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The beleaguered PM

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, February 11th, 2010 - 60 comments
Categories: john key, tax - Tags:

My my, things are turning quickly for John Key. We now have the first sighting of the red flag term “the beleaguered PM” in the mainstream media. Recall that in 2008 Key promised not to increase GST, and now he is proposing to do exactly that. 3 News (Duncan Garner) summed up:

So Mr Key has been left looking sheepish and defensive over the GST pledge from 2008. He was squirming all afternoon using semantics to explain what most voters might consider a flip flop.

The Prime Minister could have taken a different approach saying, ‘that was then, this is now’ or ‘the tax experts have reported and change is needed’. But both excuses now appear to be too late for the beleaguered PM.

Garner is spot on. Key tried to squirm out of his flip flop by playing cute with semantics, and it didn’t work. He would have been much better to brazen it out, as he did when he cancelled his (“North of $50”) tax cuts. Too late now. Nor is Garner the only one using this kind of language. At time of writing the front page of Newsroom reports:

Revenue Gap Doubts – Uncertainty about how the taxman will raise enough cash from the property sector to help fund up to $4 billion of tax cuts is dogging the Government’s pitch for restructuring the tax system.

The mystery of where the (“fiscally neutral”) $4 billion will come from is a topic for another day. For now, it is the language of a government “dogged” by uncertainty, and a PM “beleaguered” by controversy, that marks an important – and long overdue – turning of the tide.

60 comments on “The beleaguered PM ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I think we can slate some of this home to the hype National built up about the speech. It seems a lot of people were expecting to see numbers, or actual ideas of what will be implemented, not just statements about what has been ruled out. They are still playing a coy “we haven’t said GST will be raised” game as well. It’s made worse by him saying “the details haven’t been figured out” but at the same time declaring on Cambell Live that someone on $40,000 is going to get at least $500/year tax cut – surely the details have been scoped to some level or he wouldn’t be able to make that declaration.

    Seems that people are directing their disappointment about the lack of details onto the PM himself. Frankly he deserves it, and not just for this blunder either.

    captcha: handled

    • Mr Magoo 1.1

      You are totally right here.

      When you don’t fill in the gaps people’s imaginations do it for you. That is why the novel will never die. 🙂 Key might not be so lucky.

      Of course people, such as the green’s Norman, are saying Key is doing the usual “float the boat and see what the reaction is”. I agree that is what he is doing and that the intent was for the budget announcement to be slightly different and more palatable.

      However I also think this is a very dangerous (and in this case terrible) tactic. You see when you get covered in crap from bad policy announcements you can never quite wash it all off. Key has covered himself in bad press and while he may wash some of it off in/before May people will still have gone through the “WTF!?!” period they are going through now. It will be in the back of their minds.

      Get enough of these to pile up and you have that nice man Mr Key not looking so nice anymore.

      Labour of course suffered this after 9 years.

      Such is politics I guess.

    • Clarke 1.2

      I think we can slate some of this home to the hype National built up about the speech.

      This is entirely correct – the Nats over-sold it as a concrete economic strategy, but the speech itself is too vague so people will fill in the blank bits with supposition.

      Key’s handlers probably saw it as a way for him to look statesman-like, but in retrospect it’s looking more like a 9,000 word suicide note.

      • Pascal's bookie 1.2.1

        The other hole they have dug, is that the things they did sorta kinda announce can’t be backed down on.

        the thing about running flags up poles is that you just do it, and see who salutes. If you make a big deal about it and say ‘check out my flag’, and nobody likes it, it’s still your flag. If you back down on it you look weak instead of like an open minded fellow just putting some ideas out there.

        • Clarke 1.2.1.1

          The thing about running flags up poles is that you just do it, and see who salutes. If you make a big deal about it and say ‘check out my flag’, and nobody likes it, it’s still your flag.

          A delightfully genius turn of phrase, Pb. Must remember that one for the next work meeting where some munter suggests “running it up the flagpole …”

  2. Armchair Critic 2

    “The mystery of where the (“fiscally neutral’) $4 billion will come from is a topic for another day”
    Fairies at the bottom of the garden, perhaps? That quote was always going to come back to haunt them.

  3. tc 3

    Wait and see if they don’t rollover and heel after awhile……….Garner’s a plonker who thinks he’s the story most days……once one muppet takes a stance others follow.

    I mean the storys been there since flip flops on S59/Tax cuts etc but it takes a barn door size issue before they take the line……nice work if you can get it and suppress your IQ doing it.

    We’re finally seeing publicly the bufoon that Key must be behind closed doors with Gez/Blinglish/Crusher/bene basher etc…..Hide’s ‘do nothing’ PM indeed as he can’t even execute the PR professionally now.

  4. BLiP 4

    The careful observer could see on Tuesday that John Key no longer has his heart in the job. Its all downhill for him from now on.

  5. Blue 5

    This whole tax saga has brought to mind two things – firstly, Helen Clark calling the last election campaign as being about ‘trust’, and the people who scoffed at that because obviously they thought they could trust that Nice Mr Key.

    Secondly, how National howled with laughter at Michael Cullen’s tax cuts plan because it skipped any tax cuts in 2009 and would make people wait til 2010 before the second round was brought in.

  6. Jan Black 6

    Not Just Duncan Garner who summed up like that. Guyon Espiner also summed up by saying “The Prime Minister could have said, ‘that was then, this is now'”
    And John Armstrong said it in the Herald this morning as well:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/best-of-political-analysis/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502734&objectid=10625372
    “it would surely have been more advisable for the Prime Minister to have been straight up and down yesterday and instead argued along the lines of “that was then and this is now”.”

    That’s a competitive news market for you

    • Bright Red 6.1

      Colin Espiner used the same words too: “What Key should have said was that times have changed, that that was then and this is now,”

      It’s like they sat down and had a brainstorming session then wrote their own pieces from what they agreed.

      In fact, I hear they essentially do do that sometimes.

      • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1

        Yeah. Bit weird but illustrative of modern journamalism.

        It’s all horse race all the time, so commentary is tactics. “Here’s what spin he shoulda used”

        Who cares?

        Why didn’t they question the premiss? Does Key’s actual response makey sensey? He is raising GST to fill a hole in the deficit created by his income tax cuts. Income tax cuts are preferred National policy of quite some standing. The GST rise is how he is ‘paying for them’. That’s just spin for ‘filling the hole in the deficit’.

        That’s why his answer sucked, and the journo’s know it. But to explicitly point it out would be some sort of malpractice and not proper reporting, so instead they offer advice on what sort of kabuki theater they would have preferred and happily reported as ‘smart politics’, ‘realistic’ and ‘putting the issue to rest’.

        • gobsmacked 6.1.1.1

          To cross over from the other thread … imagine if Garner and the Espiner Boys had reported on apartheid:

          “Nelson Mandela on Robben Island – it’s not a good look. So here’s what the Minister should be saying, to justify Mandela’s imprisonment …”

          • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1.1.1

            Nixon really put his foot in it by saying “I am not a crook”. If he had just said that the executive branch has certain privileges under the constitution that need to be protected….

  7. randal 7

    his government sounds like an opposition and they are rapidly turning into a rabble.

  8. Onomatopoeia 8

    This might have the ring of truth to it had lefties here and elsewhere not been predicting hourly since November 2008 that “the honeymoon is over” and “people are waking up”.

    We’ll see.

    • bobo 8.1

      Garner changed his soft reporting on the gov after the Bill English phone rant, just on a side note it would be interesting to see if Key’s blind trust has picked up any nz mining related stocks recently. An opportunist cant help themselves..

  9. Santi 9

    I wonder how Farrar, the National Party sycophant, is spinning this?
    How much he gets?

  10. tc 10

    The currency trader has run out of PR stunts and finally must do some actual PM type work like lead, create vision, control his coalition, be decisive…..none of that would of been in the job description Sir Douglas Graham and others gave him……but hey that’s classic nat’s for you.

    Wanna go home mummy the game’s too hard now………

  11. Bad look for Key.
    I know he has lost at least one vote (mine.)

  12. JD 12

    “You could try going to his blog for a look. I considered looking, but decided it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort. Inevitably it will be like listening to a partisan sports commentator watching his favourite team start to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    LOL It’s not often you find a poster so completely devoid of self awareness.

  13. Parnell Boy 13

    Labour’s 2011 campaign slogan has to be “JOHN KEY LIED, PRICES RISE”

  14. gobsmacked 14

    Oh dear. Sounds like John Key’s career could be over sooner than we thought. He revealed today that he is not even eligible to be an MP.

    Speaking on the Housing NZ corruption story, he said:

    “New Zealanders don’t tolerate corruption, and neither do I.”

    So where’s he from? Hawaii?

  15. JD 15

    “Tried looking in a mirror recently?”

    Nah, been going to the gym so totally ripped.

  16. Big Mike 16

    kiwiblog is actually not so bad at the moment: Farrar carries on as usual but the comments section is choc full of Key hatred. I don’t mind me a bit of Key hatred – the guy deserves it. I even went to whaleoil to have a look – same thing there.

  17. Fido 17

    Rob’s predictions of a ‘beleagured government’ won’t last the next poll. Suck it up rob, this is the most popular government in my memory and in yours.

    • r0b 17.1

      Far from it Fido. G W Bush was much more popular. For a while…

      • kiwiteen123 17.1.1

        I think he means in NZ

      • Fido 17.1.2

        This isn’t america rob. Helen clark didn’t have Key’s popularity. People voted for her begrudgingly but she wasn’t liked, because she basically isn’t a nice person. Goff is a nice guy but he doesn’t have Key’s charisma. Your party won’t ever lead again while Goff is in charge. Change your leader and people might take your party seriously. Beleagured isn’t above fifty percent in every poll buddy.

        • kiwiteen123 17.1.2.1

          You shouldn’t have said that…. Someone will bring out some obscure poll with Key at 49.8% or something and claim to have proven you wrong.

          • Fido 17.1.2.1.1

            That’s okay kiwi, if the labourites want to argue that then they are giving up the argument because they don’t want to publicly admit that Goff will never be prime minister and Labour won’t be the government in the next ten years.

            • Mr Magoo 17.1.2.1.1.1

              Can I join your little circle of jerky comments and self congratulations?

              I’ll stand here to the left.

  18. BLiP 18

    Its not jut John Key that’s been caught out lying. Contrast and compare statements by Bill English:

    Mr English also pledged, in December 2008, not to raise GST. “We won’t be doing that … It is not our policy,” he said then. He told Parliament yesterday that while he had made the pledge, “the previous government left the economy in such a mess we’ve had to … design a tax package that will help strengthen our economic performance”

    and . . .

    Having condemned his predecessor for many years for paying off debt too quickly, English said: “I want to stress that New Zealand starts from a reasonable position in dealing with the uncertainty of our economic outlook.”

    “In New Zealand we have room to respond. This is the rainy day that Government has been saving up for,” he told reporters at the Treasury briefing on the state of the economy and forecasts.

    The Prime Minister is lying to us and now the Treasurer is lying to us. That’s National Ltdâ„¢ for you.

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