web analytics

The states of John Key – The Salesman

Written By: - Date published: 10:36 am, July 24th, 2010 - 18 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Third of a series by Guest poster Blue.

An old post of Marty G’s on the Standard says ‘One of the stories from John Key’s days as a currency trader is that he was always more of a salesman than an analyst. He wasn’t good at picking markets and investments; he was good at getting people to trust him with their money.’

The deal-maker is at home in the MMP system, despite the National Party’s ideological aversion to it. Key stitched up his coalition and confidence and supply partners quickly after the election. It surprised many that the Maori Party was included, and the Herald even wrote a worshipful editorial likening Key’s actions to those of God as it pondered if this was a new era for Maori politics.

Not so. The salesman had simply moved in for the kill, with classic negotiating tactics. Give them something they want that you don’t care too much about, and get them to give you something in exchange. Giving away the position of Maori Affairs minister and a few associate positions wasn’t too much of a hardship. Neither was promising to ‘look at’ the Foreshore and Seabed legislation, given that National didn’t like it either (though for different reasons).

In return, Key got the support he needed to pass legislation that the Act Party disagree with such as anything to do with climate change. It neatly avoided him being too beholden to the extreme right-wing demands of Act, which would have tarnished his popularity with the electorate if he gave in too often. Under MMP, it’s often the bills from the minor parties that cause the most controversy such as the ‘anti-smacking’ bill from the Greens in the last Labour government, and the ‘three strikes’ bill for the current Government.

The deal-maker was at his best with the foreshore and seabed issue. Key recognized early on that the Maori Party value style over substance semantics and how the deal is done is of more importance to them than practical outcomes. He put this to good use in instances such as signing up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while inserting a caveat to make it useless in practice. A clever rebranding of Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, with the term ‘Crown ownership’ replaced by ‘public domain’ and a recognition of the ‘mana’ of Maori over the foreshore and seabed, and a contentious issue that plagued the Labour Party for years was resolved.

Being able to make the backroom deals is a key political skill for any leader, and Key is outstanding at getting what he wants while giving very little away to those he deals with.


Series posts

The states of John Key Quantum uncertainty
The states of John Key The drivers
The states of John Key The Salesman
The states of John Key – Flexible in telling the truth

18 comments on “The states of John Key – The Salesman ”

  1. loota 1

    A clever rebranding of Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, with the term ‘Crown ownership’ replaced by ‘public domain’ and a recognition of the ‘mana’ of Maori over the foreshore and seabed, and a contentious issue that plagued the Labour Party for years was resolved.

    Makes you wonder why Labour couldn’t have pulled this off at the time.

    • BLiP 1.1


    • Ari 1.2

      Labour certainly had a lot of people yelling at them that confiscating land for the crown was a bad way of doing things.

      I think it’s actually reasonably significant as a change because it addresses the concerns about the act without changing its function significantly

  2. Santi 2

    Key is shonkey but it’s about time you get another obsession. This hate affair is getting you and Labour no traction at all.

    • loota 2.1

      Oh Santi, we’re not worried about not getting any traction right today, undermining a shonkey castle wall takes time and effort before it will come crashing down, and we’ve got a year to do it in.

      • luva 2.1.1

        Loota ,you have been doing it for the past 3 years with unbeilivable success. His popularity has only increased with each undermining post. Keep it up.

        One would think left leaning people would be more interested in promoting their own side. Imagine what would happen if as much effort went into telling us what Labour/Greens stand for and how they will change things. I am not sure I have ever read a series like this on Phil Goff or a proper analysis of him, where he comes from and what he wants to do.

        Imagine that….actually knowing what Phil Goff is all about. If his own side spend all their time telling us about Key, who is left to tell us about Goff.

        • Doug

          Phil Goff’s problem is that even Labour supporters don’t want to know him, he is Mr 5% Irrelevant. Labour are waiting to get next year’s Election over with and wait for a TXT from New York then all will be sorted.

    • Fisiani 2.2

      This is the comedy gold channel Santi. Next episode is John Key eats babies.

  3. Galeandra 3

    A very interesting series of analyses,Blue,well done. The reactions of the likes of Santi, Doug and Luva suggests that the posts have got under their skin. They probably know that the teflon is wearing off Key and that the u-turning inaction of the Government is being watched with more attention in the media. While the Nacts will find another term to be a very bumpy ride, I think NZ will be on its knees. Of course, that won’t worry the rich or the trolls.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    I think the biggest problem for Labour is that Key is such a good salesman. Good selling not only involves selling products and services. It also includes selling ideas, getting buy-in from various groups etc. His standing in the polls suggests he is very good at it.

    • TightyRighty 4.1

      It also involves a relationship built on trust for longer term sales relationships. John Key’s standing in the polls also reflects the level of trust new zealand has in him, his beliefs and his ability. Obviously the flipside is that should that trust disappear, John Key will start polling like Phil Goff.

      • loota 4.1.1

        So far Key’s marketing collateral looks good, but we should remember we’ve only just started to test drive the product.

        He is using a classic corporate sales technique – positioning himself to be the guy who fronts the good news about the product package being sold, Brownlee/English/Tolley et al can front everything else.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      There’s the ethics of selling faulty goods though and that’s what Jonkey is doing. We find it so distasteful that we have laws against it.

  5. RedLogix 5

    Those of us who have some depth of experience with these corporate ‘suits’ first hand have seen through the real John Key from the outset. But most people don’t have that direct experience and are not aware of just how very good they are at the ‘high functioning sociopath’ act these people are.

    Key’s career tells us that he had 20 plus years to perfect it; he was so good at it he climbed right to the very top of the banker’s greasy pole with the Federal Reserve. It’s inevitable that such a polished act will have taken in the large majority of ordinary New Zealanders who have little idea of what is being done to them.

    • joe90 5.1

      With first hand experience of a corporate ‘suit’ during the Max Bradford electricity sector reforms, my experience with the ‘high functioning sociopath’;.

      1, Gain entry to all levels, factory floor/decision makers/recreational settings and make empathic noises.

      2, Select group of ‘must have’ decision makers/workers/objectives.

      3, Identify potential ‘troublesome’ decision makers/workers/objectives..

      4, Empower and elevate ‘must have’ /decision makers/workers/objectives.

      5, ‘Must haves’/decision makers tasked with bettering the enterprise.

      6, ‘Must haves’/decision makers target ‘troublesomes’/objectives.

      7 Rinse and repeat until ‘high functioning sociopath’ achieves objectives.

      Result,enterprise bettered, high functioning sociopath’ emerges shit free, moves to new task..

  6. maui 6

    .. in other words, he is nothing but a used car salesman. Don’t be too over-awed.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Government's response to preliminary referendums' results
    Minister of Justice Andrew Little has acknowledged the provisional results of the two referendums voted on in the 2020 General Election. New Zealanders were asked whether they supported the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, and whether they supported the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force. On ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New testing requirements for international maritime crew arriving in NZ
    The Government is moving to provide further protection against the chance of COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the maritime border.  “Yesterday I instructed officials to consult with the maritime sector around tightening of the requirements for international maritime crew entering the country,” Health Minister Chris Hipkins said.  “Ultimately, this will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Fast-tracked Northland water project will accelerate economic recovery
    The Government has welcomed the decision to approve a new water storage reservoir in Northland, the first of a number of infrastructure projects earmarked for a speedy consenting process that aims to accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.  The Matawii Water Storage Reservoir will provide drinking water for Kaikohe, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago