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Politician of the year?

Written By: - Date published: 12:59 pm, December 11th, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: john key, leadership, Media - Tags:

Letting his prejudices off the leash for a spot of fresh air, John Armstrong writes:

Within the deep recesses of the Labour Party and elsewhere on the left, there is a lingering arrogance saturated with an intellectual snobbery which blinds and deludes its sufferers.

Pot kettle black John? To each their own I guess.

The second anniversary of John Key becoming Prime Minister has been and gone. But the self-satisfied superiority and smugness exhibited by his critics continues unabated.

You’d be hard pressed to find a leftie that doesn’t acknowledge that Key is still very popular with the electorate, and that Labour faces an enormous uphill battle in 2011. If Armstrong calls that superior smugness then it tells us more about Armstrong than anything else.

The left dismisses the most popular Prime Minister in New Zealand’s recent political history as Smile and Wave John Key, Do Nothing John Key and Lucky John Key.

I’m interested in this claim that Key is the most popular recent PM. As far as I know Key peaked at 58% approval, and Clark at 59%. Can anyone set me straight on this?

The left’s fatal error has been to constantly underrate Key in terms of ability and the fact that though he is of centre-right disposition, he is firmly at the moderate end of that broad spectrum

Once again Armstrong is simply wrong on the second point. All the lefties that I know acknowledge that Key himself (not his party) is moderate right. He won the election on a Labour-lite platform after all.

So the first thing that Armstrong actually gets correct is that most lefties regard Key as pretty useless in practice. He’s popular yes, but so was disco. Is he a competent and effective PM? No. The economy is stagnating (no “aggressive recovery”). Unemployment is high. He has failed to broker a lasting deal on the foreshore. He is presiding over some of the worst abuses of democracy in recent memory (Armstrong himself has twice recently described the Nats as disgraceful). His party is riddled with greed and sleaze. His main personal contribution has been a cycleway which is a national joke.

Yup, I’ll stand by the claim that Key is a useless PM, and doesn’t deserve the title of “Politician of the Year” with which Armstrong lauds him. I look forward to all the Key fans out there telling me just how wrong I am. But please – be specific. Key is popular, yes, agreed. But what has he actually done? What has he accomplished that has benefited NZ? How is he a leader? By all means make your case!…

(Bonus question – who is your politician of the year, and why?)

54 comments on “Politician of the year?”

  1. John Dalley 1

    Useless is as useless does.
    John Key as politician of the year, what a joke.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I reckon Key does deserve the title of Politician of the Year. Not because of his effectiveness in working for the people of NZ, but his effectiveness in maintaining a bulletproof level of popularity for himself and strong support for National from across all strata of NZ, even across Wong-gate, ACT self disintegration, etc.

    No other politician in NZ has done anything close to it this year.

    (I trust Len Brown was in the running).

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      I agree.

      Earlier this year I had a drinking session with my landlord, who is clearly a National voter based on what he was saying. The best I could come up with is that “Key is good at his job”, with the assumption that his job was “to win votes and keep National in government”, not to effectively lead the country or champion good policy.

    • Bored 2.2

      On behalf of my bicycle I beg to differ. An abject failure the cycle tells me.

    • big bruv 2.3

      “(I TRUST Len Brown was in the running)”

      Ha ha…there you go Viper, the reason lying Len was not in the running is because he is a thief and a lair.

      Remember, it’s all about TRUST’s….ha ha

      Meanwhile, the man you guys hate (and the man who is closer to the left than the right) continues to scale heights of popularity that Goff or Clark could only dream about.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    Maybe Key could be rated ‘politician of the first 9 months’, as it’s only recently that it’s really started to fall apart for him?

    • Zorr 3.1

      So who gets the back 9? 😛

      tbh if it is just for the fact that whoever is PM is going to have the most effect on the political stage then “Politician of the Year” labels should just be renamed to “I R PM”. For me I am greatly enjoying Pete Hodgson and all the hard work he is putting in and would give him the title if only for his performance over the Wongs.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2

      Apparently the Wikileaks cables that mention Key will be ‘glowing’.
      How do we know ?
      JK told us so

      Looks like Armstrong is using the same method. It must be so because ….well……. I say so.
      his opponents are all wrong … and bitter …. so there.!

  4. It’s best of a bad bunch stuff, isn’t it?

    I do get annoyed with this silly rhetoric about ‘most popular government ever’. the 5th Labour govt was polling mid 50s at his stage of its first term and I remember reading something in the Dom joking about Clark being made PM for Life, she was so popular.

    And, we don’t have stats on how popular Savage or Kirk were at their heights.

    • Bunji 4.1

      I don’t think anyone will touch Savage’s popularity, although to be fair Armstrong was saying “NZ’s recent political history” (and how recent is recent?)

      It depends on how you interpret politician – one could easily say Key was the best politician of the year given his ability to do nothing for the country and still be popular – he has amazing skills at being popular… If you define politicians by what they do for the nation (and this seems less and less the case) – then he’s not in the running…

      Of course if you go like Time’s Man Of The Year and be on who’s made the biggest impression (not necessarily good – which is why Hitler got Man of the Year in 1938 – ‘coz boy did he dominate the news…), then Rodney might come into it. The destruction of his party through pushing the super-city, and the hypocrisy of his love of perks and lack of transparency over Garrett, was quite the political event…

  5. ‘Politician of the year’ yep I would go along with that, lets face it they are all a bunch of bastards, John is just on the top of the pile of shit.
    As most of us rate politicians as lower than car sales men, is this status anything to be proud of?
    If he was father of the year or best Hawaiian that would be something, but as politicians are next to dog droppings WTF

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Does Armstrong even read his own paper.
    The evidence is all around him of a poor political leader, who is about average in his performance in the house, who has a string of questionable judgements even before he became PM ( I didnt read those emails).
    So the frog has turned into handsome prince…… That is the perception that Key and his political staff push out 24 hours a day. And they have succeeded . But why would a seasoned political journalist regurgitate such spin?

    Its an old journalism adage that Noah makes a better storey than flood control. The same meme comes through in the Pike River stories and their ‘hero’ Whittal.
    I would have to say is that the big advertisers who control the ‘tone’ of stories in newspapers. You get better advertising rates and fill the available space sooner when the news satisfies the only reader who counts – those who paid for the ads.

    BTW What happened to Armstrong for most of the year? There was barely any stories and in the last month or so its every other day.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      But why would a seasoned political journalist regurgitate such spin?

      Because he’s a fan of Jonkey and a supporter of National. His bias in that regards is plain to see.

      • swordfish 6.1.1

        Yep,

        – Armstrong’s long been known as an ardent Nact.

        – Audrey Young hails from an impeccably Tory family (Father was long-time Miramar Nat MP and Cabinet Minister in Muldoon Government / Sister long-time Right-Wing Wellington City Councillor / Brother-in-Law Right-Wing former National MP and Minister Max Bradford).

        – Jane Clifton long-term relationship Muzza McCully.

        – Joanne Black married to National Party apparatchik.

        – Tracy Watkins from deepest Blue Rural Waikato (and it shows).

        And so on and so forth…

        What irritates me most (from a purely self-absorbed point-of-view – which I find is always best) is the way Armstrong appears to have used my Suburb-by-Suburb Mana By-Election stats (which I set-out on Red Alert) without so much as a bleedin by or leave. I slaved over a hot calculator for hour after hour and Jono comes along and essentially takes the credit (in his final article on the By-Election where he focusses on the swing in various suburbs). Still, serves me right, I guess. Once on the blogosphere it’s essentially a free-for-all.

        • John Armstrong 6.1.1.1

          Swordfish —- My apologies. It was a very interesting and telling analysis.You did it first. I should have credited you. However, it would have been easier to do so with a name, not a pseudonym. If it’s any consolation, your calculations were 100 per cent accurate. I checked them.You’re right. Once it is on the web, copyright or whatever is out the window. A fact which newspapers, in providing much of the fodder for blogs to chew over, have to live with every day.

  7. pseudopanax 7

    Best backbencher: Gareth Hughes.

    What a splash! He’s setting himself up as a strong and informed Green voice on transport, expertly playing the youth card, and he’s managed to wrap his head around his strange new world remarkably quickly. Looking forward to seeing big things from him.

    • Gotham 7.1

      Agree! Glad someone else pointed it out first!

      Imho, Hughes is one of the star performers of the Greens. I think early on, many thought they could write him off as a token youth activist but he’s done well building his transport campaign (I think the first and most vocal MP campaiging for the Auckland CBD Rail Loop, and he’s spoken out passionately against Joyce’s RONS). He’s worked really hard, and has great potential to go further.

      Also, as a Green, I have been impressed by Kevin Hague. I think he’s a great debater and speaker, and works really hard in his electorate. I was touched by his speech in the House about keeping faith the Pike River miners could still come out alive (before the second explosion).

  8. RedLogix 8

    And just yesterday Armstrong was saying “Shame on National and the Maori Party too. The so-called review of New Zealand’s “constitutional arrangements” is little short of a disgrace.”.

    And this morning the man who leads that same govt is the greatest man living? It’s like Armstrong knows intellectually that this govt is inept, narrow and disgracefully abusing Parliamentary process… but at the same time his Tory emotional instincts will always win out with sycophantic blow-jobs like this one.

  9. Anne 9

    Has Captain Panic Pants just announced his resignation as Key’s Chief Press Secretary?

  10. John Dalley 10

    What do you expect from Armstrong, he is after all Nationals number One cheerleader along with Fran O’Sullivan at a close number two.
    Lets see what another few month bring. Once parents start suffering the effects of Chopper Tolley’s reforms, more publicity on ACC’s policies, etc, etc and let’s see how smile and wave is doing then.

    • RobertM 10.1

      Iv’e always thought that Armstrong leans to the left when he has any freedom of movement, very strongly. FRan O’Sullivan a free trader, yes who worships Tim Grosser who I loathe for other reasons. But on many international and sentiment issues, Fran is also a leftie. Grosser is a communitst utopian in my view, a naive left wing fantasist. Fundamentally I see China neither as the future heart of the global economy or a military threat. I have never seen any evidence that China in the past, present or future is capable of mastering or competing seriously at military technology lefite. China should be our and the USA’s allies, the neo con nonsense of picking a fight with the Chinese is absurb. Japan is the only natioin that can ever threaten the United States in the present world order. Japan is the only nation that has the economic power and military genuis to ever be a challenge at present technolgical levels. Do not believe any of official figures that Japan spends less than France or UK on defence. THe current capability of the Japanese Navy and Air Force growing every day, means it must spend four times as much.
      Strategists in Australia like the leftie Hugh White, (like Grosser)talk about emerging Chinese military and economic challenge for world domination. Buts its nonsense,China is just a medium power in a multi polar world and Japan is the only possible and potential threat on any realist analsis but no official western analyist will admit, so China is just a bogeyman and strawman to justify the maintenance of military capabilities really intended for fears about Japan and Indonesia. Do we want to live in a Japanese dominated century.
      John Key is just a third rate PR man. Labour under Goff are no threat and Cunliffe is an arrogant Harvard trained intellectual. Shane Jones has little profile in the european electorate and Little is a Simon Crean- a useful cabinet mininister but not credible with the non Labour voters. Hekia Pareta and possibly John Tamihere represent the future Natiional establishment maori leadership alernative to the right conservative dictatorship of Judith Collins. English like Finnalyson is just a guilt ridden st pats silverstream, Catholic boy, he would be lucky to get l5 votes against Judith.

  11. Treetop 11

    The only poll that counts is the one on election night, according to Winston Peters.

  12. AndrewK 12

    I recently read a book by Noam Chomsky (one of those ‘Interviews with David Barsamian’ ones -from 2008 I think) can’t remember its title. Anyway, one of the points Chomsky made was the amount of time and effort ‘left wing’ commentators spent on demonstrating how intelligent they are by poking fun at George Bush junior and how this display of smug, self-indulgent political discourse was alienating those who would be their natural constituents.

    Chomsky, more or less, pointed out that GW Bush’s antics could easily be the result of a carefully cultivated PR campaign. People, especially those closer to the bottom of the socio-economic heap, tend to empathise with the underdog – George Bush’s constant stream of mishaps fed this empathy. The “…self-satisfied superiority and smugness exhibited by his critics…” only served to reinforce his popular support – let’s face it, if GW Bush or John Key’s polls were to accurately reflect the proportion of the population they actually represent they would both receive less than 1% of the vote.

    When I see John Key on television interviews its as if I am watching someone who has been coached to speak and act like Dan Carter (as weird as that sounds). It is all “..gosh, gee, shucks, I don’t know…”, like GW Bush he doesn’t need to articulate policy (afterall, that would be political suicide), his job is to be as cosmetically appealing as possible to the electorate. The more the ‘left wing’ commentariate attack him for acting and speaking like the common person the more empathy he will receive from that quarter.

    • Carol 12.1

      I’m sick of politics run like a product promotion campaign. When are we going to have politics about the policies & issues, with the media representing them front and centre, along with debate? ie politics run appropriately for a democracy. No time soon probably…..

    • RedLogix 12.2

      Which feels like a valid point… but how does that take anyone forward?

      Are you suggesting that we simply wait out the decade until, like with GW Bush, the doofus factor becomes obvious to all? Because a lot of harm gets done in the meantime…in the case of the USA it may well be terminal damage.

    • Chomsky’s point (and he’s not alone in making it) is one I frequently consider, especially when debating something as visceral as, say, crime and punishment.

      Because while it’s fun to spin people in logical circles and then snigger as they trip over their shoelaces, it doesn’t convince the person with whom you’re debating and possibly not those who are watching on.

      I tend to try a remain reasonable during online debates, but occasionally I’ll give in to the urge not to call someone an idiot but simply to demonstrate their wrongness in a way that makes it obvious I think that they are. Just the other day that earned me (not from a person with whom I’d previously argued the issue du jour) the comment “fuck you are an offensive piece of slime and a cheap sack of shit” on a certain other blog.

      Essentially, I’d had a gutsful of the usual “hanging’s too good for ’em” nonsense and resorted to comment like “…you didn’t disappoint me. Falling over one another to genuflect to authority as usual” before highlighting logical flaws between what had been said the day before by the “hang ’em all” brigade and what was being said that day.

      The same reaction, I have no doubt, is engendered in some people if one is seen as “too clever” in criticising a politician – even one, like Key, they’re not entirely happy with themselves.

      Dealing with a wilful lack of understanding – even if, as I suspect Key’s is, it’s faked – can get frustrating. But if the goal is to change minds and not score points, then AndrewK’s advice is well worth absorbing.

  13. Irascible 13

    I’m waiting on the Herald to publish my comment on the Armstrong nomination of Key as politician of the year…. raising questions about Key’s leadership of one of the most scandal ridden governments in NZ recent history doesn’t seem to be permitted criticism of their arguments in favour of Key. I wonder why??
    The list of scandals that Key has permitted to occur through his “relaxed” management style is getting so long that it will take several volumes of Hansard to record. How any one accept a man who allows and supports the activities of MPs like Double Dipton, Richard “It’s a secret” Worth, Melissa Lee, Phil “Chardonnay on the credit card” Heatley, Rodney “I’ll fly my girlfriend to Disneyland on the taxpayer” Hide and, now, Pansy “I can’t remember if I or my Husband used taxpayer money for our business profit” Wong is certainly beyond rational thought.

    • Herododus 13.1

      DD was still complying within the rules, even a lab speaker of the house agreed, so was Rodders. The rules maybe unpalatable to many but those are the rules. How would the opening up of MP’s spending have looked 4 years ago??
      re scandels there wer many under Lab perhaps you cannot remember. The reason why there were not many previously were that there was a tighter control on what got out. With internet, social media and the like MP’s, yours (if you are famous or imfamous), not mine thankfully (being a Nigel nobody helps) we are more exposed. It still amazes me how some of the just recents past MP’s (well dressed and groomed at that) have protected their image and nothing really nasty or embarrassing has got out …. yet !!!
      By default JK is the polly of the year. Go out to the working mans clubs, cafes etc ask around. I ould be surprised if you would come accross many who could name 10% in parliament., and of those 10-12 what contribution they had made over the year. Advantage of winning an election it is very hard for anyone but about 4-6 Mp’s to win such a coverted award.
      p.s. rob perhaps you could name someone to get things started, or better still as a post idea put up some headings for us to supply worthy nominees, under comedy over the festive season. Here is one idea to get things started. “the kiwi crickters performance award’ for underachievement, my nominees : Alan Peachy (outside Selwyn what is there for him to comment on) and Ashraf Choudhary (outside not voting re Prostitutes what has he done ??)
      captca .. wine yes I will !! ;-).

  14. Tigger 14

    No probes with him giving Key this ‘honour’ but calling him moderate? Key is an Act MP in National drag. And he is far right morally. That’s why Worth went. Fraud is okay. Sexcapades are not.

    • Tanz 14.1

      Key is absolutely not far right, more like far left. That’s why Armstrong loves him so much. Politician of the year, of course.

      • felix 14.1.1

        Jeez you talk a lot of bullshit Tanz.

        You’re always saying so-and-so is “far left” – how about you back it up this time and give some examples of what you consider “far left” about Key.

        Then we’ll have some context in which to place your comments. And probably a bit of a laugh.

  15. gobsmacked 15

    John Key is politician of the year, if you use the Time magazine criteria for “Man of the Year”. Historically, everyone from Ayatollah Khomeini to Stalin has got the Time “award”, because it was simply an indication of prominence, not a tick of approval. So, without any value judgement, clearly Key gets the nod.

    Trouble is, that makes it pretty meaningless. It’s self-fulfilling to say that the PM is top of the pile. It doesn’t answer Rob’s question in the post, either. What has John Key actually done? What will history remember? Again, this can be answered without approving. Roger Douglas left his mark. So did Ruth Richardson. So did Muldoon. You don’t need to be in their fan club to see that.

    John Armstrong couldn’t come up with anything that John Key has done. He just says it’ll happen in the second term. Events unseen in 2012 – that’s a funny reason to hand out a gong in 2010.

  16. peterlepaysan 16

    Armstrong has long been infatuated with Key. ‘Nuff said.

    “Politician of the year” is perilously close to non sequitur and/or parody.

    We should have a competition.

    There ought to categories, a la the Oscars.

  17. George.com 17

    I’d have placed Brown ahead of Key, if for nothing else than pulling off a thumping win in the Auckland Mayoralty. My dad stated today “Key is very good at getting himself photo opportunities, and, um, photo opportunities”.

  18. Frederick 18

    Armstong is right, Key easily politician of the year. I work with people of a wide variance of political beliefs yet almost without exception they regard Key with the utmost regard,admiration and respect.
    I think it most foolish that the Standard continue to dismiss him as some sort of light weight. I truly hope that in next years campaign, labour treat him with the utmost caution and respect as you shoud do when confronted with a formidable opponent – anything short of that and the results could be dire.

    • millsy 18.1

      Pity Key has no respect for the poor, sick, workers, etc.

      • Tanz 18.1.1

        Since when did rich dudes have any respect for the poor, Millsy? The superrich snub the poor, and I’ve seen Key do it in person. He is oily and rich…hard to stomach really.

    • Colonial Viper 18.2

      treat him with the utmost caution and respect as you shoud do when confronted with a formidable opponent

      A formidable PR opponent, sure.

  19. BLiP 19

    There’s an old saying: the person speaking always says more about themselves than the subject they are addressing. It seems true here in that the repeated reference to “intellectual snobbery” says more about the Armstrong’s quite justified insecurities in this area than it does about critics of John Key.

    R0B is quite right in that Helen had a higher poll rating that John Key, but it is a hollow point. Key may not have made it to a 59% approval, but he has been able to maintain a high rating over a much longer period. What’s missing from this squabble is not whether or not Key is the most popular PM, but the reasons why. And the reason why – PR. Every time there is bad news, Key is evacuated from anywhere near ground zero. His brand his protected at all costs.

  20. come get some 20

    Mallard and Hughes for absoloutly destroying Joyce in the house

    http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/1706

    captcha: exception(al)

  21. tsmithfield 21

    TV3 poll. Nuff said.

  22. Deadly_NZ 22

    Phil Goff needs to challenge him to a debate and he only needs to ask 1 question

    What exactly have you done in the last 3 years that is not a photo op

    Answer NOTHING

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