A critical deconstruction of John Key – what’s behind the facade?

By   /   July 28, 2014  /   50 Comments

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The portrait is superficial and selective yet inadvertently revealing. Key’s attributes, as Roughan describes them, can also be perceived as shortcomings from a more critical standpoint. There is also another, less palatable side to the Prime Minister which his apologists neglect to mention.

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Aspiring national leaders need a popular narrative of their rise to power.  Once in office, the narrative can be refined to fit the requirements of leadership and re-election.  Such is the purpose of John Roughan’s John Key: Portrait of  a Prime Minister.  The portrait is superficial and selective yet inadvertently revealing.  Key’s attributes, as Roughan describes them, can also be perceived as shortcomings from a more critical standpoint.  There is also another, less palatable side to the Prime Minister which his apologists neglect to mention.  So, with these initial observations in mind, let us begin our dissection.

From Roughan’s narrative and my own evaluations, John Key’s attributes/shortcomings translate into three rules of conduct.

  1. Individual aspiration is paramount.

John Key’s first declared ambition was to make a million dollars and become Prime Minister.  He was driven by the need to compensate for the failings of his distant and troubled father, George, and to honour the fortitude of his mother, Ruth, who raised the family, often in straitened circumstances.  A Jewish emigrē from Nazi Europe, she insulated John and his sisters (Liz and Sue) from the trauma of their family past.  In retrospect, Key’s early ambitions are understandable yet disquieting.  There was no indication as to how this fortune might advance the New Zealand economy.  An earlier generation of businessmen had built the agricultural, forestry and manufacturing sectors before contributing to public life.  Key’s business career was forged within a finance culture of speculation; money was traded to make money rather than finance the productive economy.  During the 1990s, when Key made his fortune, individual aspiration was synonymous with financial success.  Neo-liberalism had already decimated the Bretton Woods currency system and Keynesian social democracy.

In this context, John Key’s political ambitions did not require any thought-out declarations of ideology or national calling.  Financial success, political smarts, televisual presence and general affability would do the job.  No-one else in the National Party had this package of attributes.  Politics, like business, was about results not overthinking.  As Roughan observes, Key has cut his cloth superbly for the political career he had in mind; others might ponder the absence of any higher purpose.

 

2. Avoid ethical controversy.

John Key is truly made of teflon, as a financier and politician.  During the mid-to-late 1990s, his employer Merrill Lynch was mired in corruption.  In 1994, they were prosecuted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for securities fraud in connection with the 1994 bankruptcy of Orange County in California.  Basically, Merrill Lynch invested the county securities into an investment pool that failed, resulting in a US$1.6billion loss.  Investors and county officials were not forewarned of the danger.  The SEC also indicted Merrill Lynch executives for aiding and abetting American energy company Enron’s violations of the anti-fraud and internal controls provisions of Federal securities laws.  Although Key was not directly involved in such matters, they reflect an organizational culture which generated ethical controversy.  Key’s evaluation of this situation is nowhere to be found in Roughan’s biography.  Fast forward to the 2005 election campaign and the Exclusive Bretheren scandal.  Nicky Hager has argued that on May 24, the sect’s plans for a $1million pro-National “Wake-Up New Zealand” campaign were put in writing to party leader, Don Brash, and finance spokesperson John Key.  Brash’s knowledge of the Exclusive Bretheren’s intentions became a live election issue and effectively ended his political career, after Helen Clark’s return to office.  John Key’s role in the controversy became a non-issue as his political star rose.  Similarly, Teflon John was left untainted by scandals surrounding the international convention centre deal with Sky City Casino and the Government’s subsidization of Rio-Tinto Alcan (owner of the Tiwai Point aluminium shelter) in 2013.  And, the Government’s support for Chorus and intimidation of the Commerce Commission concerning their decisions on copper and fibre optic pricing has not damaged the Prime Minister’s standing at all.  More recently, Donghua’s donations to the National Party and Judith Collins’ associations with Oravida have raised ethical concerns about ministerial conduct without affecting John Key.  All of these examples attest to Key’s political adroitness and media skills, yet a certain uneasiness remains.  He prefers to ignore or downplay the ethical controversies which have surrounded him.  His signature response seems to be “I’m comfortable with that”.

 

3. Embrace national myths not national history.

Roughan candidly admits that our Prime Minister is uninterested in philosophy, social sciences, economics or history:  ‘Key is not a reflective man, given to dwelling on his own past, or that of the country he governs’ (pp 14-15).  This is a salutary rather than a critical judgment.  Although ‘history matters for lessons that need to be remembered’, it seems that ‘the past is less important than the present and the future is made by what a government does today’ (p 15).

For John Key and the National Party, this a-historical outlook has worked a treat.  Why relitigate ideological battles from the 1980s and 1990s?  Major economic reforms had to be made, what’s done is done.  The New Zealand economy is tracking well under the sound stewardship of John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce.  All oppositional viewpoints are anachronistic and dangerous by definition.  This is a difficult orthodoxy to break down if the electorate itself has a diminishing sense of the national past.  As the percentage of overseas-born New Zealanders increases so does national amnesia.  Thus, it scarcely matters that John Key can’t recall his position, say, on the 1981 Springbok tour, if much of his support base wasn’t even here then.  For the purposes of re-election, a-historical and a-political sentiments are pandered to rather than criticized.  John Key makes this strategy work by embracing national mythology.  As Tourism Minister, he has advanced New Zealand’s ‘clean, green’ image against sad-sack Greenies who moan on about polluted waterways and dirty dairying.  The aspirationally successful Key family appears in The Women’s Weekly and other popular media.  John’s political success is equated with New Zealand sporting success.  A recent Rugby News front page deliberately positions John Key as one of the All Blacks.  Their recent unbeaten record merges with the Prime Minister’s political supremacy.  At the same time, strategic appearances at gay and lesbian pride events signals a tolerance for social diversity (so much for the Exclusive Bretheren).  This is a man who feels comfortable anywhere; at the beach, the barbecue, the rugby, or social minority gatherings.  He is an everyman for every occasion where no-one asks pointy-head questions about the future of the country.

 

Let us now consider John Key’s less palatable side.  Here, three patterns of behavior can be adduced.

 

  1. Amiability equals deference to power.

On Roughan’s account, John Key is equally at ease playing golf with Barack Obama as he is at a family barbecue on the Queen’s Balmoral estate.  The hosts are willing and happy to converse with our Prime Minister.  ‘Local boy made good’ is the obvious message here, an ordinary New Zealander, one of us, mixing with the truly elite.  However, there is an unstated reason for John Key’s popularity – his subservience to power.  Obama would have welcomed Key’s unquestioning support for the Afghanistan campaign.  In 2009, with the security situation worsening, the government complied with a US request to redeploy the SAS in a frontline role, notwithstanding the dangers involved.  In February 2011, Key extended the deployment for another 12 months.  In the year previous, Key had acceded to American corporate power.  Warner Brothers forced amendments to New Zealand labour laws as a prerequisite for filming the Hobbit here.  In January 2012, pressure from both music and film companies compelled the government to facilitate a SWAT-style raid on Dot-Com’s Coatesville mansion.  For Obama, this must have been worth several extra rounds of golf with the New Zealand Prime Minister.  The Queen’s hospitality to John Key and family is also understandable.  Pleasantly surprised she must have been in August 2009 with the reinstatement of Knights and Dames to the New Zealand honours system.  Further Royal Tours are in prospect.

Although none of these initiatives has dented John Key’s domestic popularity, New Zealand’s national autonomy has certainly declined.  His subservience to the US Presidency and English royalty is redolent of the 1950s rather than the early 21st century.

 

2. Economic management equals wealth defense

John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce portray themselves as rational economic managers even though their initiatives are designed to protect the wealthiest of their supporters.  There is no other way to explain the 2008-10 tax cuts, the refusal to consider a capital gains tax, taxpayer subsidies for South Canterbury Finance and Rio-Tinto, the low-interest loan for Mediaworks, the sweetheart deal with Sky City Casino, and the partial privatization of Mighty River Power and Meridian.  Correspondingly, the Government refuses to address clear evidence of structural inequality.  Job creation, housing initiatives for poorer families and an increased minimum wage appear nowhere on their policy landscape. Indeed, if National is re-elected new anti-union legislation will threaten the living standards of many working families.  None of this should be especially surprising given that the John Key narrative privileges individual aspiration over equality of opportunity.  It is worth remembering though that John Key’s own accomplishments were made possible by a fairer economic system; namely, Keynesian Social Democracy and the Welfare State.

 

3. Executive state power overrules democratic principles.

Russell Norman’s comparison of John Key and Robert Muldoon is partially true.  For a neo-liberal politician, John Key’s advancement of executive state power at the expense of democratic processes is remarkable.  Lindsay Perigo and Jamie Whyte are no doubt aware of this.  Back in 2010, Environment Canterbury’s 14 elected councilors were summarily dismissed.  After the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, Christchurch became a government fiefdom administered by Gerry Brownlee, the City’s de-facto Prime Minister.  The 2010 re-writing of New Zealand employment law, courtesy of Warner Brothers, effectively subverted New Zealand’s parliamentary sovereignty.  The systematic collusion between Sky City Casino and John Key’s administration during 2013 precluded future governments from cancelling or relitigating this arrangement, a legally questionable dictate to say the least.  Furthermore, Sky City was promised seven years of protection from taxes.  The recent passage of the GCSB Bill and the Telecommunications Interception Bill constitutes the biggest threat to individual liberty since the Public Safety Conservation Act of the early 1950s.

Another term of National Government will advance executive power further.

 

As the preceding discussion suggests, John Key is not invulnerable and his carefully packaged biography is open to dispute.  The real question is this:  who has the capacity and kudos to take the Prime Minister on?  No such person exists in a Labour Party which is thoroughly compromised by neo-liberal economics and racked by internal division. In my estimation, two political figures in particular have the intellect and street smarts to seriously challenge John Key:  Russell Norman and Hone Harawira.  Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister loathes each of them in equal measure.  They both have the capacity to publicly dissect the official portrait of John Key.  If they and their supporters can do so, the election night result may yet stymy the Prime Minister’s carefully laid plans.

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50 Comments

  1. XRAY says:

    Great piece that only can scratch the surface.

    What concerns me the most is that National is a party of very wealthy, well connected men who by ones means or another are used to getting their way, to not only grow their wealth but to ensure it stays that way. So to achieve this Nationals tentacles are reaching far and wide through the institutions of NZ to control and manipulate the moment.

    To give credence to the greatness that is the manufactured image of John Key they know there needs to be a semblance that what National is doing is succeeding. But so far not so good!

    The cold reality and in conflict with the official statistics we are fed we as a nation have, at very best, a flat lining economy with few new ideas for growth. With crime, inequality, poverty, education, health we are worse off and add to that a lowering ethics and morality and corruption rearing its head we breaking new ground here too. None of this matches up with the greatness Key is supposed to bring.

    And it’s here National hit new lows all on their own. The façade that is Key is matched by the Hollywood movie set façade that is NZ in respect of official statistics and anecdotal cheer leader support from various vested interests. Look at those shiny impressive building fronts of the Rock Star economy, the lower crime stat’s, the fewer registered unemployed and so on but don’t go behind them as you will only see 4 x 2 bits of wood and nails propping the whole mess up.

    Yes a few are doing very well from National but most are only thinking they are and others know they are not.

    Its seems most of our journalists have gone missing in action under the spell of Key, questions ceased to be asked and blind acceptance ruled the day.

    • Harry says:

      “The cold reality and in conflict with the official statistics we are fed we as a nation have, at very best, a flat lining economy with few new ideas for growth.”

      Nationals “idea” is intensification of farming, more oil and gas drilling, more mining, more logging and exploitation of the country’s resources, with little consideration for the serious, harmful consequences.

      They would stack cows on top of each other, if they could, to increase volumes in output, never mind the quality of water in the ground, in streams and lakes.

      Also they believe in continued immigration, as that is their easiest “medicine” to achieve some form of “growth” in the economy.

      What they do not want to realise, and certainly do not tell the public is, that this cannot go on forever.

      Natural resources are already stretched, and more cows, cattle and also more people need more water, land and food to live on.

      With a population nearing 5 million, people need to ask themselves, do they want to become another over populated place one day, where we will have the same problems like many other countries, and where then even all the hydro, thermal and wind and solar energy generation will not meet future demand for electricity, so we may then have to consider nuclear energy generation.

      This is stuff people should think about, but the media does not inform, and people will not learn about important stuff, when they are not confronted with it.

      School and tertiary eduction is increasingly provided only for subjects and matters that business cares about, to make money, and people are told to follow careers, and learn what is “useful”, which is again, what business considers so.

  2. fambo says:

    John Key is essentially a political form of the classic 1980s Brierleys asset stripping mentality. Take over control of a successful business, take its money in the bank, sell its assets and pocket this money as well, and then move on to the next victim.

  3. NoMush says:

    “the election night result may yet stymy the Prime Minister’s carefully laid plans” – only if everyone actually gets out and VOTES! Encourage all your non voting friends and rellies to choose a party even if they don’t agree with all its policies, and go out and vote.

  4. Fossil says:

    As you say, the comparison of Key and Muldoon is fair only in parts. Both overrode convention or the law when it suited them. Muldoon, however, knew exactly what he was doing. He carefully balanced the costs of academic and opposition outrage against political advantage.

    Key in contrast seems to lack context. He acts as he does because he can and because it suits him. In this sense he is different from any other National prime minister I can think of. He has hardly any history in the National Party. He rarely speaks of its traditions or philosophies. According to Roughan, he has no interest in his country’s past, its culture or its social composition. His understanding of the law and constitution must be similarly limited. His only interest appears to lie in the best deal that can be made for short-term advantage.

    Key is a politician without politics, let alone policy. He helps the rich because that is easy, but it should be noted, for one, that his policy on superannuation is further to the left than Labour’s. He is the ideal prime minister for a time when politics has become a form of entertainment with little meaning beyond scandal and celebrity.

    The left needs a champion to defeat him, but it also needs a massive intellectual effort to find a way to rise above its malaise and make politics itself more relevant.

    • Murray Simmonds says:

      Excellent comment, Fossil.

    • cleangreen says:

      Hollow man isn’t he really Wayne,

      No substance, and people should awake to this we hope they do soon before he makes us all what he promised not to do,

      “To not make us tenants in our own land right”?

  5. Joceje says:

    Great piece Wayne

  6. Tim O'Shea says:

    Great article, Wayne, just needed to throw in the TPPA for good measure !

  7. Murray Simmonds says:

    Thank you for an excellent, well-balanced and totally fair expose.

    The comparison with Muldoon struck a chord. I did not LIKE Muldoon, but nevertheless I felt a certain amount of respect for him – perhaps because at least in part I perceived him to be a man of integrity. This much even, alas, is not at all true of Key.

    As I see it, Key will go down in history as something like “God’s gift to Obama, but the devil’s gift to New Zealand .”

    But alas, I also fear that the worst is yet to come . . .

  8. Michael says:

    I think Roughan’s biography resembles its subject: bland, boring and superficial. However, it seems that Key represents middle and rich New Zealand to a tee. I found it truly stomach churning to read how effortlessly Key attained the pinnacle of the National Party – by waving his money under their noses and intoxicating them with its smell. The same trick seems to work with the electorate, although the absence of credible opposition surely helps.

  9. Ruth Sullivan says:

    I think that we in New Zealand are extremely fortunate to have John Key running the country and representing us all around the world. He is welcomed by world leaders has received personal invitations from the British Royal family and the US President. Of course not everyone is going to be happy but I doubt we could have a better, more qualified man as our Prime Minister and hope for a re-election in September.

    • mary_a says:

      @Ruth Sullivan – you jest of course!

      In one instance, John Key was listed at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service as “an unidentified guest!” So much for being welcomed by world leaders!

      Once Key is exposed for the lying, corrupt, deceiving charlatan he actually is, either on 15 September at the Auckland Town Hall, by Kim Dotcom and/or Glenn Greenwald, or at the Dotcom extradition trial in January, Key will be done for! His time is running out.

  10. Wild Katipo says:

    The one thing that politicizes and backs media into corners is obvious and large scale, long term protest action.

    Hard to miss it or excuse it.

    We have at our disposal a resource here that can embarrass govt,…politicize the population , and form a platform to raise present and even past issues…..and the alternatives.

    Unions for a start can do their part regards low minimum wages, Employment Relations Act , Green issues can be raised as can economic alternatives.

    It may seem as if it is not taken into account but done strategically, near election time, can have a major impact on people who might not have voted , but feel also that something just isnt right with this govt.

    It can be designed precisely to form a backdrop of this mans/govt failures and FORCE this character Mr John Key to abandon the ‘barbecue’ pretense and shake voters out of the thought that hes just one of us down the street.

    He patently isnt . And in radical situations,…. unfortunately, radical solutions must be applied.

    Its time for New Zealanders to start to get just a little more militant for the sake of this generation and the ones to come.

    • Mistery Mistery says:

      Fully agree with you.

      If anyone is worried about being arrested – well don’t be, because our prisons wouldn’t be able to hold us all at once. And do you really think the police would outnumber us – no way. And then there is our army – but do you really think a NZ soldier would kill one of his own countrymen? No, of course they wouldn’t.

      It is only an attitude of leaving it to someone else, coming from our peaceable nature that is preventing these protests from happening. And I believe these protests must start happening now, pre-election.

      Where are they?

      Opinion and belief.

      • Groucho Marxist says:

        A short sharp general strike – even a 10 minute stop work, would show some unity and solidarity from those of us who have felt bullied and manipulated by National’s lack of concern for those effected by the seldom mentioned GFC aftershocks.

        With all the ears and eyes following our phone calls and internet communications I will be alert for the sound of approaching helicopters and crack troops coming to arrest me for sedition. Or whatever charge a bunch of fascists could make stick.

  11. Phil Mason says:

    I’ve always thought Key’s whole political raison d’etre is simply to extend the globalisation agenda (privatisation, capital friendly, free-trade agreements).

    The evidence for this? The only major part of his policy program that has been really unpopular (aside from raising GST) has been privatisation. In pretty much everything else, he has stuck to the status quo, most of the public hasn’t really cared, or it hasn’t been a major policy. With everything else he has had a bit of a devil may care attitude.

    It was the large Wall Street banks, through the World Bank and IMF, that first began to push hard for this “Washington Consensus” globalisation agenda back in the late 1970s. John Key made his millions working for such a Wall Street bank.

    To me it looks like Key is and always has been “their man”. But to point out these salient facts and join the dots accordingly is to be a “conspiracy theorist” in the world of too many people. In fact to point out the blindingly obvious fact that there is a globalisation agenda on the part of the large international banks at all, tends to put one in that category these days. It’s a bit of an Orwellian denial of reality consensus that has emerged through media conditioning, and has infected many on the left as well.

    • e-clectic says:

      Well said @Phil, the notion that some ordinary bloke from Burnside could be enrolled by US bankers/power brokers is beyond the realm of what most kiwis can believe. As you point out, joining the dots and making uncomfortable inferences about who John Key is really working for moves into the realms of “conspiracy theory” and is therefore rejected out of hand.
      Michael Parenti has a few words to say about that, including the impact of controlling the political vocabulary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6QaYycHDvk .

      • Kate Kate says:

        Thanks for the link E-CLECTIC, fascinating, and the funny thing was I listened to the RNZ The Panel with Jim Mora today and Michelle Boag was on it..eeek! . She was ranting on about all the ‘conspiracy theories’ that will come along with this election, so funny and the biggest one is Kim Dot Com’s revelation about John Key. I was amazed she sounded so ridiculously transparent after watching Michael Parenti, I can’t stand her anyway, she is so corny trying her hardest to fool everyone.

    • raegun says:

      I am firmly of the opinion that growth is over and the human race must address now, its over-population of the planet.
      Doing this will run counter to everything that has been going on lately in terms of globalisation and the corporatisation of just about everything. The solution to a stabilising, or even better, reducing population, is that everything gets smaller, so for me the real obstacle that stands in the way of the human race and prospering while downsizing our population without violence or some dreadful diseases, is that all these economies of scale get kicked to the kerb.
      Big is the real enemy for me, and big is what Key stands for, so Key is the last person I want to see PM after Sept this year

  12. Ruth Sullivan says:

    You know I think that we in New Zealand are extremely fortunate to have John Key running the country and representing us all around the world. He is welcomed by world leaders has received personal invitations from the British Royal family and the US President. Of course bot everyone is going to be happy but I doubt we could have a better, more qualified man as our Prime Minister and hope for a re-election in September.

    • XRAY says:

      Why is he welcomed by a couple of world leaders Ruth, especially Obama? Is it his golf skills, the way he can flick a scab off the quart bottle at a barbie or is it privileged private information he gives the US that they like?

    • Harry says:

      Ruth, this is the drivel the New Zealand media feed the ill-informed wider public here.

      Go to the US, Europe, Japan, China or elsewhere, and ask the people about John Key, few if any will know anything at all about this self promoting clown there.

      Yes, he is welcome by the Royals, David Cameron and Obama, as he loves to lick the backsides of such high level personalities. That is how Key moved “up” in business, by kissing the bums of his bosses, while later becoming known as the “smiling assassin”, who would stab his own team members in the back, should he need to get rid of them, in order to “save costs”, or whatever reasons.

      Key has his second home on Hawaii, so he lives in the US, and it seems too often, that he is more concerned with the interests of his “second home” country, than with the wellbeing of the nation he grew up in.

      He is a man of the elite now, and he rather looks after their privileged interests, and visiting influential persons is part of the environment in the “golden” fish bowl he lives in.

      What did this John Key led government dp for New Zealanders that face challenges, like for instance the carers of disabled, who fought a decade for some rights to get compensation for looking after their children and other relatives? They won major court cases, but after promising them a scheme to help them, the government turned around and offered them a totally crap deal, crafted by one Tony Ryall, one of Key’s “best performers”, as the media would say.

      What about the rights taken of people who are denied legal aid now, to address injustices they suffered, what about the workers having tea breaks and other entitlements compromised or take off them, what about beneficiaries getting a rough deal, and pitiful support, while they face increasingly draconian conditions, what about sick and disabled now expected to compete for jobs with the fit and healthy, what about the children in poverty suffering third world diseases, what about the many living and freezing in poorly insulated, damp and also cramped homes, what about over half the population, for whom their own home has become unaffordable, what about the many never getting a pay-rise, and the list can go on, what about all those?

      Key and Nats have done NOTHING for those, they have made life a lot worse for too many, that is the true story. Sadly the New Zealand media only caters for those coping and doing OK, somehow, presenting news that “please” them, and that are soft on the government, in some cases even blatantly promoting it.

      • mary_a says:

        @Harry – Absolutely spot on there.

        You state the following – “Key has his second home on Hawaii, so he lives in the US, and it seems too often, that he is more concerned with the interests of his “second home” country, than with the wellbeing of the nation he grew up in”.

        Yes, Key turns his back on, selling out and betraying the very same nation which helped subsidize the state house he grew up in, as well as subsidizing his FREE education at all levels!

        As thanks, Key buys, sells and picks Kiwis off as commodities to promote his own interests! The epitome of the greedy, self serving currency trader!

    • e-clectic says:

      @Ruth How do you explain away the profligate borrowing that guarantees that the NZ economy will have an increasing interest bill year on year? Frankly, it smacks of economic sabotage delivering up NZ to foreign banking masters. And, given his apprenticeship on the inside of big banking – he knows this. He’s our very own homegrown EHM.

    • D'Esterre says:

      @ Ruth Sullivan:
      Have you got anything of moment to say, or are you just going to repeat endlessly this little piece of satire of yours?

  13. Dorothy Bulling says:

    Think about Marcus Brutus in Roman history and theback stabbing while he smiled. We are the people being stabbed and Key and Joyce the stabbers. Forget English, he’s just the minion carrying the swords. Use your vote wisely and get rid of this smiling assassin. He’s only out for himself and his rich mates.

  14. Ovicula says:

    Cunliffe has the ability to stomp all over Key. If he wasn’t in the Labour Party he’d be able to, but the remnant Rogernomes won’t allow it. People like Goff and Mallard probably have life size statues of Key in their bedrooms and it’s long past goodbye time for them.

    • Plan B says:

      Too many Labour MPs seem to be working very hard to be life members of the ‘Loyal Opposition’ The “aw shucks, we didn’t win the election, but we will all try harder next time nonsense, has to stop. throw them out and start again.

    • Mistery Mistery says:

      Yes. Labour need to use the slogan.

      “Truth and goodness in action, will overcome evil.”

  15. Dennis Dorney says:

    There seems to be no limit to the games that the right wing media will play to get John Key’s name in lights.Every one will be aware that “team Key” is a phrase that National is bandying about virtually as its campaign slogan. Today in Dunedin’s Otago Daily times this headline was placed conspicuously above an article about the medals won in Glasgow by our cycling team:- Riding as team key to victory.
    Am I paranoid? Is it just coincidence? Do pigs fly?

  16. Peter Badfellow says:

    If the Government does not address slavery at sea this week, an international boycott of New Zealand fisheries will be initiated.

    Any attempt to accost activists will result in a torrent of leaks.

    International Labor’s Protection

    • Mistery Mistery says:

      Awesome!
      Action!

      I have physical proof of slavery, and worse at sea if you need any more to add to your files.

  17. Harry says:

    This is an excellent analysis and evaluation of our PM John Key!

    The sad thing is, he is actually somewhat typical of the modern day career minded urban New Zealand business professional.

    John Key is the perfect example of how modern day, laissez faire neoliberalist capitalism and the associated “business culture” has shaped certain people, and prepared for them the ideal environment to operate successfully, by advancing their personal interests, above those of the rest of society.

    Key is able to comfortably lie down on the comfortable bed of hay others prepared for him.

    He chose an accountancy and business career, smartly maneuvered himself into a position of great opportunity when the NZ Dollar was allowed to be traded freely on currency markets, when a more neoliberal than “social democratic” Labour government opened trade and “liberalised” the whole business environment, which led to large scale asset selling and privatisation of many formerly regulated and also state owned industries.

    After having neoliberalism set its firm, virtually irreversible mark on New Zealand society as a whole for over two decades, Key decided to give up his finance industry and other business careers, to enter politics as a National MP. The country had been changed beyond recognitions since he traded the NZ Dollar in the mid 1980s, and he decided to push for even more change, working on ending the Clark led Labour government.

    A cunningly smart operator within the National caucus, he eventually became their leader, and having learned the “ropes” in Parliament, lobbying and the Wellington beltway, he became PM after smashing Labour in a then already questionable election campaign, where it was more about myths than facts.

    It seems the man has a strong instinct, a sound gut feeling, and his lack of interest in history, his strong sense of opportunism, his high degree of aspirations, that have helped him to win the trust of too many New Zealanders, who sadly are their own worst enemies.

    Yes, regrettably most New Zealanders are a bit like John Key, and John Key is a bit like most New Zealanders, as the average New Zealander values “can do” people, who do not mess around with analysis, do not get bogged down in detail, and just want to “get the job done”, one way or another.

    As too many have now firmly adapted to neoliberalism and everything being done in a “business manner”, and have basically given up on looking back, let alone consider reversing past “reforms”, they feel it is all right to have Key run the show, as many opportunistic Kiwis simply do the same as he every day.

    So we have a country run by a PM and government, that have no real plan for a future, be this to make the country more economically diverse, to create a more sustainable economy, to make the place less dependent on fossil fuels. It is short sightedness that rules, even many middle class home owners following the “gold miner” mentality, celebrating their asset values going up, while others cannot even afford a down payment on a home.

    A divided, short sighted, superficial, opportunity chasing, future ignoring and increasingly dumbed down population, fed with info from poor and biased media, that is what makes up the bulk of voters now.

    Key and Nats will do all to make all this more engrained and irreversible, should they win a third term, and there lies the great danger for this country, which too few seem to realise.

    For most it is now just about ME, ME NOW, and not about US, is my sad, depressing assessment, a society that is full of division, and does not see the great dangers ahead.

    • D'Esterre says:

      @ Harry: ” …he eventually became their leader,…” Yup, by white-anting Bill English, if folk remember that leadership contest within National. I think it may have been Nicky Hager who described how he did it.

  18. Charlieboy says:

    From my knowledge of Key and the people he socialises with, his back story is a carefully constructed semi-fiction. Secondly, behind the public facade he is truly the “secret assassin”. This is not a joke,he is.
    Lastly Key can be defeated very easily by someone who tells the truth. The contrast with the “taking a step backwards”,”what I can tell you”,giggling snide joke,look over there PM we have now would be immense. It worked for Lange.

    • Once was Tim says:

      “From my knowledge of Key and the people he socialises with, his back story is a carefully constructed semi-fiction.”
      Ain’t that the truth! All that poor solo mum – state house kaka growing up in tough times. His predicament was no more onerous that a huge number at the time. Unfortunately we don’t have a media prepared to actually delve, but who’d rather simply accept the spin.
      They should check out some of the people that worked with him too (and I don’t mean the colleagues he used to brown nose in order for his personal advancement)

      …. and they thought Nick Leeson was a rogue – by comparison he was just unlucky

  19. Sally Randell says:

    Perhaps we need to explain to NZers that this is one huge CHESS GAME…we are the “White” the USA and big business is the “Black”.

    The Game (Analysis of how to take over a country slowly and quietly and without all out war) has been moving slowly piece by piece for many years with deep thought process and planning before each move has been made. I see NZ as the “White KING” (the prize), which we as pawns and others must defend by what ever means to keep the “King” SAFE. (Helen Clark was a protector from the White, but got taken out)
    I could imagine a clever ANIMATOR , putting signs on chess pieces and making all the moves that have and will effect us. Showing the game plan that has been going on. eg GCSB, TPPA, workers rights etc etc …the pieces representing the people who have tried to fight for us, the “squares” perhaps the land and environment and us little peeps etc .

    The current status is us NOW at PRE-ELECTION…hovering in the balance of win or loose. If JK gets in again…we will loose everything , I have no doubt in my mind that this election will be the death of our country and many people (Health, suicide etc ) if we do not get him out !!!!

    Feel free anyone with enough analogical brain and time to map out the chess game and perhaps animate it to share and show the game plan before it is too late. (Joining the dots for the not so well informed)

    • e-clectic says:

      As you may know, Zbigniew Brzeszinski has already used that metaphor and provided the blueprint for the “black team” – The Grand Chessboard.
      While Brzezinski was looking at a bigger board than just NZ, he has said a number of things we need to be aware of.

      “We have a large public that is very ignorant about public affairs and very susceptible to simplistic slogans by candidates who appear out of nowhere, have no track record, but mouth appealing slogans”

      “The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ”

      So, yes, we have to stop this NOW.
      Here’s a description of how the game played out in the USA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoG7J3r9Bqc

      • Sally Randell says:

        Gosh E-CLECTIC I have never heard of that guy.

        Thank you for your reply, it means I am not off the mark then and not going loony with the picture/movie I have in my head about what is happening.

        You should watch Nigel Latta, he was on last night and did a brilliant truthful coverage of what IS happening here, that needs to be shared to enlighten a few more…put it in their faces and perhaps the sleepy peeps will wake up. We live in hope 🙂

        http://tvnz.co.nz/nigel_latta/video

  20. ian says:

    Actually light weight analysis which shows significant bias
    for instance your remark

    I have cut out the quote below:

    John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce portray themselves as rational economic managers even though their initiatives are designed to protect the wealthiest of their supporters. There is no other way to explain the 2008-10 tax cuts, the refusal to consider a capital gains tax, taxpayer subsidies for South Canterbury Finance and Rio-Tinto, the low-interest loan for Mediaworks, the sweetheart deal with Sky City Casino, and the partial privatization of Mighty River Power and Meridian. Correspondingly, the Government refuses to address clear evidence of structural inequality

    So to pick up on that point alone –

    The 2008-10 tax cuts took out the tax which was introduced as a ‘rich tax ‘ when labour first came to power. It cut in at $39,000 which when it was established was about equivalent to about $100,000 per annum. Recently labour spoke about Kawarau Mill where half the staff were below $40k – the point which they were previously as the definition of the rich rather than the definition of someone became poor. Not even Harawira would support a higher marginal tax rate at $39k now – so can we drop the noise about the tax cuts.

    A more significant element about John Key is that he is a trader – and like any trader, and especially foreign exchange trader, the deal he made yesterday doesnt influence the deal he will make tomorrow. This is a fundamental difference between the parties – and the reason that ideologues such as Don Brash can’t lead the national pary. I would agree that the National Party has a long history of finding leaders in a ‘Muldoon-like strategy-free populists – which fits the new zealand culture

    • Harry says:

      What is widely accepted is the fact that income tax cuts did generally benefit the higher income earners more than the medium to low income earners, as the tax burden was shifted from income earned to GST to be paid on goods and services.

      In return for a moderate income tax reduction GST was actually increased by 20 percent, when looking at the rate of 12.5 percent it used to be at, compared to the 15 percent it it has been since after the Nats’ “tax reforms”.

      As most low and medium income earners have less “discretionary” spending power, they are hit more by the GST, so the tax burden has been “shifted” downward – to be carried mainly by the common consumer.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_New_Zealand

      http://www.move2nz.com/nz/nz_taxes.aspx

      Most income earners noticed little if any extra left for them to “save” or spend, and with housing costs having sky rocketed in Auckland, Christchurch and a few other places, that bit of gain will have been more than wiped out again over the last few years.

      Had the last Labour governments not budgeted conservatively and given tax cuts in 2005 or so, would the Global Financial Crisis have hit the country much worse, as there would have been fewer reserves to take the hit.

  21. Mistery Mistery says:

    When I saw that ACC had bought up masses of Chorus shares, I knew that the govt were up to something. If you watch the shares that ACC buy up, it is a giant neon clue to the next member of cronyism coming on board the Key gravy train.

    If you could get your hands on the ACC investments portfolio, it would be easy to see who exactly these cronies are.

    What about what Monsanto are doing to our milk? How many backhand payments did that take, and how much money changed banks to get this underway?

    Yes. John Key has almost got the Muldoon twisted half-smirk of a smile down pat.

    Well said article here Martyn.

    Lets charge him with Treason and be done with it.

    Lets write directly to our sovereign – the Queen. Lets bypass Keys crony mate the governor-general, so NZ can let her know that one of her sovereign countries has been taken over by a dictator.

    Lets all turn out to vote, and get him kicked out of our government, so he can toddle off and play in Hawaii. Remember he said (if you can take his word?) if he gets elected he is going to stand down, so effectively we would then have the equally shonkey Collins as our PM.
    This Nats regime needs to be shut down, and hopefully that will be without violence, and done democratically on election day!

    If this doesn’t happen, then God help NZ with what will have to happen next.
    Individuals Freedom must win over dictatorship.
    Good must win over evil.

    We deserve a bright and free future!

    Opinion and belief.

    • Maria says:

      I am behind the 8 ball here…. what are Monsanto doing to our milk? ….. and um…. aren’t we giving free milk in schools to 350,000 kids?

      • Mistery Mistery says:

        Maria.
        Monsanto/Fonterra, are using a ‘genetically engineered’ thickening agent in the water they use to reconstitute the milk powder – after the fresh farm milk has been dehydrated – as it all is.

        Best to google Monsanto and you will see exactly what the half owner of Fonterra actually do. Or speak to someone who works at a Fonterra owned milk treatment plant. You will see.

        Opinion.

  22. alistairC says:

    The real question is this: who has the capacity and kudos to take the Prime Minister on?

    I’m delighted to see that Laila is going to take him on in his Helensville electorate. I’d love to see them go head to head in a local hall. Not the same thing as national TV, mentored by spin doctors. And tons of scope for cellphone videos of Key making an ass of himself.

  23. Daniel V says:

    Hone Harawera and Russell Norman are good estimations, but y’all need some Daniel Venema in your life.