Brian Edwards Media

What Robyn Malcolm and John Key have in common and why the actor might just best the politician.

 

As a general principle, celebrity endorsements of politicians aren’t worth much. When actors, pop singers and assorted stars of the large and small screens say, ‘I like Candidate X, vote for him!’ the man and woman in the street are inclined to (quite sensibly) respond, ‘Why should I vote for him, because you like him? You’re an actor (pop singer etc.) not an authority on the state of the economy or the best way to solve the unemployment problem.’

And even if the endorsement comes from highly respected people, the effect may not be positive. In 1975, driven as much by their distaste for Rob Muldoon as their enthusiasm for the Leader of the Opposition, a group of highly prominent people, including Geoffrey Palmer, Sir Jack Harris, Sir Edmund Hillary, John Hinchcliff, Graham Nuthall and Sir Paul Reeves formed Citizens for Rowling.

The electorate was unimpressed, perhaps resenting the idea that these high-and-mighty people wanted to tell them how to vote, or possibly because the campaign merely served to emphasise Rowling’s weakness as a candidate. Needing help isn’t a great recommendation for any aspirant to the highest office. Muldoon not merely trounced Rowling in 1975 but went on to defeat him in two further elections.

There can be exceptions. Oprah Winfrey’s declared support of Barak Obama cannot have done his Presidential ambitions any harm. Winfrey was herself one of the most powerful people in America with a massive and devoted following. But such situations are rare.   

So how much significance should we attach to a New Zealand television star who would like to persuade us to vote Green and who has just made a verbal attack on the Prime Minister that makes anything Phil Goff has said, or is likely to say about his opponent, pale into insignificance? Whether you agreed with it or not, Robyn Malcolm’s excoriation of John Key was wonderful in its directness and total lack of reserve. It included:

‘New Zealand is fast becoming one of the most in-egalitarian and backward countries in the OECD… but we have a leader who seems to be more interested in talking about his cats on the radio, being seen at the rugby and getting on the cover of the Woman’s Weekly. I thought that was my job.’

‘[The Prime Minister and National] have an inability to follow through on promises of any kind, but will make anything up for a Hollywood mogul, should they happen to come down this way.’

And she was just getting started.

If I were John Key I would be very careful indeed about dissing Robyn Malcolm or making any suggestion to the effect that she was ‘just an actor’ who should stick to what she was good at – delivering other people’s lines on the telly. First, because Robyn is not ‘just an actor’, she is a spokesperson for the third largest political party in the country; second, because no thespian in our history has gained quite the following or affection that Robyn/Cheryl has achieved in the Kiwi psyche;  and third, because, on one point at least, she is absolutely right – since the advent of television in this country in 1960, no politician has more assiduously exploited the photo-opportunity as a political tool than John Key. And that by a multiple of ten and maybe more. This much the actor and the politician have in common – they both understand very well that there’s no business like show business.

So can Robyn Malcolm’s endorsement help the Greens and can her attack on John Key hurt the Prime Minister? I’d give a cautious ‘yes’ to both.

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66 Comments:

  1. It strikes me as ironic that National have very actively tried to project Paul Bennett as a sort of “Cheryl West” type figure – the honest Westie making a go of it etc etc (har-bloody-har). Now, they’re up against the real (sort of)thing. I suspect that the character Cheryl so penetrated the Kiwi psyche because Robyn embodied it so naturally (an assumption, of course, that I cannot really back up, but something suggested by her politics). Let us not forget Robyn’s righteous stand against Peter Jackson’s union wrecking antics at the considerable cost of threats made to her by the Hobbit brown shirts. Ahe’s no muppet spouting other people’s lines!

  2. If people can be induced to vote National by Key’s incessant smiling, waving and commenting on everything from Coronation Street to Jennifer Lopez’s butt (and according to the polls, they can), then Robyn Malcolm, whoever she is, must have an influence over some.

  3. Not just Paul Bennett, Jude Collins too looks like she’s about to join the Movember effort to tool up Monkey’s Uncle.

  4. Oops – never type when ecstatic. Of course “Paula Bennett” – I make think she’s the devil incarnate, but I should at least do her the respect of getting her gender right. Hehe.

    @ Bricky – “whoever she is”? Snarky much? You seem to know who the infinitely less interesting Jennifer Lopez is.

  5. “If I were John Key I would be very careful indeed about dissing Robyn Malcolm or making any suggestion to the effect that she was ‘just an actor’…”

    – actually, Brian, Key hasn’t. Key was restrained on the radio today, in response to what could be labeled a gutless personality attack by someone lacking the courage to actually stand as a candidate.

    “First, because Robyn is not ‘just an actor’, she is a spokesperson for the third largest political party in the country”

    – a circular argument. She is not a candidate,. therefore, what, other than her profession and fame qualifies her above anyone else to be “a spokesperson”?

    “second, because no thespian in our history has gained quite the following or affection that Robyn/Cheryl has achieved in the Kiwi psyche”.

    – Note to Brian – Robyn is a person. Cheryl is an character. Other than amongst the gullible and stupid (usually found in the USA), most are able to distinguish the two in their minds. If Ed Hilary couldn’t swing ‘em in 1975, don’t count on Cheryl doing it. Oh yes, and I think you’ll find John Clark/Fred Dagg and Billy T James outrank Sheryl on the affection/following front. How many albums has she sold?!

    “and third, because, on one point at least, she is absolutely right – since the advent of television in this country in 1960, no politician has more assiduously exploited the photo-opportunity as a political tool than John Key”.

    – Lost your point here. Key is good at photo ops, which is part of the job description of a modern politicians so…what…you and Cheryl/Robin are implying that is all he is good at? Why didn’t you just say so?

    Then again, in the majority of the public’s mind, Robin/Cheryl almost lost a multi-million $ Peter Jackson (national hero alert!) movie, and Key saved it. Not saying whether that is really the case, but it is most certainly the majority perception.

    Which makes Cheryl/Robin damaged goods for the Greens, with the exception of true believers like Andrew Paul Wood above, who were never going to vote Nat anyway. But for all those upper-middle-income well-educated voters who are tempted to vote Green, but are wavering because they are not sure of the economic cost, the reminder of Robyn/Cheryl’s exploits in the field of industrial relations, courtesy of her own comments helps focus their thinking…

    How sure are you of your analysis on this one, Brian? If I was Key, I’d be smiling like a Cheshire Cat (and the man has that expression down-pat, courtesy of all that practice you allude to), because this is free publicity from your opponent’s that money can’t buy. If a man is defined by his enemies, then this puts Key right where he wants to be in the public mind, courtesy of the westie leftie in the leopard skin leotard…

  6. Oops – never type when ecstatic. Of course “Paula Bennett” – I may think she’s the devil incarnate, but I should at least do her the respect of getting her gender right. Hehe.

    @ Bricky – “whoever she is”? Snarky much? You seem to know who the infinitely less interesting Jennifer Lopez is.

  7. Damn I am impressed with Robyn M. today.

  8. Perhaps it’s because we actually like seeing a politician who is essentially a normal bloke doing normal things, kiwis like him. I was going to give my party vote for green as I can see quite a neat fit with them and the Nats like what happened with the Maori party. Malcolm’s mental health moment has put me off and she has largely undone Russell Normans good work.
    might as well put Sue Bradford back on the list, she has done for the greens what mallard, Fenton, curran, horimia, Dyson have done for labour

  9. Why oh why are people so mad on John Key?? I just don’t get it. Never have, never will. Good on Robyn, for using the opportunity to speak (that the rest of us ordinary punters don’t have) to put another side to this obsequious political narrative.

  10. She’s certainly fearless.

  11. I evidently live in a twilight world since I had not heard of the woman before her unveiling at the Green’s launch. And even if I had heard of her (what is she a celebrity of) I would ignore her views in spite of my dislike of Mr Key. I object to people using their so called celebrity status to push their personal barrow. Her opinions on Mr Key and National Party policy are no more valid than those one hears on talkback radio.

    I would question her qualification to make comment and I suspect the only reason you are so enthusiastic is because you happen to agree with her. I am sure had she said something as disparaging about Goff you would have had no hesitation in dismissing her coments.

  12. @Kimbo
    Even Matthew Hooten acknowledged today on Nat Rad what good publicity this was for the Greens.
    John Key is, and always will be, a dabbler in politics, with no interest in the greater good and a penchant for currying favour with the shallow, wealthy elite.
    And you’re sadly misguided if you think “upper-middle-income well-educated voters who are tempted to vote Green, but are wavering because they are not sure of the economic cost, the reminder of Robyn/Cheryl’s exploits in the field of industrial relations, courtesy of her own comments helps focus their thinking…”
    What Key did there was a giant backward step that anyone with half a brain could see was yet another opportunity to line the pockets of the wealthy multi-nationals at the expense of kiwi workers. Peter Jackson national hero? I think not.

  13. It strikes me that Key is as much an actor as Malcolm, really. ‘Brand Key’ is a commodity, wrapped up in a marketing strategy. Well polled lines are learned and delivered on cue. The script is his plan. Just keep the punters buying JK snake oil. Little wonder the actual politicians cannot compete.

  14. @ kimbo “Then again, in the majority of the public’s mind, Robin/Cheryl almost lost a multi-million $ Peter Jackson (national hero alert!) movie, and Key saved it. Not saying whether that is really the case, but it is most certainly the majority perception.” How did you come to the conclusion of what you consider to be the publics “majority perception”? Id say your manipulated by the media and far more naive than anyone who thinks a star and the actor are one and the same. Id suggest doing some serious research on the hobbit matter before you start telling us what you think people think. if you knew anything about the hobbit matter apart from what you saw on the news then you probably wouldn’t have opened your mouth

  15. 15

    Oh Kimbo – I might conceivably vote National if any shred of the dignity of the old party remained. As much as Muldoon was a toad, it would have been anathema to him to sell off infrastructure assets and crucify the working classes in order to line the pockets of international corporates. That said, I have a deep-seated sense of moral justice, fairness, and rational neo-Keynesian economics – so perhaps you’re right. You sad, nasty, cynical little man.

  16. @ Sarah Wilson

    I disagree with Matthew Hooten.

    Yes, you may be right, Key could well be a dabbler. As I am unaware of any capacity you possess for clairvoyance, mind-reading, or supernatural psychological insight, I’ll pass on your analysis of his supposed personal motives. Instead, I’ll suggest an alternate scenario: –

    The reason Key is so popular is that the majority instinctively and rightly perceive he is a non-politician. Or have you forgotten politicians of every ilk are generally loathed in this country, other than the hard-core political tragics and partisans (smile, Sarah!) who inhabit blog land? You reckon Key is in it for the money? Well, his opponents have been trying to sell that message for years regarding the man, but there’s a reason most aren’t buying it – Key already has lots of money!

    Instead, being the non-political people that they are, the majority of Kiwis figure the most obvious answer applies: Key is doing it because he genuinely believes it is best for the country. Also, as the guy has made lots of money for himself, the majority figures chances are he knows what is best to do it the same for the country.

    Now, you can talk about people who don’t think like you having half a brain, Sarah Wilson, but here’s the thing – that which you criticise Key for (i.e., being a non-politician) is the reason for his popularity. I don’t make the rules, I just report them. And until such time as his opponents stop arrogantly blaming the electorate for being so dumb, they will likely stay in opposition.

    Just like when Muldoon’s opponents criticised him for being “divisive”, and “a bully”, not realising it was Muldoon’s ability to portray strength by refusing to be manipulated by fashionable trendies, liberals, and academics that caused a significant portion of Kiwis. some of them traditional Labour voters, to fall in love with the guy.

    Until such time as you and folks from your political neck of the woods change your narrative, I doubt you’ll be seeing the back of Key.

    @ Rick Didham

    ”How did you come to the conclusion of what you consider to be the publics “majority perception”?”

    Umm…,let’s see…the outcry and almost overwhelmingly negative reaction against Malcolm and her union at the time, other than amongst pro-union die-hards, and the sky-rocketing popularity of Key kind of gave it away.

    “Id say your manipulated by the media”

    Maybe. But then if I am, it would appear the majority are also. I mean, isn’t that the narrative that BE, Robyn Malcolm, and Key’s critics, including you, are running? Key is smiley and shallow, yet strangely popular, so the only way this can possibly be so is if he has fooled the mainstream populace, with the co-operation of a compliant media.

    Either way, we both seem to be concurring that in PR (rather than objective) terms, Malcolm’s effort over ‘The Hobbit’ turned into a debacle on almost every level – PR, work-place legislation, negotiating strength…

    “…if you knew anything about the hobbit matter apart from what you saw on the news then you probably wouldn’t have opened your mouth”

    And if you knew how to structure a coherent logical argument, you would have made a better case rather than the self-contradicting, subjective, and supercilious effort you trundled out.

  17. @ Andrew Paul Wood

    “You sad, nasty, cynical little man”.

    Was that aimed at me, Andrew?

    Sorry to interrupt the self-congratulatory victory laps and chest-beating regarding your “deep-seated sense of moral justice” and “fairness”, but you’ll perhaps understand in the circumstances why I’m reticent regarding your claims of being an outstanding humanitarian exemplar.

    I’ll refrain from giving you the serve you deserve, but leave you in your self-indulgent mental masturbation with the following thoughts:

    Is it possible, just possible, that there is a valid alternate analysis of voting patterns, election tactics, and celebrity endorsements beyond the prescriptive confines of your plausibility structure?

    If not, or if there is but you can’t engage with it without resorting to personal abuse, then kindly bugger off under the rock of partisan abuse where you have self-located yourself.

    And find someone else to debate “rational neo-Keynesian economics” with while you’re there. If you read my first post carefully, you’d see I was making no judgment, be it good, bad, or indifferent on Malcom’s, Key’s or even your views on economics.

  18. BE: “As a general principle, celebrity endorsements of politicians aren’t worth much”.

    Yes, we are all in agreement with that. At best, they provide an artificial enhancement that is ephemeral as well as otiose. The public are savvy enough to know that the nexus where politicians and celebrities converge and consort, will always be mutually self-referencing and self-conscious as it is ironic. A dog, if you point at something, will look only at your finger. Besides, you’ve already provided the evidence of that, from the 1975 Election. Or, can one actress deliver more clout to a political party than a clutch of prominent male politicians, knights, businessmen, high-achievers etc., will ever be able to?

    BE: “Whether you agreed with it or not, Robyn Malcolm’s excoriation of John Key was wonderful in its directness and total lack of reserve.”

    Self-disqualification: You’ve pretty much interdicted your ‘objectiveness and impartiality’ of your thread with that predisposed naked bias, by conflating “excoriation” and “wonderful”.

    BE: “..no thespian in our history has gained quite the following or affection that Robyn/Cheryl has achieved in the Kiwi psyche;..”

    Hyberbolic as it is fanciful, sorry. Subscribing to that — with due respect to Robyn Malcolm — is believing that the greatest pop lyric ever composed, was: Me and you and a dog name Boo.

  19. So Robyn Malcolm can deliver her lines – she proved that years ago. But who writes them? Not she, I’ll bet! What does she REALLY know of the rankings of the OECD? And wasn’t Key discussing his cats on a programme when electioneering was banned?

    Key is merely using a tool, and had he not had that regretful charisma bypass, would Goff too.

    Why do the Greens employ Robyn Malcolm as a spokesperson – haven’t they got any of their own? I suspect not. It’s sad that the Greens have forever been tainted by the nutters they’ve had in their earlier ranks – when the party grows up and ditches the bicycles, the carrot skin shoes and the dope smokers, they might just have something worth taking seriously.

  20. err.. “Hyperbolic”
    Me and you and a dog named Boo.

  21. I think an actor has just as much right to voice an opinion as has a man who won some money in a lottery and bought himself a prime ministership. Especially an actor who has earned her spurs in battle against the NZ anti union brigade. Why is it these people so hate the idea of unions for the lower paid and yet cling so hard to there own collective organizations.

  22. Loved the line that being on the cover of The Women’s Weekly was her job not his, but I suspect she is just preaching to the choir.

    Her involvement in the Hobbit movie fiasco was counter productive and created the impression of a few prima donna actors putting at risk the employment of hundreds of other film production people. Her political acumen is clearly faulty, and her influence negligible, and Key would be foolish to respond and give this story more legs.

  23. Actually I have just in the last few days been considering voting Green – for the first time. (Epsom voter)

  24. I had a bit of a profound moment watching Lucy Lawless sit in a studio with Billy Bunter Brownlee to discuss mining in the schedule four conservation estate a year or two back. I turned the volume down and just looked at them. Lawless had won the debate without even opening her mouth. A beautiful, successful women who is a polished professional in front of the camera. She had won the visual and emotional fight, before anything as silly as facts were on the table. it changed my view of what is actually important in modern campaign politics.

    Key is the most cynical piece of political manipulation and the most tightly scripted and on-message political brand ever to be unleashed on this country. A to-good-to-be-true rags-to-riches back story (and it doesn’t stand close scrutiny) and a total avoidance of having the brand stand for anything other than buzz words. That is his sum total. Key is a product of the people who are so effectively lampooned in “Thank You For Smoking”. Yet her is phenomenally popular. The monument to the genius of Key’s creative deceit is surely how completely brain washed the middle class has become, it is impossible to get an objective assessment out of the chattering classes besotted glee club at dinner parties – although they do take criticism very personally, which I find a telling commentary on the thoroughness of their willing brain washing.

    The point of the above two paragraphs, combined with Mr. Edwards comments on Robyn Malcolm/Cheryl is that today, in this country with our current abysmally bad news and current affairs environment, you can get away with (indeed, are rewarded for) being nothing more than a two dimensional cardboard cut-out branding exercise. Lcuy Lawless almost certainly knows less than Gerry Brownlee about heaps of stuff, probably most things to do with government. but she just has to turn up to own him on T.V. John Key has got away with casual lying, a lack of principles and a complete lack of scrutiny for five years now, and he is rewarded with huge popularity.

    I read that the voice over for Labour’s campaign launch commercial “documentary” (presenting editorial as fact – has any party more surely assessed the media zeitgeist of it’s times?) was Tandi Wright, she who is the aspirational and attractive character of the hit TV show “Nothing Trivial”. The tragedy of our commons is if her and Phil Goff had swopped roles Labour would probably be 5-10% higher in the polls right now.

    PS – Mr. Edwards, I came across an ancient “Fair Go” interview on the Heartland Channel the other night where you were teasing information out of a shy lady from Hastings about some dodgy photographer or another. Watching it reminded of how far backwards we have gone. And it was excellent TV, your unobtrusive guiding of the lady let her tell her story, and it was a riveting and sad (because nowadays we just get two extremists, or more usually a right wing extremist and a sensible person who the interviewer then proceeds to bait with outlandishly rude questions) to watch.

  25. Prior to my twenty years in NZ I had been used to political parties publishing there policy intentions in a manifesto some time prior to elections. The habit of dribbling out policy in a bidding war during the campagne fills me with dismay. No wonder the public loose faith in democracy. On the other hand the Green Party have consistently presented well thought out policies and ideas and got their message out in good time.
    If a celebrity chooses to divert the spotlight from John Key for a brief moment then bring it on. Key himself looses no opportunity to cosey up to to sports people etc and no one on the right finds that a problem.

  26. “Also, as the guy has made lots of money for himself, the majority figures chances are he knows what is best to do it the same for the country.”

    Making money as a currency trader and running the country are two entirely different scenarios. Can’t you spot the difference?

    Who is this majority you speak of? Did the majority of voters vote National at the last election? No, the majority voted against National. The majority may not be impressed that Key is a self-made millionaire. I’m not.

  27. Please I will never ever understand how Key is popular….the only thing i can think of is that, unfortunately the majority of kiwis must be silly to be taken in by him…..there is no substance and the fact is NZ is worse off because of him….

    My cat could govern this country better…..!

  28. Robyn Malcolm: 1
    John Key: 0

    Robyn Malcolm’s Green speech hit the mark with a lot of ordinary kiwis. It’s obvious to most of us that this was not just an actor reading lines from someone else’s play – she was speaking from the heart.

    Apologists for National or Act are bound to claim that NZers are somehow naively mistaking her for Cheryl West. But her honesty comes across strongly. This is Robyn Malcolm – a staunch woman espousing firmly-held beliefs – and she’s not afraid to speak her own mind. Reaction to Robyn’s role in the unionised-hobbit affair usually align with one’s political beliefs. Was she single-handedly trying to undermine NZ’s film industry? Or do you agree that our Government’s response to a large US corporate threat was third-world at best? For many of us, it was Peter Jackson & Co who lost credibility over this issue.

    Now that we’re stuck with an entertainment-focussed mainstream media (hang your corporate heads in shame, TVNZ News & Current Affairs) it’s refreshing to hear a Greens spokesperson who appears to be the antithesis of John Key’s false and smarmy persona. Oh, for the good old days of investigative journalism. Bring back BE!

    And more power to your elbow, Robyn Malcolm.

  29. @ ross

    “Making money as a currency trader and running the country are two entirely different scenarios. Can’t you spot the difference?”

    Indeed I can. And can’t you see I’m simply stating what I suspect other people perceive concerning Key, irrespective of my own personal views on the matter? I’d suggest my explanation is more plausible than the claims of mass hypnosis, collective stupidity, or class-warfare conspiracies that are coming from other voices on this site to account for the man’s unusual, almost unprecedented popularity.

    And if you want to get pedantic, no, National did not achieve a “majority” in 2008. And no, you are obviously not going to vote for him, and I’m neither commending nor criticising your choice. Or anyone else’s for that matter. So why is it people here take it as a personal attack when an alternate point of view is stated to the party line regarding the REASONS (as distinct from the RIGHTNESS or WRONGNESS) for Key’s popularity?

    I realise I suspect I’m dealing with a case of collective political Tourette syndrome when it comes to Key’s critics, who seem to find this site a place of welcome solace. However, if you are really interested in defeating the man, you are better of really searching out the reason for his popularity, rather than tuning in to the collective choir singing the same low-rating song about “smile and wave”. Can I suggest that we’ve uncovered another reason for his popularity – his critics are so mis-directed in their critique.

    Nevertheless, back to your statement (which was hardly necessary, but you obviously felt the need to say if), that you won’t vote for Key. Good for you. However, and I think we’ll both agree I am pointing out the obvious here, while your one vote doesn’t count for much, the collective popularity of John Key with lots of voters does. 

    And in practical terms, both in 2008, and now (judging on overwhelming poll data), Key has swayed sufficient numbers (usually known as a “majority”) to determine the election. Which I thought was the subject of Brian’s latest post. Just to remind you, I’ll repeat the opening and closing statements of the post, so you can refocus your discussion points: –

    “As a general principle, celebrity endorsements of politicians aren’t worth much…So can Robyn Malcolm’s endorsement help the Greens and can her attack on John Key hurt the Prime Minister? I’d give a cautious ‘yes’ to both”.

  30. @kimbo you called andrew woods opinion “self indulgent mental masturbation”? LOL what level are you at, while your insults are clever in a toilet humor sort of way please keep your arguments to facts you researched instead you things you saw in a 5 min slot on the news.
    You called me contradictory if i wanted to contradict my self Id say that your so threatened that more than one has disagreed with you here and had no facts to support your argument other than what you saw on the news and so showered us in a torrential flood of your verbal diarrhea.

    JC: And that’s the last piece of scatology that will get past me. Any further potty mouthing from either of you will be edited.

  31. I fail to understand why an actor would think that they have an opinion in politics that was of any more worth than any others. Mouthing off with an uninformed personal attack based on person bias, does not seem to project an authoritative status.

    Further whether you like him or not I am sure many New Zealand women reading the woman’s weekly would be interested in learning about the man who is running the country – how did he get there – why is he there, what does he have to offer, what are his personal interests – I am sure many New Zealand women are interested in such aspects and probably insulted that Malcolm would suggest otherwise.

  32. Mr Key’s popularity is based on his presence in person or on TV. He must know that. But if you listen to what he says in a rare radio interview, like was delivered this morning on Morning Report, then he seems to me that he is a very poor communicator. Blather. Mumble. And avoid any answers.
    As I said elsewhere it seems to me that Mr Key and Mr Peters are so much alike. Perhaps that is why Key is so anti Peters.

    Robin has presence and presentation and colour. Thank goodness for Robin!

  33. I joined the massive anti mining march in Queen St Auckland a few minutes late and cut through via Shortland St. There right at the front was Robyn Malcom. ShonKey cannot even ‘recall’ his position on the 81 Tour.

    The PM in his previous career even helped manipulate the NZ Dollar according to a Fairfax publication.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/249633/Who-is-John-Key

  34. @ Rick Didham and JC

    Actually, I’ll think you’ll find the term “mental masturbation” is not scatology at all: –

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mental%20masturbation

    Nevertheless, despite the fact that you seem to think it is acceptable, Judy, as evidenced by your lack of editorial comment, to allow people to be labelled “sad” and “nasty” on your site, I’ll endeavour to use a more acceptable term in future. Either that, or you did not notice the instance to which I refer, in which case no offence is taken.

    Would “intellectually self-indulgent” satisfy the requirements of your censorship proclivities?

    Which brings me back to the point at issue. Rick Didham, review again what Andrew Paul Wood said: claims of his great humanitarian virtues, yet he hurls personal epithets at people with whom he disagrees. In contrast, the term I used (now to be understood as “intellectually self-indulgent”) was directed at his arguments, not his person.

    And contrary to your claim I have produced no facts to support the claim that Key decisively won the battle of majority perception over the Hobbit encounter with Malcolm, I draw your attention once more to the proof: his extraordinary popularity as evidenced by the polls.

    Note, Rick Didham, I’m not saying who was right or wrong. Personally, as a former union rep, my sympathies were with Malcolm. However, as you correctly suggest the majority can’t be bothered researching, and do indeed form their opinion on the content and slant of 5 min TV slots. Which is why I’m also confident that Malcolm, other than amongst the union faithful, and based on Key’s poll ratings both then and now, was the loser in the PR battle.

    Now if you have any data to the contrary, other than your intense personal passion in this matter, which I’d tactfully suggest is clouding your judgement on how the majority of Kiwis viewed the Hobbit industrial dispute, I’m all ears…

    JC: You are all guests on our site, which is a forum for debate and commentary. We welcome spirited exchanges, and opinions of all shades. However, when commentators descend to rudeness and personal abuse I step in. I have done so in the past; I will do so in the future.

  35. Without wanting to insult the electorate I believe it would be fair to say that this general election is as much a test for voter savvy as it is for the political opponents. Those swinging voters may now choose to vote for the Greens or not vote at all, cos it appears ‘in the bag’ for National. And all those Labour supporters who couldn’t be bothered voting in 2008 might just be motivated enough to get down to a polling booth. I would give a cautious ‘yes’ to both.

  36. “And can’t you see I’m simply stating what I suspect other people perceive concerning Key…”

    Kimbo, you’ve said an awful lot about what you think other people think about the PM. Why don’t you tell us what you think about him, warts and all?

    “And if you want to get pedantic, no, National did not achieve a ‘majority’ in 2008.”

    Sorry to be pedantic, but I like facts. I thought you might have explained why the majority didn’t vote for the lovable Key in 2008, despite the Clark government having been in power for 9 years and having become increasingly unpopular.

  37. @ Ross

    “Kimbo, you’ve said an awful lot about what you think other people think about the PM. Why don’t you tell us what you think about him, warts and all?”

    Nope. It is not the point of the thread as BE has framed it. Another time, perhaps, when it is the point for discussion.

    And yes, you may like facts, but I’d suggest the issue is focusing on relevant ones – like who won the 2008 election, and who is likely to win again in 2011, based on consistent polling trends. And what factors, like celebrity endorsements, may sway or alter that collective decision of the electorate. As I suggested (and as you’ve ignored), that in the effective terms of how BE framed this discussion is known as a “majority”.

    Now, no more answers for you, until you reciprocate the courtesy I’ve already extended to you of carefully thinking about your post, and engaging with the points you have made.

  38. Good for you Robyn Malcom.There is nothing “Gutless “about not standing as a candidate.If Robyn wishes to put her name to a set of principles that fine by me.If she wishes to humorously comment about the Prime Minister thats fine also.What I dont like is some of the policies John Key and his government has adopted which affect me more than anything Robyn Malcom has said.

  39. I didn’t think, there was much wrong with Robyn Malcolm sashaying her assets for the Greens; she’s entitled to do that. And I don’t mind saying: that I did feel for her, when she came under fire for speaking out over employment contracts w.r.t Peter Jackson’s forthcoming crud movie, especially, when Paul Holmes laid into her like a bunch of South Aucklanders at a Valentines buffet table. It was a question of the relative merits of “celebrity” status and how it was likely to boost the Green Party’s political stocks, that I was questioning.

    I really believe, Epsom will be a touchstone in this election; certainly, it’ll be a watershed for the ACT party.

  40. If Kerry’s cat is standing in Helensville, I’ll vote for it.

    As for Bidrom: “On the other hand the Green Party have consistently presented well thought out policies and ideas and got their message out in good time.” the Greens have been consistent in providing well thought-out ideas only for use on a Tui billboard.

    “The aint-smacking bill will stop parents beating their kids to death” Yeah, right.

    “Let’s save water by restricting shower heads to a litre a minute flowthrough!”

    “We should all limit ourselves to one child per coule so we can take more refugees”… etc etc.

    The Greens may be a viable option in Germany, but here not all of us want to live with their lunatic fringe sentiments.

  41. It’s strange how people can listen to the same thing and get completely different impressions. Ianmac listened to JK’s extended interview on Morning Report and was reminded of Winston Peters. I find that remarkable. I have never heard Winston Peters answer a straight question with a straight answer. Ever. Oh, once by holding up a “No” sign and later we found it should really have been “Yes”.

    John Key answered the questions coherently and sensibly. That’s actually a characteristic of the man, he answers questions. Most politicians prefer to ignore the question and make a statement. I got the impression of a capable and intelligent man with a command of detail and a real understanding of the economy. He’s not Jesus Christ, but he remains a breath of fresh air in our political scene.

    At the end Simon badgered him again about not fronting Phil Goff on NatRad in a debate and Key calmly reiterated his position on limiting the number of debates he was prepared to do. He pointed out that he didn’t really like the debates, because the limited time and the constrained format inevitably resulted in a competition to yell soundbites over the top of the other man. Exactly the same point our host has been capably making for several posts.

    Just one more point; The Hobbit. Reading the opinions on this site you’d get the impression that if you look beyond the soundbites this issue is actually a slam dunk for Robyn Malcolm and the left. I don’t think so. Let’s not forget that the whole drama started with a modelmaker. The man was employed on a contract to make models for a film. When the film ended his contract ended. That’s how the film industry works. That’s how a lot of the new economy, where the high quality, high value jobs of tomorrow works. But that’s not how unions want the world to work, and they actually write Labour’s policy in this area. Forget flexible work-arrangements. The modelmaker was only working on one job for one employer for a period of time. So let’s go to court, argue that it’s not a contract because it looks like an old fashioned job and therefore needs to be wrapped in cotton wool with a bunch of highly prescriptive rules and conditions, including more or less forbidding termination under any circumstances. This kind of thinking will kill the film industry in this country if the left gets its way.

  42. @ Merv

    “I didn’t think, there was much wrong with Robyn Malcolm sashaying her assets for the Greens; she’s entitled to do that”.

    “Yes”, and “Yes” to both of those.

    However, there can be a price to pay, and a damage to the celebrity’s “brand”. The case of Darien Fenton’s criticism and implication of economic boycott of the Mad Butcher is a case in point. Peter Leitch hasn’t got a political bone in his body, but ended up “supporting” Key because he genuinely enjoys working with the guy in his charity work, just as he did with Helen Clark.

    Personally, I think there is something a bit gutless about attacking a person (and his policies) as Malcolm has done, yet the critic is not actaully prepared to put their popularity to the only real test that counts in the matter – standing as a candidate.

    Brian’s advice that Key should, “be very careful indeed about dissing Robyn Malcolm or making any suggestion to the effect that she was ‘just an actor’” illustrates that there is something unfair and unbalanced about the arrangement. And if there is one thing Kiwis don’t like, it is unfairness. Which is why, other than amongst those who were never going to vote Key and National, I think Malcolm’s effort will be counter-productive…

  43. @ JC

    “JC: You are all guests on our site, which is a forum for debate and commentary. We welcome spirited exchanges, and opinions of all shades. However, when commentators descend to rudeness and personal abuse I step in. I have done so in the past; I will do so in the future”.

    Indeed, although not as consistently and as early as I’d like. Nevertheless it’s your site.

    I’ll take the above, which didn’t really answer my question “Would “intellectually self-indulgent” (instead of mental masturbation) satisfy the requirements of your censorship proclivities?” as an apology for your oversight, and allow bygones to be bygones.

    JC: How remarkably gracious of you, Kimbo. A euphemism is still personal attack, therefore I think your ‘question’ was adequately answered.

  44. @ JC

    …and lest my comment above leaves an after-taste of peevishness, I thank you for the time you and Brian put into this site. I appreciate it.

  45. Whatever the result of this election on the night I believe New Zealand is once again divided pretty much down the middle. ‘Brand Key’, whether you like or loathe it has polarised the nation, intentionally or unintentionally.

    Robyn Malcolm is exercising her right to speak freely. If National are returned to power, and the writing is already going on the wall, there will be much more exercising of free speech and it will grow in deafening volume against the government. Opposition to the ‘Key Brand’ is not just going to go away.

    New Zealand has been down a similar road before, as many can remember. The question this time is how ugly could it get.

  46. I actually heard Robyn Malcolm’s speech, and didn’t pay that much attention. Whilst I agreed with her sentiments, I was more focused on driving at the time.

    I was therefore flabbergasted to read the Herald article that Ms Malcolm had been “vitriolic” and “savaged” the PM!

    Pardon?!

    Are we talking about the same speech? To me, her comments were critical – but nowhere near vitriolic.

    Anyway, since when have we become a Peoples Democratic Republic that a government-friendly newspaper vilifies critics of our elected representatives?!?!

    Is the term “Dear Leader” now to become a reality?

    As for Cameron Brewer’s comments – now that really took the cake! http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/unfortunate-outrage/

    By the way, Kimbo,

    “The reason Key is so popular is that the majority instinctively and rightly perceive he is a non-politician.”

    Say whut?

    What arrant nonsense. Key is not only a politician – but he is the perfection of a politician. The Perfect Politician is one who is selling you politics, and you aren’t even aware of it.

    Hwe’s as political as they come. Just bloody good at it.

  47. Kat: “If National are returned to power, and the writing is already going on the wall, there will be much more exercising of free speech and it will grow in deafening volume against the government. Opposition to the ‘Key Brand’ is not just going to go away.”

    I believe your prediction is 100% on the nose, Kat. The degree of polarisation is
    quite remarkable for only one year. I’m not sure why it’s happened – unreasonable build up of expections by Key, in 2008?

    It’s a good topic for a future blog piece…

  48. Frock me. Talk about striking a nerve, Sheryl, no less than nine comments from the prince of pretentiousness ranging from the snidely profane to craven host-flattery.

    You got em worried girl. And no wonder. Like Jacinda, Sir Paul, Sir Ed, you name ‘em, you just ooze class, lass. And class is something they just can’t handle.

    Coz they can’t buy it, see.

    Born on the right side of the tracks, the right religion, the right family – got everything! Everything, I tells ya – except a heart and a funny bone. Right-wing humour: the poxy oxymoron. And the empathy bus just drove on by, stuck in geek street fingering their paltry baubles forever.

    Hollow to the core, but they scrabble away; ranting at random passers-by with their store-bought language; inventing popularity contests and buying first prize; and standing on the poor to make themselves look taller.

    Pathetic mongrels really, babe. No wonder they go apeshirt if anyone wants a bit of our dough back: they’ve literally got nothing else. And no wonder they hate you. C’m here. You’re gorgeous.

  49. Ak – I salute you sir/ma’m. That has to be the Post of the Year!

  50. @kimbo, you clearly have alot of time on your hands. I just hope that the common New Zealanders and all the disposable actors here have your speeches on their side.

  51. Didn’t want to leave this with the thought I was trying to be a troll. Honestly. Am genuinely intrigued by Key’s popularity, and the reaction and tactics of his opponents and critics. Sorry if I wound some of you up. Was not my intention. Should have taken into account that as an election is weeks away, passions are high at present. Just wanted to see if there was much substance, beyond partisan politics, to the criticisms of Key.

    For years Labour struggled in vain to defeat Muldoon. They had tried confronting him directly, and got mauled. They tried ignoring him, but that didn’t work either, because he dominated the landscape in the same way Helen Clark did from 1999 to 2008, and Key does now. Instead, they killed the old tusker with kindness. Defining moment and point of the 1984 campaign: Muldoon’s sarcastic response to Lange, after being told there was still a place for him in the new post-election NZ – “I love you too, Mr Lange”.

    Lessons from the past: Don’t attack a political opponent at the point that is their direct source of public popularity, because when you do, you are directly implying to the majority who decide elections that they are wrong. And people, especially when they are being wooed for their vote, don’t like to be told they are wrong!

    How Labour and the Greens may be able to dent John Key’s popularity (because criticising him for “shallow smile and wave” is not working!):

    Embrace the man’s “successful” image, career, and self-made millions. It sends two messages: We are not nasty or playing the “politics of envy” – we are bigger and better than that. Instead, John Key is an advertisement of what the welfare state, which Labour will protect, can do for anyone. John Key’s success is a product of Labour policy.

    “We acknowledge John Key’s expertise in the field of currency trading. It is the high stakes end of the unrestrained deregulation roller-coaster of changing fortunes that we’ve tried to ride as a country from 1984 onwards. Ultimately, John Key is banking on an economic recovery taking place elsewhere in the world, and then, in line with the skills he used to make his millions, he is expecting to position us to exploit that. That’s what he knows, and that’s what he’s good at. Which is why he’s been trying to keep up public morale and confidence with his “good news” approach. Just like Muldoon tried to keeps all those balls in the air with what he knew until it all came unstuck…

    The problem with Key’s plan is that since 2008 the world financial situation has changed. The nature of capitalism that drives economic growth has been forever altered. We now actually need to be proactive with job creation, with up-skilling, by directing the resources available to government alone. This is another depression in the making, and Labour knows how to solve those! We need the knowledge of how to generate economic recovery, rather than waiting and hoping for it to happen elsewhere and then maybe wash up on our shores. Things are getting worse overseas, not better. It is time for people with Labour’s expertise in the management of political and economic detail.

    John Key has tried his best with the “hands-off” approach. We are grateful that an incoming Labour-Green government inherits a country that is relatively united and in good morale despite the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes, courtesy of Key’s ability to be a good figurehead in a time of crisis. But we now need more than a figurehead with obsolete speculation trading skills. We need practical action. Vote Labour/Green!

  52. @Kimbo. Finally you have recognised the shovel for what it is, a shovel. It took a lot of words but you got there. Good on you and I am sure that Labour/Greens will accept your vote.

  53. @ Kat

    …didn’t say I believe a word of it!

    Honestly, if the best strategy the left can come up with is continual sniping over smile and wave, and three-way hand-shakes, this is going to be their biggest rout since McGovern ran for President!

    Pity. Phil Goff is a good guy, and would make a very able PM. He deserves smarter supporters!

  54. @ kimbo

    ‘Kat’ didn’t get it, because her intellectual reservoir doesn’t, quite, run as deep as yours.

  55. Kimbo (November 10th, 2011 at 12:16 ) Well written piece, Kimbo. Thoughtful, insightful, and just plain intuitive. It is sound criticism of the left and it’s campaigning.

    I would dearly love to republish that on my blog – with the consent of yourself and Brian, of course.

    JC: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/lessons-from-the-past-a-critique-of-labour/

  56. @ Frank Macskasy

    Go for it.

    @ Merv

    Not so. I may have been too obtuse to recognise her sarcasm. And give Kat credit. No matter what the context or occasion, she always stays on message!

  57. “Just wanted to see if there was much substance, beyond partisan politics, to the criticisms of Key.”

    Indeed there is much substance if you are willing to listen.

    I’m not sure about your re-telling of history. Muldoon had had a good innings and was on the way out. But you’re right that he was his own worst enemy, as I’m sure Key is.

  58. @Merv. And exactly what didn’t I get?

  59. @ Ross

    “Indeed there is much substance (of criticisms of Key) if you are willing to listen”.

    And as you are a committed partisan in this matter, I’d suggest you are confusing “listen” with “agree”. Remember the bland amorphous “middle ground” that determines elections doesn’t share your perspectives. Which is why the committed “faithful” of both the left and right are often really bad at political strategising. They think most people think like them. They don’t.

    And no, realistically I don’t think Labour ever had much chance in this election, no matter what their policies or message.

    But on Muldoon – good assessment. A polarising personality (which was an electoral asset for quite a while), and not the useless economic administrator that subsequent self-interested history from both the left and right has caricatured him as.

    But eventually he succumbed, like Clark too, and as no doubt Key will as well, maybe sooner (2014) than later (2017 or beyond) to what Harold McMillan confirmed is the real driver of political fortune: “Events, my dear boy, events”.

  60. “But eventually he succumbed, like Clark too, and as no doubt Key will as well, maybe sooner (2014) than later (2017 or beyond) to what Harold McMillan confirmed is the real driver of political fortune: “Events, my dear boy, events”.

    Or, more likely, raised expectations that are not fulfilled?

  61. By the way, I camwe across a link on John Pagani’s Blog to the famous 1984 debate between Lange and Muldoon. I’ve only just seen it (though had heard much about it).

    http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-1984-leaders-debate-1984#widget_blog_comments_summary

    I was struck by several things,

    * the quiet, unpretentiousness of Ian Johnstone’s interview,

    * that the two leaders rarely tried to talk over each other, and often waited until the other had finbished talking (not always, but mostly),

    * the subtlety of the studio background – with focus totally on the two leaders instead,

    * though not as vocal or argumentative as debates these days, the tension and quiet strength of the two men was awe-inspiring.

    No wonder many view them both as “giants” of their time.

    And one final irony; Robert Muldoon described his National Party as “centre-right”. How times have changed – these days of post-Rogernomics neo-liberalism, the National Party of that era would be seen as left of Labour!

  62. @ Kat & Kimbo

    OK. SO, I’m the dummy. Kat’s “sarcasm” went over me like a hairnet. But why do posters need to be sarcastic and talk in riddles? Just be straight-up, so ordinary folks can understand.

  63. Merv – not entirely your fault, mate. Don’t forget that verbal/written communication is only about 10% of total human communication. Reading comments like this leaves out the remaining 90% of tone, body language, facial expressions, context, etc.

    We all sometimes get caught out. (I have been, many a time.) Best response is a quick, short, “My bad”, and move on with the discussion.

  64. I’m not a fan of Malcolms politics, nor am I a Green supporter by any stretch of the imagination. But by the same token I am left scratching my head how so many people just seem to adore Dennis Plant…oops, sorry, I mean John Key.
    Anyone who watched ‘The Pretender’ will know what that joke was about!
    I just don’t get it, the Key love. From the likes of Garner on TV3, the entire TV1 breakfast show, they are biased in the extreme and fail to hide it.
    I have seen interviews and political debates this year, where Key has been literally on the rack in regard to several issues- particularly on things he has said or has quoted from somewhere else that has been proven to be utterly false- A quick joke from Key, a little smile…and for some inexplicable reason, the journos let him off the hook! ‘The Teflon kid’ indeed!

  65. One final footnote: We need some decent interviewers and journos in this country. Not tabloid scum…not sychophants…but good quality interviewers that will ask tough questions and demand the answers.

  66. Wow. Kimbo just schooled all of you. Nice!!