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Key under attack from Left & Right

Written By: - Date published: 10:25 pm, May 2nd, 2010 - 47 comments
Categories: john key, Media, national, spin - Tags: ,

50,000 New Zealanders march against the mining plans of this government. For many, the mining agenda is yet another black mark against this government that has done nothing positive about the issues that matter – jobs, wages, health, education, the environment.

But the capitalist elite who so desperately wanted their party in power are getting pretty pissed off too. They also see it as a do nothing government with useless ministers and a Prime Minister who is only interested in the photo shoots.

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

It may seem simplistic, but one of the dark arts of politics that stands Key in good stead is his uncanny ability to “mirror” others.
He could have learned this art during one of those interminably onerous coaching sessions that aspiring business managers go through…
Management theorists will tell you “mirroring” has a particular advantage as a tool in the leadership skill-set [funny, there’s another group of people who influence and manipulate by ‘mirroring’]. The theory goes that people usually accept their mirror image. By validating the self-image of your opponents – even if you disagree with them – you take the wind out of their sails.
As a technique it is very disarming.
The upshot is that even Key’s press conferences tend to be relatively tame affairs.
He is rarely subjected to sustained hard-nosed interviewing, particularly on the extraordinarily banal PR gift slot he gets on state television every Monday morning to kick off his week.
To journalists he is too often “John” – rather than simply “Prime Minister”.

Bit of dig at some of her press gallery colleagues there. Few of them seem to understand that the first people Key’s trying to charm is the journos. Getting soft coverage is the key to spinning the wider public.

Key is now at the halfway point of his first term as the head of the National-led Government… nowhere is there an over-arching narrative that spells out exactly what sort of New Zealand Key wants to leave behind him when he finishes his swing with domestic politics.
We will respect him much more as a political leader and person if he puts that “smiley face” away once in a while and engages deeply and seriously on the challenges facing New Zealand.

And a dry week in Saudi Arabia seems to have helped clear Matthew Hooton’s mind, judging by his NBR column (not online). Sure, he’s still a terrible bigot (his opening paragraph describes one of his Saudi hosts as ‘wearing a nightie, tea-towel, and sandals’) but the scales have fallen from the eyes regarding the Key Government of which he expected, if not great things, at least something:

‘no government minister not even the prime minister himself can tell us what the Key government wants to achieve and how. All we are left with is nonsense about ‘ambition’, ‘aspiration’, and ‘step change’ with no plan or even any strategic concept to explain how… the Key government risks going down in history as the most empty and irrelevant in New Zealand’s history…
… New Zealand business people dared to hope that, in Mr Key, New Zealand had found a leader to the calibre of Lee Kuan Yew [the man who ran Singapore as an effective one-party state for 40 years] to unify the nation and take in on a course to restore it as one of the richest countries in the world.
The past 18 months has proven that Mr Key has the political skills to unify the country and take New Zealand forward, if he wants to. But the past 18 months has also sown he doesn’t want to.
The conclusion most New Zealand businesspeople have reached is their government [note: their government is right]… seems to prefer smiling and waving over any serious attempt to deliver on its promise of ‘ambition’, ‘aspiration’, and ‘step change’.

And, then the killer line from a man who back in ’07 and ‘08, you may remember, was claiming that the Fifth Labour government was going to abolish the free press and cancel the 2008 election:

In some circles, the most treasonous [to the capitalist class] thought imaginable is emerging: Would we have been better off with Helen Clark?

Wow. When your old cheerleaders are basically saying you only want power for its own sake and they wish they had never helped you win, you’re in deep, deep trouble.

47 comments on “Key under attack from Left & Right”

  1. Name 1

    All together now:

    “Two wheels on my wagon,
    And I’m still rolling along
    The electorate is after me.
    Policy? Just wait and see,
    But I’m singing a happy song.”

    (Apologies to Burt Bacharach & Bob Hilliard)

  2. wyndham 2

    With friends like Hooton – – – – – – !

  3. rainman 3

    About bloody time. Let’s hope the opposition get their shit together and blow this no good government out of the water at the next election.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Meanwhile, the cognitive dissonance over in the sewer is astonishing.Of course, it wasn’t 50,000 – that number is a media conspiracy!! It was 20,000. Or 5,000. By Wednesday Trevor Loudon will have convinced Adolf Stupidname that in fact it was a march of 100,000 pro-mining Glen Beck clones and the leftwing media showed only the 20-30 left wing counter protesters. Oh and Lucy Lawless is really a Cylon, and they have a plan.

    And besides, what we really need is a Fascist one party state that would machine gun such crowds.

  5. Jenny 5

    Things must be in a sorry state when the born to rule elite start turning against each other.

    Could this be a flow on effect from the massive protest action on the weekend?

    My message to Key and co.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Oh and by the way. Better drop that GST increase too, or you might get more of the same.

  6. Bored 6

    How delicious, friends turn foe. Dont be decieved, its not really lack of action from Key, its impatience from the investors in Key, their fear that the lack of velocity might ouflank their grasping avarice to take what is not theirs

  7. vto 7

    They are not a do-nothing government..

    they are a take and eat government. Take directly from the environment and stuff it in ya mouth no matter whether you are hungry or not. Nothing more nothing less.

    Talk about empty-headed alright.

  8. Wow

    Hooton has gone up in my opinion. I always thought he was a blithering idiot. Now I think that he is a blithering idiot with the occasional lapse into clarity.

  9. Gooner 9

    At least we have the courage to criticise our own. Never happened under Clark.

    • Pascal's bookie 9.1

      Tim Selwyn got jailed FFS.

    • r0b 9.2

      Interesting selective memory you got there Gooner. A prerequisite for being a rightie I know, but it never ceases to amaze me none the less.

    • Craig Glen Eden 9.3

      oh yes Gooner because Helen and her Government were not ever criticised by so called left wing Journos. What planet are you on?

      VTO you are right on the money Key and is Government are very dangerous and are actively working to take away democracy so that their interest get access to NZ public assets.

      National have not changed at all, they grow /develope nothing and grab for everything.

      • Tigger 9.3.1

        I’d hardly call O’Sullivan and Hooten ‘courageous’ either…they’re only doing the bidding of their mates in the wings…

  10. Sanctuary 10

    Come on Gooner! this defintely a government of principle. It is dedicated to the principle that government of the corporate lobbyist, by the corporate lobbyist, for the corporate lobbyist, shall not perish from the earth.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Actually, I’m pretty sure that the corporate lobbyist will get thrown to the dogs if the situation calls for it. What National really represent is rule of everyone (except the rich – they can do as they please) by the rich for the rich.

  11. Zaphod Beeblebrox 11

    At least he doesn’t have the piousness of George W- he has everything else however.

  12. Jim Nald 12

    It seems to me that MSM readers and listeners need to exercise a lot more discernment.

    I am reminded by Shakespeare’s Macbeth and I’m trying to figure out who and how many Lady Macbeths are out there at the moment being quite frustrated and wanting to strengthen Macbeth’s hands to strike and plunge the knife deeper.

    You may recall Macbeth hesitated a moment and muttered “If we should fail?” and Lady Macbeth said “screw your courage to the sticking place, And we’ll not fail.”

    I hope the greater part of the body of NZ voters will not be hurt in coming months.

    • Fisiani 12.1

      Speaking of which a stunning production of Macbeth opens Wed 5th May at the Gryphon Theatre, Wellington. I saw a dress rehearsal last night and Wow!

      • Jim Nald 12.1.1

        I’m seeing MacBeths being played out in the media, thanks. And they ain’t a dress rehearsal but have been well practised even before the previous elections.

  13. coolas 13

    Just can’t wait to see the smile slip from Key’s face.

    Predict it will be replaced by a nasty sneer revealing the true man.

    He’s a bit like an amiable piss-head, in his case intoxicated by his elevation to PM, but now the party is ending and Key’s hangover is filled with discontent.

  14. felix 14

    Marty G,

    Does “[…]” indicate your own commentary? It’s not very clear.

    If so, do you think perhaps you could [bold] those remarks and make a note? Or add the remarks at the end of the quoted sections?

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      Yeah, in this case it is not very clear that they have been added by Marty. Even just starting it like [MG: ….] would make it clearer.

  15. Fisiani 15

    Being attacked from both Left and Right at the same time. Excellent. One saying slow down the other saying speed up. Probably confirms that the government is on exactly the right track of cautious repair of the broken economy.

    • Clarke 15.1

      The idea that Key, Brownlee and English have the intellectual wherewithal to “cautious(ly) repair the broken economy” simply beggars belief. They’re more like a pack of neanderthals wandering around a nuclear reactor, hitting it with sticks, and busily remarking to each other on what a fabulous job they’re doing of keeping it running.

      • pollywog 15.1.1

        Youv’e seen ‘City of Ember’ then ?…Bill Murray = John Key ?

        For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember’s once powerful generator is failing … and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker.


    • Bright Red 15.2

      Fisiani falls for the moderation fallacy.

      Group A says ‘don’t drink the poison’, Group B says ‘drink all the poison’, so it’s probably right to drink some of the poison.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.3

      What broke the economy is capitalism and you really think the party of the capitalists can fix it?

  16. Rharn 16

    I think Key’s minders are doing a better job that many on here think. Basicly Key along with English, Smith and Brownlee etc ae laying the foundations for a shift to the far right after the next election. Given Key’s popularity after so many lies, gaffes etc. I see little chance of Labour winning the next election. Although I do not like to admit this I think the NZ public would sooner shift to the right than let Labour back. There a whole generation out there who have no idea of Rodgernomics and how this will impact on them. They listen to Key’s sound bites and have no idea of the consequences.

    The mining thing will have some impact but I note that Key has said very little on this leaving Brownlee to do the dirty work. Same can be said for Smith and the ACC debacle.

    Key is doing what he is paid for……..photo ops and all round nice guy………..this is what the NZpunters vote for…………the man and his image………….Nats policy seems to go over their heads

    • Lanthanide 16.1

      “No asset sales in the first term” only works to get you elected for that first term. It is a strong barrier to being elected a second time.

    • ianmac 16.2

      Rharm. I think that this part of what yousay at least is right:”I think Key’s minders are doing a better job that many on here think. Basicly Key along with English, Smith and Brownlee etc ae laying the foundations for a shift to the far right after the next election.”
      I always thought that GW. Bush was such a face. Personable with direct contact but we doubt that he was the driving force. In NZ, Key is running the Presidential face while the back room get on with the plans of mice and men.
      Remember the “rats we have to swallow?”
      But we have a cunning plan and that is……………..

  17. Bill 17

    Is that the sound of holdalls being stuffed and the pitter patter of thieving little feet scurrying from the parliamentary arena and out through the swing doors to the brave new world of the corporate ‘free for all’ courtesy of the right wing roll back and bon fire?

    No. Not yet.

    That was apparently just a sly yet nervous sideways shuffle and a surreptitious checking that the holdalls were still in place, open and waiting.
    Not that anybody from among this fine assembly of cadres was contemplating the possibility of doing a bunk or any such like.

  18. Peter Wilson 18

    Maybe New Zealanders are finally taking the red pill and waking up.

  19. the sprout 19

    Let’s take the charitable interpretation and assume the Opposition has been so meek and lack-lustre because they’ve cunningly been keeping their powder dry…

    Well Oppostion, NOW IS THE TIME to start using that bone dry powder.

    • I dreamed a dream 19.1

      Not yet! Wait till the target is in range — Election 2011 — and then keep the constant bombardment until Election 2011.

      Now is the time for the NACTs to continue making their moves to expose themselves. The Opposition merely needs to maintain their position and wait for the right time to pounce!

      Voters at this stage are still kicking themselves for voting in the NACTs. Give them some space now. If the Opposition pushes too hard now, it’ll cause the voters not to admit their mistakes and push them back towards the NACTs. We don’t want that to happen. Once they have got over their voters remorse, they’ll come back.

      Patience will pay off! Keep the powder dry for the big push from Jan 2011 onwards.

      • just saying 19.1.1

        I think this approach is very risky for Labour – it’s preventing effective opposition to hugely damaging policies. What’s worse it’s aping Key’s greasy dupliciltous tactics.

        And, I think you are kidding yourself about Nat voters kicking themselves. How many of the protesters do you think actually voted NACT anyway.

        • I dreamed a dream

          How many protesters actually voted NACT is not important. What’s important is that such a massive turnout does reflect a huge amount of discontent that surely cuts into the NACT votebank.

          And look at the views on the government in the Herald — http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10640935. I have never ever seen such a huge amount of negative feedback on the NACT government in the Herald ever!

          I do feel that there’s a reasonably large amount of voters remorse and discontent building up, for those who voted NACT. I think those voters are feeling a bit raw at this time, much like when a couple breaks up. And when a couple has broken up, you don’t want to get too close too soon.

          Anyway, it is important for Labour to not give the message that they’re only interested in the votes of the NACT discontent. It’s better for Labour to keep promoting their policies, so that the voters will come back to them for their policies. If Labour is seen to be politicising, say, the mining issue, too much, voters may question the party’s sincerity and may not return to it.

          And by the way, I don’t get why you compare the suggested approach as aping Key’s duplicitous tactics. It’s just like the Olympics or the World Cup — you got to avoid peaking too soon. That’s what I am saying.

          • just saying

            I agree a momentum is building in some quarters, but I believe that Key still has the support of those key (no pun intended) voters who defected from the left in the last election. There needs to be a lot more opposition action, as well as alternative policy out there to counter the idea that there is no alternative (TINA as I’ve recently learned). Many are still buying Key’s banter about NZ crashing and burning if we don’t pander to the rich.

            And I think Goff IS aping Key – grinning like a buffoon while discussing serious issues, playing political games rather than being straight up. Desperately trying to be all things to (almost) all people, and afraid of saying anything unpopular on matters of principle.

            Key will always do the slimy confident trickster way better. And I don’t want a Key of the left even if Goff could pull it off. This isn’t sports – not the Olympian kind anyway.

            • Anne

              @ just saying

              “And I think Goff IS aping Key grinning like a buffoon while discussing serious issues…”.

              I watched Goff tonight on TV news and I have to say that ‘just saying’ is right. I have the impression his advisers have told him to smile when he is interviewed. It might work for Key but it doesn’t with Goff. In fact it detracts from what he is actually saying. I don’t know who his media advisers are, but the sooner he changes them the better.

  20. Blue 20

    “no government minister not even the prime minister himself can tell us what the Key government wants to achieve and how. All we are left with is nonsense about “ambition’, “aspiration’, and “step change’ with no plan or even any strategic concept to explain how the Key government risks going down in history as the most empty and irrelevant in New Zealand’s history ”

    Geez, is it only just starting to sink in now? Where has he been since, say, October 2008?

    John Key never had any big plans. He just wanted to be PM. He admitted it himself.

    The ‘ambitious for NZ’ line never got any scrutiny. No one bothered to ask what those ambitions were, or what National’s vision was. No one cared, they just wanted Labour out.

    Waking up in May 2010 to find you have an empty, irrelevant Govt = Journos more than a little slow on the uptake.

    • Jim Nald 20.1

      “He just wanted to be PM”

      He’s got that now and at the rate he has been leading the country (or rather displaying serious lack of real PM leadership and choosing to indulge in tokenistic gestures and luxurating in photo-ops), he should be aspirationally thinking of being a fresh Queen of New Zealand.
      He is already well-rehearsed with ‘smile and wave’.

  21. Anne 21

    Matthew Hooton’s mind cleared? Not a show. Have a listen to the Monday morning’s political spot on Radio NZ, 1110am -1130am. If somone can link it all the better. Hooton is in a sulky dungeon. He reckons the march was just a bunch of leftie Grey Lynners led by John Minto, Robyn McDonald and Keisha Castle-Hughes. It’s a hoot!

    During the course of my 2 minute morning perusal of ZB Radio (that’s as much as I can stand) I heard Leighton Smith grumble about the “20,000” on that march (that emphasised) and yet no-one bothers to protest about the Kahui twins. WTH. What’s the Kahui twins got to do with mining our most precious conservation land?

    Methinks there are some very upset righties around today. 😀

    • Pascal's bookie 21.1

      “and yet no-one bothers to protest about the Kahui twins. WTH”

      I guess he means some sort of anti-police march.

    • Anne 21.2

      oops… I meant Robyn Malcolm of course.

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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