Listening to Nine to Noon on RNZ yesterday I thought there was some useful insight into the bigger picture behind Key’s “the war in Iraq is over” gaffe:
Laila Harre: What this really demonstrates is a real lack of depth in terms of John Key’s own understanding not just of foreign policy issues or grasp of them but I think the series of issues that have resulted or gone pear-shaped for them in the last week really show a lack of grasp of some quite important detailed policy and how New Zealanders are going to react to statements that they make.
She went on to make this really good point:
Laila Harre: [John Key] on the hoof having to discuss issues of major policy concern does not get his answers right. He is loose with his language. He demonstrates a lack of depth of knowledge around these policy issues and people do expect to hear a future Prime Minister of the country talking as if he understands the depth of policy across all issues and it’s going to be in facing that competition with Helen Clark that he consistently fails.
…really this National party caucus is beginning to look like a Boy’s Own adventure story… increasingly I think the caucus is showing a glaring lack of a sort of a Birch figure, a Bolger figure, a Shipley figure even a Richardson figure, someone with a clear ideological certainty around what they are there for, what they are aiming to do and able to communicate that to a wider public. They simply lack it… there does not appear to be anybody in the National party caucus or wider leadership group who can signal that kind of serious intent.
And then you know the point is really valid when you get agreement from the right…
Matthew Hooton: “John Key is going to have to lift his game… [Helen Clark] is on top of every issue.”
If you want to listen to the whole item it’s up on the RNZ site here.