Where-ever you sit on the spectrum of opinion on Key’s handling on the Tranzrail affair, it appears that the commentators are questioning his ability to handle the pressure (and by extension his ability to handle the PM-ship). From Paul Henry’s vigorous questioning this morning to discussions by commentators later in the day, the common theme appears to be Key’s inability to handle the pressure. For example, what would-be PM would like to read this comment by Gordon Campbell?
“Since Key has now had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the full light of disclosure on these matters, this still has to put a question mark over his fitness for leadership. When for instance, did the National caucus that Key now proposes to lead by example, first find out that their associate transport spokesperson held a large bloc of shares in Tranz Rail ? Did he tell them and if so, when or did he just let them read about it in the newspaper ?
On Radio Live there was an interesting discussion between host Jemma Dempsey and guests John Armstrong and Brian Edwards, which I caught at lunchtime today:
Dempsey: Well, making mistakes is human enough, but it’s not a good look for the leader of the opposition, and for the man hoping to become the next Prime Minister, after all some will say if he can’t manage his share portfolio, how can he manage the country.”
They went on to say:
Armstrong: … As you’ve said, John Key has continued to stumble through media interviews. He had a very torrid session on Breakfast, TVNZ’s breakfast programme this morning with Paul Henry.
Dempsey: How did he cope with that?
Armstrong: Oh, not very well and similar to his appearance on One News on Monday night where he seemed to prevaricate.
And they continue…
Edwards: … I absolutely agree with John, he’s not handling this, ah, this very well. Ah, I think, you know, one of the problems is our advice to our clients, including the Prime Minister and the members of the Cabinet, is always very simple, we say be straight-forward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes. What you cannot get away with is lying and certainly can’t get away with lying on television because it shows all over you, you know, it shows in your face.”
Armstrong: …I think the images are so bad that they, they will remember. I mean, one of the things about election campaigns, it’s not just about image, trust and credibility, it’s also about ability to handle pressure, and this really is I think the hidden side…
This will not be the image that National strategists were aiming for when they started the week. But as we know, you can’t plan for the unexpected demands of the PM-ship- you have to be able to handle them alongside everything else….