Cult of personality deficit

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, October 27th, 2011 - 37 comments
Categories: accountability, campaigning, election 2011, john key, labour, leadership, national, phil goff, privatisation - Tags:

It’s not surprising that National are trying to run a presidential, personality based election campaign – after all, their policies aren’t going to win many votes from those middle and lower income kiwis who understand them. And up till now, presidentialism has worked very well for National. But it’s also starting to become apparent to many that John Key is actually a bit of a dick.

Honestly, if I was pinning my hopes of re-election on John Key’s personality, I’d be a bit worried because Key has consistently failed to project any desirable personality when the pressure for a good performance has been on. He comes across as either weak or a dufus.  Letterman, the catwalk prime mincer, the Rubber Wool Cup trotie, the pulweez can I haz handshakes – dufus. The economy, the credit downgrades, Christchurch, Pike River, Rena – weak. Weak is fatal, dufus is sort of funny to some for a while, but eventually everyone wants a strong competent leader. Yet it’s the PR screw-ups that are becoming the popular culture characterizations of Key. They are no longer just the views of the political cognoscenti but are instead becoming widely held perceptions among those mainstream apolitical kiwis that had formerly believed John Key was a ‘nice bloke’.

True the mainstream view of Goff is that he’s dry and lacking in any of Key’s personality, but then unlike National, Labour can afford to focus on its policy and showcase its whole team of candidates. Right now, as the horizons continue to darken, I think kiwis are developing a real taste for clear plans and plausible policies over style and no substance. So far Labour’s policy based campaign has been very shrewd for highlighting the utter vacuity of National’s campaign of ‘vote John Key cause he’s a neat guy’. Trouble is, Key’s clearly not much chop at pretending he is a neat guy.

Key’s teflon is well and truly chipping and his personality performances don’t seem to improve when he’s put on the spot. But Key’s all that National have got to attract vote so he’ll need to excel over the coming weeks. So no wonder the right are starting to panic. The RWC final reminded them victory is never assured, no matter how ‘invincible’ one side might seem to be or how hopeless the opposition might appear. It also reminded them their one trick pony is prone to choking when he’s needed most.

 

37 comments on “Cult of personality deficit”

  1. Jack 1

    Not only weak, but nasty. He gets very huffy when challenged. Then there’s the infamous throat-slitting gesture…

  2. Keryn H 2

    I’ve been surprised by several friends who had previously liked Key a lot but have now gone off him big time.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    It’s a sad indictment on NZ politics that Key’s fumbling personal style is more of an issue than his incompetent management. The “snap decisions” that work for a currency trader are judged by the bottom line – make good returns for your masters and you don’t have to justify those calls. Running a country simply doesn’t work that way, but even if it did, Key doesn’t have a handle on it, and by crickey does he hate the spotlight – he’s discovering it’s a bit different to the limelight!
    The right has made the election all about his personality – and let’s be fair at least they’re consistent: the last election was all about Helen Clark’s after all – but now they’re well and truly hoist up their own flagpole.

  4. Dudes way too over exposed. After a few weeks of blanket coverage and bumbling bloopers on the campaign trail sheeple will be turning off him in droves.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Labour’s slogan, “own our future” works on quite a few levels. It says that they’re going to take responsibility for what happens in our country, unlike Key who blames all the problems on someone or something else.

  6. queenstfarmer 6

    The article manages to miss the key (no pun intended) point that it has always been despite his quirks / failings / traits / attributes – which as the article notes, are hardly new – that Key himself has been very popular. As Labour’s own campaign manager correctly said today:

    I think that everyone can see that John Key is an extremely popular Prime Minister

    If National falls, it won’t be because mainstream kiwis suddenly think John Key is “a bit of a dick”. Because he’s a politician, they already think that.

    • fair points, but mine is that NZ is losing its taste for dick

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.2

      The problem is not what he is. The problem is that the Nationals have no plans in place to react to what is happening to NZ. The fact that they use Key to trot out stunts, gags and photo ops just highlights their inadequacies.

      • queenstfarmer 6.2.1

        And that’s a fair critique, if you believe that to be the case. It’s different from attributing things to people suddenly realising Key’s not great (again, assuming you believe that is happening).

        • bbfloyd 6.2.1.1

          i don’t believe people are suddenly starting to see through key….. from experience, the realisation that one’s backed a pup doesn’t take very long to sink in….. what does take time is acceptance of ones own mistakes…..the more obvious, in hindsight, the longer it can tend to take….

          i intuit that we may be seeing a manifestation of the laws of critical mass……

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.2.1.2

          He’s the front man for ther brand. All the talk about individuals gets them off the hook from things like their $18.5B deficit which they have no plans to address. Are we going to spend the next 4 weeks crapping on about this stuff.

      • Vicky32 6.2.2

        An opportune moment for me to ask why all the TV election adverts I’ve seen have been National Party ones? Granted, I have not watched much TV in the past 3 weeks, and then it’s been 90% Prime, but still… I loathe hearing Key’s voice, and I try to avoid seeing his face. (I listen to TV much more than I watch.)

    • pollywog 6.3

      If National falls, it won’t be because mainstream kiwis suddenly think John Key is “a bit of a dick”.

      Because he’s a politician, they already think that.

      you’re right…it’ll be cos they think he’s a whole lotta dick

  7. Craig Glen Eden 7

    you miss the point Queenstreet that he is over exposed.

    So failings that at the start seemed like “Awe shuck’s he’s just like us” becomes “this guys actually a dick”. So the funny bloke at the Barbecue aint so funny when he loads all the meat on his plate and a couple of his mates and all the other sheeples get yesterday’s salad.

  8. Craig 8

    That should be ‘an extremely populist Prime Minister.’ Get some public relations tips from his mate Dave Cameron, did he? Wouldn’t be surprised…

  9. giovani 9

    hopefully shonky john key and the national parties cult of personality billboards will make people see
    the path this corrupt incompetent government is leading us. “Backwards to the future.”

  10. Daveski 10

    I agree that this is a repetitive post from across the fence. However, the thread shows that Labour in particular have completely missed the point. It was Labour who made it all about the leader in the last election – and lost. I would accept to a point that with Helen in charge it was a reasonable strategy except for the what if scenario – what if the electorate decided they trusted Key and god forbid actually liked him. Yet the strategy was continued until now.

    So Labour has invested the past three years making into a presidential campaign until four weeks before the election before finding out that a) the strategy wasn’t working and b) Labour doesn’t have anyone at present to compete on the presidential level.

    Again, from an outside perspective, Labour appears to be calling all the wrong shots as evidenced by this thread. As the ABs have shown, you need to learn from your losses.

  11. McFlock 11

    The (Smiling) Assassin’s Creed

    I am the Key
    The light and the way.
    The sun shines out of my
    Smile.
    I am the distraction
    The mincer
    The panda on the cycleway
    I am the source of all good things
    And my government’s only hope.
    In the case of misfortune or malpractice
    I will never be seen
    But I will lay my cabinet ministers down before thee.
    My glory is fleeting
    My brilliance will dull
    But hopefully nobody will notice until after the election.

  12. peter 12

    I think that it shows that the Nats have no confidence in their own MP’s and have to have Key’s image on the billboards to sell these people effectively.

    • Ugh. 12.1

      I disagree. With a lot of these points to be honest, but firstly.
      Pretty sure before this election, everyone had their faces on their billboards, so the fact that you’re trying to read into that is ridiculous. Also, I like the faces. I have no idea who’s in Labour, because they’re rufusing to put their faces. At some point (if elected..) they’re going to have to show their faces.

      Also, It is a popularity contest.. I don’t want someone I don’t like as my friend etc, so why on earth would I want some I don’t like as my PM??

      I hope John Key and National get back in. It’s actually nice to see a PM who gives a shit about his country by not being afraid to be a bit of a dick, and also goes out of his way to say hello to people.

      • tc 12.1.1

        Love it when turkeys vote for Xmas…..gobble gobble

      • ianmac 12.1.2

        Ugh:“…..a PM who gives a shit about his country by not being afraid to be a bit of a dick,….”
        There you have it. Even a hard Rightie can see it but he hopes it doesn’t matter. Some think that it does matter.

        • McFlock 12.1.2.1

          This is what gives me hope. Even quite a few true blue tory voters don’t deny Key is a dick, they just say it doesn’t matter. They can’t argue that National policies are better than anyone else’s, because the few policies National have are pretty indefensible.
           
          My point being that if you want to work on clear leadership, you plug the leader. If you want to portray depth and competence, you plug the entire team. If you want market differentiation, you plug specific policies.
           
          National have no policies, their team is visibly and repeatedly incompetent, and the best thing some tories can say about their leader is that they’ll stay loyal to the party, even though he’s a bit of a dick.
          Seriously, unless someone does a big game-changer like an email from the spanish lottery commision to say we’re now rich enough to pay off the national debt, Labour is in with a definite chance of forming a govt.

      • logie97 12.1.3

        Ugh – new here are you?

        Show a little honesty – you will know that there is a mixture of Labour billboards in your electorate and one such will have the Labour candidate’s photo – that is the one that is relevant to you. You will also have one of the Maori electorate’s candidates. (And, if you drive around your neighbouring electorates you will see their candidates as well. No problem there, so your point is???) Just perhaps you are a rural dweller and not an urban voter in which case you will only see two Labour candidate photographs. And for your information, billboards have not always had candidates photographs on them – the production was far too expensive.

        Good to see that you are taking an interest in the election however but you might like to take your other vacuous thoughts back to the sewer.

        • lprent 12.1.3.1

          I suspect that he is.

          The highest proportion I can ever remember Labour in Mt Albert buying picture corflute compared to signage was about 30%.

          Even at that level and with the PM of the time on it, it was a bit of a waste of resources when you’re restricted on the local spend. Better to spend the money on resources to keep people phoning, door knocking, and eventing.

          National always spent more on their billboards simply because they don’t have the volunteers to do much else with their local election spend.

      • muzza911 12.1.4

        Urgh – You simply do not see what is going on do you. I say this to all party shills what ever colour they might be stuck on – Listen carfully

        IT IS TOO IMPORTANT TO BE STUCK ON PARTY POLITICS, THIS IS ABOUT NZ AND ALL ITS PEOPLE’S. YOUR PARTY IS MORALLY BROKEN SO GET OFF YOUR ARSE AND PLAY A REAL PART, BECAUSE TAKING SIDES AND THINKING YOU ARE A WINNER IF YOUR COLOUR FORMS GOVERNMENT IS TOO REDICULOUS FOR WORDS!

        GROW UP!

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 12.1.5

        Do you always put that much thought into deciding who vote for? I thought people voted for a party because they liked their policies.

      • Ianupnorth 12.1.6

        You didn’t really inform us why you want them back in? Presumably you have a stash of cash to buy some shares in state assets? maybe you have an under 6 year old who you want to take for free medical care out of hours – but hang on, that’s being funded by slashing money from other parts of the health budget, so someone else will suffer.
         
        Maybe you have a business and want to reduce the cost of employing youth workers?
         
        Maybe you want the national parks mined and the seas around us explored for oil by overseas companies?
         
        Maybe you want to travel more on Chinese made trains?
         
        No, I get it, you want a really good reason to move to Australia? If Key gets back in that would be the motivation for me to move.
         

      • Hami Shearlie 12.1.7

        Of course he’s not afraid to be a dick – he’s had a whole lifetime to get used to it! LOL

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