I was tempted to just have an empty post, but John has of course had his achievements.
There are the 3 election wins, and enduring popularity, that was only now starting to decline (only 36%!).
But what he’s done with that popularity, that mandate, for the benefit of Aotearoa?
That gets a lot harder.
Giovanni Tiso got an excellent piece up straight away yesterday of ‘The man without a legacy’. Scrupulously cultivating his political capital, never risking spending it on a vision for New Zealand. Just keeping the books ticking over. Even the nature of his wins (dirty politics), he’ll be hoping people don’t look too closely at.
But while there are various tributes to his economic management, the finally lowering unemployment rate, the GDP growth (driven by migration), the balanced books (eventually, and Cullen can probably take most of the credit for), there is lots in the long-term economic outlook that he did his best ot ignore.
The books balance today, but Treasury is forecasting a century of deficits due to his lack of willingness to deal with issues like superannuation, or the trade deficit. Migration is heading our way, but not because we’ve closed the wage gap with Australia, which was their main promise when they first came in (along with raising our OECD GDP/capita ranking, which has gone up 1 to 20th thanks to Spain dropping down).
And then there’s the big issues: the housing crisis that is biting us now, but will really hurt when the bubble pops; rising inequality; child poverty; climate change; water quality and our environmental standards (and the accompanying risks to our ‘green’ brand).
But at least he was happy, and optimistic and kept us looking on the brighter side of life? A failed flag referendum was his big regret, even if it would have been good if he could have helped poor kids a bit more. Aroha from McGehan Close is forgotten.
John Key quit rugby because he didn’t like getting tackled. And as Colin James says, there are tackles ahead, be they dealing with Winston, or having to deal with some of the long term problems he’s ignored.
So with his ‘legacy’ being popularity and winning, you can see why he made the ‘selfish calculation’ as Bryce Edwards puts it, and made sure not to tarnish that legacy by losing, or having to do a deal with Winston that would seriously undermine that popularity.
Also a good instant analysis was John Armstrong:
Mr Key’s many critics on the left will have a much harsher verdict. They will argue that Mr Key leaves a country where the gap between rich and poor has widened considerably throughout his tenure.
And that his betrayal of the means which enabled those like him to climb up the ladder of meritocracy is his true legacy.
Labour made the ladder he climbed from poverty to the premiership, giving him the welfare & education safety nets, then the 4th Labour government giving him the financial bubble that made his wealth. And his response as the arch-politician pragmatist was to adopt whatever Labour policy he needed to beat them and pull up the ladder.