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John Key is Rob Muldoon’s doppelganger

Written By: - Date published: 8:07 am, November 30th, 2013 - 64 comments
Categories: john key, national, same old national - Tags:

John Key morphing to muldoon

Like many other baby boomers I found that my political activism owed a lot to Rob Muldoon.

He was a disgusting figure.  He was a bully, had strong fascist tendencies and was totally clueless on how to run New Zealand.  Our current problems can be traced directly back to the stupidity of a number of decisions that he made.

One of his least endearing characteristics was to denigrate and abuse opponents.  He had a real ability to sense what the average redneck was thinking and to channel this.  The decision to allow the 1981 Springbok tour was a classic example of how he would trash international treaties and obligations, human rights and ferment mass disorder for political gain.

One of his classic one liners was to talk about “rent a crowd” demonstrators, suggesting that those who opposed what he was doing were not genuine but protesting for some ulterior reason or just for the hell of it.

The malevolence of his rule inspired many including myself to become politically active in the hope that we could do our bit to make our political leadership better.

John Key has been recently channelling Muldoon.  This week he described the many thousand protesters who protested against deep sea oil drilling off the West Coast as rent a crowd demonstrators.

Key displays a similar amount of complete confidence in his own abilities and a willingness to abuse opponents that Muldoon displayed.  And he is making decisions that have the potential to undermine New Zealand’s economy and way of life to a degree not seen since the 1970s and 1980s.

It makes you wonder if John Key is Rob Muldoon’s doppelgänger …

64 comments on “John Key is Rob Muldoon’s doppelganger ”

  1. vto 1

    Key will be remembered exactly as Muldoon is

    complete failure and arsehole

    one of NZ’s worst ever PM’s

    this is Keys legacy

  2. karol 2

    Yes, there is a similarity, though I think Muldoon probably was more able to express his nastiness clearly. Key uses muddled diction and syntax, sometimes making it impossible to discern the meaning with certainty – but usually it’s enough of a dog whistle for the reactionary types to interpret it according to their prejudices and preferred negative slurs.

    Muldoon (like Key) also positively courted the most conservative sections of NZ society: the pakeha and rugby-loving masculinity that was preferred by those with most power in NZ at the time.

    I recall walking by Mt Eden War Memorial Hall early one evening in the 1970s when Muldoon was just beginning a speech. There were loudspeakers delivering the speech to the outside (but no queues of people listening – just me). He began the speech by referring to Eden Park nearby. He elaborated on all the “great” Kiwi values that was (according to him) an integral part of Kiwi values.

    Muldoon included in his speech, the line he often said something like: “The average New Zealander is a decent bloke. he knows right from wrong and will stand up for it.” Often this line was used to smear Pacific Island people, who were deemed by him to be prone to criminal acts and “over staying”. This kind of smear was also used for anyone who disagree with his reactionary social, political and economic views.

    This was the sort of thing that strengthened my determination to leave NZ and head to Aussie, the UK …. anywhere else. I was very aware at the time that anyone outside the white patriarchal, heterosexist, homophobic, capitalist, conservative middle classes was smeared, marginalised and demonised within NZ. Muldoon played on such views.

    Thus was widespread opposition to the MOR social conservatism was suppressed, later to explode into the protests against the 1981 tour.

    Key has returned as to a 21st century version of the suppression of opposition to plutocracy. But there’s an element of obfuscation and masking of the message. Muldoon wa more direct and clear in his nastiness. If Key was to always use a direct a way to demonise others and support the wealthy and powerful, it would not stand up to the intense scrutiny of 21st century communications.

    • Tiger Mountain 2.1

      Modern standards of paparazzi behaviour and online journalism would have seen pig Muldoon gone by lunchtime these days. His trash would have been gone through and the impressive collection of gin bottles instagrammed for all to marvel at. One nite a cabinet colleague let down the tyres on the Prime Ministerial Triumph 2.5pi in the parliment car park to stop the well marinated Prime Minister driving home. Key has minions to attend to things such as avoiding DUIs in a tidier manner.

      Various academics and writers have tried to reinstate his reputation or at least reassess his legacy by literary means such as Bob Jones, Michael Bassett and Barry Gustaffson to little avail for those who were there at the time. Workers carrried pigs heads on sticks and other foul misshapen representations of the man on union marches. This was a PM who assaulted still activist Roger Fowler on Queen St, gave the whole of Africa the fingers and dragged the countries international reputation lower than the proverbial.

      Key has the same authoritarian inclinations as Rob Muldoon but is a whole lot slipperier in how he expresses them. The one positive spinoff from the Muldoon era was MMP.

      • greg 2.1.1

        Dear Tiger how old are you?,by my reckoning, from your comments, you were too young to be aware of the “Muldoon”. Key is not a shadow of that slippery bastard .How on earth you think journalism is a patch on what it was then only leads me to the conclusion stated before ie you were too young.

    • Sanctuary 2.2

      “…I recall walking by Mt Eden War Memorial Hall early one evening in the 1970s when Muldoon…”

      *Gasp* – I had a mental image of a don’t-fuck-with-me tattoed 20 something for you!

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        Really? Karol’s nearing pension-age…

      • karol 2.2.2

        nah. I’ve never been interested in getting a tattoo. Also, tats didn’t really become cool til later in the 80s.

        In the 70s my dress style was hippyish – tatty, old patched jeans, long hair (part of a whole anti-materialist, anti-consumerist aesthetic).

        PS: I was always quite reserved. Don’t recognise my younger self as having a “don’t fuck with me” attitude. It was more that I observed, read a lot, and pondered on the f***ed up state of humanity.

      • greg 2.2.3

        What?

    • Lanthanide 2.3

      Hearing these stories of the 70’s and 80’s makes me feel like NZ was a radically different country then.

      • fambo 2.3.1

        It was. The dramatic change started with Labour in 1984. Muldoon was the last Prime Minister of the left or right in the lineage that started with the first Labour government.

      • greg 2.3.2

        It was, we protested, unlike the gen y wankers today we had ethics.

      • Martin 2.3.3

        before the web. we knew about the GCSB. ironically given a leg up in the Lange years.
        More people got of their arses and and into the streets.
        More political activism online in a highly connected world i.e. Greenpeace, Sea-sheperd, The Standard, Whale Oil. etc. Less f2f.

  3. dv 3

    Muldoon was responsible for giving the neolibs an opportunity to gain power in 1984 and we are still reaping the ‘rewards’ of these policies.

    • Richard Christie 3.1

      This was Muldoon’s ultimate failing, and the most damaging.
      Blinded by the dust of Muldoon’s totalitarian style as they swept his legacy away, voters didn’t notice the wolf entering the front door.

  4. ak 4

    Massive insult to Rob, who at least had full recognition of his role and showed in latter years a genuine feel for victims. He’d vomit the current panty-waist mincing shill from his mouth.

  5. chris73 5

    Most leaders probably share traits simply because they are leaders, for instance:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/38028

  6. Tat Loo (CV) 6

    For all his faults Muldoon was in many ways a forward thinking nation builder. With a gradual transition to less state market control at the grass roots level, he would have won himself another term and halted the Rogernomics BS from ever taking hold.

    • karol 6.1

      Muldoon epitomised the way various oppression are interwoven. He was a capitalist, but did favour many welfare state measures that are out of favour with Key’s government. Muldoon was part of the mixed economy consensus that was broken by the neocons.

      Muldoon’s policies, behaviour, practices and discourse clearly integrated various kinds of oppression: the dominance of traditional, white patriarchal, rugby-centred, capitalist-supporting masculinity over the working classes/low income people, women, LGBTI people, Pasifika people, Maori, immigrants, etc. To me it was glaringly obvious. For Muldoon the “average Kiwi” was explicitly male.

      • Tat Loo (CV) 6.1.1

        Yes, explicitly male and white, a very narrow view of NZ, and oppressive to many groups.

        Here’s the catch though: the rail projects, energy projects, refining projects, etc. that he helped drive along with ongoing subsidies to exporters and manufacturers gave massive employment and good incomes to a million Maori, Pasifika and blue collar working class in general.

        So now we have a far less oppressive political and social environment. But low income people, the working classes, Maori and Pasifika, blue collar workers, have all been screwed.

        Political and social oppression has become economic oppression and debt servitude in other words.

        • RedLogix 6.1.1.1

          Yes. That’s an expression of exactly how far right the neo-liberal revolution has taken us since Muldoon’s days.

          My father once worked for Muldoon and I recall him saying that he suffered badly from “short-mans syndrome”, in other words he compensated for his lack of height with brashness and bullying. Not uncommon in his generation. In the end it rather isolated him socially, from friends and colleagues. The loneliness and pressure was probably why he was drinking too much at the end.

          And yes by current standards he was a social conservative, but pretty representative of a large swath of NZ society at the time. New Zealand has become a more socially liberal society over the last 30 years.

          But in most other respects, if you strip away his personal obnoxiousness, you could define Muldoon as NZ’s last decent conservative Prime Minister. He was indeed a strong nationalist, he understood the role government had in building economic and industrial ecosystems, he understood the need for everyone to have a fair access to the economic pie. His much excoriated Think Big program, while marred by his own inability to listen to sound official advice, was largely a success.

          By every measure Muldoon’s economic position was well to the left of almost all the parties in the present day NZ Parliament.

          And therein lies the Big Tradeoff. While the last 30 years has seen the left enjoy some patchy gains in terms of social liberalisation … it has come at the cost of a comprehensive loss in terms of economic position. Chris Trotter, along with many other older New Zealanders like myself who can remember this country before 1980, often wonder if it was worth it.

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1

            His much excoriated Think Big program, while marred by his own inability to listen to sound official advice, was largely a success.

            Think Big could have worked. Unfortunately it was done by those idiots in National and so it left us in massive debt rather than becoming the basis of a sound economy that it should have been.

          • swordfish 6.1.1.1.2

            “My father once worked for Muldoon and I recall him saying that he suffered badly from ‘short-mans syndrome’.

            My father just used to call Rob: ‘Mussolini’ – both in terms of looks and attitude.

            I recall as an 11-year-old, both my parents being absolutely shocked at National’s win on Election night 1975. My mum couldn’t believe that her fellow New Zealanders could be so stupid, my dad got drunk very quickly when the results started to become obvious and he went off to bed quietly murmuring expletives under his breath.

            “And yes by current standards he was a social conservative, but pretty representative of a large swathe of NZ society at the time. New Zealand has become a more socially liberal society over the last 30 years.”

            Well, yes, that’s the Boomer-centric orthodoxy. There’s a kernel of truth there, but possible to over-emphasise the conservatism of the period and the liberalism of today.

    • greg 6.2

      Rubbish

      [lprent: Pays to say why. Otherwise I start looking at the policy to find out how to evict the boring repetitive idiot from the site. ]

  7. Ad 7

    I would be enormously frustrated if I were John Key. His government (as well as Muldoon’s) compared to the possible Labour coalition are just as interventionist, at least as moralistic as the left in their desire to change the lives of the subsidized-poor, identical in their desire to pick winners, and resolutely not have a clear social or economic plan …

    But they can’t seem to catch a break. Like the anti-Midas, everything they touch turns to shit.

    Key is certainly losing his charm as the Chief Shit Fairy. Can his visible rising bitterness and political exhaustion turn off enough voters to counteract lowering unemployment and an accelerating economy?

    Consistent polls only say at the moment: maybe.

  8. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 8

    Key reveals that he is incapable of seeing past his own motivations – that others are motivated by different things to what he is.

    That unlike himself, who would do and say anything so long as he is paid money others act from different principles.

    Key ‘logic’ therefore concludes: They must have been paid to protest because that is the only reason I do things.

  9. Philj 9

    Muldoon or Key? What a choice! Key is more slippery, a genius of slithering, and gratuitous slime. Rob was of this earth, I’m not so sure about JK.

  10. Tanz 10

    Muldoon was down to earth, Key has lofty, selfish ambitions, that’s the main difference.
    Will Cunliffe be any sweeter though?

  11. Thomas 11

    Key and Muldoon could hardly be more different, both in terms of personality and policy.

    Key is a neoliberal economically and reasonably progressive socially. e.g. Key is sell Muldoon’s Think Big projects. Key voted for marriage equality while Muldoon opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

    Key is the mild-mannered geek, while Muldoon was the brash bully. Has Key done anything that compares to this? http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/tonight—robert-muldoon-interview-1976

    Muldoon was terrible. But his legacy is entirely gone from National. He was disgusted at National when he left office.

  12. Murray Olsen 12

    Muldoon at least believed in a New Zealand that would be economically sovereign and as far as foreign policy went, he at least wanted to stand beside the seppos. Key wants to get down on his knees in front of the seppos and probably had to google Wellington when Wall St sent him back here. Muldoon was a total asshole, but to call Key his doppelganger is a terrible insult to Muldoon.

    • greg 12.1

      Muldoon was on his knees to Washington for the love of sanity when are you going to stop backing the out of touch born to rule misguided dictator!!!!!!!

  13. Tat Loo (CV) 13

    +1 Murray Olsen and Thomas

  14. Martin 14

    when they are gone we should tramp the dirt down!

    like we did raegan, pinochet, thatcher and friedman

  15. Will@Welly 15

    I hated Muldoon with a passion. No one on the left had a kind word or any respect for him. But he believed in New Zealand. Key doesn’t believe in or care about New Zealand. He is all about me, me me. I never thought I would see another tyrant in New Zealand,, but Key has out-Muldooned Muldoon.

    • greg 15.1

      I agree,both dispicable

    • KJT 15.2

      Muldoon at least had a vision and a plan to make NZ better, whether we agreed with it or not.

      In fact many of the “think big” projects made a fortune for their private owners after the first round of asset thefts. The refinery, after an upgrade, sold for around the upgrade cost and made it back for the oil companies in the first year.

      Comparing Muldoon to Key, is an insult, to the old bugger.

    • Roy 15.3

      I completely agree. Muldoon was all the bad things Mickysavage has said, but I think he really did love New Zealand and intended to do the right thing for New Zealand. Of course his ideas for what the right thing was, were completely wrong. However I find that more forgiveable than Key’s attitude that New Zealand and New Zealanders don’t matter at all, only he and his rich mates matter.
      Also Muldoon was more intelligent and was articulate.

  16. red blooded 16

    Key is, like most politicians in the post-Muldoon era, at least in part a reaction to Piggy and his impact on NZ. There are different ways of being arseholes and these two demonstrate this truth. They do have some similarities, including an us-and-them viewpoint which excludes as “them” most of the people they claim to represent, but this could be said of many politicians on all sides of the political spectrum. Muldoon was incompetent and impulsive (remember the night when he got trashed and called a snap election basically because he was pissed off at Marilyn Waring). Key makes some bad decisions, but he works in an MMP environment and has to accept that occasionally he won’t get his own way. Key must be considered in relation to his own (many) failings – it’s a bit too easy and somewhat glib to just label him as another Muldoon.

    And BTW, Muldoon was a bully and an embarrassment to NZ. Don’t let’s sanctify the memory of a man who imposed not only the Springbok Tour but also a farcical Wage-Price Freeze (well, he managed to freeze one of these, but it wasn’t prices!), Carless Days and opened up social divides in NZ that our system is still struggling with.

  17. Plan B 17

    Key and Muldoon, Different people different times, different battles. The battle today is actually harder. Because back in the day the battle against Muldoon was kind of obvious, in your face sort of thing. Today the fight is against something that is almost impossible to pin down yet is I believe far more dangerous. It is about evil that hides in the light, Normans line is correct, Key does not simile because he likes you. We need to move beyond just changing the government but changing what the government does.

    I believe that their are in someways not battles to fight for rights and freedoms in the traditional sense, the Key right will agree with them all as and when required. He has no interest in them. He understands that economic power is now all power. Deny people of real economic power and you somehow deny them of all of their rights. People end up with the right to consume and the right to do what they are told.

    Look at immigration. The left think that we should be nice to all people no matter what their race, the right only think- more labour means lower wages and ore demand for housing. How do you fight against that? You fight against open access designed to reduce wages vs capital /land ownership and you are immediately a racist. So the right win the real economic battle. The only one that counts in the end.

    • greg 17.1

      Driving wages down will lead to revolution,no matter how long it takes good will triumph over evil, greed ultimately leads to the over throw of the greedy. Let them screw you long enough eventually you will look for another lover.

  18. Plan B 18

    Just a quick note on offshore drilling’ It is a John Clarke line- you have probably heard,

    “it is outside the environment” the idea is that it is happening outside the environment and is therefore hard to get people interested or motivated.

  19. Wayne 19

    Another one of The Standard’s silly posts. Sometimes it is that the Nats are fascists, sometimes that John Key is worse than Muldoon, sometimes that all Nats are corrupt and should be imprisoned for treason.

    Mind you David Cunliffe does not buy into any of this. His principal insult is that the Nats are clowns, have heard him say it on radio more than once. Of course that (and a few other comments) led Duncan Garner warn DC that he should not be a tosser.

    Well, I guess you have to try and amuse yourselves, but don’t pretend that Micky Savage is making a serious comment on the state of NZ politics and the nature of choices that face the voters next year.

    • mickysavage 19.1

      Um Wayne I am pretty sure I have not said the first of your claims and certain that I have not said the third. As for the second claim the point of the post is that Key is showing those same traits that Muldoon showed many years ago.

      And how about you address the content of the post?

      I decided to write it because I was on that protest and found Key’s response offensive, as well as misleading.

      If he was correct in what he said can you tell me where I can pick my check up from?

    • rob 19.2

      Wayne the question that should be asked “Is John Key just another tosser?’
      and “is he really a New Zealander??”
      Real New Zealanders want to see us all benefit from our society

      • greg 19.2.1

        How can that be when the majority of NZers are conservatives?

        • KJT 19.2.1.1

          Even in the USA, the home of “free enterprise” where the majority vote Republican, 75%, when asked about individual policies they supported, supported more socialist policies.

          Including a large proportion of “Tea party” members??

          It shows the success of right wing propaganda, and the lack of alternatives to vote for!

          Conservative yes.
          We do not like radical right wing policies. Which is why ACT has so little of the vote compared with left wing progressive Greens.

    • KJT 19.3

      Are you saying that Key and co are not thieves?

      The evidence says otherwise.

      Key made his fortune playing with the NZ currency and ripping us all off, of billions. Morally no different from any of the current crop of jailed finance company directors, or house breaking!

      Selling assets against the wishes of most of their owners is also blatant theft!

      I won’t even start on Basher Bennett and the 100’s of thousands of New Zealand children she is condemning to blighted lives, Brownlee’s incompetence in Christchurch, the increase in fascist state powers or the removing of basic human rights for workers.

      The bunch of incompetents and thieves in National are lucky the “communists” buying our milk, the regulation of banks by Keating and Cullen’s economic stewardship have got them out of the hole they have dug.

  20. Tracey 20

    Michael bassett should be expunged from the labour party. I still hear him referred to as former labour minister as some kind of credit to his ability to comment on current labour. I presume he let his membership lapse years ago?

    im not surprised he now practices historical recidivism in muldoons behalf

    wayne do you agree that people can deliberately present in a particular way to mask different drivers?

  21. Tracey 21

    “led Duncan Garner warn DC that he should not be a tosser.” And that coming from an expert on the topic.

    • Anne 21.1

      I think we should go easy on Wayne. He’s probably worried that this time next year his current position as a member of the Law Commission will disappear…

      • Tracey 21.1.1

        And he was quite vociferous online when “helengrad” and “Alan Clark” and other epithets were bandied about… of wait…

  22. Bringing up a long dead politician – especially one not of the correct political flavouring – should be like tripping the Godwin Law effect.

    Then again, if the commentators can’t handle “real-time” credible political debates about today’s politicians, it’s no wonder. And with only just getting shod of Shearer – out of the pan and into the fire – with CunningCV – it’s no wonder some on here need to go back a few decades to try and get some kind of “high ground”

    But just remember, wasn’t Mallard around the same time as Muldoon?

    • Murray Olsen 22.1

      Credible debates? Then you offer up Cunning CV?
      Tell us again about your plans to give Takapuna a white name and how embarrassing it is to live in a suburb with a Maori name.

  23. rhinocrates 23

    Key, like Muldoon uses populism to mask authoritarianism, but Muldoon was of another age, an age of paternalistic nationalism (I hesitate to say patriotism, a word that has been debased). Key uses the same tricks in the service of vulture capitalism, which is transnational. Muldoon could have become the classical fascist, as C K Stead outlined in Smith’s Dream (filmed as Sleeping Dogs ), but the dystopia Key’s ilk would bring is another kind… more Bladerunner perhaps?

  24. blacksand 24

    one absoute parallel springs to mind; John Key’s insistence that we don’t need to do anything now about superannuation problems in the future. Excepting that JK hasn’t cashed in the Super Fund, this parallels exactly.

    I’ve seen a number of comentators talking about JK not raising the age of super (or doing anything else about the issue), and his plans that NZ will make some great big reduction in carbon emmissions in the distant future as his ‘legacy’.

    as though promising that we don’t need to do anything now & it will all work out is somehow a strategy. Buy now, pay later! JK’s ‘success’ is knowing that enough NZ voters do not understand ‘Caveat emptor’. Just like Muldoon.

    • KJT 24.1

      I don’t have much time for Key, and I didn’t for Muldoon at the time, either.

      To many authoritarian and even fascist tendencies.

      However both were right about super.

      Muldoon was correct about the ongoing rort that was private super in the 70’s.

      It is surprising that so many who profess to be left leaning buy into the extreme right wing meme of “we cannot afford super” which is code for “leave the elderly to starve so we can pay a few dollars less taxes”.

      http://kjt-kt.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/on-new-zealands-retirement-income.html
      “The finance industry have been creaming their pants, for a return to the halcyon days, before the tax rebates were removed from superannuation savings. When they got to play with our money for free, and the negative returns and high charges were ignored, because of tax payer subsidies.
      Egged on by the neo-liberals who prefer the elderly, the unemployed and the sick to starve in the streets, as an incentive to scare working people into accepting starvation wages, while they continue to get 17% increases in wealth, the finance industry is dreaming of getting more of their sticky hands on our wealth, with private super funds.
      Since the 70’s they have been constant in the meme that we cannot afford super. A meme that has been driven entirely by the self interest of those, who are too wealthy to need super and too mean to pay taxes, and a greedy finance industry.”

      Strange that even more advocate the circular method of making the next generation pay more for superannuates, by gifting money to the finance industry to play with. Including the comical idea that we save for retirement by investing in power companies so that instead of paying super through taxes the next generation pay with much higher power bills instead.

      Much easier and cheaper to continue pay as you go taxation. Though we do need to tax and spend more now on housing, sustainable industry and energy, infrastructure and education to ensure we can support the next generation of workers, the old, and young, and those unable to get work.

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