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Two term Key?

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 pm, July 13th, 2010 - 45 comments
Categories: Politics - Tags: ,

In today’s ODT Colin James raises the question of how long Key will stay as the Prime Minister.

James has been around too long to get caught out by hanging his hat on a prediction but he’s not ruling out Key stepping down in his second term:

If in the next term National needs both parties for a majority (likely if, say, Labour gets 38 per cent and the Greens 6 per cent), managing their antithetical positions to pass contentious legislation will be very challenging — or paralysing.

Even if there is a super-majority again (a real possibility), can Key keep both in the tent?

He has given the Maori party some big mana wins and whanau ora. There is not much more mana he can deliver without upsetting conservative National members and voters. Whanau ora has potential to embarrass if not very tightly managed.

On the other side, Rodney Hide has had some big wins in deregulation and local government this term plus some totemic wins. What can Key give him in a second term that doesn’t scare the centre? (Might Hide look elsewhere to continue his career: for example, the Auckland mayoralty in 2013?)

And all the while, the economy will not be flying high and might even have another bad turn, given the debt-driven turmoil and huge uncertainties in the global economy. The 2014 election might look grim. Will Key want to risk a loss?

The point is that so far Key has not hit any big bumps in the road nor has he had to make any really hard decisions. That has maximised the openings in the clouds for his sunny personality to shine through on his party.

On one hand Key has steel (despite his carefully developed smile and wave persona) so he may stay for a third term if he wins a second.

On the other hand he’s a currency trader by nature and few traders have made their fortune by hanging on while their currency keeps diving and, as I pointed out in a previous post, there’s a strong chance that National’s stocks will take a hammering in a second term.

Part of the reason Key has not “had to make any really hard decisions” is because National’s backers have been held at bay. And a big part of what has held them back has been Key and his popularity and the role it will play in securing a second term..

But make no mistake – a second term will see the dogs being let off the leash which is why there’s a push for an early election from some parts of the party. The problem is Key won’t like having his carefully crafted “man of the people” image being eroded by having to front the endless unemployment/health crisis/privatisation issues. It just won’t be fun any more.

So unlike James I’m gonna make a prediction and that’s that Key will go before 2014 simply because he can. Unlike Bill English, Key hasn’t invested his life in the National Party. This has meant he’s got no nasty tory political back story but does have a pragmatic deal-making touch (just right for a frontman) but it also means there’s no reason for him to stick around and risk his legacy as a popular PM. As is so often the way in this game a politician’s strengths are ultimately also their weaknesses.

Key is a fair-weather prime minister but it’s not likely the fair weather will last for much longer.

45 comments on “Two term Key?”

  1. loota 1

    When Key goes they will sell Kiwibank. He can take over as Chairman in his part time.

  2. Tanya 2

    Who knows what might happen? I never thought Kevin Rudd would be outed so soon. Is Key popular within his caucus, or are there rumblings of right-wing dissent? A one-term PM, I hope, since he doesn’t listen to the voters!

    • Zorr 2.1

      tbh, as much as I despise the grinning goit and the prospect of a 2nd term of National, I would much rather suffer under John Key than any of the other options. Brownlee? English? Someone else? No thanks… x_x

  3. Tanya 3

    At least English might have some staunchness though, and some true Conservative ideals. There are other options outside of team Blue, I’m sure.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      …some staunchness though, and some true Conservative ideals. There are other options outside of team Blue, I’m sure.

      I hear Mel Gibson could use the work.

  4. I detected on the Nation last Saturday, a hint of frustration starting to show from Fran O,Sullivan.
    Listen carefully an you can hear the paparazzi turning. The lack of substance and long term planning from Smile and Wave is obviously starting to annoy her.

  5. bobo 5

    Predicting one year out is hard enough let alone 2014, sheesh, maybe ask Paul the Octopus how long Keys got or once Key has reached over 50000 ilikes on facebook he will achieved all he wanted to in politics, step aside and use some of his newly acquired international political contacts to make some serious wedge, what else is there left to achieve ?

  6. tsmithfield 6

    I don’t think Key feels driven to hold on to power at all costs as some of our previous PM’s have. So, I expect he will probably leave when he feels he doesn’t have anything more to offer.

    • Armchair Critic 6.1

      I’d have preferred he had left once he actually had nothing more to offer.

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        I did say “when HE feels he has nothing more to offer” not when YOU feel he has nothing more to offer.

        • Armchair Critic 6.1.1.1

          I did read your comment and understood it, and having you explain it again hasn’t added any extra meaning. But thanks anyway.
          FTR about the only thing that would be useful to me is the cycle. And he hasn’t/won’t/can’t even deliver that. So here’s a genuine “thanks for nothing” for little Johnnie.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.2

      Don’t neccessarily disagree with you- but how well do you know the guy?

      • tsmithfield 6.2.1

        I don’t know him. But considering that he has already had a very successful career, and clearly doesn’t need the job, why would he want to stick around if he feels he has contributed all he can?

        • loota 6.2.1.1

          ts – tend to agree with you there, our man Jonkey is going to want to leave on a high note – some kind of incident down the track with a high profile loss of party confidence or being turfed out by the electorate is *not* the way he will visualise himself exiting. He would (no doubt) rather go on his own terms at the apparent top of his game.

    • michaeljsavage 6.3

      He doesnt have anything to offer now – can he start to ‘feel’ that now … please

  7. Irascible 7

    Why accept the media idea that Key will go two terms? Like all john keys there is an instant return policy once they’ve been used. The NACT deposits are not good for the NZ community and economy despite the manure of puffery.
    This NACT govt will not succeed purely on the image of smile & wave. There is enough doubt about the probity of the present government MPs out there to cause the electorate to turn on the Key-Hide-English govt.

  8. Bill 8

    “Key is a fair-weather prime minister but it’s not likely the fair weather will last for much longer.”

    Em, nope. The Nats are playing Key as a front. Most people wrongly associate a political party with the person they (the party) choose to be their figurehead.

    Obama/ Democratic Party as an example as though the individual controls or influences the politics of the US…the great black hope….the ‘If only JFK hadn’t been bumped the world would be different and greater’ school of thought (and we’ll ignore the fact that JFK was a war pig and that Obama is, will we?)

    Anyway.

    Johnny Boy has said that this and that and the other won’t happen (mostly privatisation) as long as he’s PM. But Johnny Boy has no interest in being PM. Johnny Boy’s interest is in seeing National being government and in leading us up the garden path. And so Johnny Boy jumps post election. And everything goes through. And we all get shafted while Johnny Boy and his mates clean up. And Labour get the blame for hanging on to that un-votable Goff prick…’cause it’s all personality, remember?

    So 2014 ( forget 2011) becomes a struggle because of the farce that is today’s Labour Party.

    Why isn’t Goff being bumped? Someone care to explain in terms that are not all ego, b/s and politicking? Anyone care to explain in terms that are relevant to people?

  9. ak 9

    Contempt will see him off, and it won’t take long. The numbers later this year will destroy the “economic wizard” wishful thinking that is keeping his goofy wee poll up for now (along with the recent benny/maori-bash and Creditgate), and when the big C comes from former friends (MP and the Funders, already incubating), the end will be swift.

    Pity in a way. His successful “winning” in the polls has kept the real dogs at bay – and the serendipitous partial-lancing of the race boil is almost worth this short hiatus in wider Progression.

    He’ll be remembered as an affable caretaker of Helen’s legacy. But not by many, and not for long. Too light for an effective handbrake, too thin to leave a shadow.

  10. Zaphod Beeblebrox 10

    The National Party contributers will get rid of him- thats if his economic incompetence doesn’t send them all broke first.

    Nice irony- ideological hostility to government kills any chance of economic recovery (how many property developers are making money at the moment?) wiping out the profits of your own support base.

    • loota 10.1

      They can’t turf the guy until they have someone to fill his shoes. Who? English? Been there, done that.

      • Bill 10.1.1

        Furchristsakes!

        There’ll be an election based on personalities. Anyone versus Goff is a winner.

        The Nats don’t need anybody to fill his shoes. They just need to ride him and his affability for a ‘shoe in’.

        Then he goes and cashes in his chips and the Nats put in anybody…doesn’t matter who at that point. They’ll have secured power. And everything else becomes irrelevant… the leader…the promises made under whatever leader…public expectations.

        The fuckers will have three years to leave old Mrs Hubbard’s cupboards bare. Six years if you count in the current priming.

        Possibly nine years given the potential tragic legacy of ‘short circuiting vibrator up the arse’ Goff. ( ‘Cause, yes. These matters are perceived as questions of personality, regardless of political realities.)

        • coolas 10.1.1.1

          ‘Tragic’ was the word Goff used in saying, ‘it’s tragic Jeannette Fitzsimmons didn’t get a cabinet position.’

          Revealed a lot about the man. More concerned with position than ethic.

          Agree with Bill. Anyone but Goff. If he had the interest of the country at heart he’d move over now.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 10.1.2

        Isn’t that the irony. Do some succesion planning and set the seeds of your own demise. Set yourself as indispensible and you stuff your party for the next two terms.

        The save for the future, do nothing now approach may help with the government debt, but it sure as hell will test the patience of the Nats who are looking for government contracts and the spin off effects for business.

  11. michaeljsavage 11

    Theres a fair while of time to go until the election. The economy is biting deeper and deeper at average Kiwis backpockets. We need an old schooler like Phil Goff I think, to restore some faith in the political process.

    The right wing did us all a favour with Credit-card-gate … i dont think people like Shane Jones could have done the job.

    The skeleton (or perhaps rotting corpse) in Nationals closet is Rodney Hide and ACT. The media are trumpeting a 2 percent drop in food prices – largest drop since 1956. An old Managing Director of mine used to say that percentages lie. A percentage of what? Does that drop signal more affordability for the buying public. I hear substantiable rumours that some large national chains are sneaking incremental rises in advance of GST into the scheme of things. What would be nicer is if they said that we were back to 1956 prices for food perhaps.

    The Mandarins are on the move. They think they have this next election sewn up. I think they may be in for the shock of their lives.

    • millsy 11.1

      Might I also point out that while everyone was too busy about arguing whether prisoners should be allowed to smoke or not, Housing NZ sneaked through a plan to sell off about half the state housing stock in South Auckland, this measure is a guarantee, along with the rugby world cup, that rents will skyrocket in Auckland next year.

      The National Partys new found hold in some of the Auckland electorate might get pretty shaky indeed

    • just saying 11.2

      Genuine question: what is it about Goff that inspires your faith?
      I’m sure it’s not just length of service.

      • Carol 11.2.1

        I’m suspending judgement on Goff for a while longer. I think there’s something to be said for Labour keeping a relatively low profile while they re-think their policies and strategies.

        Goff does tend to pop up on the news fairly regularly with a comment on this or that. I think the MSM are either likely to mostly ignore him, or to try to portray him with a negative slant, right now. But I also do think the electorate needs time to shift their focus from Clark’s government, and to become more aware of where Key’s government is heading.

        And it does seem like stuff is going on behind the scenes, which show a bit of a shift in Labour policies. eg Idiot/Savant today comments on the small shifts away from neoliberal orthodoxy by Labour:

        http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2010/07/another-shift-for-labour.html

  12. Jenny 12

    Colin James though not dismissing the possibility of a “super majority” for National. Thinks that it is “likely” that to get another term, National will need both ACT and the Maori Party for a majority.

    Taking the fact that ACT barely scraped in last time, and also the fact that ACT inspired policy has been extremely unpopular. Personally I would be surprised if ACT are in any position to help their ideological mates gain a majority.

    This leaves the Maori Party in the frame as the Nats coalition partner for a second term.

    The resulting dissolution of the Maori Party would be the inevitable result.

    A fact that can’t have escaped the Maori Party leadership.

    To a big extent, the Maori Party leadership are being held hostage by the promise of a flagship policy gain around Whanau Ora.

    It reminds me of Jim Anderton and his flagship policy of founding Kiwi Bank. Like Whanau Ora the success or failure of Kiwi Bank lay in the details, ie. funding, independence, policy direction, all of which are controlled by the major party.

    Anderton made the real politik decision that the sacrifice of his party was worth the achievement of a viable Kiwi Bank.

    • just saying 12.1

      Hi Jenny,
      I’m interested in what you say about Anderton sacrificing the Alliance Party for kiwibank. I was a member of the party at the time, and this isn’t my understanding of what happened, so I’m intrigued!

  13. Santi 13

    I hope he is defeated soon. Unfortunately, it will not happen woth Goff as Labour leader.

  14. The Baron 14

    These soothsayer like postings on the future of the National govt and its personalities are all too common on the Standard, and unfortunately play out more like fantasy than reality – see for example the previous predictions on changes in polls.

    As I have said previously too – why not do your credibility a favour and wait until the changes happen before crowing about the success of the left? Doing otherwise makes you and this site look desparate and foolish.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 14.1

      Fair points all of them. Perhaps The Standard could hire Frank the Octopus- then we might get some more accurate claivoyancy!

  15. I’m coming round to letting Key get two terms if it means losing Goff and English to start with.

    Without getting all Mayan apocalyptic about 2012 though. It’ll be better for the long term Labour aspirations if Key and co were to navigate through whatever that date throws up and position themselves to pick up the pieces afterwards.

    It makes little difference to me who’s in gov’t. A politician by any other name still smells like money for jam, with your bread and butter tucked away up in their blind trusts.

  16. Len 16

    So refreshing to see a PM who smiles and waves unlike the ice cold granite face of the previous PM

    • Blue 16.1

      Helen Clark had a very warm, genuine smile, Len.

      Unlike your boy Key’s cheesy, plastic grin.

    • Craig Glen Eden 16.2

      Well Len if you like to see him smiling all the time we could probably get you oh I don’t know, say a picture maybe.You could hang it in the toilet or do with it what you like!

      Personally I would like a PM who actually did something and who is happy to be more than a joke on American TV.

      In fact a PM who could organise a Pissup would almost do.

  17. randal 17

    the thing is coling james is a would be tory flack anyway so he is just putting off the inevitable and that is this tory government will only lat one term.
    key might have it prsonally but the rest of the team just dont hve the horsepower.

  18. Olwyn 18

    With Helen Clark I felt we had a leader. With John Key I feel we have another celebrity. As time goes on I have increasing sympathy for the poor sod in Wellington who rang the police when he learned that national had won the election.

  19. Stan 19

    Ah Blue, are you talking about her air brushed pics ?

  20. Draco T Bastard 20

    The point is that so far Key has not hit any big bumps in the road nor has he had to make any really hard decisions.

    That’s because he’s been avoiding them. Putting them off until the next government comes in and has to fix things up again.

    Key is a fair-weather prime minister but it’s not likely the fair weather will last for much longer.

    Jonkey won’t want to be around when the depression hits, and it will hit, especially when the cause can be laid squarely at the financiers (his) feet.

    • loota 20.1

      Don’t know about a depression but a recession is definitely agitating an onset down here in Dunedin. I talked to a guy who does skip bins for almost 40 different Dunedin shops, cafes and restaurants, and he is saying that he is getting a tonne of calls saying “don’t bother to come around and pick up this week, there’s nothing for you its that quiet”.

      Yes, Winter is just starting proper as well and things do slow down a bit anyways…but there’s more than that to it I reckon.

  21. Stan 21

    Draco, It sounds like the exact mess the current goverment found itself in, remember Cullen gleafully saying that he had overspent our money and there was nothing left for a future government or not disclosing before the election the huge 3 billion blow out in the ACC accounts ? The left seem to think money grows on trees

    • Draco T Bastard 21.1

      It’s not that people think that money grows on trees is the problem. The problem is that people think money is a resource when it isn’t and, IMO, the right are more likely to believe that than the left.

      • loota 21.1.1

        DTB…I suggest that capital is a real resource…it lets you get useful work done just like coal can. The Left need to appreciate the power of capital, how to create it and use it (to benefit all citizens).

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 21.2

      As opposed to those who are happy to hand out tax cuts to their mates.

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