Brian Edwards Media

John Key – ‘There There’ Prime Minister

I can understand the public love affair with John Key. People comfortable in their own skin are generally comfortable to be around. And that’s how I’ve felt about the Prime Minister on the one or two occasions I’ve met him.

What is less usual is for politicians to be comfortable, to ‘be themselves’ on television. From time to time I’ve quoted my friend Ian Fraser’s dictum that the key to coming across on the box is to be able to ‘act yourself’. Despite Ian’s enormous experience as a broadcaster and media trainer, I’m not sure I still agree with that particular gem. It’s the ‘acting’ bit I have trouble with. Acting and sincerity really don’t go together.

Critics of Labour leader David Cunliffe regularly accuse him of acting, implying lack of sincerity. I rarely hear the same criticism of John Key. So is John Key more sincere than David Cunliffe? No. John Key is a better actor than David Cunliffe. With endless repetition, the role he is playing – amiable, easy-going, in charge but still just one of us – has become second-nature to him and, in the process, less recognisable for what it is. Actor and real person have merged.  

I suspect that Key may in reality be the most focused and ruthless Prime Minister New Zealand has seen, the total pragmatist. When principle and pragmatism collide, principle invariably gives way. By comparison the oft-derided Rob Muldoon was a naive idealist, his bullying manner obscuring a genuine man of the people, genuinely concerned for the ordinary person. You might not like Muldoon’s principles, but he stuck to them.

As for Key, I ceased to believe in him as a man of integrity when he negotiated the ‘pokies for payola’ arrangement with Sky City, the shonkiest and most socially  irresponsible political deal I can remember in my half century living in this country.

So how does he get away with it? By minimising the significance of anything that might seem to reflect badly on him or his party; by dismissing rather than dealing with criticism.

If you watch Key responding to journalists’ questions on the TV news, you’ll see that he almost never gives a sustained or detailed answer to anything.  Instead he shrugs off the question or criticism as something of little importance. His answers effectively range from ‘Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ to ‘Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. It’ll be fine.’

Good night, sleep tight

Don’t let the (left wing) bugs bite

Wake up bright in the morning light

To do what’s right with all your might.

 This minimisation of the significance of any critique of his government or himself has been remarkably effective in allowing Key to avoid  in-depth discussion of his policies or actions.

According to Judy, men often fail to understand that when a woman is upset or worried she may prefer a ‘there there’ to being offered a solution to her problem.

Perhaps it’s his feminine side coming out, but the Prime Minister seems to have understood the value of soothing the electorate in preference to offering solutions to its problems. And so far it’s worked.

Never mind. There there. There there.



  1. I think the achievements under the Nats. speak for themselves during very trying global circumstances….personal politics are becoming irrelevant to the wider public who appear to be getting heartily sick of the carping… and that’s what every political party, bar the Nats, haven’t figured out…only the disenfranchised and semi-impotent left wing,subtle power-grabbers of the Green side and yesterdays men, like Winnie, still seem to think…that the majority of everyday Kiwi’s care if John Key is acting or whatever…they don’t, as reflected in the polls…
    They’re smart enough to see through the petty politics and the daily sniping media and are able to see that the country is generally in good shape…and that’s all that matters to the man who works, feeds his kids and gazes at the stars at night when everyone’s gone to bed…yes, Brian,they like John Key!

    • 1.1

      That’s a pretty provincial view of the matter. New Zealand, like Australia and Canada was fairly insulated from the GFC. To take credit for steering New Zealand out of a crisis it had already largely avoided is a pointless piece of political audacity.

      Much like New Zealand, Canada has an incompetent conservative government taking credit for doing nothing while it sows the seeds for future troubles. Although to be fair Canadian Prime Minister Sweatervest McLegohair is nowhere near as affable as Key.

    • Just like John Key, Rob…You seem to think money is the cure for NZs problems, Lets just sell ALL NZs assets & put lots of cash into the bank, Give the cash to only the rich and open the gates for One World Order.
      Key is nothing but a traitor of justice & Peace in NZ, If you have Over $1000,000 in your bank, I understand. If you don’t, Your a fool & just like John Key, Your playing with Peoples money & future that dose not belong to you.

    • I don’t think the Nats have done a thing except borrow a lot of money while selling the gold. There’s being no job creation policy, all the while, while Key has been saying the way out of child poverty is by job creation.
      The economy may be in a mild boom – but that’s had nothing to do with Key or National, that’s purely because of an unfortunate earthquake and dairy prices. Therefore it only effects Christchurch as a region and a few thousand dairy farmers.
      Every other region is facing stagnation and rising cost of living prices.

      I can’t think of a more odious Prime Minister in the history of New Zealand than this current one. He calls himself a typical Kiwi bloke which is curious. I can’t imagine a typical Kiwi bloke would try and bring the NZ dollar down if they were given a chance of working at Merrill Lynch and I don’t think a typical Kiwi bloke would ban all protests of offshore oil exploration.

    • No doubt John Key is a very likeable fellow. I have grave concerns, however, that he prefers industry and large scale economics to the rights of humanity and their health. I do not trust his coziness with America and the secrecy of the Trans pacific partnership agreement which, in effect, gives away our economic and food sovereignty to the multinational companies favoured by the US government. This is the most important issue of this election and the(state controlled) media is all quiet about it. The Greens and Winston have taken a firm stand against it, but not the labs or the nats (we assume they are for it since they continue negotiating to make it happen).Furthermore, we could easily be drug into a stupid war, initiated by the USA (who simply wants to spy on us and keep us under thumb), against one of our most important trade partners (China).How stupid is that? We don’t really have a gripe with China. Haven’t we had enough blood shed in the wars of our “allies” with hidden agendas? America is broke and just picking a fight with the nation they owe the most money to! Do we want a part of that? I think its crap! War is crap! Are you ok with the notion that your kid might disagree with a politician, travel to___, and be droned without a fair trial or due process? SHould people’s private homes be invaded with armed, Jack boot thugs without a warrant because big brother says so? These are real problems that suggest very real erosion of individual liberties under the regime of the smiling, smug guy who always holds the microphone and wants to shake hands with Obama. I think this man is the smiling face of corporate fascism and we’re so “fat dumb and happy” we just can’t see it. We need to think about this.

  2. I completely disagree that John Key is acting. Where on earth do you get that from? Cunliffe on the other hand……… As for Muldoon he was one of the nastiest people we ever had the misfortune to have in office, a womanizer and a drunk and a bully too.

    • I have no doubt that Muldoon was everything you say. I’m surprised he was a womaniser, but I have no evidence to contradict the claim and, I have to admit, very little interest.
      On the other hand, I do think that for all of his faults, and I am not a National voter, I believe him to have been a man of principle. Not my principles, I grant you.
      I am not convinced that nice men
      – are necessarily good men.
      – are necessarily men of principle.
      – are not necessarily expert at deception.
      – are necessarily responsible representatives of the people who elect them.
      I believe that Key’s success is a function of being nice enough that widows and grandmothers will never hear a bar of criticism of him on the basis of how pleasant he is, and that widowhood and grandmotherhood is spreading virally across our culture.

    • Totally agree.
      Key isn’t acting, it is just him. He doesn’t need to act and even the Joe and Jane Public can see this.
      Brian is simply trying to find a means of diminishing Key and excuse “his man”.

      On the other hand Cunliffe IS acting and nobody is buying it. He is so insincere that it shines through no matter how he tries to spin things.
      The fact that he is so widely loathed should have been the warning to the Labour party to leave him out of the leadership stakes.

  3. Au contraire, I think John Key is very much WYSIWYG. He is a known quantity, affable and self deprecating. The latter is, I feel, an important difference between him and Cunliffe. Cunliffe tries to be all things to all men as part of his “unsuccessful acting” and he merely comes across as insincere. Why would NZ choose the insincere, full of himself and an unknown coalition over at least the perception of quite the opposite?

    • What really gets me annoyed is is how stupid people are, you vote for policies, not for personality! What have the Nats done in 6 years besides, tweak, cut and sell? Nothing. No reinvestment, no forward thinking or “bright future” ideas. Key is great at selling an aspirational picture that is simply not there. You can disagree with me all you like, but when our finance minister knowingly hides the fact that childhood poverty is much more prevalent that we all anticipated, that just infuriates me. I find it insulting that we are talking about a former banker and how good he is, or how good he isn’t. His government has patronised us for so long, we are numb and just take the bull shit for what it is. We should challenge policy and stand up and take notice. Because shrugging shoulders and putting up with it, is simply not good enough.

      • 3.1.1

        You say “What really gets me annoyed is is how stupid people are”. On the bell curve of stupidity where are you? Someone who doesn’t have your world view is stupid? I would say it is stupid to think that.

    • Key is a serial liar. But you might be right…that might be how he acts when he’s not talking politics.

  4. I think Key genuinely believes the ‘pokies for a convention center’ arrangement is a good deal for the country. I, like him also think it creates a good out of an already present evil. The perfect marriage of principle and pragmatism. That is what Key means by the ‘politics of aspiration’. That the deal doesn’t sit well with others is their problem – not his. Which is why he is comfortable in his skin, and they are seething.

    Muldoon also used to brush criticism aside, by a “take it or leave it, love me of hate me” approach. Rather than using the natural charm and sangfroid of Key, Muldoon would stare down the barrel of the camera, state his case, and laugh that caustic laugh. And for that the shrinking violets in the New Zealand media and assorted self-interested pressure groups called him a dictator.

    • 4.1

      Perhaps he should do a deal with P dealers next.

      • No. A false analogy.

        The time to stop the pokies was back in the 1990s, before the Casino was built.

        Remind me again when in Government how many times Labour in general, and Mr Cunliffe in particular moved to have it demolished?

        Remind me again Mr Cunliffe’s ‘definitive’ statement on the matter? “We reserve the right to revisit the t’s and c’s”.

        Yeah, a real crystal-clear statement of moral principle! That’s telling ‘em.

        And they try and say Key lacks integrity, and isn’t sincere or principled? Hah!


          You said:

          I, like him also think it creates a good out of an already present evil. The perfect marriage of principle and pragmatism.

          Perhaps you should write more carefully.

          In any case the original dispute was about the amount of gambling in society, not its existence.

          SkyCity must have a pretty good idea of how much it is going to make from the additional machines, and it’s likely that this is a substantial amount, otherwise why would they want them? That means more gambling and more negative externalities visited on people who won’t benefit from the convention centre.

          It’s perfectly reasonable to think that NZ has enough gambling or more than enough without assuming that this requires one to oppose all past gambling legislation.

          • “That means more gambling”

            Not necessarily. Just more gambling concentrated in one place.

            Maybe you too should also write more carefully.


              Not necessarily. Just more gambling concentrated in one place.

              That’s a dubious assumption.

              The average punter who plays the pokies at his local isn’t going to schlep all the way downtown just to play at Sky City. My guess is that Sky City don’t have enough machines to meet peak demand for their particular type of gambling product.


              Doing a bit of revision, even Treasury thought the deal stank.


                We elect politicians, not Treasury to run the country. Of course Sky City thought it was a good deal. That is the thing about any commercial transaction – both parties think it is good, or else they wouldn’t do business!

                But if Key REALLY is such an opportunist, why did he proceed with partial asset sales, even when he knew a majority of the electorate disagreed? I realise that the more rabid around here like johan, captive captive and Luke will no doubt trot out the usual “in the pocket of the evil exploiting corporate overlords” plot theory.

                However, you strike me as a sensible and considered person, Lee Churchman. I’m not asking you to agree with me, or Key. But is it possible that Key really does think it is a deal (including minimistaion of the harm from gambling) in the country’s best interests?


                  The partial asset sales will make it harder for future politicians to fix the mess created of our energy sector, and keep his friends happy.

      • The Labour MPs who accepted hospitality in the Sky City corporate box would know all about that.

    • “I think Key genuinely believes the ‘pokies for a convention center’ arrangement is a good deal for the country…”

      He may well believe that, Kimbo. But many other people understand that having more “pokies” (the most insidious form of gambling, considering it’s immediate reward-effect on the human brain) is not beneficial and we’ll all end up paying for it one way or another.

      I had a ‘nosy’ in Skycity some years ago (out of curiosity – I didn’t bet). The scene I saw wasn’t something glamourous and stylish, a-la Casino Royale, with James Bond at the baccarat or Chemin de Fer at a gaming table, faced against some evil Master Mind…

      It was ordinary folk, in drab clothing, scuffed shoes, and looking more desperate and pitiful than glamourous.

      It was depressing and I got out of there real quick.

      You might say that was their “choice” to be there, gambling. That’s not the impression I got. The impression I had was one of very little choice, and more of intense desperation.

      One day, someone will be able to explain to us why a government thought that introducing casinos into New Zealand was such a great idea…

      • Well, at least you acknowledge, in contrast to BE, that Key may have sincerity in the matter. A more sensible position I would have thought. “Acting relaxed”?! Occams razor: How about Key simply IS relaxed, because his conscience is clear regarding the decisions he makes.

        Yeah – I went once about 18 years ago expecting the Monte Carlo/Casino Royale and tuxedos vibe. Rather a let down, and I haven’t been back since – although Orbit Restaurant gets a spin out of my family every few years. Sounds like neither of us would shed a tear if the whole edifice came crumbling down in a volcanic eruption.

        I think you may need to speak to that great socialist Jonathan Hunt for some of the answers on “why a government thought that introducing casinos into New Zealand was such a great idea”.

    • “That the deal doesn’t sit well with others is their problem – not his.”

      Kimbo its meant to be a democracy , the PM is meant to represent the interests of all New Zealanders, if a significant number of those News Zealanders are not happy with the ‘pokies for a convention center’ deal it is his problem. To shrug it of as not my problem is unbelievably arrogant.

      • Hah!

        When politicians adopt mainstream positions that some consider wrong, they are labelled by those on the fringes “cowardly and/or pragmatic/short-sighted”. Like how the Greens criticise the failure to implement their transport policies.

        When they follow policies that the mainstream don’t agree with they are decried as impractical ideologues beholden to special interest groups. Like Rogernomics.

        We are indeed a democracy, but a representative one. The people elected make the decisions. Which is why their competence and honesty/reliability, real and/or perceived is as important as their policies.

        Which is where Key has resonance with the mandate-deciding electorate thus far…


          I am sure it is not the fringes who were against the deal but the majority of sensible middle of the road people.
          Politicians for sale in my view( for a few campaign dollars) led to this. It is disgraceful. And now in a petty act of revenge this government has attacked the problem gambling foundation which I am sure makes Sky City ecstatic.
          Gambling is pernicious and attracts criminals from Asia to launder their Pmoney

  5. History will see John Key as possibly one of the best Prime Minister’s NZ has ever had…our first truly modern,global politician light years away from the old guard of statesmen -like PM’s like Holyoake..who, incidentally, were all acting a part whilst cutting backroom deals..

    • I would beg to differ, the world knows who Helen Clark is, the world won’t of John Key. He truly is a populist politician of average intellect that will probably set himself a knighthood after he retires to Hawaii. You can lap it all up, but I would say, no matter how popular he is. His achievements will be counted on one hand, and they will be forgotten in a few years. Names like Savage, Kirk, Hollyoake, Muldoon will forever be etched in NZ history, and so too Lange and Clark, but Key, I seriously doubt it.

    • What do you base that on, Rob?

    • That’s RIDICULOUS! In 20-25 years time, John Key will be remembered as the worst PM we’ve ever had. Many of us already see it this way. The things you are attributing to Holyoake are EXACTLY the methods of Key. And, like Luke says, the world knows who Helen Clark is, John Key is just an “unidentified guest”. What an idiot you are. Wake up you clown!

    • Key will go down as one of the worst PM’s we’ve seen. When he could and should have sacked Judith Collins, he showed a lack of courage. That sums him up. Weak and untrustworthy.

    • What? Rose tinted glasses?

  6. Yes of course John Key is the best thing since sliced bread. Just listen to talk-back hosts on 1ZB, RadioLive, or read the Herald newspaper, then you will hear/see continual platitudes concerning our rock star leader. There is no in-depth discussions about National’s policies and the impact they have on ordinary Kiwis. Our fearless leader JK merely tells that “the statistics tells us otherwise.” We are brainwashed by media people who are afraid to demand accountability from their bosses. As a PM, John Key’s role is unique and similar to that of his previously held job in the banking industry, merely as an individual sucking up to the rich and powerful.

    • Yeah I agree with you wholeheartedly. I saw an interesting interview yesterday – Paddy Gower and David Cunliffe. All Paddy Gower cared about was to talk over him and the fact that CUnliffe lived in a $2000,000 house. Conversely, Cunliffe was trying to point out, that the reason he got inflamed in the first place was that John Key ridiculed the latest report from the Salvation Army that conveyed some very alarming statistics, and all he said was “Well, they would say that wouldn’t they…”. His typical deflection. I was a John Key fan and voted for him back in 2008, but over time, I slowly realised how hollow he is. And how snarky and callous he can be in parliament. He is not a man of the people, it is all smoke and mirrors, bullshit, the emporer is not wearing any clothes.

      • I watched that interview on “The Nation” as well, Luke. It was a shocker.

        Gower seemed more interested in herariong his own voice rather than eliciting any answer from Cunliffe.

        If Gower wants to know why Cunliffe wouldn’t disclose coalition arrangement during the interview, the answer is simple; Cunliffe wouldn’t be able to finish the first sentence before being interrupted and talked over. So what would be the point?

        As much as I am no fan of Key, I hope Gower learns to draw breath and allow Key to actually answer the question before jumping back in with a follow-up.

  7. I start of with the premise that few of any politicians are sincere when it comes to soliciting votes. They will say and do what is necessary to gain or cling to power.

    Cunliffe’s performance so far hardly inspires confidence in his sincerity beginning with the botched up launch of the Start Up programme followed by his attempts to portray himself as an ordinary man of the people struggling on and average income.

    It would also help if someone could teach him to speak out of his whole mouth rather than every utterance seeming to come from the side.

    DC is probably a decent guy but I find it very difficult to know what he stands for and what he truly believes in. He gives the impression in everything he says of wanting a bob each way.

  8. Good post Brian. John Keys approach doesn’t fool me ,just annoys me that he seems to get away with it. Smart move keeping Bill English quiet.

  9. The Key act is simple, don’t rock the boat, sheel be right, have a sausage, have a beer, wanna hear a joke.

  10. In 2011, we attended a public meeting in Lower Hutt, that had been convened by the local Grey Power (no, I’m not a member! yet.).

    I challenged Key on the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts which were totally unaffordable with a consequence of millions being borrowed to fund the cuts.

    Key fobbed off my concerns with a bizarre response that the “tax cuts had been cancelled”!?!? That stunned the audience, but unfortunately the point was lost in the next few questions (many of which seemed patsy questions).

    At the end of the public meeting, as Key walked past us, he grabbed my hand; shook it; and said,

    “Don’t you worry! It’ll all be alright!”

    He grinned like an old uncle trying to reassure me that next year’s birthday prezzie would be better…

    I’ll not forget that incident in a hurry. Not just because he lied/twisted the truth to the audience, but because of his comment to me as he walked past.

    That incident confirmed to me that Key is the most mendacious Prime Minister we’ve had in a very long time…

    • Maybe he thinks it is a waste of time discussing and debating with folks who will likely never

      1. Agree with him, and/or
      2. Vote for him.

      I on the other hand am always willing to spend my time doing so.

      Hope you had a good Xmas and New Year, Frank Macskasy. With an election in 2014 we will no doubt be swapping notes from time to time.



      • Then why did he bother turning up if he didn’t think anyone would agree with him or vote for him, and if on turning up, why did he so obviously lie?

        What’s the point of it all?

        • For the sake of those there with an open mind who were prepared to listen and consider.

          Key’s ability to avoid answering leading questions like yours simply confirms he has much more wisdom, self-control, and emotional intelligence than I ever will :)

          • “Key’s ability to avoid answering leading questions like yours simply confirms he has much more wisdom, self-control, and emotional intelligence than I ever will…”

            I spoke to the editor of The Hutt News afterwards and double-checked with him if he’d heard and taken Key’s comments in the same manner I had. He said he had, indeed, but wondered if Key was referring to the third round of tax cuts (scheduled for 2011, but wisely cancelled as the GFC was battering our economy).

            So in Key’s loose-use of wording, it had sounded as if ALL the tax cuts had been cancelled (which, of course, is not true).

            Whatever Key meant, it had left a few in the audience scratching their heads…

          • Can you hear yourself KImbo
            “Maybe he thinks it is a waste of time discussing and debating with folks who will likely never
            1. Agree with him, and/or
            2. Vote for him. ”
            he was there “For the sake of those there with an open mind who were prepared to listen and consider.”

            I’ll say it again, he is meant to be a representative of the people and as such should be listening to people’s concerns regardless if those concerns don’t match his current policy.


              Indeed, Richard aston.

              But for those who will not be convinced by anything he says (and I wager there are a fair share of them in these parts – and good luck to them), Key wisely decides it is not worth his time arguing the point. When he does, such as the Campbell/GCSB interview last year, they refuse to accept his assurances, dance on pinheads re his answers, or label him a liar. Which id their prerogative, as it his to move on to greener pastures…

              “Listening to” doesn’t mean “agreeing with”. Neither does “addressing the question” mean “answering according to the framing of the interrogator”. For example, while I respect the contributions of my friend Frank Macskasy, I’m sure even he would acknowledge that when in dialogue with Key he is a partisan with an axe to grind.

      • Indeed, Kimbo. This will be an interesting year…

        Definitely look forward to sharing views? (I mostly “hang out” over at the Daily Blog these days.)


      • 10.1.3

        What kind of debate do you have with people who agree with you? That makes little sense. Being willing to discuss and debate ones views and policies should not be considered some virtue, worn as a badge of honor by those who do. A democracy lives or dies on transparency and accountability … and dare I say it, honesty. Your statement alerts as to how far down the rabbit hole of duplicity we’ve descended. Good for you anyway.

        • In the words of a great New Zealand leader when asked to debate with those whose intent was entirely hostile to her cause…


  11. Your petticoat is showing Brian. You will have to do better than that.

    • My petticoat has been on display since I stood for Labour in Miramar in 1972. That’s 41 years. I’m not a journalist and make no pretence of objectivity. You’ve got a sight better chance of judging where I’m really coming from than with many ‘objective’ journalists and political reporters. And actually it’s a pretty nice petticoat!

  12. BE: “So is John Key more sincere than David Cunliffe? No. John Key is a better actor than David Cunliffe”.

    You sure about that, Brian? David Cunliffe did a pretty damn fine impression of affecting bro’-speak, down at the Avondale markets. A mightily fine impersonation. No doubts as to his sincerity and whether he’s a man for the moment when he’s so adept at revealing all the traits of a chameleon, when the occasion arises? No sireee, no doubts at all.

    • Is it the message that it’s important or the way you say the message – the substance or the delivery?

      We seem to be caring a great deal about the delivery and not a fig for the substance.

      • Well, seeing as the author of the original post set up what is IMHO a false dichotomy, that is hardly surprising.

  13. The real issue for the public, is the economy. Not about how the leaders project themselves on to the public with regard to their respective personality foibles.

    The Labour Party is comprised of schoolteachers and lecturers, unionists, urban-beat reporters and weather presenters, disparate ethnic immigrant MPs, social workers, nurses, psychologists, wellness therapists, counselors, consultants etc. They are wage-and-salary earners from the Government and the Council sector, and have zilch experience in running a business as an owner-operator. Why would you entrust them to manage the country’s economy when the Labour Party’s collective commercial nous falls short in running a Dairy shop? Their real forte is attending endless committee meetings, discussing, debating and instructing.

    There is also a stubborn refusal with many senior MPs refusing to call “Time” on their careers; happily ensconced in their parliamentary sinecures, having now become fused to the seats in the House. The party ignores the wafting smell of decay in favour of enhancing the spectral colours of its rainbow. “Welcome to the fold, Tamati”.

  14. 14

    John Key’s a very bad actor

  15. Gypsum, what a lot of cobblers you write! Politicians will say just about anything to extract that precious vote, presentation,how and what is said is everything. John Key could have been an ideal snake oil salesman.

    Your endless list of Labour supporters are individuals who work and care for people, Gypsum. Some people are more suited to counting money or shifting bricks or gypsum. Also, Key or English do not manage anything without the support of their highly paid advisers.

    As a very intelligent person Gypsum, I am certain that in your wisdom, you are able to make the correct choice in removing unwanted MP’s at election time.

  16. The pokies for convention centre is exactly the same increase in pokies that Helen Clark and Labour did in the 2000s for a much smaller convention centre with Sky City. The deal mirrors labours one from 10 years ago so if Helen does it it’s OK but if Key does it he will be remembered as some sort of demagogue.
    If key was some sort of brilliant actor he would have tripped up by now and people would have seen through him after 6 years. Cunliffe on the other hand has been there 6 minutes and grabs a bunch of red roses, praises socialism and Venezuela is the model to follow leaving everyone around him stunned. Who knew the millionaire on the right hand side of Labour was a closet socialist who kept it totally hidden for a decade.

  17. Nice one Brian

  18. If it’s “There-there, Prime Minister”, it’s also “There goes, David Cunliffe”, if this latest misstep — creating a trust to conceal donations — gains a foothold (‘scuse the pun) it could very well bury him. You’d be hard-pressed to see any benefit that has accrued to the Labour Party, since he took over from his ill-fated predecessor.

    Cunliffe’s locked in a game of Texas Holdem poker of which he can’t extricate himself from. Always caught out trying to steal the pot by going “All-in” on Jack(ass)-high and gets seen on every single occasion. He’s got nothing left to gamble with because he’s lost it all. Worse, still, he’s used up all his credit and the punters are calling in their notes.

    Seriously, have a good look at his achievements and you’ll find it as barren as it is dismal. Very much a ‘Man of the Moment’. Latest populist move? to woo the Tauranga voters by saying that a Labour govt. would completely clear the Rena off the reef; never mind, the contracts already in place and the prohibitive costs involved. This comes following his undertaking that a Labour govt. would unilaterally compensate the Pike River families.

    Cunliffe doesn’t seem to want to grasp that for every sweet chord, he believes, he is plucking for one self-interested group, it strikes a dissonant chord with another and bigger group a.k.a the taxpayer. A savvy politician would know when to act, counter intuitively; however, Cunliffe always acts and reacts, so predictably.

    For the moment, he is God’s gift to John Key; later, to be consigned as a minor footnote in the parliamentary history books.

  19. Different strokes for different folks it seems. For me, I have seen more examples of a politician making a promise or advising an intention over the last 5-7 years from John Key than I can recall seeing since I started taking an interest in the 1950’s.

    Compare and contrast the establishment of the Supreme Court and disposal of the Privy Council (not signalled or overtly discussed with the public and ultimately a fait accompli) with Partial Asset Sales (discussed, a policy plank, detail and boundaries, no surprises). Think also of the announcement of the last election timing. No silly games or endeavours to manipulate the date to the incumbent’s advantage.

    If a tennis match of examples was to be played with each party’s supporters providing an example of honest, open Government I would warrant the score would be a trouncing in favour of the current Administration. 6 love

    • Yep.

      Raising GST (and compensating those on low incomes) is the only legitimate surprise Key has sprung on the electorate in contrast to his previously announced policy.

      Key argued the extenuating circumstances of the GFC and the Christchurch earthquake required it. Judging by the results of the 2011 election many agreed, or at least accepted his judgement.

      I write as one who voted Clark in 2008, and thought Key was dishonest, with a hidden agenda.

      I was wrong.

      • 19.1.1

        a likely story (your vote).

        • Come in here late, if you want, edgeofreason.

          However, I would prefer it if, without any stated “reason” (is that where the “edge of” originates?), you didn’t challenge my integrity and honesty.

          Smarmy little shit.

  20. While we are getting excited about the sincerity or otherwise of JK perhaps we could draw some comparisons with the outrageous hypocrisy of Cunliffe.

    How many more ‘errors of judgement’ is this guy going to be allowed to make before he is rumbled. Perhaps JK is lacking in sincerity but I will take him any day over weasel Cunliffe; and I speak as someone who has voted Labour his entire life but nothing would induce me to vote for that man.

    • Ben “Perhaps JK is lacking in sincerity but I will take him any day over weasel Cunliffe.”

      Take a look at my links above, Ben.

      I might add that you wouldn’t be voting for David Cunliffe (unless, of course, you happen to live in New Lynn and cast your candidate vote for him) but for the policies and broad social democratic direction of a Labour-led government (and, given you’re a life-long Labour voter, I assume that’s the direction you strongly favour?).

      We need to get beyond this utterly superficial ‘Presidentialism’ that the MSM has foisted upon us over the years. The idea that we don’t know what we want so we vote for some great, wise, visionary leader to show us the way forward is very primitive, it’s a long way from a modern, vibrant, well-informed participatory democracy.

      • Good stuff, markus. Hope you had a restful Xmas and New Year and are looking forward to the unfolding events of 2014. If this week is anything to go by it will be an interesting one :)

        Let’s see if Cunliffe can defuse his problems and win public trust in spite of his problems as Key did.

        “We need to get beyond this utterly superficial ‘Presidentialism’ that the MSM has foisted upon us over the years…”

        Hmm. I’m reminded of Richard Nixon’s complaint that when Kennedy and Johnson occupied the White House, Democrats were fully supportive of a “Imperial Presidency”, but the narrative suddenly changed, and it became a constitutional threat once someone else moved in. As Helen Clark cultivated very successfully the persona of “Minister of Everything” (and ultimately lost the office due to the perception of micromanaging) I’m not too sure if left wing commentators are entirely consistent in the matter.

        • Not particularly restful, Kimbo. My mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in mid-December so it’s been action stations ever since (GP stuffed up 4 years ago when she went down believing that she may have bowel cancer and GP wrongly cleared her. I wonder how many other NZers that’s happened to ? And from all my research over the last 2 months, I can see we’re well behind the UK in terms of optimum care for cancer patients, especially bowel cancer).

          I should say here and now that Clark’s micromanaging drove me to despair. Voters want a competent leader who’s on top of things, but not a control freak. Don’t mistake me, Kimbo, for an uncritical supporter / Cheerleader of Clarks.

          And I don’t paricularly see her as a Lefty either. More a very pragmatic Centrist.


            For what it’s worth, Kimbo, my current feeling is that, unfortunately, things will resolve themselves thus:

            2014 Election Result

            Nat 45%, Lab 32.5%, Green 12.5%, NZF 6.5%

            Right Bloc 47%
            Left Bloc 46%

            NZ First holds the balance of power, Winnie becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs in a third-term Key Government (before retiring to the cocktail / big-game fishing circuit in 2017).

            The only consolation for the Left being that, as often happens in closely-fought elections, the loser (in this case the Left) win decisively at the subsequent Election (PM Cunliffe in 2017 ? or PM Hipkins ? or PM Norman ?)


              Sorry to hear about your mother. I hope that resolves itself well.

              Hmm. Before the last few weeks I would have been inclined to agree with you. The problem for Labour is that it will be mighty hard to crack the 30% barrier when their own MPs are throwing their leader under the bus, or just sand-bagging him. Still, Mike Moore nearly pulled it off, but those were different times. The Bill English scenario of 2002 when all the National MPs pulled out of campaigning for the party vote and went for the lifeboats of their own electorate vote springs to mind. Looks like we’ll still be seeing a lot more of the loathsome Trevor Mallard.

              If the public perception got about that the Labour caucus was still internally divided (which they clearly are) much of the vote seepage would to the Greens and NZ First. But those who value ‘stable government’ would go to Key. But then you know much more about the intricacies of polling…

              Plus while Cunliffe has had a week he would want to forget in a hurry, a week is still a long time in politics. Maybe McCarten can mobilise the “lost 800,000″ (presuming they are natural Labour voters – he may be disappointed) and deal to the divisions in caucus (although he presided over the split and death of the Alliance in 2002!).

              Lots to happen before September/October.

  21. Labour have underestimated Key from day one and continue to do so. He not only exudes warmth and charisma, but he also is a very shrewd political operator. Sadly, the same can’t be said of Cunliffe, who is now not only fighting leafy fires, but also half his own party. As if that wasn’t bad enough he then invites McCarten on board, who will not only destroy electoral chances this year, but might destroy Labour itself.

  22. Least we fool ourselves I think there is very little genuine authenticity in modern politics, it is a game of spin. As a starting point read The Hollow Men by Nicky Hager to get a sense of the scope of the spin that goes on in NZ.

    Given that, how can we ordinary thinking citizens make a judgement call on who to trust. Yeah we can say its not about the person its about the policy .. nah … it still takes the person to make the policy happen and indeed produce a range of policies the country actually needs, aside from winning votes. One popular spin technique is to get us debating the wrong questions, put there by the spin doctors.

    Well for me its got down to trying to figure out who is deceiving us more than the others. As a part of my work I have done training in detecting deception. Interestingly most of the working examples we trained on were politicians. Key was especially interesting as was Len Brown.

    So when a well experience media person like Brian makes some interesting observations around a politician’s communications style (spin techniques) I am very very interested.

    John Key’s style is very accomplished , he is good. If I take him in uncritically I feel safe and reassured, its nice. We all want to feel reassured by our leaders , just like we were by our parents.
    But that is neither here nor there.

    But who is he , really?

  23. Bob jones’ column in today’s Herald is possibly not that wide of the mark.

  24. What astounds me – or would, if I weren’t well aware of how easily led down garden paths people (very much including the media) are – is why it has taken until now for respected voices such as yours, Brian, to start saying these things … when this (your analysis) was blindingly obvious to anyone with objective sense from the moment Key became leader of the National Party.

    Could it be because only now, when the Nats look like losing (please!), do people finally feel “safe enough” to speak out to prevent the ongoing rape?

  25. We can hear the deafening cry of “I told you so” from the ABC faction. They were always privy to the man’s moral flaws and now they’re all lit up, just like Franklin Road, in December.
    In the run-up to an Election, the country needs a strong Opposition — and Cunliffe just isn’t providing the leadership when he’s forever undermining his own credibility and personal integrity; he’s just dragging the Labour Party into his own mire.
    It might be timely for the ‘Embellisher of CVs’ to take a good look at himself and to the damage he’s causing to Labour.

  26. It reminds me very much of the Bob Parker style we witnessed during the Christchurch Earthquakes. Appearing several times a day with pseudo-science factoids to soothe public fears and tuck them into bed at night. Never mind that a University of Otago science professor spelled out the dangers on 7th September 2010 … a warning chilling in it’s accuracy. And never mind that several months later 185 people lost their lives unnecessarily as the real risks were constantly downplayed, and the caution it deserved almost non-existent. The average New Zealander has never grown up politically, living off this kind of child-like reassurance. Like the Christchurch situation, reliance on the reassurance is totally misplaced, and the outcome likely to be just as severe.

  27. Best Political Wisdom ever …

    “The’ve gotta like you to vote for you”.

    So who do they like? JK or DC?

    Go figger. Oh and BTW BE, “Reasons” are irrelevant.

  28. Is John Key aware that he is acting? If so, he can no longer be genuine.

    “There are certain moral and other qualities that one has only precisely to the extent that one does not have them – as the German language splendidly expresses it, to the extent to which one does not put on [sich anzieht] those qualities, e.g., true charm is possible only precisely if it does not know about itself, whereas a person who knows of his charm, who puts it on, immediately stops being charming, and if he conducts himself *as* being charming will instead become the opposite.” F.W.J. Schelling, On the History of Modern Philosophy

    For most of us, John Key is “the opposite”.

  29. John Key is a sociopath – acting comes naturally to them and they know how to “play the game” to get what they want. They often come across as charming and affable whilst sowing destruction around them. Most people can not /will not believe they are sociopaths and decry any suggestion that they are,because they are so nice… unless they trip themselves up – which they eventually do, but often at a great price to those around them.
    Nasty pieces of work – and like scum, they tend to rise to the top!

  30. Hi Brian – nice to see you blogging again. I think another thing Key taps into is the “She’ll be right” eths that no-one mentions any more as a New Zealand characteristic but which is still there. Although it’s probably the same as the more recent “No, worries”.