So this is John Key’s ambition: throwing troubled teens in boot camp, beating up on beneficiaries and criminalising our children. I’ve only had a quick read through the speech in my lunch break so it’s possible I’ve got this wrong, but I get the distinct impression that Key has made a major strategic error here.
When I first heard murmurings about Key planning a ‘state of the nation’ speech I assumed he’d be running another policy-light pitch at middle New Zealand, big on aspirational rhetoric and with just enough vague policy detail to keep the critics happy. Housing affordability was an obvious topic that came to mind.
That he instead chose the risky (and I’d argue strategically pointless) option of pandering to the base with National’s traditional tough on crime message is puzzling. Sure, it’ll get the talkback crowd going, rile up the Kiwiblog Right and possibly even convince a few blue collar workers to vote against their economic interests, but it won’t go down well at all with the moderate centrists that Key has worked so hard to woo over the last year.
Women in particular will be turned off by coverage like this:
Because couched behind this morning’s strategically leaked proposals about education and training National has revealed its hard right core for all to see. As No Right Turn points out:
this is the same old National Party: divisive, punitive, vicious, and bullying those unable to defend themselves. And I’m glad Key has finally made it clear to the public.
This is precisely the face National has been trying so hard to hide from the public over the last year, and so far the centrist game seems to have worked for them. My opinion? John should have stuck with the smile and the nice haircut.
UPDATE: Kiwiblogblog has done a good analysis of the speech here.