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Remembering John Key

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, January 26th, 2013 - 56 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

As New Zealand collectively rolls its eyes at the paucity of ideas and vision, and surfeit of excuse-making and responsibility denying in Key’s state of the nation speech (it was so bad John Armstrong wrote a third piece on how great the reshuffle was, instead of praising the speech*), Whaleoil – of all people – asks a good question: What will Key’s legacy be?

Slater puts it in the form of seven questions, which I’ll briefly answer.

1.  What changes to New Zealand do you think John Key will be remembered for? Asset sales

2.  Has John Key actually been a strong leader or has he been blessed with an unbelievably inept opposition who have failed to call him to account for his election promises? inept opposition, Goff was Labour’s worst leader since Palmer until Shearer

3.  In twenty years time how do you think New Zealanders will look back at John Key? Savage is remembered as a Ghandi-esque figure, Fraser as flinty, Holland as a bully, Nash – who?, Holyoake as a good harmless guy, Marshall – who?, Kirk as a hero, Rowling – who? Muldoon as a tyrant, Lange as affable but weak and ultimately a failure, Palmer – who? Moore – a traitor, Bolger – the bland face of something terrible, Shipley – a bully, Clark – strong and smart but cold. Key will be remembered as a failure and a conman.

4.  Asset Sales will comprise less than 0.5% of New Zealand’s GDP, and will do nothing to create a step change in our economy, so why has John Key staked so much of his political capital on something so insignificant? Because the task of a National government, other than being in government to stop anyone else being in government, is to divide up the state and give it to the elite. If he doesn’t, he may as well have stayed in Hawaii.

5. Why do you think John Key’s ambition has been so limited? Because any policies he pursues are rightwing and he knows how unpopular rightwing policies are and that his personal popularity cannot overcome that to an unlimited extent. National was established with the goal of holding power so the Left wouldn’t.

6.  Why do you think John Key has been so keen on giving hand outs to agriculture when nowhere in the world has got rich on agriculture in the last 80 years? Because the farmers are part of the elite, see 4.

7. Why do you think John Key was so strategically stupid over the MMP referendum? Because MMP was always going to win and burning political cred opposing it could have cost him the last election.

With Labour stagnant in the polls, odds are 50:50 that Key’ll get a third term. But if that happens, Labour will purge the Old Guard and ensure a decent leader like Little or Cunliffe is in charge. Key will then retire mid-term to avoid a defeat. So, Key’s got 3 years more at most on his clock. Nothing new will happen in that time, just more of the same gradually becoming worse with more of our public wealth handed to the elite, the environment further wasted, poverty deepening, and the economy failing.

We can write Key’s political obituary now because his record may get longer but it’s not going to get different. And that obituary reads: promised us a brighter future, smiled and goofed off a lot, failed to deliver.

*come on, it’s not like any other parties did anything this week

56 comments on “Remembering John Key”

  1. pollywog 1

    Wonder if Whale’s dad has any regrets or would be keen to answer the questions ?

    • handle 1.1

      Regrets? Not using better birth control.

    • Tim 1.2

      Only if he knew that a certain PM amongst their ilk used to wear a suspender belt – probably something that Whaleoil might consider.
      ……and NO – I’m NOT going to go into all the details of past Public Service Garage drivers or providing references for those that wish it – the first hand knowledge of a horrified father (now dead) is quite sufficient for me.

      • Tim 1.2.1

        I will say tho’ that he was probably one of the best ambassadors for NZ AT THE TIME and ERA we we dealing with, that we ever had: Pompous, well spoken, nationalistic – all in an era of decolonisation

        • Tim 1.2.1.1

          Christ! and Garth mcVicar is opposed to gay marriage! – I must be older than him – apparently I’m not though – not by a long shot

  2. Bill 2

    Simple, depressing and accurate breakdown of it. Would say ‘thanks’ for providing a post with easily digested cut through, but ‘thanks’ just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow.

  3. ianmac 3

    It seems Zetetic that you approve of no Prime Minister. With such a jaundiced view Shearer didn’t have a chance of getting approval.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      The country has been going sideways or declining for over 3 decades. Hard to pull up much enthusiasm when you look at the end results.

    • Zetetic 3.2

      Actually, I approve of Savage, Fraser to a lesser extent, Nash, Kirk, and Clark for the most part.

      The question is how are they remembered in the general population, not how do I think of them.

      And I called Kirk a hero and Savage Ghandi-esque, for fuck’s sake.

      • bad12 3.2.1

        I cut my teeth on John A Lee and it is my belief that the social housing produced by Labour of that era may not have happened without Him, later denigrated for His attack upon a sick and dying Labour Leader, a prolific ‘pamphlet producer’ Lee lead me to my belief that at the heart of society and economy sits affordable housing, without which neither society or the economy can function effectively,

        Norm Kirk the only truly ‘working class’ Leader of my lifetime also understood such a basic tenet of society and economy without having to read a book, at it’s height the Kirk Government was building 30,000 houses a year,

        Kirk’s socialism was that which rung out from New Zealand railways yards with every blow of an engineers hammer, unfortunately since Norm’s demise no Labour leader has come close to matching what He achieved in a few short years,

        RIP Norm, in my view the last of the great working class hero’s…

        • Shona 3.2.1.1

          John A. Lee was an essayist, novelist and historian. Also a bookseller for nearly 40 years. I have many of his books. “Simple on a Soapbox’ politicised me . I read it just before “The Pentagon Papers” became available in NZ. Free healthcare and education were also the cornerstones of his beliefs. What galls me is that his tale of his early life ‘Children Of the Poor’ sounds like a case from CYPF’s files.

        • Chris 3.2.1.2

          Amen.

        • mikesh 3.2.1.3

          The main thing about John A Lee was his use of Reserve Bank credit to finance his housing programme, and his advocacy of using it to finance the establishment of industries in NZ. I think this is what put him offside with the Labour Party, and with Walter Nash in particular, the latter being too much of a conservative to have anything to do with what he would have considered “funny money”.

      • alex 3.2.2

        Its hard to take your legacy arguments about Key seriously when you say that only PMs who have been from Labour have a worthwhile legacy. Is that really how the ‘general population’ remembers it?
        Also, I really think it is time that the left reassessed aspects of Muldoon’s legacy, particularly investment in infrastructure which we still use today. Sure, he may have presided over an elected dictatorship, but I think he genuinely had the economic interests of all New Zealanders at heart. You can’t say that about the current lot.

        • billbrowne 3.2.2.1

          Yeah, it’s funny, only this afternoon I caught myself thinking back to the good old days of Muldoon (someone who was despised in our household when I was growing up) – which is scary, shows just how far we have fallen since then.

        • mikesh 3.2.2.2

          Whilst admitting that he was something of a bully, I have have always thought of Muldoon as a good economic manager who was unlucky enough to step into the prime ministership at a time when NZ was experiencing its worst period of inflation ever. He never did manage to get to grips with this problem except during the short period of the wage-price freeze. However the latter was both cumbersome and unpopular, and inflation took off again when the freeze was lifted. What was needed at the time was an incomes policy endorsed by both unions and employers. But perhaps Muldoon was too divisive a figure to bring this into being.

  4. Wairua 4

    zetetic – from the Greek ‘zetetikos’, as an adjective means to seek, inquire, investigate, critical inquiry.
    As a person who has met many people from different factions in the NZLP I have to admit, with some sorrow, that you are probably right.

  5. aerobubble 5

    Yesterday, C30 had a German news program about NZ CHCh rebuild. It was all vision, how the people were consulted but nothing about what was decided. It was made by some NZ reporter.
    NZ is a visionary place, where ChCh residents will look back in thirty years time and say to themselves, we were consulted, naff said.

    • Tim 5.1

      they’ll think……”we were consulted”, THEN they’ll think Germ Brownlee and Billy Bob pop-up Parker, and perhaps (if the committment to a corporatist agenda ever becomes unfashionable): good ole Roj Sutton.
      That’ll be enough to explain to them why things happened the way they did

  6. just saying 6

    Wow.
    Excellent summary Zeitec.

    I think there is also a 50/50 chance of Key pulling an early snap election. Particularly likely if Key needs to nip an emerging left wing narrative in the bud. (A person can dream….)

  7. PlanetOrphan 7

    What I’ll remember about DunnoKeyo ….

    “His amazing ability to steal ideas from intelligent people and sell them as though he understands them”

    Of course the devil is in the implementation, and stolen ideas are impossible to implement properly….
    Because they have no “Direction” of course M8!

  8. fenderviper 8

    While most would rather forget Key that won’t be possible due to the destruction he has created. Some serious rehab for the nation will be required to repair the damage this Nact Govt has caused, but even that will be tricky once we get shoehorned into the TPPA straightjacket.

    Thanks for nothing Key, your policies were as lame as your “jokes”.

  9. Blue 9

    John Key never entered Parliament to leave a legacy. He’s a power junkie who likes celebrity, glitz and being top dog. He’s not the brains behind National’s policy or strategy, he’s just the salesman who sells it with a smile.

    And that’s how he will be remembered. As Good Time Johnny, the celebrity PM who was a great Kiwi bloke, but his government totally failed to deliver on any of his election promises.

    All show and no substance.

  10. Lanthanide 10

    I thought he’d be remembered for the John Key Memorial Cycleway, surely?

    Also, depending on how future fossil fuels go, the white elephant Roads of Notional Significance.

  11. geoff 11

    I think you’ve hit on something here. Key really doesn’t care about anything but himself. I don’t believe he cares much about National party success beyond how it reflects on him either.

    Last year was such a harsh year on him compared to previous years that he appears to have reached that “I don’t give a fuck anymore” stage because his ego has been cracked. A man like that, a man who has spent their whole life being told how great he is, will simply not handle criticism of that nature. I believe evidence of this can be seen in situations like the refusal to get rid of Hekia Parata. He is unable to admit his own mistakes and so out of spite, and a lack of emotional maturity, he’ll refuse to budge, like a 2 yr old.

    National should now be wary of John Key because he’s in a very different head space now compared with the first term. It doesn’t take too much imagnation to see he could scupper National’s prospects just to suit himself. Personally, I hope he does.

    • David H 11.1

      And his dumb refusal to budge on the age of eligibility for retirement needing raising as well. He did say he would resign rather than do it.

  12. QoT 12

    I honestly think, once there’s the distance of a generation or so and the immediate “you fucking useless bastard” feelings have subsided, he’ll be a “who dat?” PM. One who didn’t completely screw the pooch and destroy the country / save us all from the apocalypse, nor one who did anything particularly memorable.

    • Pete 12.1

      Heh. 40 years from now he’ll be one of the questions in Trivial Pursuit. One of the hard ones.

    • Tim 12.2

      Who do you mean QoT? Surely NOT John Key!. In retrospect, for those of my generation – and as it happens my offspring’s: Gen X and Yers (One’s 10 years older than the other in a marriage), JK will have to be considered one on NZ’s worst ever PMs. Actually…of that I am entirely confident.
      Ideologically driven, superficial, egotistical, a total sleeze, kids that are yet to grace us with their dysfunction – yep – probably at LEAST one of NZ’s worst ever.
      What amazes me is how he greases up to royalty yet can’t even speak the Queen’s E. I love to know what she really thinks of the pillock. I think it might be a case of “keep him sweet or he might embarass us” – that’s if she actually thinks about him at all

  13. pollywog 13

    Dude wont get many people buying him a drink when all’s done and dusted i reckon.

    I’m pickin he’ll be ‘No friends Johnny’ in the long run…

    • yeah, he;ll probably bugger off to new york to play monopoly with other peoples money again, but having been prime minister of a prospective u.s. state or protectorate,ala puerto rico(god how degrading), will look good on his c.v.,,,, sort of like a new manuel noriega(how appropriate)

      • chris73 13.1.1

        Which PM buggered of to New York to play with other peoples money?

        • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1.1

          I suggest you go and re-read what was written as you obviously misunderstood it.

        • mike e vipe e 13.1.1.2

          C 73 what high powered job have you ever got crawling up shonkeys ass!
          borrowing billions to buy votes thats keys contribution!

  14. coolas 14

    Key’s a pathological liar and can’t admit he’s wrong. He’s is sure to fuck-up again soon.

    May hope is he’s remembered as PorKey, the PM who was forced to resign in shame for telling one porky too many.

  15. xtasy 15

    Well, good try on this, and I agree with some of the above, but I also have my own views on this:

    1. What changes to New Zealand do you think John Key will be remembered for?
    Answer: Playing the media and public like circus spectators;
    2. Has John Key actually been a strong leader or has he been blessed with an unbelievably inept opposition who have failed to call him to account for his election promises?
    Answer: I agree, it has been the weak performance of the Labour Party as main opposition party, that enabled Key to win again in 2011. But I do not put all the blame on Goff, as it was rather the unchanged bulk of the unconvincing caucus membership and a LACK of a strong alternative plan for NZ to make Labour fail to convince voters. Asset sales alone would hardly have won the election. And otherwise it is right, Goff was not a great leader, but although I do not think he was worst, he performed worst (with his troups behind him), UNTIL Shearer came!
    3. In twenty years time how do you think New Zealanders will look back at John Key?
    Answer: “John Who???”
    4. Asset Sales will comprise less than 0.5% of New Zealand’s GDP, and will do nothing to create a step change in our economy, so why has John Key staked so much of his political capital on something so insignificant?
    Answer: For IDEOLOGICAL reasons – and misguided belief in the neo-capatalist “sell anything state owned what is not nailed down” philosophy, that is supposed to create efficiencies through competition and much other “benefits”, none of which we see after decades of the same idiocy having been followed.
    5. Why do you think John Key’s ambition has been so limited?
    Answer: Because becoming a PM and going into politics is for him just fulfilling a childhood dream, like others going on holiday for a couple of weeks in Hawaii.
    6. Why do you think John Key has been so keen on giving hand outs to agriculture when nowhere in the world has got rich on agriculture in the last 80 years?
    Answer: Because the Nat Party he belongs to, and where he likes to feel at home, does believe in not biting the hand that feeds you.
    7. Why do you think John Key was so strategically stupid over the MMP referendum?
    Answer, because he is not as good with judgment as a large share of the public wrongly believe he is.

    Leaders who show guts, integrity, stand for principles, values and can reach out to people, also being fair and intelligent, they are the ones who stay in memories. Not opportunistic clowns, who love to show off, talk smart, ridicule opponents and do flip flops as often as they change their underwear.

    Key is just better at home in merchant banking, gambling and back-room deal making. He should consider going back to some activity in those areas, preferably far away overseas, or he can be consulting Grey Power for Big Business members on how to cling to dreams of the past.

    Maybe he will have a future in Las Vegas, Macau or Monaco, that is where I can imagine him to feel really at home.

  16. millsy 16

    “The Smiling Assassin” is a good name for him…..

    The National Party will never find another man who dismantle the social wage system with the support that Key got. Richardson, Upton and Shipley tried to do it 20 years ago, but couldnt quite do it. (What is it with Tory ladies and their tendency to talk down to people?)

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      (What is it with Tory ladies and their tendency to talk down to people?)

      Highly judgemental outlook with airs of moral superiority and a need for certainty in the ‘proper’ order of things.

      • bad12 16.1.1

        I was tempted to answer that using a word beginning with C, on second thought your answer is the better one…

        • North 16.1.1.1

          Shipley is STILL sucking on the public tit !

          What is it……a thousand bucks a day for haughty pomposity on some body to do with Canterbury or water or something ?

          Koru Club to Koru Club, still outlandishly power-dressed, hard-out gladhanding with “nayce” St Cuth’s girl tones, bovine smirk and all.

          I thought onetime Tory Speaker Sir Roy Jack set the standard for grand (he was superb at it the old fart)……..I was wrong.

          Still, I’m less troubled by she yet a stranger to mauve than the punk who lines up on mock-macho radio shows squeaking “munter”.

      • David H 16.1.2

        And the look they have, as if they have a turd on their top lip. And Parata has that look. You know the one, when the Intergalactic bug tightens the skin, just after getting himself a brand new Edgar suit.

    • David H 16.2

      But the question is this ? What will labour do about it? Just leave it in place ? Or be fair and sort the whole rotten mess out properly. Why do I get the creeping feeling that Shearer would do absolutely nothing?

  17. bad12 17

    What will i remember the Slippery little Shyster we currently have as Prime Minister for in ten years time???,

    Why for being ‘Slippery’ of course…

  18. Draco T Bastard 18

    Nothing new will happen in that time, just more of the same gradually becoming worse with more of our public wealth handed to the elite, the environment further wasted, poverty deepening, and the economy failing.

    That’s the nature of capitalism and every government we get is there to support capitalism. We will only get the changes that we need when the majority of people realise that capitalism isn’t the socio-economic system that they believe it to be that will bring about nirvana.

  19. Mr X 19

    Key will be remembered as the first NZ PM who was a US citizen

  20. keybebuggered 20

    One thing is for certain Keys contribution to political education will certainly be a subject in the capitalist regime that will try eventually replace our socially inspired education system that has been so successful in providing free thinking and maintaining a three year term to keep all these crops of politicians honest in light of their ability to fail to do so on their own accounts
    If the little national bastard cant fool us this time make him really work for his third term
    Why are we so scared of being principled in light of the failings of this capitalist democracy ?
    Are we as a nation so sold on policies that will in the end turn us into another third world nation owned and controlled by the power of nations that are struggling to convince their own populations that this current system is right
    We cant afford to be that stupid in this country
    We just need to get off the bullshit that is greed not need
    This country will continue to dig its own grave if we dont stop selling ourselves out with govts like this one
    finito

  21. infused 21

    I really hope Key reads this blog.

  22. SpaceMonkey 22

    Great summary Zetetic, though I have a different view on Point 6.

    Farmers are not part of the elite and there are actually very few elite in NZ… lots of wannabes though. The hand outs to agriculture are nothing more than shoring up the vote from a traditionally National-voting sector. I don’t he cares about them one bit… he’s completely focussed on greasing up to the real elite in New York and London.

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Yep. Supporting farmers is shoring up part of National tradition, but its also important to recognise how much continuing influence the rural sector has in the National Party hierarchy.

  23. chris73 23

    “As New Zealand collectively rolls its eyes at the paucity of ideas and vision, and surfeit of excuse-making and responsibility denying in Key’s state of the nation speech”

    I guess based on this observation the polls will show a sharp decline for National and corresponding increase for Labour?

  24. mikesh 24

    From the list of PMs in 3. you’ve left out Hugh Watt. Though he was, admittedly, a caretaker PM only.

  25. 4. Asset Sales will comprise less than 0.5% of New Zealand’s GDP, and will do nothing to create a step change in our economy, so why has John Key staked so much of his political capital on something so insignificant? Because the task of a National government, other than being in government to stop anyone else being in government, is to divide up the state and give it to the elite. If he doesn’t, he may as well have stayed in Hawaii

    I think that’s only part of the equation. The other part is even more mundane; the Nats have few other means by which to balance the books. They can keep firing state sector servants and cutting social services – but after a while the Middle Classes get ‘antsy’ when little Johnny or Jenny aren’t getting their full medical services or early childhood care. Remember the horrendous cuts in the late ’90s when people were dying on hospital waiting lists?

    So state asset sales is their desperate gamble to help balance the books. That’s all they have.

    And if they fail at that, it’s a Clean Sweep: they’ve failed on every social, economic, and fiscal indicator.

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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