Wrong On The Royals: Without his advisers, is John Key just another ill-informed Tory?



WHERE WAS DAVID FARRAR when John Key needed him? The answer turned out to be: “In Nepal.” Which, as excuses go, is a pretty good one. Even so, the Prime Minister must have been annoyed. Without the usual briefing from his trusty pollster he’d would be flying blind with the media. When he picked up the phone to the new co-host of Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report, Guyon Espiner, this morning (7/4/14) the Prime Minister’s only option was to take a deep breath and just trust to luck and his own, unaided, political judgement.

After all, it wasn’t as if there was anything particularly taxing on the news agenda.

Sure, there’d been a natural disaster in the Solomons, but not even Radio New Zealand could blame him for that! The simple fact is, tragedies like the Solomons flash floods always make whoever is in office at the time look and sound prime ministerial. Nothing beats dispatching an RNZAF Hercules when it comes to making a politician look both caring and decisive.

And, of course, the front page of the Herald was given over entirely to the imminent arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – and baby George. Exactly the sort of fluffy, positive news story that the Prime Minister considers himself especially good at exploiting. And really, when it comes to the Royals, is there really anyone out there better than John Key? How many other world leaders get to sit in front of a small electric heater and swap baby stories with the Queen of England?

Not bad for a boy from Burnside!

Having successfully dealt with the tragic stuff, the Prime Minister was only slightly taken aback by the earnestness of Espiner’s line of inquiry about the Royal Visit. That damned republican question again!

Why, oh why had he ever gone along with Helen Clark’s “a republic is inevitable” position. He’d never really believed it. Kiwis are a bit like Americans when it comes to royalty: all for equality and quick to agree that Jack’s as good as his master in theory; but just you bring them into ‘the presence’ and watch them go all weak at the knees. It’s why he brought back the knights and the dames. No one had a clue who belonged to the Order of New Zealand, but nobody would have the slightest difficulty in identifying the status of a “Sir John” Key.

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Perhaps it was the thought of the dear old lady tapping him on the shoulder with a glittering yard of Wilkinson steel that prompted him to make a statement about the level of public support for the monarchy. Responding to Espiner’s questions, the Prime Minister declared:

“If you go back about six, seven, eight years – maybe a decade ago – and ask the question whether New Zealanders – if New Zealanders – want to become a republic, then I think the numbers would have been probably 60/40 opposed. Ask that question today and it would be 80/20 opposed. Even Australia, that, you’ll remember, had the ballot on this particular issue, is now much more in favour of the Royal Family. And I think that speaks volumes about the way William and Kate, as young Royals, have modernised the Royal Family and their place as the Head of State.”

Had the National Party’s principal pollster not been en route to a camp at the foot of Mt Everest, he would have been able to warn the Prime Minister that his confidence in the New Zealand public’s ongoing support for a British Head of State was singularly misplaced. Without disclosing any trade secrets, David Farrar, could nevertheless have gently intimated that among young voters (presumably the most impressed by William and Kate) support for the monarchy is rapidly evaporating and that nearly half of the Baby Boom generation have become convinced Republicans.

That, at least, is the guts of the press release issued this morning by New Zealand Republic Inc.

Far from the 80/20 split so confidently predicted by the Prime Minister, the Curia Poll (yes, that is David Farrar’s company) commissioned by New Zealand Republic Inc. shows that:

“[S]upport for a New Zealand Head of State has risen to 44%. Support from people aged 18-30 is at now at 66%. Support for using the next British Monarch as our next head of state has fallen to 46%.”

Among New Zealanders aged 46-60 (the Baby-Boomers) support for a New Zealand (as opposed to a British) Head of State stands at 48 percent. Only among older Kiwis (61 years and up) was there a majority in favour of a British Head of State. But, at just 53 percent, even that support was much, much less than John Key’s estimate of 80 percent of New Zealanders being opposed to abolishing the monarchy.

Not a big issue, you may say, and certainly not one upon which the 2014 General Election is likely to turn. True. But, what John Key’s statement on the Monarchy does reveal, is how radically mistaken the Prime Minister can be on public issues. Denied the guidance of his pollsters and focus-group interpreters, John Key was as sentimentally certain of the Monarchy’s enduring popularity as any other National Party MP – and just as wrong.

Proof, perhaps, that the explanation for the Prime Minister’s remarkable success and enduring popularity owes as much to the briefings he receives from what is clearly a stellar team of advisers as it does to the supposed superhuman capabilities of “Teflon John”.

This current jaunt to Nepal had better be David Farrar’s last expedition until October. (At least!) Because it would seem that Phil Goff may not the only political leader susceptible to an election-losing “Show me the money!” moment.

John Key had better keep his advisers close!


  1. Yes, it simply shows our PM is deluded, and that is a first sign of the present “leader” completely losing touch with not only reality, but with the voting public as well, a price to pay indeed, for holding the exclusive top power position in this land.

    So it is yet another sign, he must go, his time is up!

    Thinking this country and people need a head of state on the other side of the globe, only coming here every so many years, and living a “luxury life” as the most expensive taxpayer funded “beneficiary family” in the developed world, that is plain dumb.

    Get a move on, send Key off to Hawaii, to play more golf, have more barbeques, chats with Hollywood moguls and write his memoirs.

  2. I suspect that the royals aren’t a big deal one way or another for most New Zealanders.

    I support them myself – not because I’m a fan, but because they’re a class act, don’t cost us much, and keep their screw-ups mostly on the other side of the world.

    The superficial appeal of a New Zealand head of state is soon dispelled by the image of some suppurating mass of corruption like Gerry Brownlee being shoehorned into the role.

    This inoffensive young couple is infinitely better than that.

  3. The only thing JK knows anything about is money and selling NZ out.
    Once his whisperers disappear the dithering poster boy loses the plot.

    • I do so like it when the left underestimates John Key. It is simply delicious to see their stunned expressions and howls of outrage at how unfair life is when he beats them on some political front.

      • It’s actually pretty hard to underestimate John Key – lower than a worm’s soul, and so far beneath contempt he almost attracts charity as a lower life form – and the lowbrows he surrounds himself with, while no doubt fascinating to paleoanthropologists and forensic psychologists, haven’t made much of a job of running the country.

        When your sole source of nominal success is a disaster recovery running years overdue and riddled with corruption and inefficacy the sycophantic claims of competence from the toady lobby simply attract ridicule.

      • I wait with bated breath to see what he says to back up Simon Can’t-Breathe-and-talk-at-the-same-time’s decision to sign off land that he had no idea about for mining.
        For me, where this govt is concerned my main emotion has gone from anger at so much they have done, to just plain sadness.

  4. Look, Key is absolutely gagging for a knighthood and given some of the rouges who have them and some of the well-connected mates of mates, why not, who cares anymore about these ludicrous plastic awards, one would suit him to a tee.

    Yet Key sees the royals and vis-a-vis knighthoods as something to aspire to not something from a cringy mothball past. It doesn’t take a scholar to realise that knighthoods are frequently are about who you know and what favours were done for who. And he thinks big mileage can be made out of the schmoozing with the royals.

    This royal tour is a deluded replay from the “golden era” of the 1950’s or 20’s depending on the rose tinting, and in 2014 where having our head of state living in London making NO difference whatsoever to Kiwi’s is really getting quite embarrassing.

    I reckon NZ is falling into two camps if it hasn’t already and very much an us and them;

    The one that loves the royals and all the inherited privilege that goes with it, that still pretends mother England will stand by us, the same thinking that goes with attending Auckland Grammar, Kings et al, loves Rugby Union, farming, listening to ZB and thinking that a hierarchical structure should exist in NZ society and the lower classes of society should revel in subservience and thank you for the privilege of being exploited.

    Then there’s the thinking NZ, Urban, pay people properly, don’t exploit people because your mates in the National party let you, (read about the axed minimum wage service station attendant who felt the “Z Factor” at a Z station, NZ Herald), treat everyone as equal and be independent both as a nation and as thinkers and like any other sport or maybe don’t even get sport at all. And most importantly don’t think of England as home!

    Nice take on Keys advisers, would be interesting to see the guy with his own thought patterns running amuck.

  5. “But, at just 53 percent, even that support was much, much less than John Key’s estimate of 80 percent of New Zealanders being opposed to abolishing the monarchy.”

    It shows the ease with which this Government makes up numbers, as it suits them, that got nothing to do with reality.

  6. “John Key had better keep his advisers close!”

    Almost a gem but please flip horizontally. “His advisor should keep John Key close!”

    Yes, Nepal would be very good. For a long time too please. The warm thought of that cold would be enough to keep me comfortable for years.

  7. Well, this article clarifies what I always suspected. While I’m not well versed with all the actors and production staff involved in the trashy soap opera that is Parliament; I noticed Key, Bridges, and some other National MPs share a similar style of speaking which made me suspect a common coach. When I heard Farrar speak I suspected he was the coach.

    I never understood this country’s love affair with Key, he always seemed a most unremarkable character to me. Often blank facial expressions, odd gaffes that suggests much about his character. When playing the role of leader, on many occasions the acting seems amateurish and laboured.

    Recently when Key was in China and interviewed by Corin Dann; Key compared milk safety processes to the principles behind how a plane flies. In light of the recent Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy of which the majority of the passengers were Chinese, was that a wise analogy to use?

    Considering how Shipley and John Slater were instrumental in seeking out Key a role, Key’s regular correspondence with Cameron Slater, and the way the media landscape in this country has changed. Just how far does the production team go in the Key star machine?

    Considering Key’s unknown millions in wealth, clearly he had an aptitude for his former profession. Expressing an interest for, and then a career in politics suggests a wealthy man with everything who wanted a political legacy to boot. Often his performance seems comparable to George W Bush, those who refer constantly to Key as a mastermind in the political arena are frankly flattering him in my opinion.

  8. @ Gasman . Rejoicing in people with the best intentions howel ?
    Every Nazi knows the meaning of Schadenfreude .
    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude )
    Would you lament instead in seeing love , peace and harmony ?
    Or are you the kind of greedy , envious , competitive , secretive , devious , deviant that such exaltations suggest you are ?
    You know , as well as everybody else , that Key is blunt vernacular for ‘ vagina ‘ .
    @ Cemetry Jones . Hahahahaaha a !

  9. Look. It is NOT a JOKE that we can observe such obvious shortcomings in one elected to be “prime minister”, (of a Nation)

    People need to BACKTRACK on essential desired attributes of a National Leader.

    We would find that John Key would be seriously lacking .
    And this reflects on the public of today..accepting SUBStandards.
    WHY? – (another important discussion….)

    • Certainly Key fails on every significant metric except skin texture – and that’s down to his reptilian DNA. He’s only a scale’s breadth away from becoming the luggage that nature intended.

      But, having a large literate population with more sense on the average than the troughers in Parliament, NZ should simplify governance by allowing voters to opt for self representation. Internet fora can manage the communication challenges with ease now, and the loopholes that allow corrupt and untalented sub-normal reptilian alien shapechangers to steal public assets would be closed once and for all.

  10. Loved the headline, but missed out “nasty”. Every time Tory is used, nasty should predicate it. Nothing good ever came out of a Tory, except the utterance from Aaron Gilmore, who summed up the nasty Tory attitude to everything. “Don’t you know who I am?”.

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