Poor John Key. Unable to get support in Parliament for his military misadventure. Assailed on all sides by politicians and critics who prefer an independent foreign policy to slavishly following America into another ill defined war. Damned by his own words, we’re going so as to pay the cost of New Zealand’s junior membership of “The Club”. From Bryce Edward’s media roundup:
The backlash against war
There’s been widespread sceptism and outrage in response to the Government’s announcement that New Zealand troops will be sent to Iraq.
Public support is not with the National Government on this issue, according to John Armstrong, who concludes that ‘the Prime Minister is not really winning the debate.
What is interesting about these [poll] results is that although support for deployment was higher than opposition, it was still relatively low. In previous major military deployments, public support has started out higher.
The backlash against deployment is coming from a wide variety of people. Dissenting voices include some surprising figures. …
Still, at least Key has one loyal friend and ally. That friend would be (and I know that this will surprise you!) Mike Hosking. Mike Hosking is an insightful and knowledgable chap. I know this because of the bio at the bottom of his article:
Mike’s insightfulness and knowledge makes him one of New Zealand’s most successful broadcasters.
Modest too – he should add that to the bio. Here’s what modest Mike had to say:
John Armstrong was … wrong to … suggest that … the Prime Minister was losing the argument.
The poll numbers tell us that he isn’t. Forty eight per cent in favour, 42 per cent against according to a One News Colmar Brunton poll out on Monday night. … So with a comfortable majority supporting the move, I’d be feeling pretty bullish that I’d done the right thing.
Mike may be insightful, knowledgeable and modest, but he clearly doesn’t know anything about numbers. Forty eight percent is not a “comfortable majority”. Forty eight percent is not in fact a majority at all, although it is on this occasion a plurality. Forty two percent were opposed, ten percent didn’t know. I haven’t been able to find information on the sample size and margin of error, 48% to 42% may well be a statistically significant difference, but it isn’t a practically significant one. The country is split.
For a much better summary see Tracy Watkins:
John Key could have put the deployment to a vote but didn’t because he knew he would lose it. Unlike in 2003, when Helen Clark sent the SAS to Afghanistan with the blessing of an overwhelming majority in Parliament, Key is facing a divided Parliament – and a divided public.
Key has struggled to make the case for a deployment in the face of scepticism that, after more than a decade of fighting, any contribution by New Zealand can or will make a difference.
…Opposition parties have washed their hands of the decision. In Parliament today they lined up in condemnation of the decision to go to Iraq. In doing so, they have made it clear that any blood will be on Key’s hands alone should today’s decisions end in tragedy.
Despite the best efforts of Hosking, the facts are we’re going in to this war zone without the support of Parliament, without the support of the majority of the people, without clearly defined goals or an exit plan, without proper planning, and without a hope of making a practical difference. It’s the worst kind of “leadership”. And the poll numbers tell us that Kiwis have lost their historical appetite for this kind of misadventure.