Key’s special announcement

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, November 27th, 2007 - 37 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

John Key has now been leader of the National Party for a year. But while his salesman’s smile and general novelty factor have pulled him through to date, talk around the gallery is that he’s gone off the boil a bit lately. His profile has dropped, his sensible nice guy image has taken a hit and the agenda has started to turn Labour’s way.

This isn’t good news for a man suffering the scrutiny of his first anniversary and about to head into an election year. Which might explain why the National Party website is advertising a ‘special announcement’ this morning at 10.30.

If John Key’s advisers have any sense they’ll try to use this announcement to propel Key back into the spotlight and put a dent in Labour’s poll resurgance. So what kind of announcement will it be? The need for popularity rules out any of Key’s more hard-right policies like privatisation or industrial relations – they’ll want to keep the latter especially quiet after seeing what happened to John Howard on Saturday. It’s too soon to move on tax cuts, law and order’s just been done, and all that can be said has been said on the Electoral Finance Bill (which his deputy is handling anyway).

What’s far more likely, if Key’s strategy with the ‘underclass’ speech is anything to go by, is he’ll attempt to outflank Labour in its own core constituency with a warm fuzzy message that’s short on detail but big on aspiration. This gives the advantage of softening the edges of Key’s hard right agenda while requiring no concrete action. It’ll also paint Labour as having failed the poor, undermining its key strength as the party of social justice and tying into the spin that the government is old and tired and out of ideas.

Key’s mentor David Cameron is a master of this strategy. He’s followed a similar script in the UK and it’s one that Key hasn’t been afraid to borrow from over the last year. Looking at what Cameron’s done recently, two possible themes for Key’s announcement are housing affordability for low-income families or a promise to eliminate child poverty through tax credits and welfare reform.

The housing affordability theme is something that Key mentioned in his conference speech but has gone quiet on since, and it’ll give National a chance to get the jump on Labour on what could turn out to be a major election issue. Meanwhile, the child poverty theme will dovetail nicely into his ‘underclass’ speech and give him a chance to use some more of that aspirational Cameron-style rhetoric that the media are so fond of.

Then again, I could be entirely wrong. What do you think?

37 comments on “Key’s special announcement”

  1. JamesK 1

    A good analysis. Of course with anything like this there’s a good deal of guesswork involved. I agree though that there’s a good chance his speech wil be about housing affordability. Maryan Street is a new and highly competent housing minister with a heap of ideas. I saw her speak about it at the party conference and she was bloody dynamite. There’s no way John Key will want to let Street take the agenda in this area.

  2. Wayne 2

    Dear god, I hope if he pulls that underclass shit again the media call him on it this time.

    There’s also the possibility he’ll announce he’s chucking it all in and handing over to Bill. Haha, that’d be sweet.

  3. Thomas 3

    I saw Maryan Street speak on Friday at her Nelson campaign launch She said Labour were going to announce policy around the housing afford ability area very soon.
    And I agree, she is bloody good speaker

  4. Susan Deare 4

    Just taking a stab in the dark here, but what are the chances he announces a meaningless ‘aspiration’ that requires no real policy work? A target, a goal, a broad principle? The possibilities are endless.

  5. Matthew Pilott 5

    Well we all know John Key is very ‘special’, maybe he’s got a fingerpainting he wants to put on the nation’s fridge.

    I can’t wait to hear another shipwreck full of warm platitudes 😉

    P.S. My Captcha was “Bloodedly Belted” – why didn’t that come up during ‘family fist‘?

  6. dave 6

    May you allow me to rewrite the first paragraph of your post for you

    Eight years ago today was the last time this government changed hands. Although Helen Clark has now been Dear Leader for eight years, her airbrushed profile pictures with associated novelty factors such as her closet lesbianism and barrenness have pulled her through to date, talk around the gallery is that she’s gone off the boil a bit lately. Her profile has dropped, her party`s polling has taken a hit because public opinion has started to turn National’s way.

  7. Robinsod 7

    Dave – that kind of filth has a home mate and it’s called kiwi blog – fuck off back to it you sad little man.

  8. Thomas 8

    Dave is DPF 🙂

  9. Tane 9

    Dave, you lost me at Dear Leader.

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    What Robinsod said Dave, try to post something useful.

    OTOH, nice summary of National’s impotence, you’ve modelled that off your idols nicely – no substance and no style.

  11. I think you’re right, Tane – it would be very easy to outflank the Labour Party on the left, as it’s now so incredibly centrist. There’s just so many areas in which Labour have failed it’s so-called traditionally constituency, that National has an open field.

    A good indication of this is the new report on child health and poverty. See:
    “Wealth gap leaves our youngest at most risk”


  12. Tane 12

    Bryce – I agree it would be easy to outflank Labour on its left, seeing as it’s merely introduced social democratic elements to the largely neoliberal framework introduced in the 1980s. It’s certainly not going about nationalising industry or anything.

    But the issue here is that National don’t actually want to become more left-wing than Labour. If they did it’d be a very different story. Instead, they want to throw the poor a few media-friendly crumbs to create the perception that they care, while simultaneously ramming through extreme right wing policies like privatisation and attacks on work rights.

  13. redbus 13

    Well we all know John Key is very ‘special’, maybe he’s got a fingerpainting he wants to put on the nation’s fridge.
    – Ahahahaha… Well it can’t be any better than the cover on their discussion documents.

    Dave, I remember when the nation first elected our lesbian and barren Prime Minister… What a great day that was, and what a great time its been since she came into office. Thanks for reminding me! 😀

  14. redbus 14

    Oh, and there is still no ‘National News‘ from National… Ten thirty has been and gone. It’s bad enough that their policies have no substance, but for them to be late is a step to far!

  15. Tane 15

    Wow, so that’s John Key’s announcement: he’s ambitious.

    I know I said he’d be short on substance, but maybe that was giving him too much credit.

  16. Susan Deare 16

    You’re not being fair Tane. He’s got aspiration as well as ambition.

  17. redbus 17

    … and audacity and accountability-issues and amateur-leadership and antagonism and …

    Just thought I’d throw some descriptive ‘a’ words out here about Mr. John Key MP.

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    Susan do you mean respiration? Yep, he sure can breathe! 😉

    That was a strange feeling of deja vu – there was nothing new in there at all, but a collection of warm fuzzies.

    However, his strength is meant to be the economy, so I can’t see why he’d try to link NZ to Ireland, unless he thinks we’re all stupid out here. Last I heard, NZ didn’t have free access to the world’s most prosperous market (which was incidentally at its doorstep) and billions of EU subsidies. Maybe I missed all that…

  19. Nih 19

    10:30 has been and gone, no announcement. Maybe Key is running a “nothing” theme in some sort of nouveau-comedy political platform. He’ll go on releasing invisible policies and statements right up until the election, to keep it simple for his simple voters.

  20. Sam Dixon 20

    Bryce – i’m sure many of the readers here are all for outflanking Labour to its Left – bu the fact is National is the part of capital, they will never move Left of Labour in any other way than a bit of hollow rhetoric.

  21. Nih 21

    Wait, that shitty side-banner is his announcement? He can’t even put it under the News section of their site?

  22. Tane 22

    Maybe Key is running a “nothing” theme in some sort of nouveau-comedy political platform.

    Nih, you’re more right than you imagine. Go have a look:

  23. Patrick 23

    I have to say I’m honestly quite surprised by how vacuous John Key has been for the last, oh, nine months or so.

    Given how badly all of their recent policy launches have gone, I assume this is the sort of tactic they will take into the election campaign: release warm fuzzy statements about ambitions and aspirations and hope that the public don’t realise what their policies actually are.

    Luckily for Labour it seems the media and the public have tired of this approach already (though it did carry National quite well for most of this year) and won’t be satisfied by these empty PR stunts.

  24. Nih 24

    I know! I was sort of surprised he’d release such a rubbish bit of face time. It was incredibly awkward watching him talk awkwardly in his awkward seating position, awkwardly grabbing at the dash in a sort of failed comfort move. Worse, he was relating an awkward story that made his kids feel awkward. Is this the best National can put forward? Aaaaawkward.

    Did I get this “a” game thing right?

  25. Thomas 25

    That was vegies Bean case you want to increase your visitor rates

  26. Thomas 26

    Oh my post disappeared
    It was something a about Ireland and lots of Euros

    And John Key sniffing vegies

  27. gobsmacked 27

    From Natstalk ZB:

    “John Key is celebrating his first anniversary as National Party leader.

    He is setting out today for a nine-day road trip around the country, where thousands of DVDs will be handed out promoting himself and the National Party.

    Mr Key says it is a sign election campaigning is already beginning, despite the election still being a year away. He says National is hitting the ground running for what will be a long campaign.”

    A political news story without a single word of substance. Like, promoting what?

  28. the sprout 28

    like, promoting Key Corp – Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence for a Durable and Sustainable Future Moving Ahead with Foresight and Vision.

  29. Lampie 29

    special annoucement – and still the little girl waits

  30. chris 30

    Listened to Hone H with Willie and JT last week, HW reckons Keys’ a “smiling snake” and “brash with a smile” with the exact same agenda.HW seemed to hinting that there is no way his party would go with the Nats if Key was still their leader.
    In my perfect world someone will dish the dirt on the prick and he’ll be gone by lunchtime, leaving little Billy E holding the can.

  31. Lampie 31

    sorry, totally off the subject here but that stupid Herald has linked a “old git” Garth George rant and moan (country has lost its soul) with the news of finding the body of the deaf girl in CHCH. Talk about “leading” people in a tactless way!!!!

  32. redbus 32

    Did I get this “a” game thing right?

    – You did better than everybody else!

    I reckon that his end bit was the most ‘aaaaaawkward’; “In the end, it’s over to you”. Well yes, I suppose that could be true because if in the end National forms a government, then it is over for us!

  33. Sam – I agree with your points.

    But in addition, what makes you think that Labour isn’t intrinsically ‘part of capital’ too? After all, Labour has no real organic links with the union movement anymore, only really elite links. Can you say in any meaningful sense that Labour is more worker-friendly than capital-friendly?


  34. Pascal's bookie 34

    Do you think that there is any merit in the idea that the Labour movement of the early and mid 20th Century actually achieved most of what it set out to do? I do.

    By that I mean not just the dramatic strikes and lockouts and steet battles against the scabs and capitalist special police; but rather the deeper, more important but less dramatic battles. Like broad based support for the elderly and sick so that unforseen circumstances didn’t always lead to living and dying in the gutter; generally available, comprehensive education, and wages that enabled working people to not just survive, but save and be able to have some capital of their own.

    If one does accept that those battles were largely won, (which is not to say that we live in utopia), does it not make sense that Labour parties would change to reflect that? Become less militant as the enemy becomes more impotent?

    You seem to want the Labour party to be more purely ‘leftist’, which is fair enough. But you would have to accept I think, that we would not have Labour govts, or even Labour MP’s.

    Perhaps I am misreading just how radical you would like the Labour party to be. So give us some clues about what you would like them to be doing. A nationalisation of the means of production and exchange? Compulsory unionism?

  35. PhilBest 35

    How about No Tax on the first 20 grand or so of annual earnings, like Ireland and Aussie?

    Is Labour the “Workers” party or not?

    If some of you “workers party” traditionalists got up a “New Labour” with this as your platform, you’d take a lot of support off the “Sisterhood Labour” that we’ve got at the moment.

  36. Nih 36

    How about No Tax on the first 20 grand or so of annual earnings, like Ireland and Aussie?

    Now that’s a constructive and workable idea. One of the problems with tax is the difficulty in organising and paying it, particularly if it’s only a pittance and especially if you’re new to business.

  37. Razorlight 37

    Patrick commented that “Luckily for Labour it seems the media and the public have tired of this approach already”

    Where are you getting this from. The media has been going to town for the past 3 weeks on the EFB and Labours complete inability to defend it.

    We can only judge the Publics opinion through the Polls and it has been some months since Labour were within the margin of error of Nationals support.

    So please tell me how you have come to the conclusion that the media and Public are tiring of Nationals approach.

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