The everyman spin

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 am, February 6th, 2011 - 58 comments
Categories: brand key - Tags:

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed an increasing tendency from mainstream media to talk about Key not in terms of being a bold outsider (although there are still a few chumps buying that line) but in terms of a public relations creation.

Today’s HoS for example quotes George Burns before dissecting Key’s bullshit:

As comedian George Burns said of comedy, “the secret … is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made”.

Key’s gee-shucks persona, which eschews calculated media management, can be risky – discussing women he finds hot with a radio presenter would have been ill-advised even if that presenter had not been convicted of injuring his partner with reckless disregard – but it is part of Key’s clever strategy to appear to have no clever strategy.

Similarly Jessica Mutch had a go about Key’s mixing of politics and celebrity in her blog this week:

He seemed to be loving the attention – and courting it. I wonder when John Key’s status moved from Prime Minister to celebrity?

And John Armstrong has an inkling of what’s going on:

Key is seeking to reinforce his popularity by portraying himself as a new breed of politician.

It’s even permeating into sports journalism:

Key has been clever with his Everyman stuff. He seems to have a sense of humour and doesn’t seem to mind putting himself in the way of things like this column. There’s no doubt he has struck a chord with the electorate – but you can get too much of a good thing.

In fact more and more often the media focus on Key is about how he is managing his image rather than how he is doing as Prime Minister. To be fair there’s still a lot of glowing praise heaped upon him for his so-called “PR mastery”, and you’d expect no less from the out of touch political class that provides so much of this analysis.

But as people get worse and worse off, and this year they will, being “good at the game” will seem more like adding insult to injury to many voters. And with a November election confirmed there’s a long time for people to get well sick of being insulted.

Campbell Live’s piece from last week, “John Key’s forgotten Waitangi girl”, is a foretaste of this. It’s the kind of story I haven’t seen since the last days of the Shipley government.

58 comments on “The everyman spin”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The journalists are starting to realise that JKs “average guy” routine is just spin and that spin isn’t leading a country.

    • ZeeBop 1.1

      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. With the media unable, unwilling, incapable, of providing depth of analysis to current global crisises, and necessarily the more exposed our economy is to them, the TV news media effect steps out of the way. Leaving National full rein to weave a simplistic yet well resonanting message that corrupts completely our democracy. What’s worse is the few Key serves are likely to realise that Key harms them more than he helps them, that Key’s messangers are the wannabee rich who believe cheerleadering is the only way (for obvious reasons that the media sets the pace – common at best, downright lying at worst – the tax cuts shifted the tax burden onto the lower and middle deciles!). So the few, like always where absolute power goes unchallengded (bow your heads in shame Labour) turns into the one. And its not like the media need to do much, all they need to do is use some of the footage of Australian PM talking about GST off, or British Conservative MP talking wet recently, and have a tax expert from any number of countries who says CGT did not stop traffic in fact it helps society gets richer if people value value, and what better way to value something than to have it taxed.

      So in the country with the creepy human rights record, no discernable human right causes despite the huge disenfrancisement of kiwis forced to look for work overseas, kiwis kids in poverty, kiwi youth forgotten, high gang and P numbers, its no surprise that the one – the uber wealthiest wins all the arguments over the policies to be place over the many.

    • Deadly_NZ 1.2

      Well just take a good look at the picture for this article it’s JK giving the Finger, To whom?? Us probably or more likely the whole of NZ, as he smiles his way to our financial ruin.

  2. Jeez that Aroha Nathan’s mum is a bit of a dagg eh ?

    • IrishBill 2.1

      Yep. She got a job working for the nats for a while but I don’t know what happened to that.

      • pollywog 2.1.1

        prolly get more money on the benny with 6 kids and all…

        …so now Aroha, having been expelled, is a ward of the state with CYFS and the mum thinks its the best thing cos she’s getting a life she couldn’t provide for her

        mmmkay…WTF ???

        • IrishBill 2.1.1.1

          Perhaps you’re so unaware of your privilege you don’t understand the poor choices poverty and lack of education can bring and the fact that’s part of an institutionalised class structure. Hint: it’s called the underclass.

          The difference between her four years ago and now is stunning though.

          • pollywog 2.1.1.1.1

            sure i’m privileged to live in a country where poverty and lack of education is a choice…

            …why she chose it is beyond me though

            theres no accounting for decisions the underclass make sometimes…

            …like voting that nice Mr Key in

            • IrishBill 2.1.1.1.1.1

              sure i’m privileged to live in a country where poverty and lack of education is a choice

              Sigh.

              • pollywog

                OK…There’s no reason, short of being mentally handicapped, why anybody should have to live in poverty or remain uneducated if they didn’t want to

                true or false ?

                • Marty G

                  false. some have the good luck or extraordinary skills to escape poverty but the fact is most people end up in the same socio-economic situation as they were born into. And our current political economic set up requires poverty. Anyone on a benefit (eg unemployed) is living in poverty, and a level of unemployment is regarded as natural and necessary by the neoliberals.

                • PW, I think the whole notion of ‘choice’ here is misleading. I’ll try to show why.

                  First, even if we accepted the notion of ‘choice’, in a competitive society the best ‘choices’ and rewards will always accrue to those who possess the (relatively scarce) resources required to succeed. We could all have IQs in excess of 100 (the standardised mean for IQ tests) but, because of the ‘tournament’ structure of society, some would inevitably miss out no matter how objectively able.

                  Second – and more to the point – choices (and the very possibility that a choice might exist) have to be learnt or acculturated. They are also deeply affected by early developmental experiences.

                  Finding out from the world (e.g., from your parents, from your school, from the media) that you’re not up to scratch can be a real dampener on initiative, achievement, motivation, etc..It sets people off on trajectories from which, who knows, they may never depart without some concerted external intervention.

                  Third, humans are adaptive – and that’s both a blessing and a curse. Children can adapt to outrageous environments as well as they can adapt to the most fortunate environments. The way in which they learn to survive in ‘outrageous’ environments, however, doesn’t necessarily equip them for success in the world beyond that environment. In effect, they learn how to succeed in the environment they encounter early on, not necessarily how to succeed in the wider world.

                  Up until the age of about 20, children are, in effect, set up to imitate and fit into the world they find themselves in. Bruce Wexler argues that, after that age (that’s when neocortical development becomes more locked in) we tend to do the opposite – try to make our environment fit in with us (or, as he’d put it, fit to the circuitry of our brains). I should add that I don’t go for all his ‘culture’ theories but he’s pinned the neurodevelopmental work pretty well.

                  To sum it up – it’s perfectly possible for someone who is not mentally retarded to end up living in poverty or remaining uneducated even if they didn’t want to. One optimistic finding is that, usually, those who do ‘beat the odds’ do so because someone in their pre-adult life has had the wherewithal (i.e., enough awareness and concern) to change their trajectory. Sometimes it only needs one person – if you’re lucky. And I guess that’s the fourth point …

                  • Rosy

                    Agree entirely Puddlegum. I know experiences are personal but I’ve spent many years thinking about why a good proportion of my family made it out of our road to nowhere. So far I’ve come up with:
                    1. A basic set of values instilled by our father – you don’t lie, you don’t cheat and you don’t steal. Of course we did the lot but managed to survive those early experimentations.
                    2. Our father had a strong work ethic and a stable job to match.
                    3. Although mocked for being ‘stupid’ I had a teacher who believed in me and by a quirk of fate had this teacher for 3 whole years at primary school.
                    4. My method of withdrawing from the chaos surrounding me was reading. Mainly non-fiction and current affairs (not too many novels for girls in our house) and I grew up identifying with mostly male role models. I had no idea that women were supposed to have different goals. And this was a good thing in my world where women were kicked out or drugged out (on alcohol) so we pretty much ran wild – apart from making sure we did the washing and put dinner on.

                    5. By a stroke of luck I ended up in part-time job at 16 (after my first baby) that allowed me to mix with people from other walks of life and strong attachments were formed.

                    I still had 3 kids at 20, but managed to do enough other things to get to university at 27. There have been lots of twists and turns along the way but my kids have grown up with the same basic values as my father had, but without most of his negative values. They have no idea of the life they could have been destined to have if it wasn’t for a few quirks to break the trajectory of poverty and violence that was all to prevalent in the place I grew up.

                    so yes as as puddlegum says “To sum it up – it’s perfectly possible for someone who is not mentally retarded to end up living in poverty or remaining uneducated even if they didn’t want to. One optimistic finding is that, usually, those who do ‘beat the odds’ do so because someone in their pre-adult life has had the wherewithal (i.e., enough awareness and concern) to change their trajectory. Sometimes it only needs one person – if you’re lucky. And I guess that’s the fourth point …”

                  • pollywog

                    I hear what you’re all saying.

                    It’s just that, in NZ , the choice to better oneself through education exists far more than in other countries where class ‘restriction’ is way more ingrained in society.

                    While it’s not an easy choice to make for the underclass, given the level of sacrifice and effort required, as opposed to middle or upper class, it still exists.

                    In the case of Aroha Nathan’s mum, it’s obvious that she’s aware of the choices but lacks the fortitude to make them and follow through on them or presumably break the cycle of welfare dependency for her children to emulate.

                    With Aroha setting the example of being expelled and coming under CYFS care, and given the hopelessness of her mum to change, but rather keep breeding ‘no hopers’. Shouldn’t her other children then be taken off her and given a better start before early child developmental experiences inhibit their ability to become productive members of society ?

                    And if she had the best interest of her kids and kid’s kids at heart, she wouldn’t keep popping them out or be prepared to give them up early, so they at least stood a better chance at life ?

                    Do we know if the father’s, and i’m assuming they were multiple, were/are still on the scene ?

                    If you’ve grown up in a state house, maybe with an ethnic-immigrant solo mum on the DPB, that’s it. You’re screwed for life.

                    …you mean just like John Key ?

          • SHG 2.1.1.1.2

            That’s the sad part of the class structure. It’s institutionalised. It’s the system. Once you’re in it, you’re part of the underclass for ever. If you’ve grown up in a state house, maybe with an ethnic-immigrant solo mum on the DPB, that’s it. You’re screwed for life. There’s no beating the system.

            • orange whip? 2.1.1.1.2.1

              By and large, yes. That’s exactly how it works most of the time.

              • SHG

                Except for the kid from that background who, through hard work, good parenting, and talent goes on to become – just pulling an example out of thin air – a loving parent and partner, a multimillionaire, and Leader of the country.

                • orange whip?

                  Yes SHG, except for that kid.

                  As you used the word “except” I’m going to assume you know what an exception is, and that you agree that as I wrote above:

                  “By and large, yes. That’s exactly how it works most of the time.”

                  If you disagree then I’ll need to ask you to withdraw your comment which begins “Except for the kid…”

                • “Except for the kid from that background who, through hard work, good parenting, and talent goes on to become – just pulling an example out of thin air – a loving parent and partner, a multimillionaire, and Leader of the country.”

                  But that’s my point SHG – John Key wasn’t from that background by virtue of the fact that he came from a middle-class background, had an incredibly forceful and influential mother who, herself, was a product of a cosmopolitan, Jewish cultural tradition. None of that was his ‘choosing’.

                  In my case, the reason why I am comfortably middle class is that my father had a mother who was herself from a banking family. She was disowned after becoming a chorus girl and ended up in my home town raising three sons (from different men). She instilled in my father the importance of reading, learning and not putting up with the way things were.

                  Unlike John Key, Dad saw in that message a personal responsibility not just to advance his own interests but also to improve the conditions of those working class people around him, in the incredibly impoverished neighbourhood of his childhood.

                  For generations, those around him had been dispossessed from the land, coralled into the early factories of industrialising England and beaten into the kind of submission and ‘knowing their place’ that so many peoples around the world have experienced since then.

                  Poor parenting doesn’t come from nowhere, SHG. It certainly doesn’t initially come from a ‘breakdown of morals’, ‘welfarism’ or some other nonsense. If you want to take away welfare, go ahead. Then see what toxic brew overflows. Welfare is just capitalism’s way of keeping the lid on the consequences of its dynamic.

                  If you haven’t guessed by now, underlying my point was that it is our economic system – not ‘parenting choices’ – that has ensured that very poor environments for families and child-rearing are increasingly the norm rather than the exception.

                  Blaming parents and families won’t get our country and our people out of this self-perpetuating mess. Only reorganising the way in which we materially provide for ourselves and each other will do that.

                  Have a read of this.

                  • patriot_nz

                    I agree totally with you about John Key’s background, and I get really annoyed with the media who portray him as a man from a poor, working class background. It is much more complicated than that, as my own family story shows.

                    My mother was one of 13 children raised in a two roomed, dirt floor shack in the backblocks of New Zealand. Yet in spite of this impoverished, seemingly hopeless start to life my mother and her siblings all became comfortably middle to upper/middle class.

                    You could congratulate those children on their hard work in pulling themselves out of poverty. But if you dig a bit further you discover my grandmother and her ne’er do well husband both came from reasonably well to do families who valued education and culture. Those values were passed onto the children by my grandmother. There was also the influence of extended family as well. My mother and her siblings in fact followed the family trend – it was their parents who were the aberrations.

                    John Key’s grandfather was a successful European Jewish merchant. I would be much more impressed by John Key if he had come from real poverty.

                    • SHG

                      So certain CULTURES will always be part of the underclass because of their attitudes to childrearing and education?

                      Interesting.

                    • pollywog

                      I’ve never aspired to be middle class.

                      By NZ standards, i’m unashamedly underclass.

                      By Pasifikan standards, i’m probably upper class.

                      By my own standards, i’m in a class of my own…

                    • SHG – that has to be willful misinterpretation, doesn’t it?

                      The term ‘culture’ doesn’t just apply to ethnic groupings. A social class can have a particular ‘culture’ (perhaps I should have said ‘sub-culture). That culture is an ‘output’ of the material and historical circumstances experienced by a group/class.

                      Put simply – which I guess is how you need it put – throughout history different groups of people have had their perfectly well-functioning ‘cultures’ (i.e., ‘ways of life’) dismantled progressively and consistently for generations as their ‘cultures’ were refashioned to fit into new (usually imposed) economic systems. Sometimes those groups were part of the same CULTURE (to use your term, which I’m assuming refers to ethnic-based culture).

                      That’s the case in my family’s history: The ENGLISH peasantry were emasculated by the ENGLISH aristocracy; the ENGLISH worker was emasculated by the ENGLISH capitalists. Same CULTURE but, of course, different ‘cultures’ (in my sense of the term, referring to the culture of a class of people who organise their material existence around a particular way of life – e.g., as a serf/peasant; as a worker/employee). Typically, in those ‘cultures’ the rearing of children and parenting in general were perfectly functional – until the next round of disruption was visited upon them.

                      I’m not sure whether or not its relevant, but you do know about the thriving economic CULTURE/culture of Maori between about 1840 and 1860, don’t you? You know, flour mills in the Waikato, massive amounts of Iwi money in bank accounts in Wellington, etc.? And, until the diseases and wars hit – pretty good at raising children successfully.

                      You also surely know that not all people of Jewish descent are – or have been – middle class?

      • Anne 2.1.2

        She worked in a Mt. Roskill electorate office (Jackie Blue’s I think) and was sacked the moment the 2008 election was over.

      • Irascible 2.1.3

        As soon as the election was over she was redundant and the job disappeared. There was a small note about that made on the local press but no criticism of the cynicism that surrounded it. Aroha’s Mum said something along the lines that she understood that jobs were always brief.

  3. Jacqui 3

    We should take heart from these comments, for finally exposing the sham that is Key. Whilst image is intrinsic to modern politics and the media’s pre-occupation, it is only a matter of time before Key’s act is met with widespread cynicism as he has lacked substance during his reign as PM. Voters aren’t passive, they can spot a fake. When people judge the government’s performance, it will be assessed on substance not image.

  4. “The second was a bit of a disaster, too. John Key, maintaining his Everyman strategy, allowed himself to be garbed in the rather awful purple and teal get-up and then did a sort of model’s strut down the catwalk.

    Only he minced. He lifted his heels, waggled his behind as he sashayed, flapping his hands. He managed to look a bit like a $15 transvestite hooker in K Rd. Who got dressed in the dark.”

    lolz

    • kriswgtn 4.1

      $5 MORE LIKE

      every person i know has a copy if it doing that walk and SOME even voted for the fukwit
      most remarks were fucking cock

    • Deadly_NZ 4.2

      Now that is the BEST description for that footage yet.

      Coffee on the keyboard, at the 15 buck tranny image.

  5. andy (the other one) 5

    In the Campbell piece Key could not comment ‘due to privacy issues’, they should of asked Paula for all the details as she has no worries about peoples privacy…

    Must be time for John to go back to Otara markets again and sniff the fruit…

  6. Rharn 6

    Well at least there’s one who was hoodwinked and has seen the light.
    Can’t help but wonder why the family moved. Ostracized by chance?

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    Key is the new “peoples princess’
    The more out of touch they become the more its spun that they are really one of us. but of course they are only accessible to opinion leaders

  8. Deadly_NZ 8

    The other thing is, what are the ‘other world leaders’ ( his banker mates) going to think of that footage, it’s going to be a Utube hit. It has to be on Utube by now surely.

  9. Jum 9

    Having just been on the nzcentreforpoliticalresearch, shiver, with all the rightwing columnists, I realise one thing; national supporters are getting fed up with JKeyll because he’s not being Mr Hide, the Act man.

    They want him to sell everything all New Zealanders own off to their businesses – yes, that’s right – rich New Zealanders stealing from poorer New Zealanders; they want him to force women to stay in bad marriages, have babies they don’t want; they want him to go to war alongside America; they want him to remove the minimum wage safety net for workers.

    He’s just pretending; His Hide will take over from his JKeyll in the next few months and the greedy and the selfish will vote in their thousands for a greedy and a selfish moneytrader, who was so useless at his earlier job that he didn’t even know the subprime mortgage travesty was about to implode, or even worse than that, that he did know and didn’t warn his own countrymen and let them suffer financially. That’s their guru.

    Come the election campaign he will start ramping that up and the numbers will go back to National. Don’t imagine for one moment that these people have any sense of what’s fair to workers. It’s all about money and control. Labour is all about people. Trouble is in this country the selfish greed is stomping on the sense of fair play and moderation in lifestyle. People don’t matter anymore; nor does making money from producing something.

    Making money from money does.

    I also thought that people wanted dignity and gravitas in their prime ministers.

    • Bob 9.1

      MONEY for nuthin and the chicks for free , who could blame the MAN ? especially when HE works the catwalk SOOOO smoothly ……

  10. SHG 10

    An old Chinese proverb, often misattributed to Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein, runs “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    And once again, the Left, with its eyes on an election, begins with the personal attacks on John Key.

    How’d that work out last time?

    • IrishBill 10.1

      Look at you, defending poor wee John Key’s honour. And they say there are no gentlemen left.

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      And once again, the Left, with its eyes on an election, begins with the personal attacks on John Key.

      He’s used a deliberately constructed media personality and image as a cornerstone of his political influence and political capital.

      Makes it fair game doesn’t it?

      • Tanz 10.2.1

        Why is the MSM so biased? Even the left-wing columnists are full of high praise, see Herald On Sunday, Matt McCarten. Johnny Boy must be laughing all the way to the Beehive. No wonder he thinks he’s now king of the catwalk! But I agree, the worm, in time, will turn. When does the cringe factor hit with the public? Has it already? Key is playing to the media in every way he can, but it’s boring as.

        • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.1

          Its a good thing that the Left recognises Key as a sharp political operator. “Smile and Wave” a term while being simple and derogatory, overly risks underestimating Key and his handlers.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 10.2.1.2

          McCarten is linked to the Maori Party – for now.
          So its his meal ticket to laud the wise Key and his partners in government

      • Deadly_NZ 10.2.2

        What after the Video of him mincing down a runway YOU STILL think he is some sort of Financial GOD who will miraculously save NZ ??? More like a 10$ tranny on a bad night in Vivian street.

  11. Jum 11

    The media thinks it is okay to embarrass and ruin a country for sensationalism. But once we know media are foreign owned and once we know that money controls them whether it is from inside this country or outside of it, we begin to understand how shallow and manipulated journalism is.

    I know of a young woman, just starting out in journalism, huge talent – what will she feel about her mentors, her seniors, her so-called betters when she realises what journalism really is? Who knows; maybe she’s a NAct supporter; their ethics are always much lower.

    Three disappointments in New Zealand:
    – A pm who thinks he’s a showqueen.
    – A media that ridicules and betrays New Zealand and New Zealanders
    – New Zealanders who believe John Key actually is one of them – go figure.

    captcha: questions

  12. Campbell Live’s piece from last week, “John Key’s forgotten Waitangi girl”, is a foretaste of this. It’s the kind of story I haven’t seen since the last days of the Shipley government.

    Interesting.

    If I were somewhat more capricious, I’d biew this as a concession that Labour were never as hard on Clark and Labour as they were on Shipley, and are now with Key 🙂

    • Hanswurst 12.1

      Oh, they were always far harder on Clark. It’s just that, in the complete absence of Clark using unsuspecting children and their struggling families for photo ops, they resorted to stories like “OMG! She was in the back seat of a speeding car! OMG! Her husband hugged a man!” instead.

    • orange whip? 12.2

      If I were somewhat more capricious, I’d biew this as a concession that Labour were never as hard on Clark and Labour as they were on Shipley, and are now with Key

      Would you like to give that another go Graeme? It would be rude to reply without being entirely certain what you meant.

  13. RobertM 13

    Key is bland and low profile. The public seem to have enough of opinionated, in your face politicians like Muldoon, Shipley, Clark and Richardson. All the attempts to tarnish Key for praising Hurley, doing the duckwalk, selling out of Tranz Rail, dent John in the slightest. He obviously a happy, married hetrosexual male. Labour seems not to want to tackle the real issues-economic decline, the exodus to Australia; the general desire to pull down the high flyers, beautiful and actively hetrosexual ,the general overconfidence that NZ is right and the world will keep us in the first world even if we dislike competition and would rather employ someone who fits in rather than people who are efficient, productive or different.
    Criticism just runs off John Key, but Goff is even more bland and ignored, in fact he’s hardly noticed and people desperately don’t want to notice, Goff because he isn’t real-he morphed into a labour party caricature about 40 years ago drinking in the snake pit bar with Mike Moore.

    • Kevin Welsh 13.1

      “beautiful and actively heterosexual”

      WTF?

      In fact, I don’t think I even want to know what this means.

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