Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, April 12th, 2009 - 17 comments
Categories: bill english, cycleway, economy, john key - Tags:

We’ve all been subjected to mainstream journalists gushing over Key’s ‘strong leadership’ but now it’s being put to the test and we’re seeing weakness, not strength.

Look at how he has dealt with Richard Worth compared to how Clark dealt with ministers.

When Helen Clark was Prime Minister, especially in her early days, she had the political capital and the authority to sack ministers for the slightest transgressions. She set such a high bar that David Parker resigned from his portfolios merely because he wasn’t sure he hadn’t inadvertently done something wrong. Clark refused to let her government’s agenda be derailed by ministerial scandals.

Key, on the other hand, has given Worth chance after chance after chance. I think it’s now four strikes and still not out.

Key’s response to the Worth issue has been weak. Giving him a ‘bollocking’, which was not enforced, was the bare minimum. His response could only have been weaker if he had curled up in a ball and cried.

If Key was a strong leader he would sack Worth rather than bear the cost having his government tainted with corruption and embarrassed whenever Worth opens his mouth. By allowing Worth to stay in his position, Key has allowed his government to be put on the back foot and for no good reason.

If you can’t sack a minister whose own colleagues privately call Worthless, who can you sack?

Then there’s Key’s control over his government’s policies. It’s become a running gag by now that every week or so Key hears about some new idea, excitedly announces it as government policy, only for English to kill it a week later. Key can’t open his mouth on any topic without there being a fair chance English will contradict him. His flagship idea from his much-vaunted jobs summit has become a joke.

If you can’t even get money for a relatively cheap pet project like the John Key memorial cycleway, what of your policies can you get done?

Just look at how weakly he has dealt with his government’s priority, the economic crisis. There has been no policy of any significance whatsoever. Everything Key has mentioned has been killed by English.

Whereas Key (correctly) said the government needs to counter-cyclically and spend more in a recession to inject demand into the economy what is actually happening is a repeat of English’s failed policies for the Asian Crisis – no economic assistance, and spending cuts.

He can’t control his ministers, he can’t control his government’s policy. Key is looking more and more like David Lange, a likeable character but a weak and ultimately failed prime minister.

[update: rOb has helpfully pointed out this list of the ministers Clark sacked and why. First to go was Dover Samuals because he could not be effective while “allegations, controversy and public debate swirl around him”. Tha’ts pretty tough. So much for Key setting a new standard]

17 comments on “Weak”

  1. lprent 1

    Key doesn’t seem to have prepared himself for politics. Instead of focus I have a steadily increasing sense that these bozo’s have no idea what in the hell they are doing. Looks like tax-cuts and being in opposition were their only real party tricks.

    I’m really not looking forward to the May 27th budget. I’m wondering how many of these “waste of my taxes” PR stunts will wind up getting funded for the spin pre and post budget. I doubt that the future tax-cuts will survive, because the unemployment looks like it is going to go up quite a lot. It has to be paid somewhere, and reducing your revenue as a government is not the way to do it.

    Anyway, Key looks about as full of spine as a figure made out of play dough – the clown in front of the cameras. Looks to me like English does have a plan and is re-engineering the 1990’s approach again. Of course it conspicuously failed then.

    But being ‘conservative’ isn’t about understanding previous failures, it means that you should try it again, but try harder this time. Conservatives do tend to have the same approach to running economies that Arnold Rimmer (from Red Dwarf) had to passing engineering exams. Don’t learn, just make schedules of how it is supposed to happen. After successive failures, mindlessly just make the schedules more elaborate.

    This is all so endearingly predicable (we did), so incompetent, so National party. It is no wonder that people like them for a while. As an employee, it is always fun to have incompetent managers to laugh at. At least until the business falls over.

  2. r0b 2

    Good post. There’s a summary of the ministers Clark sacked (and the reasons why) here.

    And as for Worth – Key has been so weak in dealing with him that Worth is practically ignoring him:

    “Key has said Worth is effectively on his final warning, although Worth has said he does not believe this to be the case.’

    What kind of leadership is that from Key?

  3. Irascible 3

    My early blogs during the election campaign correctly identified the real leadership of the National Party being English with Key being the PR front man for the resurrection of the failed economic policies of the 1990s. My references to Engkeylish as the real face seem to have been spot on.

  4. Considering the shambles he’s made of dealing with Worth it will be interesting to see how badly he deals with the Maori Party following their concerted attacks on the way the Government is dealing with the Auckland Issue. Dealing with a pissed off Sharples/Harawira will be a real test of leadership for Key and Co.

    [lprent: corrected link. You have to put in the http: ]

  5. Tigger 5

    To be fair, if you’re going to sack National Ministers for poor performance then at least half of them would get the boot. Key isn’t being weak, he’s just preventing having to instigate a bloodbath.

  6. mike 6

    Yep, Clark was real tough on Peters. Nice try folks.
    On another note great to see Labour flip-flopping on the smacking law – a bit bit late though Phil-in.

  7. Nickc 7

    “Look at how he has dealt with Richard Worth compared to how Clark dealt with ministers.”

    *cough* Winston Peters *cough*

    • expand upon your argument mate, you can do better than *cough*

    • r0b 7.2

      *cough* Rodney Hide *cough* was guilty of everything that Peters was actually guilty of, so that’s another one Key is protecting that he should sack.

      And anyway, as above, good summary of the ministers Clark sacked (and why) here.

  8. lprent: Thanks my brain must have switched off 4 Easter Sunday 😉

  9. Nickc – your Peter’s comparison is flawed in many ways, but the biggest difference being the fact that Worth is within Key’s own party – hence a much greater degree of responsibility and direct culpability for Key himself.

    • Mark 9.1

      Loco Burro, I didn’t notice Nickc talking about his Peter at all. He did mention Winston Peters, and although some think him a bit of a cock, I’m not sure this is what he meant.

  10. Mark: heh 😉

    More questions that must be asked in this issue – What does Worth have over Key? What deal was made over Epsom? What deal was made over the loss of Speakership? Perhaps Worth’s financial backers have an influence ($14,999.99 in donations to Worth)?

  11. Ellen 11

    *cough* twelve ministers were sacked, resigned or stood down including Peters under Clark *cough*

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    IIRC, JK said,, when asked about the firing of people under him while he was part of the banking cartel, that he was just doing as he was told (but he really did feel for the people he fired, really). When he realised that he had been caught out lying about his meeting with the rich guy from the UK he said it was just in his diary.

    So, from this we can conclude that
    1) He hasn’t yet been told to fire Worth and
    2) His managers haven’t yet penciled into his diary to fire Worth (or, perhaps, it’s penciled in for next weak).

  13. BLiP 13

    By far, my preferred option would be to leave Worth where he is.

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