Many people laud John Key’s experience in the business world, and say that the smiling assassin’s ability to play hard-ball when required means he will be an excellent prime minister.
So why, during talks with the Maori Party, did Key drop a National ‘bottom line’ that would be a strong card to play? As evidenced by his admission yesterday, Key repeatedly conceded that dissolution of Maori seats was not a National Party bottom line in talks with Pita Sharples. Sharples made this public, and suddenly Key, the Hard-Nosed Operator from the business world was trumped.
In making the admission public, Sharples forced Key – with everything to lose – to decide between antagonising Sharples (and, by extension, the Maori Party) or admitting he’d given away one of National’s strongest bargaining chips before National made it to the table. Key, in increasingly typical fashion, chose the former until it became an untenable position, and conceded the latter.
This raises two questions regarding Key’s experience from the business world:
I – Why did he make a policy concession in such a weak position? There’s no evidence National extracted a similar concession. It is possible, but in the eyes of the public Key has been well and truly sharked; it looks like their position post-election, whatever that may be, has been greatly weakened.
II – Why did he choose a course of action that would lead to the worst of both worlds – antagonising the Maori Party by accusing Sharples of lying, before conceding he’s been deceiving the public all along? So much for making important decisions on the spot and getting the call right.
Not what you’d expect from the supposed paragon of business acumen.