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Espiner on National’s use of the crisis

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 pm, March 16th, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: articles, Media, national/act government, spin - Tags: , ,

Sadly, I couldn’t find Colin Espiner’s excellent piece in The Press today online. It’s good. Colin’s thoughtful observations derail the government’s PR spin about That Nice Man Mr Key and his commonsense centrist approach.

He wonders whether the National government is taking advantage of the economic crisis to push through hard-right reforms Kiwis didn’t vote for.

‘‘Never waste a good crisis,” United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this month, and John Key’s Government seems to be taking her words to heart.

Ideas are pinging out of the Beehive at a rate not seen since former Labour prime minister Mike Moore was in charge.

Like those pumped out by Moore, some of National’s ideas make sense, some are interesting, and some are out of left or should that be Right field.

We have only just got to grips with National’s issues with ACC, the Corrections Department, the Environment Ministry, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and the nine-day fortnight, but Key is already moving on, talking private prisons, more public-private partnerships, and loosening the rules around foreign investment in New Zealand.

Key mentioned the latter at the ACT Party’s annual conference at the weekend. It’s pretty unusual for a National prime minister to attend another party’s annual meeting, let alone speak at it. Key has hitherto been cautious to avoid being seen to cosy up to his Right-wing ally. Things are changing fast, however.

Key described himself in a glowing Wall Street Journal article as ‘‘centre-Right”.

During the election campaign, he described himself as ‘‘centrist”. Semantics? Unlikely. Key’s appearance at the ACT conference is a clear signal of where this administration is headed.

However, there is a legitimate question to be asked about whether the electorate did, in fact, vote for change, given National’s mantra throughout the campaign was essentially: ‘‘We’re like Labour, just not quite so annoying”.

is the Government simply taking the opportunity, after nine years of Labour, to give the country a none-too-subtle nudge to the Right?

It’s not often I’ve agreed with Colin the past, but he’s on the money with this one.


29 comments on “Espiner on National’s use of the crisis”

  1. Johnty Rhodes 1

    National are as much right as Labour were left. Suck it up boys. We would have been further left already with the idiot Greens in charge as the tail wagging the dog if the Pinko lefties won the election.

    The NACTional Blitzkreig has started. We will carry on until the left exisits no more. We will continue until the lefties deny socialism works.

    Phil-in does not know what has hit him, possum in the lights. No-one listens to him anyway.

    The world has moved on since November so these reforms are needed so New Zealand can survive the coming depression that will befall us in the next 2 years. See the Bank of England is now talking depression, shows what Labour does to a country. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/4996994/Britain-showing-signs-of-heading-towards-1930s-style-depression-says-Bank.html

    Enjoy your lates while you can boys, the party is coming to an end.

    • Quoth the Raven 1.1

      Take a breath and have a think for a minute. Think about what socialism is because you must have a pretty weird definition of socialism if you think Labour is socialist. Think about what left and right is historically and whether the Greens or Labour are all that left and whether or not there is really a great deal of difference between Labour and National (there are a lot of important differences but in the grand scheme of things it’s slight). Think about your absurd proposition that new labour in Britain has much to do with labour here. After that think about, with your understanding, whether or not you should take the time to comment on a political blog…

    • The NACTional Blitzkreig has started. We will carry on until the left exisits no more. We will continue until the lefties deny socialism works.

      You will carry on for as long as the New Zealand public will tolerate you – that’s the way democracy works, and at the rate you’re going that will be a decidedly short time.

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    I feel Jonty Rhodes’ comment above needs some stirring marching music behind it… perhaps the Standardistas could embed a suitable midi file. “633 Squadron”, maybe? 😀

    I presume in posing that last rhetorical question Espiner knows full well the answer is “well of course”, otherwise he is inviting the much less complimentary response: “Well, duhhhh!”

    Perhaps I’m over-estimating the electorate here but I suspect that most of the shift to the right tha’s happened so far comes as no surprise to most. The gasps will only occur – from different people at different points – if and when it goes much further.

    • Matthew Pilott 2.1

      I was thinking ‘Imperial March’…

      Rex, remember you’re the jaded cynic here – us lefties are used to a Government that does what it says it will – a luxury no doubt, but we were spoiled by Labour’s 5th iteration weren’t we?

      So it might come as no surprise to see National doing stuff it said it wouldn’t, and taking action that is vastly different in ideological bent to their campaigning, but it certainly marks an unfortunate and dishonest change from the last Government.

      Cap: ’40 pinkola’. Someone with Johnty Rhodes’ measly intellect would probably lose bladder control with that one.

    • Felix 2.2

      Ride of the Valkyries.

      • BLiP 2.2.1

        C’mon fellas – its Johnty we’re slagging off. Its gotta be Ronnie Hazlehurst’s famous piccolo theme tune, surely.

  3. bobo 3

    I think National made their first big blunder today charging a national fuel tax for Aucklands infrastructure when they could have just left it as “nasty” Labour’s Auckland fuel tax while still pocketing the money. Stuff like this sticks in the voters minds and brings out the anti Auckland sentiment who one would have thought National needs to keep in with.

    Nice one Key 🙂 Fistpump

    • gingercrush 3.1

      While certainly I think this direction by Key is a mistake as I’m sure many other New Zealanders outside Auckland think so too. To me it isn’t something, New Zealanders will remember in 2011. And I’m not entirely sure you grasp the sentiments of the heartland. Unless Labour does a complete u-turn which seems unlikely (particularly since the Greens themselves are a huge problem) there seems little chance that provincial New Zealand will somehow find themselves back voting Labour. Indeed outside a scenario like 2002, provincial New Zealand will continue to favour National.

      Of course that doesn’t suggest that Labour and the centre-left can’t out poll National in the provinces. Just as Labour has a natural advantage in the cities so does National share a natural advantage in the provinces.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    “That’s not why I came into politics, it’s not what I’m campaigning for, it’s not what I stand for and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to go out there and run a policy agenda which is moderate, considered and pragmatic and then turn around and try to sell New Zealanders down the river.”

    John Key TV3 News, 20 Mar 2008

    We’ll stick with ACT: Key

    “Prime Minister John Key says National will not fall out with ACT despite a blistering attack on the Government’s handling of the economic downturn by ACT MP Roger Douglas.”…

    …”Asked if he agreed with Douglas’s view that the Government should leave job losses alone, Key said: “We have always said that we prefer commercial solutions to our problems.”

    He said reviews of legislation that inhibited economic growth and job creation would be announced soon starting with a review of the Overseas Investment Act early next week.”

    Sunday Star Times, Yesterday.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      “We have always said that we prefer commercial solutions to our problems.’

      The commercial solutions are the problems.

  5. ghostwhowalks 5

    Did anyone else notice google street view has blacked out part of 107 St Stephens Ave, Parnell which as we all know is the tuscan monstrosity covering 3 former house sites that John Key built.
    the street frontage is so huge that you can see the wall in front of the tennis court and the footpath entrance as you pan past, then suddenly the blackout appears , ‘image not available’ it says and then image reappears as you pan past the neighbours house. The 360 degree feature allows you to look back somewhat at what you may have missed.
    Google cant really blame other providers, like it does when aerial shots are fuzzed out, since they have provided all the images themselves.

    • Johnty Rhodes 5.1

      GWW – gee, you really have a thing about JKs houses, are you a stalker? Jealous at all he has made $50M and has all of these mansions in NZ & abroard? Fuck success must grate with you.

      Has GE also blacked out the Manly mansion as well, I am sure you have checked this as well. What about the Helensville office in Kumeu?

      Also, it can be argued as a security issue, never can be too careful these days, lots of disgruntled socialists running around at present.

      • I think you’ll find that almost all incidences of political stalking or violence have been carried out by conservatives in the recent political history.

      • ghostwhowalks 5.1.2

        Whos stalking??. hes a public figure
        Has there credible threats to his safety or is St Stephens Ave a no go area ( digital wise or even physically)

  6. Ian Llewellyn 6

    I just love the Orwellian type satire on this blog item. A journalist is incompetent, stupid and biased until they write something you agree with and at that point they are “thoughtful” and “on the money”.

    • Daveo 6.1

      Ian are you still smarting over being called out on buying English’s spin on ACC?

      Perhaps the author of this post thought this particular piece was thoughtful. Having seen Colin buy National’s line hook, line and sinker countless times in the past it’s refreshing to see him starting to critique them.

      Maybe you should try the same before rushing to print the next time the Nats feed you a line of spin.

    • Matthew Pilott 6.2

      Yes Ian, it certainly is Orwellian to disagree with something someone says, and then agree with something completely different from the same person.

      Oh wait – that’s called ‘Critical Thinking’. Methinks Mr Llewellyn might want to try sometime.

  7. gingercrush 7

    Lol I must admit that when I went to Auckland in Feb I went and checked John Key’s house. The house itself is absolutely beautiful. Even from just being i the car you can understand the quality in the building.

    I haven’t read the piece itself (the actual piece from the Newspaper) but I really don’t understand why he chose Key saying he was centre-right from the WSJ. It strikes me as very strange that Key calling his government a centre-right government which I recall hearing numerous times during the election is somehow new. If Key had merely stated we’re a right wing party then perhaps there could be a shudder. I will say to both the left and the hard-right that if you’re expecting Key and National to go that way. You’re going to be very disappointed.

    I’m also intrigued in the way you call many of these things hard-right policies. I’m sure we all have different opinions on what we define as left, hard-left, right, hard-right and even the term centrist. Quoth himself points to that difficulty. Most of these policies as expressed by you and others as being hard-right, in other countries they would hardly be called that. Indeed many such policies already exist in countries with centre-left parties. So are such policies hard-right because you think they are? For many people who would term themselves as being far to the right would say that Key’s government is too centrist if not leftist in nature. It certainly is a predicament.

    Lastly, I would also see Key’s visit to the Act conference differently. To me at least Key was illustrating that while National has policies in common with the Act party he was telling the conference, that National will do things differently. They will have ideas and policies that Act won’t agree with. Basically, I believe Key was signalling intentionally that he was going to continue a centrist path. Some elements would certainly be more neo-liberal and right wing in nature. But that they were not going to sacrifice their time in office by veering too much to the right. That while he appreciated and welcomed Act’s support, National would not be beholden to them.

    (And ugh way too long and my english sucks.)

  8. bobo 8

    People don’t remember every specific policy but it alters their overall perception of a party in general terms, the same way the anti-smacking policy did for Labour even though it wasn’t of their making and supported by National.

    I don’t think referring to cities other than Auckland as provincial New Zealand is correct , this isn’t a rural vs urban argument or that wasn’t what I was getting at , it’s a just a region the size of Auckland should be able to pay for its own infrastructure . Rail networks are not sexy propositions to pitch to the public unlike rugby stadiums.

    Gingercrush – Labour increased its majority in their 2nd term whether that was down to voters being happy with a government for once doing what they had pledged to do with no nasty surprises as hadn’t been the case for decades before it.

  9. the sprout 9

    Wall to wall negative coverage for National on RNZ this morning, which I expect will be echoed by TVNZ tonight. I wonder how much longer those polls will hold up?

  10. ghostwhowalks 10

    Jonty, we know all about how the Wall St bonuses are calculated, based on illusionary profits.

    And why is Key considered a ‘success’ ?.

    Every where he has worked has turned to dust, and these were all long standing firms before he and his ilk joined them.

    Lane Walker Rudkin- gone
    Elders – gone
    Bankers Trust – gone
    Merrill Lynch – gone

    NZ National Party – TBA ?

    • Johnty Rhodes 10.1

      Oh really GWW. You are a real numpty. He did not take these companies down. He was succesful in his own right & is a much better option than the crook Cullen is for finance nous.

      Your obsession with him is really getting to you. He is more sucessful than Clark & Cullen ever were. They have taken the best years of growth and what do we have show for it, a train set & decades of deflicts.

      Was his wife & children at home when you stalked his place tonight?

  11. BLiP 11

    Better late than never. Perhaps Espiner has decided to get off his arse and do some invesitgating and fact checking instead of swallowing . . .

  12. Trevor Mallard 12

    Reminds me a bit of the Douglas/Prebble approach. Create crisis move quickly and move on to next issue. with Joyce in Cabinet it is like having Bevan Burgess on constant tap.

    • Johnty Rhodes 12.1


      [lprent: irrelevant and unconnected to either the post or the comments. Troll elsewhere]

  13. r0b 13

    Create crisis move quickly and move on to next issue

    Sadly it’s a tactic that plays well to the news cycle and quick superficial reporting.

  14. sally 14

    Create crisis move quickly and move on to next issue

    Hit and run politics. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good crisis…

  15. BLiP 15

    Create crisis move quickly and move on to next issue

    Crosby/Textor 101

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