Why middle NZ loves John Key


Middle NZ loves John Key more than a shark loves blood.


There are 3 mains reasons NZers love John Key with such adoration.

1 – A never ending mainstream media honeymoon

The role the mainstream media played in empowering Cameron Slater’s Dirty Politics is never acknowledged. The killing off of public broadcasting is never mentioned. The manner in which right wing mouthpieces like Paul Henry, Patrick Gower and  Mike Hosking dominate the discourse is never discussed. The strangulation of Campbell Live for political reasons is never mentioned.  The role in which the never ending honeymoon the mainstream media has for Key is never critically examined and yet it is a large chunk of the reason middle Nu Zilind loves Key.

Get told often enough that a $200million dollar money trader with a Hawaiian mansion is God’s gift to NZ, and people believe it.

2 – The Key is ‘moderate’ myth

Any time any pundit rolls up to a panel discussion (Dr Raymond Miller is a great example of this) and they will inevitably claim Key’s success is due to him bing a ‘moderate’. This is only half true. The pretence that Key is moderate is the secret to his success. For the middle classes, Key IS moderate. Property speculation earns the middle classes more than their actual jobs and middle class tax breaks like Working for Families and  interest free student loans sit alongside a never ending pension and Gold Card subsidies so for the middle, Key is seen as moderate. However if you are working class, on the minimum wage or facing the blunt realities of welfare reforms which are structured to disqualify rather than help, then this Government are brutal. This viewpoint never gets articulated on panel shows in NZ because in most cases the interviewer is rich, the interviewees are rich and the news producer who is allowing the voices on is rich. Hence the myth that Key is ‘moderate’ becomes a perceived fact.

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3 – Key’s appeal to our anti-intellectualism and negative egalitarianism 

The biggest part of Key’s appeal however is that he manages to arouse the anti-intellectualism and negative egalitarianism that lies just beneath the surface of NZ culture. His laid back manner and dislike of thinking connects with middle NZ in a way that only rugby, alcoholism and domestic violence does.

He’s so laid back he burns books on his BBQ. This empty aspiration appeals to a user pays youth generation who have no idealogical compass, and is best expressed through the naked narcism of Key’s son.

Key’s vacant optimism is the piece of cheese forever out of the reach of the middle class hobbit relentlessly running on their over valued hamster wheel.

NZers love John Key because he represents all that is shallow and easy in our society. We are a juvenile country with the maturity of a can of coke. This spell only breaks when the property speculation bubble bursts and people can no longer afford to be consumers.


  1. I think the tide is turning against Key and his cohorts and not before time.
    When the middle class realise they are being screwed and now the Diary Farmers are also under the hammer things will turn ugly for the ruling party.
    Combined, that makes a large group of voters and National do not have votes to play with.

    However, it is up to Labour to show its worth and the next year or so may well define the Labour Party and see if has a future.
    The opportunity will be there and they must use it.

  2. I think you over cook the point about the young and their narcissism. Whilst there is some of that – I happy to say I’ve met many younger people who care deeply about our society and the future.

  3. Excellent! You nailed it!

    Love your last point, because Key really is the archetypal example of “all that is so disgustingly shallow in our society”. What could be more appealing to the sheepyls of the ‘hollow society’ than a ‘self-made’ money trader (currency manipulator): someone who masquerades as a “successful businessman”, but in reality whose profession is that of a blood-sucking leech that creates nothing of any real value, but just parasitically ‘clips the ticket’ on the backs of the honest toil of people who create real wealth.

    It speaks VOLUMES about our ‘hollow society’ that so many of the middle classes ADORE such a parasite, and rate him as a ‘businessman’, when the reality is that he never ran a REAL ‘business’ in his life, and would not have a clue how to do so.

    But then, that same society is itself a FAKE, a synthetic house of cards construct, the product of 30 years of neoliberalist Ponzi Scheme style Voodoo Economics, built upon the sand of bankster debt. The whole rotten-to-the-core system is setting itself up for the most monumental crash, which will make Wall Street 1929 and the GFC look relatively minor (oh, not to forget Rogernomics 1987). But, Dodgy John will probably see that coming, and will skip away to Hawaii just in the nick of time to avoid being held accountable for his part in the biggest fiasco in the history of humanity.

  4. I think calling NZ a juvenile and immature country is a bit unfair – the USA elected George W. Bush, Canada elected Stephen Harper, Australia elected Tony Abbot, the UK elected David Cameron, Germany elected Angela Merkel – are you really suggesting that Key is worse than all of those politicians, or that a vote for him requires a higher level of ignorance and shallowness?

    The right are playing the same cards all over the globe – they have a consistent and coordinated message which makes it clear what they (purportedly) stand for. The left does not. That’s the problem, not that New Zealand is some ignorant backwater. I know as a politically literate person with an ounce of compassion it’s easy to be bitter about the bizarre and self-destructive choices voters make, but wallowing in that doesn’t help solve the problem.

    • I agree to some degree, but if you study a bit about Merkel, she is actually not quite that stupid and incompetent as you may suggest. She has more intellect than Key, for sure, although I do not agree with her politics.

      She is a scientist after all.

  5. I would say its more to do with the appalling greed of a large slice of the populace – and about as fickle as that as well.

    So long as a portion of these are on the make they will continue supporting a hair pulling , dirty politicking weasel such as Key and his entourage. They are not interested in the moral fiber of a leader so much as they are more interested in their bank accounts health.

    See how they started to squeal when Keys knowing silence on Chinese mainland speculators were disadvantaging them in competing and outbidding them at auctions.

    That elicited a response.

    And that also showed their motives in all its technicolour detail for all of us to see. Never mind all the above skulduggery listed – that wont move them . What will is when their pockets are hit. These are the types who would turn a blind eye to all manner of evil developing in their country so long as they are all right.

    It is very easy to see how conditions deteriorated in Germany in the 1930’s.

    By people like these.

    But rest assured…when those enabling factors are taken away from them and their good times are over and they start to suffer financially…these same types will turn viciously on whoever was that perceived person who caused the situation.

    And that man will be Key.

    This demonstrates who Key is and who his supporters are. One and the same .

    But they will only have themselves to blame as the cliche goes…’ a people deserve the govt they get ‘.

  6. Mostly on the button Martyn,

    This is a shallow Government akin to the message that was sent in Nicky Hagar’s book “The hollow men”

    Key is an immoral man and has no evident sign of human compassion.

    This can perhaps been nurtured because he has spent so many years grafting and plotting Financial hedging contacts to speculate for money which he worships, as he did so many years ago plating Monopoly with his sister Elizabeth as an school kid and cheating to win.

    This s not a way to engender compassion but chivalry.

  7. Human beings are rather bizarre specimen, and with all the above, I think, Martyn is generally right. But as a close observer of humans, I learned long ago, most are having a tendency to be sycophants, adorers of the glorious, wealthy and powerful, as their own lacking of power and influence asks for a quick fix medication, that is admiration and addictive adoration of what they dream themselves to be like.

    Hence we have this idiocy amongst humans, to love their suppressor and oppressor, their master and bosses, their cheating dominatrix or other kind of abuser. We see this all the times, we see this with sports heroes and celebrities, with pop starts, with rich pricks like Donald Trump being racist and hideous, people in too large number just love it.

    This is though what basic human instict is, basic behaviour, animal behaviour, and when we have a break down in civilised behaviour, when it is discouraged, that does naturally come to the surface. We have got rid of public broadcasting, balanced, informative and investigative journalism and reporting, we have education geared only to put out performers in business, science and maths, we have robots trained to do jobs, not humans anymore, interaction is via apps and new tech communnications, and not face to face, people are robotised, dumbed down, marginalised and technitised, and so we become new animals, of the worst kind, having little sympathy for each other, because we are taught to treat each other as competitors and game, none else.

    John Key is the intitiated perfect and professional advocate of this game, the expert player of the game, where we are all just little figures, without power, and the less power, the more the powerless adore the ones they would like to be, but are not. A dumbing down method taken to new limits, that is what we have.

  8. parts of this are okay but this line is so nonsensical:
    “This empty aspiration appeals to a user pays youth generation who have no idealogical compass, and is best expressed through the naked narcism of Key’s son.”
    Youth are a large part of the ‘missing million’ who aren’t voting. Granted, a minority of white rich kids support National, but I’d say the ‘white rich’ factor is more significant there.
    How about the apparent security he offers to middle-class voters in not questioning the (local) basis of the property boom? Meanwhile Labour and the Greens attempt to compete for many of the same voters (James Shaw has said explicitly that he’s aiming to compete for National voters), there’s no convincing alternative

  9. All this may be true, but we all eventually tire of this kind of shallow romance. When the time comes to look around at the options, the alternative must be credible and appealing.
    This, for many reasons was not the case at the last election, but it is possible now. It is the responsibility of Andrew Little, no one else can do it, to be that person.

    Even if the relatively simple formulae for fulfilling the various requirements of this position are not entirely natural to his cautious, small-picture persona, he had better extend his range soon if he is to play the necessary role authentically in the battle to attain relevance.

    In my view the public would like to abandon the National leaking ship, but are still yet to be convinced that the good ship Left-of-Centre is any more watertight. We all have a role here.

    Endless carping from the ultra-orthodox radicals who frequent this blogsite can only delay the process. To wish to put some ideas into the mix is great and desirable. It doesn’t help to fill the air with road-rage fury.

    We all have the perfect right to opine as we please, no doubt, but if the popularity we crave is not achieved there will be plenty of responsibility to go around.

    Conversely, many of the posts above are constructive and useful, so maybe we are heading in the right direction.

  10. A good read. The popularity of JK and the Gnats is hard to fathom. Labour has a snowflake’s chance in Hell of getting anywhere near them.

  11. A good summary Martyn – your three points click together like Lego pieces. From the outset, Key has gone out of his way to provide himself with a sympathetic media. This allows his “moderateness” to go unchallenged, and supposing some challenging voice does get through, he is able to rely on anti-intellectualism to discredit it. Essentially, he has won over much of the propertied middle class by inflicting austerity on the poor rather than them, and using a crypto moderate stance to reassure them that the poor are for the most part doing OK, and that those who aren’t have no one to blame but themselves. Put this together with the idea that he is the market’s man, which allows middle NZ to feel confident that they won’t suffer while he is in the saddle, and you can see his appeal. But even so, his “landslide victories” in the last two elections have in fact resulted in quite slender majorities. He is far from invincible.

  12. Since National came to power in 2008, John Key’s approach to responding to difficult political questions involves one or more of the following: distancing, false thoughtfulness, flippancy, generalising, joking, minimising and snideness.

    Key avoids political debates with Opposition members, as debating would show his superficiality and lack of in-depth knowledge on the matter being discussed.

    If people want to see Key’s real personality, they can watch Parliament TV. He enjoys hurling personal insults at Opposition members to avoid answering questions and to distract from the issue being debated. Obviously, Key’s colleagues know that this conduct appeals to many New Zealanders’ malice, prejudices and spite, and therefore other National MPs and supporters also behave like this.

    A recent example is Jonathan Coleman’s aggressive manner during parliamentary debates with Labour’s Annette King. Coleman seemed very angered by King’s integrity and knowledge, and attacked her by falsely claiming that she used stolen information during the debate about health system statistics. The Speaker, National’s David Carter, colluded with Coleman’s vicious attack on King.

    The behaviour of Key and other National MPs is like that of nasty pre-teen girls. The media often colludes with National to be spiteful and focus on trivialities, to distract from the fact that National’s policies have disadvantaged the majority of New Zealanders, including many people who see themselves as “middle New Zealand” and adulate Key.

  13. I’m not sure that’s accurate Bomber. Most people are just not thinking about the issues. I think most people just vote personalities rather than policies. Key gets elected because he’s got an affable personality and slick communication skills. If you had a similar liberal-left candidate with similar ‘people skills’, I’m sure they’d have no problems getting elected either.

    Bottom line: Most voters are not deep thinkers and do not think about the issues: they vote personalities, not policies. The politician with the best people skills and slickest communication style will nearly always win, regardless of whether they be from the left or the right.

  14. Living in NEW NEw Zealand is a billion miles away from the country you hear it being described as all those years ago overseas.
    You best nailed it as “NZers love John Key because he represents all that is shallow and easy in our society. We are a juvenile country with the maturity of a can of coke.”

    A flat can at that.

  15. John Key shares the psychological profile of a narcissist.
    Key attributes being: overt self confidence, lack of compassion, acting a part to suit, clever, manipulative, seeks adulation and membership of elite society, convincing and consistent liar, rationalise any self behaviour, charismatic charm, anger when deprived of narcissistic supply, controlling and abusive behaviour, treating all interactions as a game and all people as suckers.

    Lesser amounts of these attributes are unfortunately valued in politics and business.

    Clear examples of this personality disorder are the smiling assassin firings, bald faced lying (about 200 on public record), his use of 2 track dirty politics, hair pulling, likely manipulation and misuse of the gcsb, media and police, habitual seeking of photo opportunities with power, policy breached and turnarounds.

    The other obvious narcissist in parliament is Judith Collins.

  16. He strikes me as a man devoid of personality. Witness, a man who is “unable to recall” his position on the 1981 Springbok tour of NZ. Is that actually possible?

    He’s a chimera, a fantasy, an illusion, an empty vessel for hire. At least that’s the only rationale I can come up with to explain what he’s doing to this country.

    Hobbiton is becoming Mordor.

    In summary, he’s a tool – a tool that is being used against us. And, the vast majority just don’t see it.

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