Why Russel Norman is so right and John Armstrong is so wrong


Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 8.17.52 AM
Actual painting of Sir Robert Muldoon

Well that was quick, no sooner had Russel Norman dared uttered the name of NZ politics General Woundwart, National’s loudest cheerleader was moved to denounce Norman…

Arrogant and cynical? Possibly, but a long way from Muldoonist
The Green Party co-leader’s assertion that the “divisive and corrosive” behaviour exhibited by the leader of the National Party is akin to that of his most notorious of predecessors is certainly headline-grabbing. It also verges on the ludicrous. Sir Robert Muldoon was without question our most belligerent, abrasive, polarising, dictatorial and vindictive politician.

Russel Norman is of course 1000% right, Key is Muldoonist in his ability to split the country into divisive segments and turn them against each other. Muldoon was prepared to ignite the ignorant white anger hidden from civil view that lurks deep in the dark heart of the average NZer by using the Springbok Tour as his catalyst.

Key has done the exact same thing with his Government’s never ending blitzkrieg against beneficiaries. He has manipulated the lesser angels of his voters to justify assault after assault on the most vulnerable members of society. That’s why Key has leaked the Lusk and Slater files to the media, it’s because he can push through his hard right agenda minus all the overt manipulations that Lusk and Slater want to unleash.

The reason Armstrong can’t see this, is because none of Key’s attacks on beneficiaries ever touches him. Being a highly paid corporate media mouthpiece means Armstrong is far removed from the fear that is rife in beneficiary families. He is far removed from the fear of Paula Bennett releasing his private details if he complains. He is far removed from drug testing, he is far removed from having his daughter talk about contraception with a state official, he is far removed from the threats of work testing, far removed from being forced out of a state home.

Armstrong can’t see the full fury of Key’s Muoldoonist divisive spite because it never touches him. Which isn’t surprising. because as reseasrch showed us over the weekend, the majority of National Party voters don’t have unemployment touch their gated little existances…

Times tough but not for Nats’ friends
Almost half of Kiwis are affected by unemployment, but National supporters are far less likely than other voters to have someone out of work in their inner circle of friends and family.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

The data, collected as part of the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, has emerged as a key fault line in society and between the Government and the opposition.

The poll found 21 per cent of those surveyed had “several” people out of work in their circle of family and friends, and another 23 per cent said there were one or two people close to them unemployed.

The figure jumped sharply among Pacific and Maori respondents, with 57 per cent of a respondents saying several people in their circle were out of work. The proportion for Maori was 42 per cent.

Across the two groups, 67 per cent reported at least one or two of their friends and family were out of work.

But more than 70 per cent of National voters reported no-one in their circle was unemployed.

…Armstrong can’t see the Muldoonism of Key because it’s not aimed at him. This column isn’t the articulation of critical political analysis, it’s the smokescreen defensively kicked up when a friend is besmirched.

If anything, Armstrong’s ridiculous denial is the very proof of Key mastering Muldoonism to a finer art than the great General Woundwart himself. Key has managed to be just as viciously divisive, but he’s found a much more clever way of casually projecting it to minimize and anesthetize the backlash.


  1. Of course Russel Norman is right. Muldoon’s in-your-face was overt. The most terrible feature of the diabolical John Key is that his supporters have taken the moniker “the silent assassin” as a term of endearment rather than the statement of the fact that it is.

      • Had a quick skim through the wikipedia link checking if his references to Muldoon were in there, so just paraphrasing, when asked in an interview about his early day…..views on Springbok tour etc and who was the politician he most admired…..drums rolling – Muldoon !
        Waxed eloquent on why he favoured Muldoon with the comment that Muldoon was his role model. Their presentations may be different but I can see a lot of Muldoon in Key…..just as Muldoon believed he was correct in everything he did, so does Key, dismissing every criticism, question with arrogance, disinformation, misinformation, memory loss and straight out lies. Russel Norman was not too far off the button when he made the comparison as both were “smiling-smirking-assassins.

  2. Excellent analysis and one that gets to the nub of matters.

    It’s also worthwhile pointing out that the Key/Armstrong strategy is typical of the rightwing; belittle your opponant with dog-whistle rhetoric and name-calling.

    When your opponant hits back – criticise them for “dog-whistle rhetoric and name-calling”.

    This will worsen as next year’s election looms closer.

    If the recent Roy Morgan polling is any indication, the public are not wearing this strategy at all.

    In fact, it may backfire on Dear Leader. The more he gets “down and dirty” in the “political pig pen”, the more tarnished Brand Key will become.

  3. Apparently it wasn’t clear that Russell Norman meant Key mirrored Muldoon’s political character, as opposed to Muldoon’s party policy. It seemed pretty obvious to me, which is why I’m not convinced about the honesty of the MSM in the way this is being covered.

    • Because Key is an extreme egomaniac he can’t cognitively process the concept that people are comparing him with the ruddy old blighter Muldoon – seriously he is so blinkered that he actually believes he is making all the decisions that is why he is so dangerous – he is definetely drinking his own Kool-Aid

        • Lets look at that list of psychopathy/sociopathy/narcissists…..
          Without conscience – incapable of empathy – incapable of feeling fear and panic – expert liars – master of manipulation – superficially charming – inability of feelings of remorse, guilt or love – Mimic emotions from an early age but in reality feel nothing – thrive in competitive environments – grandiose view of themselves – superior to the point of being a god – that concentrated power and wealth are intrinsically sociopathological by their very nature – sociopaths/psychopaths excel in organizations that centralize power, and their ability to flatter, browbeat and manipulate others greases their climb to the top.
          How many boxes did you tick re the rise of John Key in pursuit of wealth and power ?
          And this is just an elementary “Dear Watson” description of those in power who walk amongst us.

  4. The continuing worry for those trying to win support of those directly affected by Key’s neo-liberal agenda is that group also remain those who after being continuously brow beaten, and defamed believe there is no point in voting as they are powerless….this is what must be worked on with the most energy by opposition parties to convince them they are in fact powerful.

    • The Labour Party Caucus cannot comprehend this and blame Cunliffe for no show voters. Obviously there are no mirrors in the caucus meeting room.

    • You have some sort of empirical evidence backing this view or did you pull it out of your backside?

        • Much like Russell Norman’s comments on Key then.

          However this theory that people don’t vote because they don’t like how the policies and actions of a particular Government impact them is without merit in my view. It should make them more inclined to vote not less. Certainly having leftists complain about people earning more than their ‘fair’ share makes me more inclined to vote for less ‘politics of envy’ parties.

          I am willing to be convinced otherwise. Where are the studies that suggest the opposite of my view?

  5. I agree Key displays behaviour that is divisive and corrosive, akin to Muldoon. But unlike Muldoon I fail to take Key seriously. Muldoon was a long term politician arrogant and ambitious. Key however strikes me as a party mascot, some laid-back guy who made multi-millions now in the Hive to add a political legacy to his CV. Muldoon was an operator, Key has strings attached. The idea of a mascot running the show is ridiculous.

    Remember in opposition Key was doing a Norman Kirk routine – people brought it, him/the Party promptly forgot once in. Last election, the TV campaign was similar to one of those investment ads with a celebrity mug attached. People brought it, many now with buyer’s remorse. Next year with blue billboards and his face everywhere, what is it marketing? For all I know it could be milk, Weetbix or SkyCity casinos. Will he be on many people’s grocery lists come Election Day?

    Don’t know how people can buy into this scam. Regarding Key’s interviews, my brother’s response: “He doesn’t give a f**k”. Not because what he’s saying.
    “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    More importantly, with many parallels to the Muldoon era, will the post-Key era entail a new round of harsh prescriptions as found yesteryear?

    • Another thing, that Stuff story – big surprise. What do you expect when you ditch a system based on security with one that venerates risk? The Precariat is created and growing, who’s going to accept this as the norm when it bites you in the ass?

  6. National radio was busy scoffing at Dr Russells analogy, because apparantly Dr Russell was only 9 when Muldoon was in charge and lived in Australia. So….apparantly this means he knows nothing aha ha. So pleased we have such intelligent broadcasters working for the tax payer.

    • Russel Norman has a fucking Political Science PhD! He’s the sort of guy the MSM should normally hire to give commentary on politics. He, a lot more than most, knows what he’s talking about here.

    • I think all the commentators pointed out that it was ridiculous for someone who was only 9 and living I Australia at the time Muldoon became PM to know what .ge was like. Unless Clint told him all about it.

      • Really, Gosman?

        Have you never heard of history books, video, and word-of-mouth history?

        Going by your theme, none of us should comment on any historical figure or event we’ve never lived through.

        • Yes I agree. Making historical comparisons to people in the past without first hand experience is silly. It should be avoided by sensible people.

  7. The loudest scoffing in that National Radio gossip session came from Matthew Hooten, who also claimed that poverty in NZ is the result of generations of “welfare dependency”, rather than wages and benefits which have been falling in purchasing power for decades, while the net wealth of the 1% mounts up, and taxes are cut. The ‘Hollow Men’ emails make it clear that these PR monkeys believe that a lie repeated consistently enough becomes the truth. The most critical political question of the current age is; how can we expose and prevent this kind of willful corruption of the political process?

    • It is no coincidence that hollow and Hooten start with the same letter of the alphabet 🙂

    • Danyl we can also expose and prevent this corruption by conveying our own consistent message of truth, fairness and compassion

    • I heard Hooten’s comments as well. Extremely disappointing. Normally he’s a lot better than some Whaleboil-style rant.

      If he’s really unaware of the actual reasons for “welfare dependency”, then I guess he’s not as clever as I credited him.

  8. My wealthy Aunt was of the opinion all unemployed were lazy layabout dole bludgers…..until her darling little, qualified grandsons returned from their OE and couldn’t find a job for love or money! Suddenly, they weren’t lazy dole bludgers any more – her stance shifted….a little reality touched her sheltered. blinkered existence.

  9. Muldoon was at heart a Kiwi. For all his faults, he actually knew this was his homeland. Key owes allegiance to nothing but the almighty dollar. Ten terms of a Muldoon regime would damage the country less than one term of Key, or Lange/Douglas for that matter. While Muldoon built stuff, these guys only know how to sell it off at bargain basement prices. Muldoon may have built the wrong stuff, and he may have manufactured bigotry and hatred for electoral gain, but he did a few positive things. I hated him, but not with the hatred I reserve for the treachery practised by Key, English, Dunne, Douglas, Prebble, Powers, Goff, and Mallard.

    The fact that an Australian and a couple of Maori leaders are our best electoral hopes is a real indictment of Pakeha New Zealand. We have to sort this out, and quickly.

  10. Norman lost me when he complained about Key doing things “for his mates”.

    Absolutely, Russel. 100000% correct, mate.

    Name one political party that doesn’t. That’s how politics work. Person A funds Political Party 2, they’re going to ask that Political Party 2 pushes a certain policy and that if Political Party 2 ever gets the levers of power, they turn that policy into law if possible.

    I mean, it’s not like the Greens don’t do what Greenpeace want them to do, is it, now? Or Labour do what the unions want?

    Duh…..Dr Degree in Political Science.

    • Duh…. the problem of course if you were to think about it, is who are his mates? Not just his cronies in and around the Beehive unfortunately. A 35 year stitch up for sky city, tax handouts to corporate Hollywood, toeing the line for the FBI with regard to Kim Dotcom, and here comes the TPPA, just to mention a few. The Big Money interests in the natz want far more for their bucks than a few more rights for some downtrodden exploited workers that the unions might want.

    • There are actually different political philosophies than just “doing things for your mates”. Yes, party funding is important: it is that which tethers Labour from its pre-84 values; and that funding differential is why National is in power. But if you have a concept of a public good, for instance, as the Greens have, and Labour to a lesser extent; this tends to rein in “yay, we won the election, we boss” yahooism that defines the current govt parties.

      And yeah, pol-sci degree here.

  11. This is what I wrote in published letter in the Dom Post two weeks before Russel Norman’s speech:

    Today’s admission by the Justice Minister that the National Government will not be introducing legislation to change MMP as recommended by the Electoral Commission is an appalling affront to democracy in New Zealand. We had a crucial referendum on MMP, a costly examination by the Electoral Commissioner and the earnest consideration of thousands of submitters. That John Key should so sconfully dismiss this significant constitutional effort with “that is the end of the matter”, should at last reveal to all, and not just a discerning few, just what a deceitful, arrogant and unprincipled politician our PM is. From selling our vital strategic interests, against a known opposition of a large majority of the population, or the shabby deal with Sky City, to his deviousness in distancing himself in the Dotcom fiasco and the questionable appointment of Ian Fletcher, this denial of MMP legislation is the latest in a series of Key’s assaults on our democratic processes. This democratic contempt reminds me of Muldoon, except that Muldoon’s contempt came with a roar and a rhino-like hide, Key’s contempt comes with an ingratiating smirk and a slippery teflon coating. Both are unconscionable, but somehow the former seems more human, less sinister.

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