John Key has a carefully constructed image as a “nice guy”, with a self professed “sunny nature” no less. There is ample reason to believe that the image is far from the reality.
In his previous work Key appeared proud of his ability to fire, without emotion, hundreds of people (earning himself the nickname of “the smiling assassin”). Almost his first significant political act (during National’s 2003 change of leadership) was a betrayal, pledging his support to Bill English but then voting for Don Brash as leader.
Before the election there were some obvious cracks in the nice guy facade. Probably the most notable was the TranzRail lies incident (which coined the new expression “TranzRail eyes”). Close runner up, though it received much less attention, was the way Key used political pressure to shut down the “we would love to see wages drop” story (even trying to get the reporter sacked?), tactics which caused reporters at The Herald to write a letter of protest.
Since the election, Key has lead a government with a notable contempt for democracy, abusing the mechanisms of parliament, and ramming through the SuperCity agenda without consultation and against the wishes of Aucklanders.
Key’s personal facade has also cracked further. Serious issues of character are raised by the way he deserted his candidate, Melissa Lee, in her hour of need, as she bravely faced up to her by-election defeat. Nor was it “nice” to label a group of young Mt Albert protesters “haters and wreckers” “cold and desperate”. But the final straw must surely be Key’s recent cynical, premeditated and repeated attack on Labour MPs, the ludicrous claim that they as individuals practically condone child abuse: “Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.” Given the way that Labour pushed the repeal of Section 59 (at considerable political cost in an election year), and given
the sheer puerile and offensive nature of the claim, it is hard to imagine a more outrageous attack.
In short then, it is time to see John Key’s nice guy act for what it is — a carefully crafted media facade. And the sooner we as a country admit to ourselves that the Emperor has no nice guy clothes, the sooner we might start paying some much needed attention to his equally empty policy wardrobe…