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LocalBodies: John Key Aspires to Mediocrity

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, April 24th, 2014 - 26 comments
Categories: helen clark, john key, Minister for Photo-ops, Politics, russel norman - Tags: , , , , ,

Local Bodies provides this interesting comparison on John Key compared to some of the more ethical leaders of our past. Suffice it to say that the ever forgetful John Key doesn’t measure up to past standards. He is really only distinguished the his sustained level of  pathetic mediocrity.

The Prime Ministers of New Zealand who have had lasting respect are the ones who have stood up on the global stage on points of principle. While we may be a small country and almost insignificant in a population sense, we have often been far more influential than our size should dictate.

Michael Savage won respect and attention by challenging Britain for weakening the League of Nations, damaging the concept of collective security and failing to properly consult the dominions on matters of foreign policy and defense. At the 1937 Imperial Conference he criticised Britain’s weak stance over Japan’s invasion of China and its appeasement of Franco in Spain. In 1938 Savage publicly castigated Britain for its acceptance of Hitler’s annexation of part of Czechoslovakia. Savage had a strong Christian faith and governed using ‘applied Christianity’, for him principles and people came before economics.

Norman Kirk wanted “New Zealand’s foreign policy to express New Zealand’s national ideals as well as reflect our national interests”. In 1973 his government refused to grant visas to a South African rugby team because the sport wasn’t racially integrated. Kirk tried to pressure the French into stopping the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific and when they refused to do so a frigate was sent into the test area. He wanted to provide a focus for international opinion against the tests. Not since Savage had New Zealand seen such an activist government on the world stage.

David Lange defended New Zealand’s non-nuclear stance with a memorable speech in an Oxford Union debate supporting the proposition “That nuclear weapons are morally indefensible”. He agreed to make the speech against diplomatic advice, but received a standing ovation at the end of it. When the Rainbow Warrior was sunk through a terrorist act by the French secret Service, Lange and his government received no support from other nations because
their relationship with France was deemed more important. Lange’s determination to see justice done eventually forced a belated apology from France and some compensation paid.

John Key is no Savage, Kirk or Lange. His predecessors were driven by their strong sense of morality: Savage had a Catholic upbringing and was influenced by the socialist evangelist, Tom Mann; Kirk  was the son of devout Salvation Army parents and while he didn’t remain in the church he respected and had contact with a number of clergy while a Prime Minister; Lange had strong links to the Methodist Church and was influenced by the English preacher Donald Soper, who became a baron and was appointed to the English House of Lords. Key’s moral foundation, on which he bases his governance, is difficult to establish.

John Key has never shared with us his earlier experiences that provided him with his moral compass, but we do know how he has responded to important events. Most students in 1981 had an opinion about the Springbok Tour but oddly Key has no recollection of having any view on the issue at the time. Throughout his political career Key has swung from one position to the other and seems to be driven more by trade and public opinion than his own convictions.

When George W Bush first sent troops into Iraq because of the fictitious threat of weapons of mass destruction Helen Clark refused to support an attack that wasn’t sanctioned by the United Nations. Key, on the other hand, made a blistering attack on Clark because of the potential damage to trade with the US. He was also very comfortable with Chinese security roughing up Russel Norman when he protested against the persecution in Tibet, civil rights of New Zealand citizens were obviously expendable when meeting major trading partners.

Key appears to think foreign policy is less about principle and more about rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers of the corporate world. It is more important to subsidize Warner Bros than support the Auckland film industry. Key and his Government enthusiastically responded to Hollywood and the CIA to illegally raid and arrest a New Zealand resident.

Key expressed little concern when a New Zealander was recently killed by a US drone attack in Yemen. No matter what we may think of the activities of the New Zealander concerned one has to question the right of the US to use drones to take out anyone in areas that are not war zones. Key claimed that the drone attacks were legitimate “given that three of the people killed were well known al Qaeda operatives”.

I look forward to being governed again by Prime Ministers who are motivated by principle and aren’t afraid to stand up and be counted, on our behalf, when larger nations stray from what is right. We could lead the world in addressing climate change, dealing with poverty and standing up for human rights around the world. Imagine our international status, and even our export branding, if our clean green image actually stood for something and our reputation for speaking out for the oppressed was again widely known. Mediocrity is not aspirational and I would rather live in a country that leads by example than one that is guided by expediency.


26 comments on “LocalBodies: John Key Aspires to Mediocrity”

  1. Puckish Rogue 1

    🙂 keep the attacks coming because its worked so well the last 8 years 🙂

    • aerobubble 1.1

      Yeah, conservatism has held back out country for too long, exposing it in the last 8 years won’t change the fact that weak lazy wealthy people don’t like change. Especially change that harms their profits due to their dull deluded view that i.) they have a right to remain wealthy as they aren’t weak but especially brilliant capitalists, ii.) that they know the economy, iii.) dismal science is their ideological blood, iv.) free markets must be made to continue to feed their niche parasitical profit machine.

      We should have built a dual carriageway from Auckland to Wellington thirty years ago!!!
      Conservationism stopped it, and Conservatives kept it being built for thirty years during the age of oil, and now we cannot do without the infrastructure Conservatives finally build it and hide the awful fact that its now uneconomic!!! Yeah, its one of those must haves but will costs us more when more pressing investment will return better profits (Green economy).

      Is there a sorry from do-nothing retards of the economic clueless, no. Destroy the world banking system by thirty years of Thatcher’s stupidity , no, not a whimper of an apology. Their conservative revolution, was just lots of boring people made into a brand by PR, yet remained boring people.

    • ianmac 1.2

      Or as Puckish would advocate, ignore political morality. Look the other way when Key expediency trumps ethics. And smile when Key smiles. It must be OK if Key smiles.

    • Warren 1.3

      I see a reasoned analysis, not an attack.
      Politics is not a sport, or a war, but an expression of opinions.

      What should be happening in New Zealand now is a reasoned debate about the merits or otherwise of various policies. Instead we have a media fixated on reporting politics as though it was a game. It is much too important to treat it so trivially.

      The author of the post is not out to score points but to point out what is real versus what is hype and image To try to get people looking past the image of John Key and reflect on what he has actually done and said. Not just on how popular he is.

      Popularity is not a measure of worth. Look at Justin Beiber!

      • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1

        What should be happening in New Zealand now is a reasoned debate about the merits or otherwise of various policies. Instead we have a media fixated on reporting politics as though it was a game. It is much too important to treat it so trivially.


  2. Clemgeopin 2

    I have no trust in Key or his policies. He is cunning and a great actor. It is quite astonishing that so many people and the media are so easily fooled by him.

  3. fender 3

    Puddleglum has an excellent article on Mr ‘what they see is what they get’

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Is it ever – simply Puddlegum at his most brilliant and thought provoking best!

      Compulsory viewing.

  4. Richard Christie 4

    It’s very dubious to equate morality with religious adherence.

    It’s a favourite fallacy of religious apologists.

  5. fisiani 5

    John Key and Mediocre is supremely oxymoronic. John Key is the Superman of NZ politics. He along with the Boy Wonder Bill English has rescued New Zealand from a future of never ending deficits and delivered a brighter future in this wonderful land to which the citizens of the world are clamouring in record numbers. 6 long years of attacking and underestimating John Key have seen off Helen Clark, Phil Goff, David Shearer and in 152 days David Cunliffe. Please keep up these posts attacking the PM. It must surely be moving hearts and minds to the Left. Ignore the constant rogue polls of the media. They never call the poor. Have faith that The Cunliffe can be the Messiah. Everyone you talk to knows that The Greens are intelligent, sensible reasonable visionaries. The caucus war room has the dirt. A Green/Labour/Winston First/Mana/Internet government is nigh.

    • fender 5.1

      Stay away from that shit fizzy, don’t be fooled by the ‘legal high’ branding.

    • McFlock 5.2

      fisi, your head is so far up John Key’s arse that you get toothpaste in your eyes when he brushes his teeth.

      But your “superman” analogy is close – it was actually Batman who had the Boy Wonder as his sidekick. And all Key lacks in common with that bored, rich psychopath is that Bruce Wayne preferred to dress in black rubber and beat up poor people using the gadgets his extreme wealth enabled him to buy. Key just uses his signature to create the same result without effort or worry.

    • David H 5.3

      Fishy Fishy Fishy. Surely you mean TricKey as Crashman, and Blinglish as the Amazing Wonder Blunder. Supported by a cast of at the 300kg and the Hollow Headjoyman, helped by Crusher and Tollers the GunChucks.

  6. Ad 6

    Perhaps a little unfair comparing Key to Labour Prime Ministers.

    Try Key to Muldoon, or Bolger, or Holland. All transformative and bold in their way.

    But I think he aspires not to be a radical, but to supplant Holyoake as the gradual and inter-generational undoing of NZ’s New Deal.

  7. felix 7

    I also think it’s a slightly unfair comparison.

    Savage, Kirk and Lange were all fundamentally opposed to fascism.

  8. Melb 8

    “In June 1986, in a political deal with Prime Minister of New Zealand David Lange, presided over by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, France agreed to pay NZ$13 million (USD$6.5 million) to New Zealand and apologise, in return for which Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao Atoll for three years. However, the two agents had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll.”

    Ahh yes, so principled.

    No mention of Key’s widely acclaimed speech to the UN about the tragedy of inaction over Syria?

      • Clemgeopin 8.1.1

        Obviously USA uses drones to kill people in foreign countries that they think are the ‘enemy’. They can’t be sure if they are the ‘enemy’ or freedom fighters in their own country? Besides, the CIA’s information comes from informants. There is no guarantee these informants are honest or have an axe to grind or doing things to earn lots of cash.

        The targeted victims/suspects have no defense to fall back on at all. I suspect that the number of innocents killed due to ‘collateral damage’ far exceeds the number of ‘suspects’.
        Do the families of these innocent victims get compensated?

        Would USA be so blaze and accepting of it if enemy drones did the same to their citizens inside USA?

        Fair questions?

        America is playing a dangerous game and helping increase hatred and militants. There has to be a better way.

    • The issues of the past were the threats of nuclear fallout, racism and world wars; the major threats of today are climate change and inequality. Key leads a government full of human induced climate change deniers and inequality has dramatically increased under his watch. Key’s speech on Syria was hardly bold and will never go down in history like the others I referred to.

    • The measure of sovereign independence and stature on the world stage is the extent to which a country stands up to powerful ‘official friends’ rather than relatively powerless ‘official enemies’.

      Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the behaviour of official enemies New Zealand (a) has little influence over them and (b) is under no threat of retaliation from them.

      The true test of whether our government is adopting an independent and principled stance on the world stage is whether or not it has the moral fibre to stand up against the unjust wielding of power by those (a) it can supposedly influence through its status as an ‘ally’ and (b) who have the power to punish New Zealand in various ways (i.e., there is a potential cost to standing on principle).

      Further, it is just those kinds of stances (that conflict with the interests of official friends) that add credibility to any reputation of being an ‘honest broker’ in global politics.

      Notice that Savage criticised Britain, Kirk France and Lange the US. In her own way, Clark also stood up to the US over Iraq. All of those countries had the ability to exert considerable pressure on New Zealand.

      Right or wrong, those stances required courage, discipline, diplomatic nous and principle. By contrast, joining in near-universal condemnation (from your more powerful allies) of some minor power half a planet away requires none of the above.

      • Clemgeopin 8.3.1

        A regards international conflicts, we should prefer to be guided by the United Nations.
        It is up to the super powers and other countries, including NZ, to influence the UN members for the good of the world. Without UN approval, it would be a mistake in the long run for smaller countries like NZ to simply to do the bidding of the powerful countries like, USA, China, USSR etc in their non UN supported attacks on other counties such as Syria, Iraq, Tibet, Ukraine etc. We do need to be more independent and have the moral gumption for it. Is this easier said than done?

  9. Jrobin 9

    Brilliant Puddleglum link, thanks. It is interesting when considering the traits idenitified in this post, that ruthlessness and skill as a deal broker are two dominant features. Ironic then that he has failed so spectacularly to persuade the Chinese Govt. that the botulism scare was insignificant. Perhaps because his persona is not effective in this cultural context, where losing face is avoided and knowlege of cultural practises and customs are valued. Appearing to be bland, low brow, smiling and blokey may clash with the cultural norms and ‘persona’ considered appropriate for credible leadership in the Chinese context.
    Regardless, this is one if Keys most humiliating failures, and one which is further linked and complicated with the Judith Collins cronyism scandal. Not only are their actions naive, embarrassing and sycophantic, but JK and JC are also failing spectacularly to convince the Chinese authorities that our bio security and food safety standards are high, at least as regards Infant Formula. Bribery and corruption may be the next step now that JKs American X kiwi bloke persona has failed to impress.
    It will be fascinating to watch the unfolding of events; will Oravida avoid new Strict import regulations and if so what back room deal achieved this result. Furthermore, despite descriptions of McCullys rat cunning, the Shane Jones poaching smacks of the very same (a)moral compass discussed by Puddleglum. The National Party has never stooped quite this low before. John Key may be just about to be revealed in splendid nakedness parading as Emperor before a less than impressed NZ public. How relaxed do you feel now Mr Smiling Assasin?

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