In an interview with PM John Key, he has this to say about his management of the Christchurch crisis:
February 22 in Christchurch. "I didn't lightly say 'We've lost at least 65 people' on that night," says Key. The number came from the police, "but I also knew that if it was terribly, terribly wrong – if it was, say, 10 people – I thought, well, I'll have to go as prime minister."You what? It seems after Key had announced that death toll and was heading for bed, officials came back and "they said, 'Oh, we're not quite sure exactly now'."I remember waking up and thinking, if it's 10 [people] in the morning, I'll resign. Just because you can't mislead the country."
I find these remarks terribly contrived. This is a campaign pitch to show his sensitivity and his caring. It fails miserably. The pitch is understandable, because having heard his campaign pledge in Wanganui in August, the PM sounds like a CEO rather than the moral leader of the country. Rather than outline the principles of his government, he made some crack about the World Cup. This was the 'populist' move; it just wasn't the right one. Whether politicians benefit from associating themselves with football is one thing, in the context of his speech, it left his point rather empty or seriously pragmatic. i.e. It conveyed that he has no capacity to achieve his plans; but neither does his opponent.
John Phillip Key, 50, has wanted to be prime minister since he was 10, around the same time he told his mother and sisters he wanted to be a millionaire.
That's interesting John, I've wanted to be PM since I was 15-16yo, and I too wanted to be a millionaire. The difference between you and I is several things:
1. Preparation: I actually had a greater many ideas on how to be PM at 15-16yo; whereas you would have had no clue at 10yo. So what was your motivation? From that age I have constantly worked feverishly on public policy; studied philosophy, psychology, history, law, economics, finance, accounting, etc. Being a forex trader actually does not entail much skill or knowledge that is applicable to leading a nation.
2. Goals: Unlike you, I stopped wanting to be a millionaire, at least as a primary objective, when I studied philosophy. Upon doing that, I realised that money was a curse without the right values. Yes, the kind of pragmatic values you embrace, which culminates in a National Party policy platform, full of rhetoric and based on incoherent pragmatic values. Its all about money. No principles, no framework for achieving those values. How are you going to reduce crime John? How are you going to raise the self-esteem of unemployed Kiwis? How are you going to boost NZ's pitiful labour productivity?
"Depending on your prejudices, you could argue either that Key has managed a series of external crises pretty well, or that catastrophic earthquakes and a mining disaster, plus a global financial crisis, have provided great excuses for a government that has achieved precious little".Prejudices aside, I would argue that he has achieved very little. The Christchurch earthquake and Pike River neither helped or hindered him. They were operational issues, and his 'scripted' entry was brief and uninspiring. Christchurch's mayor was far more impressive, as it should have been. His 'management of the global financial crisis' was absent. Where was John for the last 10 years (2000-2010), during which time the incipient financial crisis arose; transpiring in the Asian Currency Crisis, the derivatives issue, the fiscal and monetary stimulus? John Key was silent during this period. He was not a 'man for the people', he was a man advancing his own party interests. I, in contrast, have been discussing the 2008-2014 financial crisis since 2001, and started blogging about it since 2005. One of thousands of bloggers mind you. John was too busy making money. So John, do you find public service compatible with your own personal financial interests? In contrast, my 2nd post was about the financial crisis unfolding.
"What is inarguable, though, is that Key is even more popular now than when he came to power – a recent poll gave him a 70% approval rating as prime minister".That is because he is actually very inaccessible and 'staged'. i.e. He is not very accountable for his performance given the poor opposition. He ought to have been an actor. He might have drawn inspiration from Ronald Reagan. And these is plenty of money in acting. What John will eventually realise is that popularity is very fickle. There one second, gone the next. He has one more term left in him...by default. He was also very fortunate to have inherited a 'commodities-based economy', and food commodities at that. He was slow to promote oil exploration, and even then, his efforts have been less than impressive. Promoting household and business cost cutting has been less than impressive - it does not need to mean stop spending. This is the problem with politicians, they equate economic activity with spending as opposed to productivity based savings or advances. More output for less.
"Key described as "farcical"...that family members were releasing names of the deceased to media, yet the names were still not on the missing person list. Furious, he got on the phone. There was swearing involved. "They were forced to make a public apology the following week." What made him lose his rag was that "they did it deliberately to make me look cold and heartless. And that wasn't fair". The poll results suggest Key's efforts to avoid looking cold and heartless have, in general, worked".This comment is rather telling. John Key had lost control of the agenda, and he was obsessed about his image....about perceptions. Surely a man who is not going to change a bad system.
He says "know it takes time. We don't have a history of one-term governments... and I think that's an indication that the public votes governments out rather than oppositions in".
This is code for 'please accept us on faith'. Why do I say that? Because there is no 'reasonable Kiwi' who could argue that John Key has done anything that really better positions the country for the future. Its been all fighting brush fires. Voters are going to wake up and realise that, in 2012 he will benefit from heightened economic activity because of Christchurch rebuilding, and that is about it..and sold off a few state assets. All he has done so far is retrench a few public servants from the tax office and other departments. Two cheers for that! Read it all at the Dominion Post.