National Pays Price of Key’s Inability To Lead

I never put too much store in polls, because they don’t really help much except in terms of what the electorate is perceiving at any given time. The trend for National seems to be downward. TV One’s latest Colmar Brunton poll showed a 4% drop in support for National and an 8% drop for John Key since the last poll in December 2010.

They show where National have gone wrong in putting Key in as leader and seeking the fragility of popularity rather than a stronger candidate able to sway the electorate with forceful argument and earn a genuine respect and commitment from voters. Key just cannot sell anything that might be initially perceived as unpopular. He lacks the intellectual depth and the human characteristics necessary to rise above a mere popularity rating and draw people to his argument.

He coasted for most of his first year, and now the time has come to do some necessary hard work, he can’t do it without losing popularity. Hang on I hear some of you say. He is still very popular. Yes, fair point, however he has not done much to reduce that popularity and he has dropped eight points. How far will he drop when he has to do something really unpopular? My point is that he does not have that much leeway in popularity left. He must start drawing people to his point of view, explaining why certain things have to be done, and then doing those things without suffering too great a drop off in voter support.

There is the problem. It is my belief, from observing him over the last year, that he cannot do that. His specialty is caving in. He cannot fight his corner. He does not have the raw ability to present a case and argue it and convince people of that case’s correctness. So he’s run a bluff that has kept himself happy, and kept the gormless turkeys in National happy, and kept the NZ voters happy in the delusion that everything is fine. Except it ain’t fine, and sooner or later that truth is going to have to be dealt with.

Maybe Key can string these delusions out to the next election. Maybe not. If he can’t sell the truth when it becomes necessary to do so, the National Party will pay a heavy price. If Labour get rid of the loser Goff and put a fresh face in there with a bit more appeal, and with the other unknowns such as new parties and NZ First, winning the next election is far from a fait accompli for National and John Key. With a real leader, it probably would have been.

19 thoughts on “National Pays Price of Key’s Inability To Lead

  1. That’s a correct analysis. Kicking the can down the road is about to fail elsewhere as well. Pity the Nats didn’t have anybody with the gumption to stand up and do the right thing, which would have been a shoe-in, as all other parties were too busy playing politics NZ style. Key had a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference, but he wasted it royally, instead pandering to his own vanities and kowtowing to apartheid and the greens.
    We would have been in a very different position today if they had pushed through with tax cuts, got rid of large swaths of bureaucrats and useless agencies, and would have made a serious start using some of the resources we have available.
    I’m convinced we’d have an economy growing at at least 6-8%, with low unemployment, if that had been the strategy.

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  2. This is good commentary Red, and I suspect we will see more like this on yours and other right-wing blogs between now and November. I have a post I’ve been working on comparing Key with Howard’s first term. I’ll try and get it posted at Crusader Rabbit later today.

    You said “Key just cannot sell anything that might be initially perceived as unpopular. He lacks the intellectual depth and the human characteristics necessary to rise above a mere popularity rating and draw people to his argument.” This reminds me of a quote from Howard:

    “I was arguing for something I believed in. And that is tremendously important in politics. If you’ve really got something to hang onto, and to fight for an argue for, the conviction comes through.”

    I think that’s the real rub. Key doesn’t believe in anything. He sought, and obtained, the Prime Ministership because it was on his To Do list. Not because he has a plan for New Zealand. Not because he particularly has any great desire to make New Zealand a better place. But just because he decided he wanted it, he went for it, he got it. Once he had it, the gormless twat had no fucking idea what to actually do with it.

    He is just very, very lucky Labour are so completely adrift at the moment. Muriel Newman said in the NZCPR update this week:

    “…the only thing propping up National’s support is the lack of alternatives. Labour has simply not been able to lift its game to seize the moment; it seems its own transgressions are still too fresh in voter memories, and its leadership is no match for John Key on the charisma scale.”

    Pretty much hits the nail on the head really. The Key government has squandered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break New Zealand from the murderous grip of socialism but, for lack of either a moral foundation or any testicular fortitude, it has failed to do so.

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  3. Look, the hard truth is that the Nats won’t lose the election. The most effective thing we can do under MMP is to vote for a party which will derail their alliance with the Maori Party because the brownies will fall apart as soon as they’re cut off from Key’s largesse. Exit one poisonous influence. Key will be left struggling to form an effective, reliable coalition and that will erode the ability of the Nats to ride roughshod over conservative voices.
    (just my 2c worth and I’m no political strategist–I hate them all equally)

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  4. Karl, Key’s had any number of “good tests” and he’s failed them all. Why would the welfare report be any different?

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  5. Good summing up of Key.
    He’s a strange one.National had a huge opportunity to peel back the crap from Labour which is what many expected but they squandered that chance and weren’t strong enough to say no to the racist approach and policies demanded by the Maori Party.
    Key knows how to make money from money but it appears he doesn’t understand how to make money from producing something.
    The letter to Key in the SST was great.
    His ratings will slip more.

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  6. Karl, Key’s had any number of “good tests” and he’s failed them all. Why would the welfare report be any different?

    Because it’s election year. Because the “no surprises in the first term” caveat is coming to an end. Because it’s one of the few problems (of many which NZ has) which is visible to apathetic NZer’s. Because it’ll be much harder to kick into the long grass than ACT/Don’s 2025 report. Because he commissioned it.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think John Key will fail the test. But in doing so he’ll have to all-but-admit that he’s no different to Labour and has nothing new to offer.

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  7. Good points. My guess is there’ll be much noise and spin, signifying nothing–and the public will buy the spin and move on to the next episode of Shortland St.

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  8. You’re probably right. There isn’t much electoral choice if you’re dissatisfied with National. JK could do next-to-nothing on welfare and still win the election. So it’s a good test for John’s underlying character. But my hopes in that department are severely tempered by his demonstrated aversion to rocking the boat (mining, anything radical on the tax front, anything at all on government spending, etc).

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  9. KG: “The most effective thing we can do under MMP is to vote for a party which will derail their alliance with the Maori Party because the brownies will fall apart as soon as they’re cut off from Key’s largesse”

    The only way to guarantee that is to vote for the only party the Apartheid movement has ruled out, and that means bringing back Winston. Not sure about anybody else, but to me that seems like trying to put out a fire by throwing petrol on it.

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  10. “..to me that seems like trying to put out a fire by throwing petrol on it.”
    Yep. I’m no longer interested in putting the fire out–let’s use MMP to wreck the process instead.

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  11. On that note I’d love to see National or Labour run a “Ditch the anachronistic Maori seats” policy. I’d hold my nose and vote Labour if they could do that in a permanent way. While the Maori seats exist, the Maori Party will exist. And while they exist, NZ will continue down the road towards a split society.

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  12. This election is going to be close and who really cares..?

    What is the difference between National and Labour at this point, 2%, 1%..?

    I think the polling reflects the mindset of the average Kiwi and the SOE announcement… National thinks it is handling it cleverly by only selling down 49% (not scaring the horses) but it shows a lack of conviction in what they “believe”, how do you privatise SOE with conviction..? I’d suggest like this:

    – Announce all SOE’s are going to be 100% privatised
    – Float each SOE on the NZX with 450 million shares
    – Give each and every NZer at least 50 shares (with more going to the elderly – 150 shares)

    State that the shares are being issued because the taxpayer owns the SOE’s and has paid for them – not the government and the government should not sell something owned by the people to pay off the debt of it’s unreasonsible spending, state that privatisation is common around the world and seen as best practice in getting value out of a country’s economy, state that the government doesn’t have the authority to compel NZers to pay taxes against their will to fund businesses that politicians like…

    That would be a moral argument and case worth putting forward and fighting to win…

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  13. – Announce all SOE’s are going to be 100% privatised
    – Float each SOE on the NZX with 450 million shares
    – Give each and every NZer at least 50 shares (with more going to the elderly – 150 shares)

    I like it, Jeremy!
    That would certainly formalise the fact that it is the people who own the country’s infrastructure. As well as guarding against the government simply selling out to the Chinese, for example.

    And regarding Key and National and the upcoming election: Why can’t we have an option to vote “No confidence in any of the current lot”? Better than a wasted vote, and it sure as hell would send a message!

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  14. I guess you do, you could spoil your ballot and write, “I’ll vote when a proper conservative runs”…

    My parents, siblings and I were joking about me setting up a spoof party for protest votes called The Pakeha Party to look out for oppressed Pakeha’s interests, solely to point out the hypocracy in the Maori Party being mainstream, yet a Pakeha Party’s guaranteed branding as racist…

    I guess I’d find out how a leper feels… 😉

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  15. Damn tempting idea. Probably have more support Jeremy than you expect. The left love to shroud the truth, and attack anyone who attempts to pull away that shroud.

    But once their lies are exposed, once someone does pull away that shroud, the left very quickly lose their grip.

    Their whole political view is rooted in an illusion, and they strive to protect that illusion with lies and the intimidation of those who would expose it.

    I reckon a Pakeha party would draw a lot of votes because it would so challenge the deceit, double standards and cultural oppression that underpins the left’s political successes.

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  16. We were spitballing about some funny policies to make it very tongue in cheek, such as:

    – A seperate White “Mother****ers” Electoral Role
    – 80 White “Mother****er” seats in Parliament based on population
    – The beaches of Great Barrier Island
    – The hot air tax on Hone to pay for Pakeha settlements
    etc

    😉

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