’re moron. That’s a societal change and it’s going to be an entire generation or more before we could tell if it’s had an effect or not. My bet is that it will.

              Of course, this does show the short term thinking that is endemic of RWNJs. I their minds if something doesn’t make an immediate change then that something isn’t working.

            • Warren 8.1.2.1.2.5

              A great deal of mythology and hysteria is rampant about the media-labelled “anti-smacking” bill. While an anti-smacking bill is what Sue Bradford wanted (the Green Party proposer of this private members bill – it was not in any way a Labour bill), she didn’t get everything she wanted. The bill as passed by National – yes NATIONAL and Labour and the Greens does nothing more than disallow the use of a “reasonable force” defence by those being prosecuted for child abuse involving whips and jug cords – NOT simple smacking – which was seeing child abusers get off lightly.
              If only the opponents of the bill would make some rudimentary effort to find out what the bill ACTUALLY does, as opposed to what they imagine it does, then there would be no opposition.

            • mik e 8.1.2.1.2.6

              J turd labour are loud and proud of their gay MPs
              Nationals gay MPs are mostly firmly closeted because they know they would loose all the red necks like you!

            • Mike 8.1.2.1.2.7

              FFS James111, you really don’t know when to stay down do ya…

          • mik e 8.1.2.1.3

            even shonkey voted for it j turd

    • Georgecom 8.2

      James. If you read it properly, its an analysis of the Nat Government. If you think the criticism amounts to a ‘shot at Key’ then I guess you understand the failing of his Government that are referred to along the way to illustrate various points.

      If you read it properly you will also note its not about the Labour Party. “Labour this, Labour that” doesn’t really apply to the subject in hand. You may want to try writing a similar analysis of the Labour party and submit that for posting.

      Finally, if you read it properly you will see it is a start toward trying to understand the (seeming contradiction) of the John Key Government. How it can at once be ‘Brand Key/Ronald McDonald’, ‘clueless’ and have a ‘hidden agenda’. The Key Govt isn’t linear and one dimensional. I’ve been interested in contemplating the dimensions of ‘smile and wave’, ‘do nothing’, the ‘hidden agenda’ and how they clip together.

  9. vto 9

    Hidden agendas have been proved with the Wyatt Creech report on Ecan, the subsequent removal of elected representatives and replacement with commissioners, and the further subsequent stated intention to use $400million from the sale of assets to support irrigation, in particular Central Plains Water.

    Sometimes a blatant lie to the face is easier to get away with, it seems.

  10. Willie Maley 10

    According to Fisi over on Open Mike National have a 120 point plan to grow the economy, reduce poverty etc.

    • bbfloys 10.1

      which proves that they don’t have a plan at all…

      • Nick K 10.1.1

        They don’t have a plan because Governments don’t grow economies and create jobs. The economy to be grown is owned by entreprenuers, businesses, tradesman, accountants, exporters etc. They are the economy. Not the government.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          They don’t have a plan because Governments don’t grow economies and create jobs.

          Shame it seems you don’t know about Germany, Singapore, Japan and South Korea where government and the private sector worked hand in hand to create high value jobs and protect local firms until they were ready to compete on a world stage.

          They are the economy. Not the government.

          Wow I guess all those entrepreneurs, businesses, tradesmen, accountants and exporters don’t benefit from and accept government business and support eh?

          Wow especially your exporters comment. That’s just dumb. Remember the NZ dairy board mate?

        • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.2

          No they’re not, they’re merely part of the economy. The government is the management of the economy without which those parts that you mentioned wouldn’t be able to work.

  11. Deborah Kean 11

    If only the opponents of the bill would make some rudimentary effort to find out what the bill ACTUALLY does, as opposed to what they imagine it does, then there would be no opposition.

    Seconded!
     

  12. When can we expect to hear some positive policy steps towards the next Labour Government coalition in 2014.
    All there appears to be is personal attacks on Key – which proved negative last election. It turns voter’s off.

    • Mike 12.1

      It’s only the first few weeks of parliament after an election, not the time to start announcing major policy directions. attacking John Key is attacking National, which is the oppositions job. There is nobody else to attack, John Key is National. It seems to be slowly working too, he’s definitely slowly starting to look like losing his rag on more than one occasion which would never have happened a couple of years ago.

      IMHO the question could be will Key remain as PM and National party leader right through to the next election? Unless something hugely unexpected happens over the next 3 years National won’t get a third term and I don’t think Key’s ego could handle defeat in an election..

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