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Key: National’s great white hype

Written By: - Date published: 1:39 pm, May 5th, 2008 - 21 comments
Categories: john key, national - Tags: , , , , ,

Tom Frewen’s latest column seems to have somehow slipped through the usually rigourous editorial process at the NBR. The sidebar reads: “John Key’s lyrics sound like the gobbledygook of Bushisms”.

“Yeah, I mean look, the truth is, with the greatest respect to Rodney, he doesn’t understand the telecommunications sector very well if he can’t sort of answer some of the questions he’s rolling out,” he [Key] said.

After rubbishing the Act leader’s grip on the subject, Mr Key proceeded to roll out his understanding of the situation.

“For a start off [sic],” he said, “look at Television New Zealand’s digital strategy. Well, that’s going over Freeview, you take Freeview over fibre, that’s what’s been happening all over the world, that’s what you do with, you know, the likes of pay-TV like SKY.”

At this point, if John Key was holding a gun, people would be looking at him sideways and starting to edge away. Freeview and SKY are broadcast through the air from satellite and ground transmitters. Although it’s possible he was thinking of the fibre in the short cable connecting the set-top box to the television set, there’s no knowing what prompted his next blurt.

“Um, in terms of the, you know, the business case,” he continued, “well yes, the business case initially would support some fibre but not a whole, ah, ubiquitous roll out, but that’s what we need to occur from New Zealand’s point of view.”

With George W Bush you at least know what he meant to say. It seems, though, that Mr Key was making an oblique run at answering one of Mr Hide’s questions: why isn’t the private sector investing in better fibre?

“Um, yeah,” Mr Key concluded, “and look at the wider national interest in economic benefits, this is no different from rolling out electricity back in, you know, back 100 years ago or roads back a long time ago.”

Now this is all very well for a chuckle but how hard should we really be on someone who from time to time seems a little linguistically challenged? If anything’s a “personal attack” surely this is?

From time to time we all have moments when sentences don’t come out quite as clearly as they were ‘inside our heads’. I’m beginning to wonder though, and I suspect the media are too, whether the problem is not so much that Key’s mouth isn’t connected to his brain as his brain not being connected to his policy.

If that’s the case then the increased scrutiny is thoroughly warranted. My guess is that inside National there’s a growing concern that Key could be their biggest weakness as well as their biggest strength during what’s likely to be a bruising election campaign.

Clark’s a heavy hitter both in the house and on the campaign trial; a policy lightweight like Key stands to get the stuffing knocked out of him if he puts a foot wrong – having them both in his mouth surely won’t help.

Don’t underestimate Key though – or National’s desperation to finally seize the Treasury benches – rumor has it they’re buying up the best PR talent they can find in an effort to inoculate their great white hype against himself.

21 comments on “Key: National’s great white hype”

  1. Stephen 1

    PLEASE don’t turn into a rumour mill!

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    It’s not really rumour, it’s more these things are open secrets around political circles in Wellington but there’s no public source to quote. For our readers outside those circles it’s, hopefully, interesting and informative.

    Believe me Stephen, we don’t print most of the rumour we hear and certainly not the personal stuff. But dicussion of a party’s election strategy is legit.

  3. darryl p 3

    I don’t know fellas, at the moment the Heavy Hitter is getting her clock cleaned by the Great White Hype and time is kind of running out for her to make a comeback. You keep talking about the coming election fight but as far as I can tell the fight has already started and I’m not sure how many rounds are left for Labour to win it.

  4. CMBURNS 4

    Yes excellent

  5. Stephen 5

    Maybe you need to phrase it better – don’t want to put bridget-whatever out of a job now

  6. all_your_base 6

    darryl p – National admits to holding back policy and there’s been very little in the way of scrutinised head to head debate. The Electoral Enrolment Centre is saying that there are a huge number of people – above 50% in some demographics – who don’t even know it’s election year. 12 rounds, early days yet I reckon.

  7. The open secret is that National are still using Crosby Textor. The funny thing is they’re getting the firm’s second-string as the big hitters are tied up in the UK and the US.

    The Labour party have no major firm and are doing the work themselves. I often wonder how National would be going if they had the same model instead of the big money model. I mean Murray McCully? Bill English? Kevin Taylor? Let’s face it the tories are lucky they’ve got dollars ‘cos goddamn they sure don’t have talent.

  8. Ted 8

    What grounds have you got for the attack on Taylor? I’ve found coverage of his work as Key’s chief press secretary to be quite positive.

  9. Tane 9

    Yeah Sod, I’ve always rated Kevin Taylor’s work, as much as I detest the politics. McCully, on the other hand, has the distinction of being both malignant and incompetent.

  10. I’ve found coverage of his work as Key’s chief press secretary to be quite positive.

    Taylor’s is pretty good at writing the lines but his handling of Key is bloody awful. I’ve watched Key founder unbriefed too many times to believe Taylor has any real skill. If Taylor was doing his job he would be monitoring issues (such as the Auckland airport issue) and briefing Key on the lines to deliver on them – even if they are just holding lines until the caucus can set a firm position. It is Taylor’s job to be across issues and keeping things in line with the brand strategy that I assume C-T has developed for Key. He is not doing that job.

    This could mean Key is a bit of a cowboy who thinks he can do a better job than the pros (and if he is then Taylor has my sympathies) but I don’t get a sense of that from Key.

  11. Hoolian 11

    Believe me Stephen, we don’t print most of the rumour we hear and certainly not the personal stuff.

    Um, then why do you have a link to Wikipedia edits about Bill English’s wife? Are you so narrow-minded, Pierson?

    12 rounds, early days yet I reckon.

    Yes, that’s exactly what the Ninth floor wants to believe.

    McCully, on the other hand, has the distinction of being both malignant and incompetent.

    Boohoo, Tane. For one, McCully is regarded (by most parties) as one of the most politically astute players in the House, no matter whether you like him or not, give credit when its due. And two, what’s Labour got to offer instead? Trevour “I think with my fists” Mallard? Benson-bloody-Pope? Lying, deceitful Daziel? Corrupt Taito Phillip Fields? You may scorn National for its MPs, but the mud sticks on both sides of the House.

    Keep churning out the rhetoric, Standard. It’s good for my digestion.

  12. all_your_base 12


    a) The “personal stuff” wasn’t as much about the personal stuff and more about the ethics of modifying one’s Wikipedia entries. The mainstream media took this line too.

    b) Whether or not someone in the ninth floor wants someone to believe that “it’s early days”, it seems to me to be a fair reflection of fact. The election is, give or take, seven months away. The commentators haven’t written off Clark, I don’t think we should either.

    c) How many victories was that that master strategist McCully has spearheaded again?

  13. Dan 13

    If Tom Frewen’s column is only half true, I would be majorly worried if I was a Nat. But my understanding from way back is that it is 100% true. Key is not the goods.
    Clark on TV this morning looked great: confident, in charge, completely on top of her job.
    I am rereading The Hollowmen yet again. The Nats are using the same script and the same advisors as last time. It is doomed to the same failure.
    I have been waiting for the comparisons of Key to Boris in London, but the bloggers on the right have been so burned by comparisons to Rudd and Obama that they are scared to venture into that territory. A pity really: Boris is probably the closest Key gets.

  14. higherstandard 14

    Dan you must have a sad life to be rereading the hollowmen

  15. Dan 15

    It’s fascinating HS. Nothing sad at all. What saddens me is the so called Fourth Estate that is meant to hold our politicians accountable have been suckered by a modern day version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
    Key…. there is nothing there!!!

  16. gobsmacked 16

    John Key must have a “sad life”: he told the Marlborough Express last year that he had been reading “The Hollow Men”!

  17. randal 17

    hey everybody is packing a sad…WOW!

  18. insider 18

    I’d like to point out a significant flaw in Frewen’s analysis – Sky is available via cable – not everywhere but it is available, and I suspect it is the delivery vehicle of choice overseas.

  19. Hoolian 19

    I am rereading The Hollowmen yet again.

    Dan, you mention that in almost every post you make. Its time someone told you that no one actually cares what you read.

    You are obviously a hard-core Labour supporter, but your mindset doesn’t make up the majority of NZ voters. Most voters are swingers – and they don’t see Clark so romantically as you do. However, they appear to like Key enough, or are prepared to give him a chance.

    No one is writing off Clark, but please enough of the seranading.

    If I were a Labourite, I’d be majorly worried too.

  20. Dan 20

    Hoolian, I have mentioned Hollow men a number of times, and will continue to do so. The reality is I watch with interest the game being played out following the same pattern as last time. I read with interest the foreward by Marilyn Waring, a Nat with a conscience from some time back, who with Mike Minogue, were the MPs who did most to rankle Muldoon. She represents the present-day Nats who were disaffected enough to provide Hager with the raw material to write the book.
    If Roger Douglas keeps pushing his barrow, then the Nats who remember Richardson, the electricity reforms, the slashing of the benefits, etc etc, then they will do a Katherine Rich and slide away to the side to either not vote, or maybe give Winnie another go.
    I would dispute strongly that most voters are swingers. The Labour vote has stayed solid on 35%; the green vote has been fairly consistent.The Nats have been pretty consistent in the 40-50% range after the aberrant 24% two elections ago. It it is the floating middle vote that is up for grabs.
    I have never been hard-core. Like most people I have reservations about aspects of policy. All I have been doing is firing a few shots back at policies and people whose main motivation is how much money will they have in their pocket rather than a balance between money in the pocket and a society that attempts a wider brief of improvements for all.
    The right does not want this book revisited. I can understand your talking the title down.
    Hoolian…Hollowmen…are you guys related?

  21. Quoth the Raven 21

    And two, what’s Labour got to offer instead? Trevour “I think with my fists’ Mallard?

    Hoolian what about Gerry Brownlee.

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