Brian Edwards Media

John Key on HardTalk

The interview mainly consisted of criticisms gleaned from NZ commentators, which were then put as propositions. This allowed the PM to counter them, which he did without difficulty. Stephen Sackur’s lack of knowledge of New Zealand and its politics meant he was unable to follow up Key’s answers and probe deeper. All we got was the next proposition. It sounds knowledgeable, but it’s surface stuff and easily batted back. More like practice in the nets than a real game. That aside John Key handled this HardTalk interview well and seemed relaxed and confident.

Major criticisms:

Someone had raced round and found a batch of model kiwi and waka and other Newzild stuff and scattered it round the set. Tacky, tacky.

And Key’s diction! The trick seems to be: Never use four syllables if you can get away with two. It may be OK for speeches at the United Nations – they have simultaneous translators – but the overseas audience would have needed subtitles to get the drift of his answers in this interview.

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  1. You are kidding Brian, Sakur almost tore Key a new one. Our great PM just looked like he was winging it. BTW What does “100% pure relative to other countries” mean.

    BE: I think you’ll find it was Judy who wrote the post. As it happens, however, I would have said pretty much the same thing.

  2. 2

    He just doesn’t talk like US
    He isn’t fit to be our PM
    I think the left is going to have do better than that

  3. Well actually, I don’t agree. John Keys opening lines to must questions where weak and repetitive.
    John doesn’t seem to know the difference between a scientist and a lawyer.
    I like the bit where John is arguing for young Kiwis to stay in NZ while he didn’t and when overseas to work and make is fist full of dollars.
    Other places 100% pure Norway and Hawaii seem more pure than NZ

  4. He used the classic National Party response when confronted with uncomfortable facts: “I don’t accept that…” If you told him the Moon isn’t made of cheese, he’d reply “I don’t accept that. My own advisors tell me different…” Simon Power is another minister who’s good at it.

  5. Yeah I agree totally Raymond

  6. As an expert on interviews Brian I am surprised that you didn’t use a word like “shifty” or “evasive”. Instead you applaud the responses as “relaxed and confident.” Well not everyone would agree with you.
    His big chance was to advertise NZ especially since he is Minister of Tourism. Instead it looked “bumbling” to me.

  7. Oops. The article was from Judy the Kindheart. Sorry.

  8. Can’t agree with your analysis, Judy.

    Key survived the interview in his way, but I hardly think he looked “relaxed and confident”. The smile visibly disappeared from his face as the interview progressed, and he coughed up some laughable statements. Most notably:

    “For the most part, we are 100% Pure”

    The interview is also notable for the way Key turned empirical propositions into matters of opinion. He repeatedly said things like “I don’t share that view” without offering any real evidence for saying so. Sackur seemed quite bemused by him at times. I cringed.

    I also regarded the absence of domestic political trivia as a feature rather than a bug.

  9. Someone had raced round and found a batch of model kiwi and waka and other Newzild stuff and scattered it round the set. Tacky, tacky

    I suspect that was a room in New Zealand House, and it was our tat, actually.

    JC: I suspected the same – but you can live in hope!

  10. Oops X2

  11. I think you’ll find it was Judy who wrote the post. As it happens, however, I would have said pretty much the same thing

    And your analysis would be weak as well. It was a very poor performance consisting mostly of evasive schoolyard level rebuttals instead of confident clear answers.

  12. Key was probably lucky that the inimitable Tim Sebastian wasn’t still in the HARDtalk chair.

  13. What does this 100% pure garbage actually mean?

  14. I have been checking in on this website for some time now. Mildly right of centre I guess I have my own struggle to be dispasssionate and objective but I must say the quality of the public contributions (not the original blogs) is falling away badly. Much (but not all) of what has appeared lately is of the Key-says-A so B-must-be-right variety. Some of you guys really need to pick up your game or just get over the fact that presently it’s Key who resonates with the country.

  15. It is possible that John Key handled this interview well, but I think that the questions, although scratching the surface, will stick for longer in the European minds than the answers and reveal more about the state the country is in at the moment.

  16. @ Russell Brown: “Sackur seemed quite bemused by him at times..”

    “at times”, you reckon? Sackur went into this interview, full of himself: Haughty and patronising, bordering on thinly-disguised disdain. Something, here in NZ, we have become very accustomed to, from the Brits.

    Here is this fine English gentleman, Sackur, full of Etonian breeding and impeccable refinement; inflecting his upper-class sniffing condescension, while talking (down?) to an antipodean colonial, who speaks in the written equivalent of unpolished run-on sentences. Prime Minister of NZ and ex-rich banker? Be damned!

    Dude: Britannia, no longer Rules the Waves. Not unless, we’re talking about a radio-controlled model down at the Mt. Albert Aquatic Centre.

  17. Hey Merv you might like to have a go at shaking that plank of wood off you shoulder when you’ve got a mo.

  18. Key always seemed nonplused about most things,I suppose having 52 million reasons to be nonplused helps.I like to see someone who shows passion for his beliefs not someone who just regurgitates what seems like the right answer.Hes a Claytons PM who thinks Teflon is the answer.His reply to Sackur’s inquiry about the best and brightest lacked any sense of reality.I think Sackur hit the nail on the head with his own summation of their(the best and brightest) position.As one of the many fools who haved lived here all his life I care not that the best and brightest leave our shores,its after all their choice.Giving the wealthiest people in the country a large tax cut doesnt seemed to have worked in returning the best and brightest.

  19. hey fox- i think you’ve got the wrong end of the plank (er, i mean stick) regarding merv.

  20. Putting aside his supposed ‘Etonian breeding’ and other imagined flaws, Sackur is one of the best interviewers on TV these days.

  21. “That aside John Key handled this HardTalk interview well and seemed relaxed and confident.”

    Relative to what? His responses to serious questions are glib and superficial in the extreme. This might have been better than his average performance on TVNZ etc, but for those not making that comparison the guy comes across as a complete yokel buffoon. His diction is of course unfortunate – but would be forgiven if he could string a coherent and logical argument together. The saving grace is that Key is simply to irrelevant to worry about anywhere outside New Zealand.

  22. Perhaps Key was only partly 100% pure relaxed and confident…

  23. I have to agree with Russell Brown, “Sackur seemed quite bemused by him at times. I cringed.”
    The questions were entirely predictable; John Key should have been better prepared.

  24. “Sackur is one of the best interviewers on TV these days.”

    Greg the egg, are you serious? Stephen Sackur has a record of boorish and ignorant confrontations with superior intellects. Last year he idiotically tried to shout down Noam Chomsky for half a wasted hour. Probably he was acting on instruction, but it was a nadir, even for the notoriously compliant and timid BBC.

    I’m not a bit surprised that Sackur was only sketchily prepared for the interview with Key, who is clearly NOT a superior intellect. But to be just as poorly organised for Noam Chomsky is unforgivable.

  25. Bothering to give the increasingly tiresome Noam Chomksy the time of day is what’s unforgivable.

  26. Bothering to give the increasingly tiresome WAKE UP the time of day is what’s unforgivable.

  27. I particularly liked Key’s comments regarding encouraging immigration to this country. Seems ironic (and out of touch with reality) in light of Campbell Live’s fantastic pursuit of moral justice for Martyn Payne. Maybe Key should share his immigration views with Kate Wilkinson MP? You’re a lightweight John.

  28. Doesn’t take much to upset a Chomksy fan :)

  29. 29

    TT has it right!

    comes across as a complete yokel

    would be forgiven if he could string a coherent and logical argument together

    I miss Tim Sebastian

  30. Sh*t you lot are pathetic! I would have thought that as egalitarian lefties you would have welcomed (or at least tolerated) John Key’s lack of polish as reflecting both his humble roots and the fact he has made something of himself. But I forget, you are so bound up in your own ideological superiority you cannot accept that anyone who doesn’t share it is entitled to any respect.

    “Lightweight” indeed! What an idiot. Perhaps an opinion shared by BE as well since I heard Brian once say “he is so shallow he would drown in a puddle” but wrong nevertheless. Lightweight only in the sense the POMs thought the Japanese were lightweight until they captured Singapore.

    Are you people so bitter and twisted that you cannot accept the guy is bright and succesful, measured, inordinately patient and has handled the events of the last few years with commendable assurance. Sure I don’t buy the whole package either but there is a lot to like and even more to respect.

  31. @Tony.
    viewers of that Hardtalk interview will always see it through their own shades of specs. There is possibly a lot of truth in what you say. Many on the left must surely be saying, however, that Key is proving to be what they predicted in 2008 and a lot on the right grudgingly having to agree. And who better to be endorsing that than the one and only Don Brash in his Open Letter.

    Would that we had a Prime Minister who had the wit to assimilate a question and produce a reasoned argument rather than a playground approach to discussion.

    “bright and successful, measured, inordinately patient … etc…” Sorry, but I would say he is extremely lucky. Christchurch and Pike River – the man rode on a wave of public sympathy and his lauded speeches were read, not spontaneous from within.

    Would love to be enlightened – can you list just how many businesses he has successfully owned and run, or has he just been good at using and recycling other people’s money.

  32. @Logie97 Thanks for a more reasoned reply than perhaps I deserved – sorry to all for the extravangant language.

    Anyway let me use one example to show why I think Key deserves more than contempt. We will be going into the next election with some clear choices around Kiwisaver, working for families, sale of state assets and student loans. All will have been flagged in advance and people will make the choices they wish to make. No skullduggery and no sleight of hand. But most significantly the choices are all structured to the instinctive disadvantage of National rather than to its electoral advantage.

    Labour would never have done that. As with interest student loans it would go into an election with the big bribe or at least by downplaying the less desirable parts of its programme.

    Key’s government’s conduct fits his character. Patient, measured and unfazed by the potential electoral consequences of his course. BE finds fault with that seeing his willingness to lose as a rich man’s treatment of the Prime Ministership as another item on his bucket list. Again I disagree. I think that is far too cyncial. I don’t see a man with a compelling ideological framework, no. But I do see a man with a clear view of what we need to do to get things right. As to the merits of his policies (economic especially) that is for another day. In the meantime though I carry on liking much of what I see.

  33. “WAKE UP”: You obviously have not read anything by Chomsky. Perhaps now would be a good time to start.

  34. Not only have I read Chomsky, I’ve listened to him. That’s why I have the low opinion of him that I have.

    ps – I suggest you learn to argue your case instead of simply making knee-jerk assertions about something you can’t possibly know.

  35. 1.) “Not only have I read Chomsky, I’ve listened to him.”
    I doubt you have done either. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that you have read and listened to him: nothing you have written shows any evidence of your having done so.

    2.) “That’s why I have the low opinion of him that I have.”
    No, the reason you say you have a low opinion of him is because you have made up your mind long before your cursory reading and viewing.

    3.) “I suggest you learn to argue your case instead of simply making knee-jerk assertions…”
    You made no argument for me to argue with. Your contribution was on the level of the very lowest grade of radio talkback host. Are you by any chance….ummmmm, ahhhhhh, Leighton Smith?

    4.) “…about something you can’t possibly know.”
    Of course we can’t know anything with absolute certainty. But I’d be prepared to bet Bill Clinton’s weekly whoring budget that you have read hardly anything by Noam Chomsky.

  36. Oops have you dropped some marbles Brian – John Key came across as a deluded fool

  37. Owen Glenn hit the nail on the head with his remark: “John Key has been all talk and no action”.

  38. “But I’d be prepared to bet Bill Clinton’s weekly whoring budget that you have read hardly anything by Noam Chomsky”.

    You cling to that myth if you wish, mate; it doesn’t alter the fact that I’ve read a lot of Chomsky, and listened to his lectures; nor does it alter the fact that I think he’s a dangerous traitor who should never have been allowed anywhere near impressionable youth; nor does it alter the fact that his day (and the others: Piven et al) is, fortunately, nearly over. Events are moving swiftly, at last, and there’s going to be one almighty showdown.

    As to what you’re going to do when sanity finally prevails again…sorry, can’t help you. Bu6t I can tell you that your slavish adoration of such manipulators (of people like you) as Chomsky won’t provide any answers. ‘Bye now.

  39. He’s back for more! Oh well, here goes…

    1.) “…doesn’t alter the fact that I’ve read a lot of Chomsky, and listened to his lectures…”
    Nothing you’ve written shows you have even the slightest familiarity with Chomsky’s writing.

    2.) “…nor does it alter the fact that I think he’s a dangerous traitor…”
    That is the kind of statement that confirms my observation in the previous point.

    Why don’t you take some time off, and do some reading. Chomsky is not as hard as you’ve been told he is.

  40. As I said, it doesn’t take much to upset a Chomsky-ite. Particularly the truth.

  41. You haven’t upset me. You simply don’t know enough to argue for your very silly proposition.

    JC: Enough, already, you two!

  42. Of far more concern than Mr Key’s diction, is his propensity for maimg seemingly off the cuff statements without anythought for the consequences.

    In todays paper he is reported as having “picked hefty wage rises in the next couple of years”. The Public Service has however been excluded from this land of milk and honey and will only be able to watch as those of us in the private sector cart away our pay rises in wheel barrows.

    I wonder whether Bill English and Alan Bollard, not to mention employers, share Mr Key’s enthusiasm for the sunlit slopes of future paradise. All we need now is 40 black eyed virgins and it would not surprise me if he promised those as well.

  43. Key is hardly an eloquent speaker or one who can think quickly on his feet. (Here’s to you Mr. Lange, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you)

    However I don’t think Key embarrassed himself terribly in this interview. I certainly didn’t feel as awkward as I did when watching him deliver the Top 10 list on Letterman.

    Critics of Key can surely accept that while he may only be deemed adequate in terms of live interviews, his skills as a politician and leader lie elsewhere.

  44. I agree with Russell Brown, I cringed especially when Key was trying to justify that he had experience to run a country; “You have to have a plan…”.
    When playing what I think was the whole 23 minute interview on National Radio (16 May), Bryan Crump made the interesting point that it is unusual for us in New Zealand to hear/see a long interview of this sort with our politicians these days unless there is an election looming. Unfortunately due to copyright the Radio NZ website doesn’t have the link.
    I’d like to see a lot more questioning of our party leaders to open up more debate about pressing issues. Shame our national television broadcaster is only in it for entertainment and reality shows!

  45. wbc, interesting to hear you bursting into song with “Here’s to you Mr. Lange, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” Possibly you are only joking, but it looks worryingly like the most pathetic worshipfulness.

    What exactly was it about Lange that you found so impressive? He was even LESS informed about political and economic theory than John Key is; therefore, although he instinctively opposed what the ideologues in his cabinet were doing, he was unable to coherently argue against them. He simply gave up and bailed out in 1989.

  46. Sorry for posting on an old subject, Brain, but this thread on John Key’s pronunciation is interesting, particularly in light of this old study from the BBC:

    Evidently the kiwi accent was rated the most attractive and prestigious form of English outside the UK in a BBC survey.

    Given this and recent threads it smells to me like there’s a little post-colonisation cringe coming from the left…

  47. @joe bloggs Key does not have an accent so much as he has a SPEECH Impediment. The big plus for him is that his woefully inadequate vocabulary obsures this much of the time along with his shallow intellect and profound ignorance.Cringe?? he appalls me. On a final note I am a 6th generation New Zealander I am of Aotearoa . John Key doesn’t have any idea what that means nor does he care, all he is capable of envisioning is money in his own and his shadowy backers’ pockets when he sells off the wealth built by generations of NZers.

  48. John Key was not a banker he was a currency trader. They are very different ‘beasties’ If you ever flatted with a Currency Trader in Auckland, Sydney or London in the 80s and 90s you would know not to put him (it was always a him) in charge of the flat kitty if you wanted to eat, have electricity etc. For them the long term was something that would be happening after lunch. Could people please stop calling him a banker.

  49. Yawn…..This interviewer is so negative trying to tear down the PM, no respect and quite frankly has no knowledge or authority on NZ.
    Can’t believe Key (or his advisors) agreed to be interviewed by this arrogant git. And people wonder where we get the so called tall poppy gig from… well this POM is no match for the PM.
    I lost interest in the interview after 5 minutes…Yawn

  50. Tony, Key is not honest but infact a liar. . He has broken just about every election promise in 2008. His interest is to get Corporate Iwi and offshore corporations richer at the expense of the taxpayer. This interview is typical of Key. Absolutely no facts backing up his comments. He also said that under National there will be 170,000 more jobs. Now Bill English is starting to backtrack when asked how those jobs will be created. Your naive to think that Key is upfront Nothing could be further from the truth. Now he is saying that Pharmac is doing a good job but watch down the road, he’ll bait you then switch and let the US shred the government agency to bits. The interviewer on this video made him look totally rediculous. If he was sincere about those remarks, why didn’t he back them up with facts? If I were living in Europe and saw that interview, I would be wondering what Key is trying to hide.

  51. That’s way more cleevr than I was expecting. Thanks!