The Legacy of a Dismantled Prime Minister

By   /   January 4, 2017  /   31 Comments

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Following his unexpected announcement to resign as New Zealand’s Prime Minister on 5 December last year, much has been said of Key’s “legacy”. Pundits have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out what “legacy” can be attributed to eight years of a Key-led administration.

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Prime Minister elect John Key with Picton the kitten on arrival at parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, November 10, 2008. Credit:NZPA / Ross Setford.

Prime Minister elect John Key with Picton the kitten on arrival at parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, November 10, 2008. Credit:NZPA / Ross Setford.

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Following his unexpected announcement to resign as New Zealand’s Prime Minister on 5 December last year, much  has been said of Key’s “legacy”. Pundits have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out what  “legacy” can be attributed to eight years of a Key-led administration.

Despite screeds being devoted on the subject, it appears that little can actually be attributed to any form of Key “legacy”.

On 29 December, Radio NZ’sDirector of News Gathering“, Brent Edwards, wrote;

“At the time of his departure, his own personal rating remained high…”

Whilst Key’s Preferred Prime Ministership rating remained higher than his rivals, Key’s public support had plummeted since 2009. In October 2009, Key rated a phenomenal  55.8% in a TV3/Reid Research poll.

By May last year, TV3/Reid Research reported Key’s support to have fallen by 19.1 percentage points to 36.7%. The same poll reported;

National though is steady on 47 percent on the poll — a rise of 0.3 percent — and similar to the Election night result.

So something was clearly happening with the public’s perception of Key. Whilst National’s overall support remained unchanged from election night on 2014, Key’s favourability was in slow-mo free-fall.

Edwards’ analysis of Key’s “legacy” appeared mostly to consist of this observation;

Within the political commentariat Mr Key has been highly regarded, mainly on the basis of his political style.

He added,

He was quick to dump any political unpopular policies before they did terminal damage to his government and he had an uncanny knack of skating through the most embarrassing political gaffes with little damage, if any, to his political reputation

What other Prime Minister, for example, would have escaped with their political credibility intact after revelations they had repeatedly pulled the ponytail of a waitress at their local cafe?

In effect, Key’s ‘qualities’ appeared to consist of constant damage-control and “an uncanny knack” to avoid being charged with assault.

Edwards contrasted Key’s administration with that of Jim Bolger and pointed out the latter’s legacies, which have had a lasting impact of New Zealand’s social and political landscape. The first was the advent of MMP which forever changed politics as it is done in this country. The second was Bolger’s courage to stand up to his party’s redneck conservatism and engage with Maori to address Treaty of Waitangi grievances.

Key’s “legacies”, according to Edwards, was a failed flag referendum costing the taxpayer $29 million and this;

He did help manage the country through the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquake. But National was left a legacy by the previous Labour Government – a healthy set of government books – which gave it the financial buffer it needed to deal with both crises.

Irony of ironies – Key’s one claim to a “legacy” was the product of a prudent Labour finance minister whose own legacy was a cash-gift to Key. Yet, even that cash-gift to Key could have been squandered had then-Finance Minister, Michael Cullen listened to Key’s wheedling demands for tax-cuts;

“Mr Key can’t have it both ways. One moment he says there is a recession looming then he thinks there are still surpluses to spend on tax cuts.”

… he is almost the kinder, gentler Kiwi Donald Trump. He is a populist who has been able to read and respond to a national mood in ways that few other politicians have, although that has more to do with a reliance on opinion polling than some kind of semi-supernatural intuition. 

Matthews’ reference to Key’s ability “to read and respond to a national mood in ways that few other politicians have, although that has more to do with a reliance on opinion polling” was pointed out by Radio NZ’s John Campbell, in his own assessment of the former Prime Minister’s tenure;

Key entered Parliament in 2002. His maiden speech was a pre-Textor, pre-dorky, pre-casual, pre-everyman piece of rhetoric, ripe to the point of jam with admonishments and exhortation.

[…]

And the key passage, in this respect, was: “We mustn’t be scared to do things because they might offend small groups, or seem unconventional. Good government is more than doing what’s popular. Good government is more than blindly following the latest opinion poll.”

On election night 12 years later, having just been made prime minister for a third term, Key triumphantly thanked his pollster, David Farrar, by name: the country’s “best”, he declared, admitting, as the New Zealand Herald reported, that he had rung Farrar “night after night, even though he wasn’t supposed to”.

The man who’d entered Parliament declaring a belief in something better than poll-driven politics had subverted himself. Gamekeeper turned pollster.

Matthews summed up with this conclusion;

He was somehow politically untouchable, even when New Zealand was laughing at or with him, or just cringing. Future historians will provide a clearer picture of his failures: A flag change that was supposed to be a personal legacy became an expensive embarrassment; the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is dead in the water; he could have used his political capital to do something meaningful about inequality and poverty.

[…]

But over on the West Coast, the government’s failures to satisfy the grieving Pike River families remain entirely embodied in Key.  

Again, Key’s abilities appear to lie with being “politically untouchable”. His “legacies” amounted to a list of dismal failures.

The unknown author of an editorial for the Otago Daily Times was kinder, as if it had been written by one of National’s small army of taxpayer-funded Beehive spin-doctors;

The legacy Mr Key will leave is one of financial stability, a unified government, a record of strong economic management and a commitment to lift as many New Zealanders out of poverty as possible. A shortage of suitable housing has been laid at the door of Mr Key but his efforts in trying to sort out that particularly difficult area have been assiduous.

One of the issues he received the most criticism for is failing to bring home the bodies of the Pike River miners who died in the explosion. While Mr Key would have meant what he said at the time, the pragmatism which ruled his career meant he made a tough call to allow the mine to be sealed. Then there was the failed flag referendum.

But, his leadership during the Christchurch, and latterly Kaikoura, earthquakes was seen as outstanding by most New Zealanders. New Zealand secured a seat on the United Nations Security Council in no small part due to the work carried out by Mr Key.

Curiously, the un-named author glosses over the “commitment to lift as many New Zealanders out of poverty as possible”, “a shortage of suitable housing … laid at the door of Mr Key”, “criticism for … failing to bring home the bodies of the Pike River miners who died in the explosion”, and “the failed flag referendum”. Because at least –  the author crows – we “secured a seat on the United Nations Security Council”.

The ODT’s mystery cheerleader for our former Dear Leader may be one of the few attempts to put a positive ‘spin’ to Key’s administration. It was, however, glaringly light on specifics.

In direct  stark contrast to the ODT’s lame attempt to canonise Key, Audrey Young was more caustic in her piece, Key – No vision, no legacy, no problem. Her conclusions were;

… two other areas I consider to be legacies for the Key Government although he has not claimed them as such: the Ross Sea sanctuary and the modernization of New Zealand’s spy agencies.

Unfortunately for Young, the original proposals for a MPA (Marine Protected Area) for the Ross Sea began as far back as 2005, and was first mooted by the US delegation to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR).

If Key’s sole legacy was to increase the spying powers of the SIS, GCSB, and uncle Tom Cobbly – that may not be something his descendants bring up at polite dinner parties;

“Yeah, it was grand-dad Key who helped turn New Zealand in the virtual police state we have now. Sure we have spy cameras in every home, workplace, and cafe, but crime is almost non-existent!”

– is not something Max or Steph’s own kids will be heard crowing about.

Young suggested that Key’s “legacy” was more akin to a ‘state of mind’;

When I’ve asked people this week what they thought Key’s legacy was, many have said he gave New Zealanders a greater sense of confidence, especially about New Zealand’s place in the world.

That is true but it is a state of mind. It could just as easily disappear through circumstances well beyond our control.

Giving “New Zealanders a greater sense of confidence, especially about New Zealand’s place in the world” were the legacies of former Labour Prime Ministers – notably Norman Kirk and David Lange. Their leadership against the war in Vietnam; atomic bomb testing in the South Pacific; opposing apartheid in South Africa; advancing gay rights,  and turning the entire country into a nuclear-free zone are legacies that are with us today.

Going back even further, and the legacies of Labour’s Michael Savage are still discussed today.

Cringing whilst Key recited his “Top Ten Reasons for Visiting New Zealand” on the David Letterman Show would hardly have given Kiwis “a greater sense of confidence, especially about New Zealand’s place in the world“;

[Warning: Cringe Level: Extreme]

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiSwoUC_mAo&w=560&h=315]

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Most who saw that episode would have  hidden their heads beneath a pillow or blanket. Hardly the stuff of legacies, except of the Silvio Berlusconi variety.

She then concluded;

The fact that Key doesn’t really have a legacy is of no matter.

Well, that’s alright then. According to Young, Key’s “legacy” would be in the same vein as the manner in which he handled his own and ministers’ scandals and stuff-ups; nothing to see here, folks, no legacy, move along please.

Comedian, Jeremy Elwood, offered;

We may never have another Prime Minister who provides as much fodder for as many late night comedy shows around the world, as well as right here, again, but that’s all been part of his “popular appeal”.

Another ‘comedian’ – albeit unintentional – was Roger Partridge, writing on behalf of the so-called NZ Initiative (formerly the now largely discredited Business Roundtable). Partridge offered a lengthy list of neo-liberal “reforms” from Key’s tenure as PM;

Key’s was also a reforming government. After the Fourth Labour government, it was perhaps New Zealand’s most radical in the post-war era. The GST for income tax swap, welfare reforms (the likes of which might have brought down another government), the investment approach to social services; labour market reform, partial-privatisation, reforms in education, including national standards and charter schools: these may have occurred incrementally, but together they comprise a prodigious package of reform.

None of Partridge’s listed “reforms” will stand. In an era marking the rise of nationalistic political movements (Brexit, Trump, et al),  Key’s “package of reforms” will be rolled back and many, like Charter Schools, swept away entirely.

These legacies of a failed economic ideology – neo-liberalism – may rate a mention in the footnotes of future history books, but not much more. In fifty years time, no one will point to Key’s supposed “reforms”  as people still do to Michael Savage’s achievements.

The Herald’s “business editor at large”, Liam Dann pointed to;

…ongoing GDP growth at about 3 per cent, unemployment at around 5 per cent and the crown accounts are solid with the Government booking surpluses that are forecast to top $8 billion within five years.

– but had to concede that much of this “growth” was illusory, based mostly on high immigration and unsustainable ballooning house prices in Auckland;

The housing boom has been a global phenomenon driven by the unusually low interest rate environment in the wake of the GFC. Investors have been looking for somewhere to put their money outside of the bank and assets prices have soared – both sharemarkets and property.

And far from National’s books being in surplus, Key has  managed to rack up a debt of  $95 billion according to a recent Treasury document.  Dann must have missed that salient bit in his rush-to-gush. He did, however, acknowledge the nature of the “ongoing GDP growth” further into his piece;

Overall population growth and record net migration is widely cited as a factor taking the gloss off New Zealand’s strong growth story.

Per capita GDP isn’t nearly so strong and the extra population is adding to the housing bubble and highlighting some deficiencies in infrastructure spending.

Almost reluctantly, Dann concludes;

He has not been a reformer but he has created a stable platform, in unstable times, for growth.

He exuded confidence and it rubbed off on the economy. Whether he has done enough to set the nation up for long-term prosperity, as outlined in those rosy Treasury forecasts, remains to be seen.

He also repeats Brent Edwards’ observation;

…Key made the most of the market conditions he had to work with.  He has benefited from some ground work done by the previous Labour Government, particularly in booking the gains from the China free trade agreement.

Writing for Radio NZ, John Campbell asks;

So, in the end, how will history judge John Key?

In his earnest, boy-scout, way, Campbell is charitable about one possible legacy left by Key;

In the age of Trump and Brexit and Manus Island, and having succeeded Don Brash and his divisive Orewa rhetoric, part of what may endure is a sense that, under him, New Zealand did not embrace xenophobia and paranoia and the vilification of Māori, Muslims, Mexicans, blue-collar immigrants and almost anyone who wasn’t Tribe White.

To this point, writer and trade unionist, Morgan Godfery, not a natural ally of Key, tweeted on the day the prime minister announced his resignation: “I’ll go into bat for Key on this: he rejected the politics of Orewa, avoiding what might have been an ugly decade of tension and conflict.”

Which might be true… except that Key and his Ministers were not above vilifying those who dared criticise National, or when it suited party-politics;

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nationals-targets-of-vilification

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See also: National Minister refers to PM as “Wild Eyed” Right-Winger!

In his usual manner of gentle admonishment, John Campbell chides Key and his Administration for their failing in housing;

“When I was six”, [Key] said in his maiden speech, “my father died; leaving my mother penniless with three children to raise. From a humble start in a state house, she worked as a cleaner and night porter until she earned the deposit for a modest home. She was living testimony that you get out of life what you put into it. There is no substitute for hard work and determination. These are the attitudes she instilled in me.”

Campbell responded;

Key was six in 1967. Among the many things that have changed since then is housing affordability. The IMF’s latest Global Housing Watch lists New Zealand’s housing market, in relation to household income, as the most expensive in the OECD. Could a penniless solo mother, working as a “cleaner and night porter”, paying market rents, now earn the deposit for a modest home?

Then Campbell issued what may well be Key’s one and only true legacy – if one could call a broken promise to the grieving families and friends of 29 men entombed deep within a mine on the West Coast, a “legacy”;

This is what John Key said, behind closed doors, when he met with Pike families on September 22, 2011.

“The first thing is I’m here to give you an absolute reassurance we’re committed to get the boys out.”

An absolute reassurance. The boys out. When the families heard that, there was spontaneous applause. The human details. The empathy, sincerity and trust. When the clapping stopped, the prime minister continued:

“When people try and tell you we’re not, they’re playing, I hate to say it, but they’re playing with your emotions.”

And then John Key made it personal:

“So, you are the number one group that want to get those men out. And, quite frankly, I’m number two. Because I want to get them out.”

Five years on, the men are still in. It may be that the risk of getting them out is too great. But, when he was alone with them, Key didn’t say that, or qualify his words with that possibility. His was an “absolute reassurance”, and the families believed him and have clung to that belief in the years since.

Of all the many broken promises from Key, that will be the one most remembered. Because as Campbell so astutely pointed out, “John Key made it personal”.

‘Mickey Savage’ writing for The Standard was more brutal and unforgiving in his/her appraisal of Key’s administration;

Key has perfected the aw shucks blokey persona that some clearly like.  Although this was only skin deep.  His management of dirty politics and the Cameron Slater Jason Ede axis of evil won him the last election but at the cost of his soul.

As to the substance he did not really achieve or create anything.  He saw off the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch Earthquake rebuilds basically by borrowing money which New Zealand could because Michael Cullen had so assiduously paid off debt.

His economic development policies were crap.  Expanding dairying only polluted our rivers and increased our output of greenhouse gasses. The growth of tertiary education for foreign students only caused the mushrooming of marginal providers.

The primary economic growth policy now appears to be ballooning immigration.  Auckland’s population grew almost 3% last year.  The symptoms are clear, rampant house price increases, homeless caused by ordinary people no longer being able to afford inflated rental amounts and a whole generation shut out of the property market.  And services are stretched as budgets are held but demand increases.

And child poverty has ballooned.  Key was great with the visuals and the talk of an under class and the trip to Waitangi with Aroha Ireland before he became Prime Minister was a major PR event for him to show that at least superficially he cared about the underclass.  But the reality?  Over a quarter of a million of children now live in poverty and kids are living in cars even though their parents have jobs.  There is something deeply wrong in New Zealand.

S/he concluded;

Overall Key was great at the spin and the PR but appallingly bad at dealing with the reality.  Despite his hopes the country is now in a far worse situation under his stewardship than it was when he took over.

‘Mickey Savage’ has summed up Key’s legacy perfectly and I leave this brief assessment for future historians;

John Key – Master at spin, photo-ops, and PR, but nothing else.  When the teflon was stripped away, there was nothing underneath.

And that will be his legacy: nothing. We simply couldn’t think of a single damned one.

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References

Radio NZ: PM to resign – ‘It feels like the right time to go’

Radio NZ: How does John Key’s legacy compare to the Bolger years?

Scoop media: 3 News Poll – 2-10 October 2012

TV3 News: Newshub poll – Key’s popularity plummets to lowest level

Beehive: Cullen on Key’s tired old tax cut mantra

Fairfax media: The boy from Bryndwr – John Key’s Christchurch legacy

Radio NZ: Brand John – The Key to National’s success

ODT: The John Key legacy

NZ Herald: Key – No vision, no legacy, no problem

US State Department: A proposal for the establishment of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area

Youtube: John Key’s Top 10 Reasons to visit New Zealand

The Telegraph: Best of Bunga Bunga: 7 most outrageous lines from Silvio Berlusconi’s new biography

Fairfax media: John Key’s most enduring legacy is make the right like Madonna

Interest.co.nz: Roger Partridge assesses the legacy of John Key as Prime Minister and finds an impressive record given the constraints of MMP

NZ Herald: Liam Dann – John Key’s economic hits and misses

NZ Herald: NZ’s half-trillion-dollar debt bomb

Treasury NZ: Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the Year Ended 30 June 2016

Additional

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Scoop media: Justice Minister Judith Collins resigns from Cabinet – PM’s announcement

Dominion Post: Forced sterilisation ‘a step too far’

Newstalk ZB: Key – Nicky Hager a conspiracy theorist ‘because I think he is’

NZ Herald: PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims

NBR: Collins on her last chance, PM says

NZ Herald: He’s Dotcom’s little henchman – PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

NZ Herald: Eleanor Catton has ‘no particular great insights into politics’, says John Key

Other Bloggers

Against the current: John Key’s Dismal Record on Climate Change

Bowalley Road: What A Way To Go! Some Initial Thoughts On John Key’s Resignation

Local Bodies: John Key’s Real Legacy

Sciblogs: Key’s legacy – an economist’s view

The Daily Blog: The true legacy of John Key

The Standard:  John Key’s legacy

Your NZ: Key’s legacy

Previous related blogposts

National Minister refers to PM as “Wild Eyed” Right-Winger!

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 18: “No question – NZ is better off!”

National and the Reserve Bank – at War!

National exploits fudged Statistics NZ unemployment figures

The Dismantling of a Prime Minister – Completed

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audrey young political column cartoon john key's legacy

 

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31 Comments

  1. mary_a says:

    Excellent blog Frank. Thanks.

    I see Key’s premiership as being a case of the greasy, deceptive do nothing PM, blinding foolish and greedy NZers with his BS to keep him and the Natz in business.

    His premiership has been a perfect example of the Emperor having no clothes!

    Now why did John Key resign his premiership so suddenly …?

  2. Helena says:

    An opportunity taken with style – thanks Frank.
    John Key is a living example that the Legacy System within the Babylonian Matrix is obsolete.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legacy_system
    Government Heads caught up in the Black Goo that binds the foundation stones of the NWO and gives b ‘n b in country palaces were given a choice. Key made his and just maybe he wont even leave his grin.
    (I would like to say that I send kind thoughts to jonkey’s daughter – and son albeit he is a little more difficult to like. We have to put the photos key’s daughter took of herself alongside the revelations that are now about to take down the NWO/Hollywood et al. This young lady may well have been to hell and back.)

  3. Wensleydale says:

    I actually believe Key has left a legacy.

    A legacy of dishonesty, denial and dirty politics. A legacy of “most Nu Zillanders don’t care about ‘insert topical social issue of the day here’…”. A legacy of spin and misinformation. A legacy of “we don’t have to comply with OIA requests because… well, because we don’t want to.” A legacy of “if this appalling thing comes to pass under my watch, then I’ll resign”, and then not resigning. A legacy of avoiding the consequences of his actions, purposeful smearing of political opponents, activists and anyone else who dared to embarrass the government, and a willingness to use the power of the state and a complicit mainstream media to discredit, harass or shut down any group or individual intent on shining light into the dark corners of a corrupt, uncaring and hypocritical administration.

    That’s Key’s legacy. That’s how I’ll remember the past eight years — one interminable, relentlessly depressing nightmare, from which the country has been unable to wake. Thanks John. I would say it’s been a pleasure… but I’d be lying.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Yes, you got it.

    • Geoff Lye says:

      Dead right.

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      Absolutely correct. A legacy of corruption, blatant lying and utter hypocrisy. And the establishment of a society in which ‘truth no longer matters’. A society of mindless consumption, of course. Consume, consume, consume. And never ask questions.

      We should add that Key’s ‘leadership’ has resulted in a NZ in which the rule of law no longer applies to all sorts of organisations -especially city, district and regional councils -which can now blatantly disregard statutes and can promote Ponzi schemes and rorts at will. Under Key an all-powerful bureaucracy that has gone complete beserk has emerged, and that all-powerful bureaucracy (there is no accountability anywhere) is promoting the looting and polluting the environment like never seen in NZ history…..and calling that destruction of the future ‘sustainable development’. And filling their pockets in the process like never seen before.

      And a NZ in which the mainstream media can lie to their hearts comment, and never be held to account.

      Needless to say, NZ is in a far, far worse state than when Key arrived on the scene and faces an extremely dismal future a few years down the track as a direct consequence of both his actions and his inaction, which largely amounted to the actions of a self-serving liar.

      The only thing I think of to say in favour of Key is that if he had not been so casual and lazy he could have brought about even more ruination than he actually did.

      Prepare for the rapid rise in sea level, the rapid overheating, the collapse of the globalized food supply, and the millions of deaths that will soon accompany this catastrophic trend:

      Daily CO2
      January 2, 2017:  407.05 ppm
      January 2, 2016:  401.83 ppm.

      A few more people will wake up to it all around 2020 or so, when the predicament will have become absolutely dire.

      Until then it’s happy la-la land.

  4. XRAY says:

    in reference to Campbell,

    “….New Zealand did not embrace xenophobia and paranoia and the vilification of Māori, Muslims, Mexicans, blue-collar immigrants and almost anyone who wasn’t Tribe White is charitable about one possible legacy left by Key”

    Agreed, Key did not do race or racism as such but in my observations it wasn’t that he was pure rather that he saw every person as an opportunity to be exploited to make money from or for those select few wealthy men, an opportunity to make money with. Who cared about your religion or colour of your skin when there was $$$ to be made!

    But for those who did not vote or vote for him or did not worship money like he did and could not enhance profits and bank balances, well they were otherwise worthless and for their plights he never gave another thought.

  5. Mike in Auckland says:

    The only “legacy” I can detect is a successfully more dumbed down public in this country, that is so shallow and superficial now, most do not even care anymore about what is fact or fiction.

    They seem in too large numbers seem to vote accordingly, hence the stubborn high polls for Key and the Nats.

    We have had 8 wasted years, of wasted opportunity to develop and advance the country, and to educate and inform people about the really important matters to do for the future.

    As day goes by day, most continue to live in a waste and pollute lifestyle, caring stuff all for tomorrow, and who will have to live in this land and on this planet in future generations.

    We are years behind most of Europe when it comes to environmental thinking and waste minimisation, to more efficient energy and other resource use. We are still having supermarkets offer free of charge plastic bags to throw away once used, of endless one way packaging, of a lot of useless, poor quality products, and we have sold our manufacturing and much development potential to overseas investors.

    Selling real estate is now deemed more profitable than working with your hands or heads, producing real products and services.

    A speculator in currency, a trader and merchant banker has reduced the philosophy of living to making bargains and running off with capital gains, to put it into tax avoidance investment vehicles.

    Most go about their daily lives like brain washed servants and slaves, and tweet each other silly messages, trying to fill a void left by lack of intelligence, morals and education.

    The dumber the better was the true legacy that Key left us, he succeeded to a degree, now comes the withdrawal from Drug Key, it will be delirium tremens for some soon.

    • Jono says:

      I think that is the plan to dumb down people so they no longer think about the issues. Look at the media no hard hitting interviews or in depth journalism on things that matter so people never see the media question anything. I think this rubs off on the general public. If enough people thought about what was going on there would be big changes.

  6. WILD KATIPO says:

    John Key.

    Just a smiling , confidence trickster with a small bunch of core workers propping up an image.

    Aka Farrar and co. And that goes to show how not only can a small group of insiders wreak such destruction on a whole populace , – but also the lengths to which they will go to push their agendas .

    Legacy . Just look at the damage to be cleaned up.

    New Zealand has had its own charlatan snake charmer . The type we criticized other country’s for. What an embarrassment he was – and we can be sure there is more to that obscenely hasty departure than meets the eye. And still – there are those die hard sycophants who rush to his defense even though he’s left them in the lurch.

    Or is it more the neo liberal agenda they rush to defend…

    It is interesting that with Obama going, Clinton loosing , and Brexit,… that Key rushed for the back door. And with Slater neutralized , and just Farrar left,.. the ” GET SOME GUTS ” ex PM bolted … perhaps we will see less oblique influence of the Democrats duplicity in this country’s support of Israels Likud party – and this country being tied up with that duplicity because of our 5 eyes alignment.

    Keys legacy is thus more in line with two areas :

    1) Advancing and maintaining the neo liberal agenda.

    2) Ensuring this country’s tacit and surreptitious support of Israels Likud neo liberal party via Obama – with the main emphasis being on ‘ where Obama goes , I go ‘…

    Yet even that failed , – as almost immediately after Key leaves , – relations fail with Israels govt. This demonstrates the hold Key had in currying favour with Obama. Well , Obama’s gone. And so has Key. As for his neo liberalism , – we will see the unraveling of 8 years of his ineffectual leadership manifest over the next few years – and it wont be very pretty.

    And that’s Keys true legacy .

    Zero.

    And that’s all there is to it.

    • Curiously, Katipo, I Couldn’t find anything from Farrar in his Kiwiblog where he had written about Key’s legacy. (Maybe I missed it in my searches?) It’s as if even Farrar couldn’t find anything positive to write.

      The only thing I could find was Farrar pointing out that Key was the only PM who had stepped down, voluntarily; in good health; without being deposed or not re-elected.

      Not exactly a “legacy” – more like an entry into “Ripley’s Believe it , or not!” .

    • Jono says:

      Yep Katipo i agree with you neo liberalism that failed experiment will unravel. Its starting already. The young people i believe can see through it. There is going to be a lot of carnage as there are many gate keepers in high places designed to keep the system going. But with change in society and a younger generation coming through that believe in sharing . I think these gatekeepers will lose there gates…

  7. BruceTheMoose says:

    A poorly repaired and half pie rebuild of Christchurch will certainly be one of his legacies. But in Key’s typical fashion, he will just dump the blame on his bumbling prize No.1 chump, Gerry Brownlee. Brownlee is just too dumb to realise it yet.

  8. Castro says:

    Key is a national traitor of the first order, awaiting his state execution for treason

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      i would prefer 25 year prison terms , non parole with complete asset seizure .

      I like to draw the pain out … particularly with white collar offenders simply because for far too long their insidious influence has been felt by those far less concerned with power politics ( indeed , many are unawares even of why they act the way they do ,… little suspecting the titanic forces arrayed against them in railroading their lives as they lack that analytical ability ) … and these evil manipulators know exactly what they are doing .Thus the penalty on them needs to be harsh .

      With knowledge and influence and wealth comes responsibility – social responsibility. And in this country we have had those who wish to be called ‘ Lords ‘ and ‘ Masters’ instead of what they were elected for…

      That of being a humble servant executing the will of the people for the benefit of the people. Thus the humble servant is the true leader.

      And that is the yardstick to measure them by.

  9. Sally's Husband says:

    “And that will be his legacy: nothing. We simply couldn’t think of a single damned one.”

    Perfect summation.

  10. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    Truly an excellent summary of The John Key. He came across as a wholly manufactured sycophant. Shrewd, sly, and deceiving. John Key’s “legacy” is truly one of an utter failure to achieve anything one could consider positive/progressive governance (i.e. one that provides a solid foundation for our collective future).

  11. George says:

    Has everybody forgotten the greatest travesty of all .. the attempt to abolish MMP via the referendum. And going into sulk mode when he lost, refusing to accept recommendations for greater fairness from the Commission. Doubly bad!

  12. John W says:

    Key worked for the transnational investor state – not NZ.

    His PR had the stamp of the well known firm who turned US public opinion around to attack Iraq.

    A carefully managed persona, by skilled people aided by Keys natural ability to bullshit without restraint.

    His legacy was handing over NZ hard one capital and assets to private hands while running up record debt for the country and blaming Labour.

    Increased taxes for the little guy by way of GST while concessions to the fat cats typified by lowering of top tier taxes and denial of the NZ tax haven. Wages values falling steadily for the worker while corporate bosses reaped obscene increases.

    Politicising Public Service practices and silencing reporting to the public.

    The environmental costs of his time at the helm amount to scores of billions.

    Making big brother part of a political weapon and increasing its powers.

    Join NZ up with NATO and hardly a word spoken about it.

    Leaving NZ less resilient, more dependent on imports, more demoralised and vulnerable.

    What more could the investor state ask for in such a short time.

    He will be rewarded well.

  13. Now that Key has gone there will be opening statements from the Nat’s ‘Under this Key led government ” in its place will be repeated ad.naseum Bennett’s sob story of how she managed as a solo-mum. She ,of course will not tell who looked after her child while she was at university ,she will not tell that her parents were well off and supported her.She will certainly not tell how that it was because a Labour Governmnet was in that she was able to attend University .

  14. theresa says:

    I heard on the gravevine that the resignation of John Key has something to do with a donation to Hilary Clintons campaign for presidency.

    Is that true?

    • Groucho Marxist says:

      “a donation to Hilary Clinton’s campaign for presidency.”

      He pledged something like 13.5 million from NZ to one of the Clinton Foundation funds. CHAI – Clinton Health Access Initiative.

      Those Clintons have some dodgy history if you start looking from back when Bill was running for governor of Arkansas.

      So while it wasn’t an open donation from NZ there are big sums moving around in that Foundation and who knows where some of it might have rubbed off on the way past.

  15. Blake says:

    Exactly Frank – good piece.
    His legacy is no legacy at all.
    Except that we are much worse off now.

    Still the asleep and uneducated support him showing
    how ignorant and semi – comatose many here still are.

  16. Andrea says:

    John Key’s legacy: he brought out the worst in us and made it seem reasonable.

    And those who opposed him knew relentless frustration as they slippity-slid on the active dislike of ‘hard-working kiwis’ who had heard their resentment and fear responded to by a ‘nice bloke’, in ways they understood.

    ‘We are the battlers and strivers and we approve his message.’

    He’s gone.

    Can we get our souls back? Or did the collective ‘we’ go too far for that kind of re-humanising?

  17. mosa says:

    What he leaves behind for me is distrust and a cynical belief in the entire political process and at our once independent media and just how easy it is to manipulate and deceive other New Zealanders to buy into these tactics and vote for it.

    I am sick of being lied to and want the truth from the leader of my country.

    That any PM would authorise the use of dirty tricks and character assassinations against his opponents tells me that we had a highly dangerous man elected to office.

    To me its like the seduction and propaganda that Hitler used against the german people to stay in power.

    What his time in office shows is that real leadership and accountability is dead and that we have been seduced into accepting that reality without question.

    That is truly frightening.

  18. Quicksilver says:

    Key’s legacy: we now know what “trichophilia” is.

  19. dai says:

    That fool just left a legacy of debt.

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