Key’s tarnished brand – While the economy burns, Key is fiddling with spiders. He is the good times PM, all about getting himself in front of a camera and having a grin – as if he’s on a 3 year project in collecting pictures for his photo album, rather than Prime Minister and leader of the country. The way Key responded to Paul Henry’s racist outburst against the Governor-General by just sitting there grinning and making a joke was a very public exposure of the fact that the man is not a leader and has no principles.
David Farrar has admitted that Key’s personal brand is all that National has; as it loses lustre, the party is stuffed. People want a government that they think is working for their interests, not what one National MP calls ‘The John Key Show‘. We want someone who does the job they were chosen to do, not a circus clown who tries to make us feel like everything is OK when it isn’t.
Key got away with failures of leadership in the past, but the Henry incident marked a turning point. Now, Key is being embarrassed for refusing to congratulate the Nobel Peace Prize winner for fear of annoying China and looking cold-hearted for not stepping in to prevent the deportation of three Kiwi kids to the Indian slums. The Teflon is flaking off and we’re seeing there’s nothing underneath.
So, expect to see more and more the Right go from leading hero worship of Key to attacking Goff and Labour. They know there’s a fight on now, and they’ll go hammer and tongs. The first tactic will be a mantra of ‘Goff can’t win’. As the poll numbers continue to sour, it’ll get more personal. They won’t try to fight on policy (they never do), instead they’ll try to frame every policy as hypocrisy by comparing it to something in the past. But none of these are offensive tactics, they’re all attempts to slow down the loss of votes to the Left.
Next – Part 3: Policy. Full series here.