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The real John Key?

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, August 20th, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: election 2014, john key, Politics - Tags: , ,

Swearing is not often a major factor in the political debate. Yet John Key’s alleged use of the “f-word” seems to have assumed considerable significance in the run-up to election day.

Students of politics will recall Duncan Garner’s recent account of what he heard when he listened to the recording inadvertently made of the conversation between the Prime Minister and John Banks over the infamous “cup of tea” in Epsom. They will also have noted Garner’s surprising assertion that, when he was repeatedly questioned by the Prime Minister as to what he had heard, John Key’s main concern seemed to be whether or not he had used the “f-word”.

There were of course other elements of that conversation that might, we are led to believe, have had a greater political downside for the Prime Minister. It is accepted, for example, that he and his erstwhile political friend, John Banks, made some disparaging remarks about their former colleague, Don Brash, and also agreed that older voters did not count for much since they would soon die off. On the face of it, therefore, it is surprising that John Key’s focus was on the particular swear word that he might or might not have used.

The issue has re-emerged in the context of the current controversy over the Prime Minister’s relationship with Cameron Slater, the eminence grise (or should it be noire?) behind the Whale Oil blog. John Key, it seems, telephoned Slater (is it just coincidence that the dictionary definition of “slater” is “a kind of louse”?) to commiserate with him over the storm that followed the blogger’s description of a West Coast victim of a fatal traffic accident as “feral”.

John Key apparently knew something of the victim’s mother who not surprisingly had objected to Slater’s comment. He put a figurative arm around the shoulder of his blogging colleague and, perhaps tempted by the alliteration, said – as reported by Slater himself – that the mother was “the same effing feral woman” who had heckled him at a public meeting. Again, it seems, the aspect of that reported comment that John Key is most keen to dispute is his use of the f-word.

Why, then, is the Prime Minister so sensitive on this issue when there are surely more substantial matters that are raised by these controversies? We do not need to look far for an answer.

John Key has invested hugely in the development of his image as a “nice guy”. His political future and the survival of his National government depend almost entirely on his ability to maintain that image.

But that is not easy. John Key is adept at changing his personality to suit the context. Chameleon-like, he can switch effortlessly from being the caring family man to being “one of the boys”, from the successful foreign exchange dealer to the All Blacks’ greatest fan. But each new personality requires a different language – and when he is talking to a Cameron Slater or a John Banks, the language of a “tough guy” is inevitably that of the gutter.

It is a difficult juggling act to keep going. If the wider electorate heard the language he uses in particular contexts, they might realise that what they see is a façade, and that they cannot be certain of precisely who the real John Key actually is.

We are helped in identifying the real John Key by reflecting that Slater and Banks and their ilk are his chosen colleagues – presumably the people he feels closest to and most comfortable with. What we learn from his exchanges with them, and his willingness to use what many people would still regard as foul language, is that he is not the amiable “nice guy” of his public image and that the person who is actually in charge of the country is a ruthless political operator.

His closest supporters would no doubt argue that a ruthless political operator is just what is needed, and that he has no need to apologise for being just that. The Prime Minister who supports and connives with a Cameron Slater, and who stands by a Judith Collins, might after all be acceptable to the electorate; but in that case, should we not know him for what he is, and not what he pretends to be?

The apparently trivial matter of the occasional use of a swear word therefore assumes a much greater significance; it could be seen as signpost to the truth. And if our Prime Minister is so concerned to conceal that minor transgression from the voters, what else is he hiding?

The whole carefully contrived image, in other words, could be threatened if the voters are allowed to hear what the Prime Minister really says to his political friends. And if that were to happen, the Prime Minister might find that he is “f……d” – that is, finished.


 

This was originally published on my blog here.

28 comments on “The real John Key?”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Excellent detail point Bryan. A Teapot Tapes comparison is now being made by several commenters including B. Rudman at Herald to Key’s squiggling about on the Labour party computer and data raid.

  2. vto 2

    If he referred to Mrs Hall using the word “fuck” then that cements his character in concrete….

    for good
    for ever

    • Tracey 2.1

      slater strikes me as containing alot of self egrandisement… I am 50/50 on whether key said those words to slater. No question, imm, that slater said key said it.

  3. CnrJoe 3

    At the fucking end of the fucking day the fucking people of fucking new zealand will fucking know this fucking left wing fucking conspiracy is….
    sorry Bryan, don’t know what came over me

    • Blue 3.1

      Key does seem to have a peculiar fixation on that word, doesn’t he? It seems like the word ‘fuck’ is the worst crime in the world according to Key, whether it is being chanted by a crowd of rowdy young people or the horrifying possibility that it might have come out of his own mouth and someone got it on tape.

      Nicking private details from a computer system, leaking names of public servants to attack bloggers, making jokes about ‘feral’ West Coasters, but it’s all good as long as no one says ‘fuck’.

  4. Tom Bradford 4

    “(is it just coincidence that the dictionary definition of “slater” is “a kind of louse”?)”

    NO. NO. NO. NO.

    Well, yes it is but can we please keep ad hominem attacks out of The Standard? Especially from the bloggers. Slater can no more help his surname than you can, and there are a lot of people also called Slater who are not unpleasant right-wing bloggers.

    In any case the ‘Slater’ surname is medieval English, but of early French origins. Introduced by the Norman Invaders of 1066, it derives from the pre 8th century French word “esclate”, meaning slate, with the addition of the Anglo-Saxon agent suffix “-er”, meaning “one who works with”.

    http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Slater

    • fambo 4.1

      I quite like slaters. They are pretty harmless when you find them under a block of rotten wood. The chickens like them and they probably help in the natural decay of organic material

      • Tom Bradford 4.1.1

        And of course the Slater is actually the woodlouse, a harmless, inoffensive little critter as opposed to the head, body or pubic louse which is presumably what Mr. Gould was alluding to.

  5. Peter 5

    M Gould’s articles usually appear in the Herald, but not this time?. Does this point to another conspiracy theory

  6. wyndham 6

    Bryan, You refer to ‘Wale Oil’. That’s fine. Not being pedantic but the full name of Slater’s obnoxious blog is “Whale Oil Beef Hooked”, apparently to be spoken with a pronounced Irish accent.
    That someone should choose such such a name for a vehicle to express their views speaks volumes.

    [lprent: fixed. ]

    • Red Rosa 6.1

      Brilliant! Often wondered where ‘Whale Oil Beef Hooked’ came from. Can just imagine one of the boyos coming out with it, after hoisting a few jars….;) Deserves full air play.

    • Pasupial 6.2

      “NationOil Beef Hooked” would be a better name these days!

  7. hoom 7

    Go watch the Campbell Live ‘Meet the Leaders’ with Key again.
    There is at least one bit where Key was going to swear but caught himself.

    I don’t remember there being any swearing in teapot tape though.
    Transcript at http://thejackalman.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/teapot-tape-transcript.html fits with my recollection of it.

    • lprent 7.1

      I believe that the issue was John Key’s obsession about what he’d said.. Yep.

      They will also have noted Garner’s surprising assertion that, when he was repeatedly questioned by the Prime Minister as to what he had heard, John Key’s main concern seemed to be whether or not he had used the “f-word”.

  8. disturbed 8

    Good post Bryan,

    “And if our Prime Minister is so concerned to conceal that minor transgression from the voters, what else is he hiding?”
    Right on the button.

    Key is simply an opportunist, and has no care of common people especially the old, weak , sick, young, or unemployed as none of these classes are a useful financial commodity to a “successful financier” or a currency raider as has shown to be.

    It was Key that partnered the rough diamond New York fund hedge money trader Kruger who together conspired to undermine the N.Z. dollar and made millions.

    He is a cold calculated individual no a nice warm caring man believe it.
    We hope the electorate does also now after [Nicky Hager] blew the top off.

    thihttp://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2008/11/10/financial-markets/keys-houses the biggest con job in N.Z. history.

    • yeshe 8.1

      link not working … thx disturbed

      this works though .. what a slime ball and I bet he has always said f.ck, and often.

      http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2008/11/10/financial-markets/keys-house

      excerpt:
      After all, Key’s rise to prominence in foreign exchange circles came after he struck a rewarding relationship at Bankers Trust with Andy Krieger, a daring New York-based trader who launched a legendary raid against the NZ dollar in 1987.

      Krieger reportedly bet more than the country’s entire money supply against the currency, forcing it down sharply and taking massive profits in what is still described as one of the finest forex plays ever completed.

  9. minarch 9

    Very disappointing to see a copy of Dirty Politics (epub) on Pirate Bay this morning

    off course I have reported this to the FBI

  10. Rich 10

    You know what, I see no reason for Slater to pick on that particular guy other than the fact that his mother gave Key a hard time on occasion. Are we sure that Slater wasn’t put up to this by oh I don’t know let’s say the rather vague and elusive Jason Ede?

    • yeshe 10.1

      I agree .. I posted about the same thing in open mike this morning. Why did Slater single his death
      out ? Doesn’t make sense unless he was ‘put’ on to it. Did you see the Campbell Live piece last night and their humanising interview with the father? So much tragedy in one family .. four sons killed including one in Pike River disaster not long before the car wreck that took their son Judd .. who was a passenger and in the back seat of the car with a drunken driver at the wheel.

      Then Slater’s attack — little wonder the grieving mother is recorded distraught and screaming abuse at him.

      How low will Slater/Ede/Key go ?

      • Rich 10.1.1

        Well yes, I don’t think they can go lower.

        It just comes down to whether this point can be got across the electorate or not and whether those that identify with him and Collins start to see some disadvantage with that identification. If not, well a new Key government will be the worst government NZ has ever seen.

        He’s a smarmy *&^%$ isn’t he? I’m starting to think that has something to do with the information theft age.

        • yeshe 10.1.1.1

          I always remember the US comedian who, upon being told the name of our prime minister said:

          “John Key ? In the States that’s what you ask for in a gas station when you need to use the bathroom”.

          QED

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    Of course it’s a slippery slope with Key… a few Fs slip out and next thing he’ll be hissing “Your time is done primates” and generally showing why he’s still on the run from the fashionable luggage industry.

    Ede’s dirt on him is probably surplus rodent tails from cabinet functions.

  12. ianmac 12

    Key is as you say a chamellion personality. But no one bothers with this variability in MSM. Ironically there has been considerable comment regarding David Cunliffes alleged undefined personality. (I find his personality very clear.)
    I wonder how the undefined David meme was started and by whom. And the alleged Labour disarray?

  13. McFlock 13

    Given the current issue with nact’s campaign tune, the question that seems appropriate to ask is:

    ‘Cause he’s been shady, yes he’s real Shady
    All his other smile and waveys are just imitating
    So won’t the real John Key please stand up,
    Please stand up, please stand up?

  14. M Scott 14

    I keep remembering a little story I heard some months ago. I haven’t wanted to repeat it in a public forum because I don’t want to reveal who it came from, but it is an absolutely reliable source. One day a Mr and Mrs Key went to a little New Zealand owned bed linen shop in Newmarket to look at linen. They were there for some time. They left without buying anything. The manager over heard this Mr Key murmer to this Mrs Key something along the lines of “Let’s wait until we get to Hawaii, it will be cheaper there.”

    • grumpystilskin 14.1

      You mean the same Hawaii where they went on holiday last month, as reported in the media?

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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