Key exits right (on time).

So, John Key decided to resign rather than lead his government into an election for a fourth term. Some amongst the opposition are gloating and speculating about the reason why. As someone who did not appreciate the US Right gloating over Drumpf’s election, I would simply say to my Lefty friends that there is such a thing as decorum, and that the best thing to do now is to be gracious and plan for a hard run at winning the 2017 election.

Let’s be honest. John Key is a formidable politician. When it comes to the Opposition, he came, he saw, he kicked a** and took names, then quit while he was on top. His timing is impeccable. He never lost an election and his party never lost a general election while he was leader. He saw off Helen Clark, then dispensed with Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliff and Andrew Little. In fact, at times it seemed like he was just slapping the Opposition Leader around like a cat plays with mice. Nothing burst his matey aura and kiwi-style “aw shucks,” charisma–not inappropriate touching of women, not his his radio lechery and vulgarity, not his ineptitude when it coms to responding to natural and man-made disasters, not influence peddling by his cabinet, not his going to watch high school baseball games in the US instead of attending the funerals of NZ soldiers killed in action in an (some would say futile) Afghan conflict that he sent them to, not selling off state assets, not negotiating trade agreements against the popular will. The guy is the ultimate Teflon John.

For that reason his resignation is a huge gift to the Opposition, as National would have won easily had he stuck around. Now the issue is whether this was a long-planned move, in which case National will have a succession strategy in place, or whether it was a sudden move forced by something like a serious illness in the family. If it is the latter, then the Nats have no strategy in place and the knives will come out amongst the various factions vying for the leadership. Just think of it: Collins versus Bennet versus Joyce versus English versus Bridges versus Coleman versus Brownlee versus assorted lesser lights and hangers-on. It will be epic, but Labour needs to just let them fight it out while it develops a sound policy platform for all Kiwis (capital gains tax, infrastructure development, immigration policy, etc.).

If this is a planned move and a succession strategy and electoral agenda is already in place, then Labour and its potential allies are behind the eight ball. Whoever is chosen as next National Party Leader will want to make a positive policy impact in an election year, and with National controlling the purse strings while in government until then, it is clear that it will use the advantages of incumbency to the fullest. It is therefore imperative that Labour and other opposition parties anticipate and develop a counter-proposal to whatever is going to be offered. That is a big task.

Gloating about Key’s departure just shows a lack of class, just like going hysterical about Michael Wood’s win in the Mt. Roskill by-election is reading waaaay too much into it. The general election next year is still for National to lose, and quite frankly from what I have seen of Labour recently, it is not as if it is positioning itself as a fresh alternative with a raft of innovative policy ideas. That is why it is time to get cracking on the latter.

Not so sure what the Greens intend to do, but if the announcement of their new candidate in Auckland is any indication, they are regressing rather than progressing. Time to re-assess my party vote.

It is said that the Mana and Maori parties are in talks to merge. Cue Tui ad here.

Winston First is already bleating about sinister reasons behind the PM’s departure. I say who the **** cares? He will be gone by the time the s**t hits the fan if it in fact does, so the best course is to offer viable prescriptions for a better future rather than assign blame. But then again, that is what Winston does.

I do not much like the Mr. Key or his government. His “attack the messenger” tactics of smearing decent and honest people grates on me because among his targets are people I know, including friends of mine. His politics are retrograde and money changers are about profits rather than average people, so his was a government destined to reward the upper crust rather than the plebes. But I know a good politician when I see one, and John Key was a very, very good politician.

So lets thank him, however forcedly, for his service, recognise his domination of the political landscape while in office and concentrate on making sure that his would be heirs never get close to Level 9 of the Beehive.

PS: Key says that there is no scandal and that everyone’s health is fine. So his decision to suddenly leave was deliberate and yet done as a surprise. He has, in effect, shafted his own caucus. Some think that doing so before Xmas leaves Labour in disarray. I would argue that Labour is no worse for the timing of his announcement and instead has more time to get its election campaign platform together. For whatever reason, it is National that was the target of Key’s move. Either the lure of a lucrative Blair-type post-politics career was to too much to resist, or perhaps he just got sick and tired of his National fellow travellers.

15 thoughts on “Key exits right (on time).

  1. I suspect the timing was well planned. How best to disrupt the Labour campaign right before Christmas.

    I hope that National voters have the good sense not to vote for anyone who spends the first part of their day painting their eyebrows on.

  2. I agree that the left need to analyse this situation carefully and not get carried away in assuming that they are on the path to victory. I see that some people have linked the Mt Roskill result to Key’s resignation. I can understand that the events over the past few days will see a boost in morale within the Labour camp, however, a lot can happened over a year and the need to formulate a message that shows voters that a progressive government is the best choice for the country.

  3. Pablo asks “Who … cares?” (that the New Zealand public have not been told the real reasons for John Key’s resignation).
    Winston Peters cares, because those reasons may be relevant to New Zealand First’s political strategy in the coming year.
    Our people, knowing that neither John Key nor the New Zealand media have told the truth, also care, for the more elemental reason that truth is fundamental to political integrity. They are not among those (supposedly a majority of New Zealanders) who are comfortable with the unending lies and evasions of the present regime.
    Given the choice of a “shock” departure in December 2016, or a forced resignation in a more fraught atmosphere in mid-2017, Key decided to leave now. Whether that will be enough to save his own political reputation and the general standing of the regime, is another question

  4. Can you give us some idea of what “the truth” is, Geoff, that would have forced Key’s resignation in mid-2017?

    Your comment here, and a similar one elsewhere, mean nothing without some measure of elucidation.

  5. Pablo. Your use of the word ” formidable ” requires definition or at least perspective

    If having an answer for everything is an admirable quality
    then yes he was formidable
    If being able to slither and squirm his way out of trouble
    then yes he was formidable
    If having no moral compass / ” Everything’s a deal ” / agree a price then move on then yes he was formidable

    He was (** note PAST tense ) a master of the status quo.

    The real questions have conveniently been left out by our compliant MSM.

    Three questions:
    What did he actually change?
    Who did these changes benefit?
    How will he be remembered?

  6. Edward:

    You pretty much summed it up. Undefeated over 3 terms, vacuous, hugely popular, did very little but looked good doing so, admired by his international and domestic elite peers as well as the Joe and Sheila Blows of NZ, crushed the opposition even when in trouble with scandals and what not.

    As I said, I am no fan of the guy. And the definition of “formidable” must be taken in context. But in the NZ domestic political context, Key was formidable.

  7. I’ve never understood the attraction, ‘enormous popularity’ of John Key, didn’t do it for me. All the ‘ordinary bloke’ stuff, he’s as far from an ordinary bloke as any common or garden multimillionaire gets. He’s not as deeply unattractive as Coleman, Brownlee and Joyce a very sneering, sarcastic bunch, but being praised for the ‘nice guy’ false image has nothing to do with leading a country. Key has done nothing of substance for New Zealand. Why is the economy being constantly touted? We have billions of overseas debt conveniently not mentioned by English and Key.

  8. Barbara,

    It seems that the point of my post has been lost. IMO it serves no useful purpose to dwell on his negative policy legacy and personal faults. They are what they are. My purpose in writing the post was just to remind the Opposition that this golden opportunity should not be squandered and that a comprehensive election campaign platform needs to be developed ASAP.

    What I fear most is that the election will be called early, say about a week or two after the budget announcement, and that National will fill that budget with tasty morsels for the working masses. That will prevent Labour and co from attracting those voters who double ticked blue out of love of Key, and therefore consign the Left to another term on the sidelines.

    Here is a sobering thought: a friend of mine mentioned, when I spoke of the futility of a Collins campaign for National leader, that no one cares about her corruption. My friend said ‘do you really think most people know what Orvida is or that her husband’s business interests are illegally pulling swamp Kauri out for export to China? If she runs as a social conservative, law and order candidate she could well take advantage of some of the problems left by her predecessor by blaming those worst affected by his domestic policies.” Although I do not think she will prevail next week, it is worth pondering.

    Therein lies a serious problem. If the general public do not remember or care about things such as official corruption, issues like the rising debt will not matter to them. They will be swayed by the tasty morsels, not by Key’s negative legacy.

  9. Sexual and financial misdemeanours and breaches of security are classic pitfalls for politicians in democratic states. From what is in the public record John Key could be a candidate for all three, but as Pablo has observed, the New Zealand voter is very forgiving of such things as extra-marital sex between consenting adults, financial skulduggery and “dirty politics”.
    Many voters regard all politicians as corrupt to a degree, and therefore don’t see any point in voting on the basis of the moral integrity of the candidates. Many also feel more comfortable when the people in power share their own loose approach to moral and ethical standards. Finally, the “shrewd manager” (aka (“the dishonest steward”) principle comes into play. Voters may look kindly on politicians who two-time, avoid paying tax or manage to destroy their political adversaries because such politicians are deemed to possess qualities which can be useful in managing the state.
    So the reason why John Key left office must have been outside of the usual run of sordid affairs and dirty deeds.
    It would have taken no great flight of ego for Key to assume that his leadership was vital to the electoral prospects of his party. Also, he and the party have told us many times that a continuation of the National led government is of vital importance to New Zealand’s future well-being.
    Would John Key decide one year out from an election, to abandon party, country and personal destiny for the sake of quality time with Bronagh, Stephi and Max? He had made no secret of the fact that he aspired to be a four-term Prime Minister. Then, by leaving open the possibility of taking on Christine Lagarde’s job at the IMF, he convincingly gave the lie to his own claim that he had resigned for family reasons.
    John Key is not hard to read. It does not need a computer to analyze the words, pauses, body language and intonations of his resignation speech in order to realize that John Key was distressed to be leaving the second highest office in the state.
    So what was the real reason? Winston Peters, who has better intelligence than I do, knows the answer. I am aware of one security scandal which should have ended John Key’s career, and Winston Peters is also privy to the circumstances around that affair. But we should not assume that there was only one scandal which left John Key open to political blackmail, and we don’t have definitive evidence as to which scandal was instrumental to his resignation. Having said that, Pablo is right to suggest that the particular circumstances of John Key’s downfall don’t greatly matter. What matters more is our general understanding of how the New Zealand state system works in practice. We may know more in the New Year. In the meantime, a happy Christmas to all.

  10. Since Key’s resignation just a few days ago he has returned to acting the joker, clearing his office with lots of witty banter. Perhaps that was all it was, a giant joke on the country? See how much I, the non politician, can get away with. If so he could have made his stay a lot shorter.

  11. I think Key has just seen the writing on the wall for politics internationally. He’d already mentioned his reservations to Bill English in September, so there was some premeditation there, perhaps in light of Brexit. Drumpf puts the nail in the coffin.

    His knack as a currency trader and some insider knowledge of international politics probably saw him judge a fourth term as more trouble and potential downside than benefit.

    I think at his core Key is a more intelligent Drumpf, who has been in this for the priceless experiences, future business opportunities, ego legacy and a knighthood. That’s why we had a flag campaign rather than a debate on becoming a republic.

    Getting out now protects his legacy in the eye of the average public and the nostalgia of future, post-fact social media history lessons.

    He’s made a shrewd business decision, that’ all.

  12. Thanks, Geoff, for giving a detailed response to my request for “the truth”. I have posted a reply almost identical to this one, elsewhere.

    I have to say, I don’t buy it. You are engaging in pure speculation. Why would those who are “blackmailing” John Key release details of the scandal next year, rather than now?

    Also, the IMF job story has been revealed to be brought about by someone who was also engaging in speculation about a year ago. There is nothing to it. Furthermore, Winston Peters has been “playing” us for nearly 40 years now. He has never produced the “evidence” (and I include the winebox nonsense in that), and never will. I’ve never believed a word he has spoken, and, again, never will. The sooner he retires from parliament, the better, in my view.

    In my opinion (which I acknowledge is worth very little), John Key just got fed up with the political grind; he sensed he was wasting his “political capital”, e.g. Auckland housing disaster, flag referendum; he didn’t fancy dealing with / reacting to, the inevitable fallout(s) from Donald Trump’s election; and he probably wants to take back control of his fortune from the blind trust that is currently running his affairs.

    Also, it’s also quite feasible that Bronagh is fed up with her current lifestyle, and has (started to) put the hard word on him. Not wanting to risk losing his life partner, he may have decided to take this opportunity to bow to her wishes. Who knows? I certainly don’t. So yes, I accept that I, too, am just speculating.

    No doubt time will tell, as it usually does.

  13. Winston Peters has intimated that we will know more in the New Year. I myself said, rather more cautiously, that we may know more in the New Year. Whether we do or not depends on the kind of pressure that came on John Key, and the object of that pressure. Steve doesn’t believe Winston Peters at all, but nor does he fully believe John Key, because he offers a couple of alternative explanations to that proffered by Key himself.
    I continue to believe that John Key’s explanation is inherently implausible, and am left wondering why the mass media should have accepted it without question.

  14. our glorious ex leader was an opportunist from “go to whoa”, e.g. rumours persist that his personal wealth was well in excess of $50mill but that focus groups suggested that was the threshold figure people were comfortable with for a PM; he cynically set up NZ as an international Tax Haven and on it goes…

    sure he is gone, and what is everyone going to do remains the question, but it is intriguing to speculate on why a triumphalist would suddenly decide it was “time to spend more time with the missus”–I have heard some rumours from several close to NZ First and it involves events in the Far North of a rather tragic nature

    Nat policy will probably not deviate too much up until the election with Blinglish and Key’s Chief of Staff at the helm, Bill even did an immediate flip on gays–so his 8 years at the PM’s side were obviously well spent; what the circuit breaker will be to re-engage people in civic affairs and voting is hard to predict, there being a hardcore 40% imo of kiwis fixated with the “mine mine mine” neo lib consumer mantra

    Andrew little has at last broken with Labour nerds and stated super at 65 stays, it is that type of thing (which they should have applied to TPPA and CGT) that will pay off for the opposition parties

  15. Geoff Fischer and others :
    John Key kicked cans down the road.
    NZ First priority for election will likely stay as
    1. Immigration and its scandals
    2. Regional Development
    3. Housing [ Smith ]
    4. Education
    5. Health

    I expect the Government will say “Its the economy stupid”

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