John Key and the new National Socialism

David Slack, knowing of my deep interest in John Key alerted me to the fact that Finlay MacDonald had delivered a speech on the man, the contents of which appears on www.publicaddress.net. Thankyou David.

Like many of the comments at the end of the original Public Address post Finlay’s dissertation crystallised everything that concerns me about John Key. I’m not going to copy the speech here – you need to go read it yourself. But let me quote a few gems…

On the Springbok tour memory loss:

“What is Key’s problem that he is so palpably nervous about expressing a position without apparently first running it by the backroom boys for likely electoral appeal?”

At times he simply plays to whichever gallery he’s facing. On the matter of his religious beliefs he has variously said, talking to students in Victoria University’s Salient student newspaper: “I’m not deeply religious, and I don’t believe in life after death.”

When talking to the born-again reactionary editor of Investigate Magazine: “I have lived my life by Christian principles.”

And to the readers of the Jewish Chronicle: “I will be the third Jewish prime minister in New Zealand.”

On the topic of young New Zealander’s leaving the country:

…Key waffled genially about his life to date, his happy marriage and his dream of making a “positive difference, especially with the tragic situation we have of young New Zealanders who simply don’t see themselves as having a long-term future in this country. Our brain drain is the worst in the developed world.”

Without getting bogged down in the dubious claim that our net outflow of skilled young people is really of such epic proportions compared with similar countries, isn’t there something a little pat and unexamined in this key trope of Key’s campaign? Is the situation in New Zealand really so “tragic” that our best and brightest see no future here? Or does it suit a politician on the make to exaggerate an imagined negative to accentuate a perceived positive?

For starters, Key himself is an example of someone who found the path to success led overseas. In the very same interview in which he lamented the brain drain he described his own career trajectory from youthful OE in Australia to high-flying banking jobs in Singapore and London, albeit interspersed with stints back in New Zealand.

On the proposed sale of Auckland International Airport:

If anything, my silly sobriquet makes National sound more interesting than it really is. As mentioned earlier, Key can’t even express a position on the hop, as we witnessed most recently when Cullen changed the foreign ownership rules during the bidding process of Auckland Airport, and Key was caught between wanting to be anti-Labour yet not appear pro-foreign ownership of strategic assets.

And so it goes on.

The election is now only (probably) seven months away. As Nat Torkington says in response to Finlay’s piece:

I’m a pro-market business person. I like capitalism, and I think it can do a lot of good. I’d be prepared to vote for the Nats if they were to simplify tax and employment paperwork so it was easier to run a business, improve the quality of schools and universities so I could easily hire smart people, and so on. I don’t even see that. Go to the Nats web site and check out the policy areas: bare! The 2005 policy statements are terse and useless: the IT one doesn’t mention broadband, or even “Internet”, and under “Economic Development” there’s a press release from 2007 that talks about a website the Nats set up to see how the government procurement process works – the opentender.co.nz site doesn’t respond today and there’s no followup press release talking about what they learned. It’s a policy vacuum, not a platform, and it’s bloody frustrating.

That just about sums John Key up.

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