In the Weekend Herald today, Fran O’Sullivan opines:
“By drawing out his opponents before they even noticed Key was using the type of classic defensive move that would be natural to a high stakes foreign exchange trader”.
If she’s right she may have identified a superficial strength gleaned from his many years in the money trade. The problem for Key is that his years in that business have cultivated traits that may ultimately rule him out of the top job in the eyes of the electorate.
Most obviously problematic for someone who wants to lead is his tendency to shift positions as events unfold. We’re seeing this behaviour increasingly frequently: first on climate change, the Springbok Tour and the Iraq war and more recently the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill and the matter of where he lives for electoral purposes.
In politics people are looking for a leader with a compass: a moral conviction that helps guide their decisions. The money-trader’s strength is operating without one.
When challenged on just this issue by John Campbell back in May, Key fell back instantaneously on being anchored by the “values of the National Party”. Had he not said it so quickly it would have almost been believable.
He’s been referred to as the candidate from central casting but come the next election people aren’t going to be voting for their preferred actor or money trader, they’re voting to elect a PM.