Let me start by saying I understand that Key is loved for his laid-back common touch, I don’t think it makes for good governance but I realise it makes for a good political product.
However there’s a big difference between laid-back and weak and letting Rodney Hide spit on him in public only to claim he’s “relaxed” isn’t laid-back.
My gut feeling on this is that if Key isn’t seen to do something about Hide then he’s going to run into some serious problems because, while people are happy to have a nice smiley fella as a PM, they don’t appreciate being represented by a weakling.
And that’s exactly what Key looks like. Not only is he having policy dictated to him by a party that couldn’t even make the threshold he’s now got that party’s leader publicly trashing him and getting away with it.
This won’t hurt Hide. He’s got his tiny base of psychopaths (many of whom troll here on a regular basis) and oligarchs and he doesn’t give a toss about his popularity. It will hurt Key if he doesn’t take Hide in hand.
There’s a thin line between being a good joker and a bad joke.