Sunday, February 6, 2011

Karl du Fresne: How will history judge John Key?

I WONDER how history will judge John Key. On the strength of his performance so far, I think it might assess him quite harshly. Historians may look back on these years as a time when an economically feeble, socially dysfunctional New Zealand needed bold leadership, but instead had a prime minister who was content to tread water.

Mr Key enjoys remarkable popularity but seems to lack any vision. Either that, or he’s keeping it from the rest of us.

He is personable, media-friendly and seems sincere, but nothing he has said or done since winning the 2008 election has inspired New Zealanders or energised them with a new sense of purpose.

He shows worrying signs of being addicted to popularity. History may record Mr Key as the smile-and-wave prime minister, always ready to exchange on-air jokes with breakfast disc jockeys or be photographed at Super 15 rugby training sessions, but frightened to risk his poll ratings by taking tough action on issues such as wasteful government spending, welfare dependency and economic reform.

His announcement last week of a partial privatisation of four state-owned companies, far from being radical, was a cautious step intended to appease those who are impatient for policies that might lead to the long-promised economic transformation.

Mr Key’s natural instinct seems to be to leave things as they are – hardly a formula for dynamic leadership. His greatest political talent is that his relentlessly upbeat disposition makes New Zealanders feel good about themselves, especially after the dour Helen Clark years. But complacency is the last thing we need.

All this might be less depressing if there were an alternative leader waiting in the wings, but there isn’t. In any case, it would be idle to hope that Mr Key might be elbowed aside by disgruntled National colleagues. National is a party that values power above all else, and will excuse almost any shortcomings in its leader as long as he’s creaming the Opposition in the polls.

(First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, February 1.)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I did write to our Prime Minister asking him the very same thing. How did he think he would go down in history compared to previous leaders? Not brilliant I would suggest. One who is influenced by flawed information from people close to him. I have lost confidence in his party and will place my vote elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

History will probably review all political activity in NZ since 1975 as "off the rails".

Anonymous said...

In the last election people voted against Labour by voting National instead of for their preferred options. We simply got the same form of government but in a new jacket. The country was sick of the grievance industry and National seemed to offer a way out of it. It hasn't. It has reinforced it to the detriment of the nation.

It's an extreme pity we have lost our democracy.

List MP's are not democratic, the List individuals have not been voted into office.

Party politics still ravages the country, while the civil service bleeds us blind directing ever increasingly uneconomic experimental policies nobody wants.

There is collusion and conniving, dishonesty and absolute arrogance with the voters being disenfranchised and deprived of true democratic representation.

Proportional representation should reflect the wishes of the populace NOT a political party, nor the dictatorial power tripping of individuals.

There should be an option for a vote of NO-Confidence in any of our political parties.
Perhaps not voting at all (or making a voting paper invalid) is a means of doing that?

Get rid of 1080.
Get rid of the grievance industry.
Get rid of the apartheid preferences given to one segment of our population.
Grow more real food for New Zealanders IN New Zealand!
Get rid of synthetic fillers and toxic substances and preservatives in food..
Get rid of fluoride or any mass medication in water supplies.
Get the people of the nation healthy again through healthy food options.
Get rid of toxic foods based on unfermented soy.
Don’t permit Monsanto (or other drug peddlers) to control our food chain.
Don't follow the AMA or the FDA or the dictates of external entities.
The NZFSA is not about Food Safety, it's about imposing international standards and thus supporting external entities to the detriment of our people.
We are over regulated and over administered - prune the public service.
Get rid of all perks for all politicians when they retire or leave parliament.
The country does NOT owe ex-politicians ongoing privileges.
Get rid of the gangs.
Get rid of the drug “P’ and it’s associated economy.
Get rid of politicians with personal financial interests in any of the above (eg 1080).
List MP’s should never have a ministerial portfolio or any policy making responsibilities.

Keys and the National party have done nothing people were hoping for. National lost the previous election because of English and his cohorts. So for the last election they brought in Key from “nowhere”. Then it became obvious he was just a jovial front man with popularity as his aim. Don’t upset anyone and pander to extremists at all costs to keep party power in-place.

Because banks and borrowing controls the economy and that is now controlled by overseas financiers (as ever) the economy behaves as it will almost regardless of the politicians. So is the best we can get out a government just: Labour stinks, National stinks. MMP stinks. List MPs stink. FPP stinks. The Maori Party stinks. There are too many MP’s, and too many have deviant interests.

NZ needs true democracy. For the people and for the Nation.

How can we work towards one nation to be proud of again?.

DONRO said...

New Zealanders, longterm, will all pay the consequences of John Key's 'stagnant, nice- guy, don't offend anyone' approach to the economy.

Civilisation is the progress towards privacy and self-responsibilty. Excluding Police, Defense and Law Courts, how much has John Key privatised and civilised us so far ?

Anonymous said...

He could well be remembered as the man who was given a chance to save NZ....and didnt.
Maybe because he couldnt...who knows what actually goes on in those circles with UN interference etc....Im sure there are way more influences baring down on us, than we know from TV news.

We do know however that NZ needs some tough love as we are fast becoming a basket case financially & socially, and the reasons are obvious to anyone with a measurable IQ.
Our prosperity is being eroded daily and our biggest growth industries are crime, political correctness and apartheid via the Treaty of Waitangi.

Like the above post, I would place my vote elsewhere too....but where?....Labour?? Greens?? Winston?? ... what a lineup!

Right now, JK is still our best hope I think.
I just wish he would put his election promises into action. I.E.... do the hard yards for the people who voted him in, ....which they expect him to do, rather than tinkering.....

The ETS and MCA bills are surely not part of this.

I also hope for a new party to emerge and pull this circus back towards sanity.

Anonymous said...

History (or rather the United Nations) will record John Key as a great reformer, but many citizens of New Zealand will remember him as the politician who signed away the rights of the majority; to gain the accolades of a Maori minority.
He should also be remembered as a Prime Minister who by-passed constitutional issues by unconstitutional means; ensuring his majority in Parliament overrode the wishes and desires of the people.
On financial issues he failed to take action against the huge regiment of State Servants and by doing so sanctioned Local Government to increase their employees to an unsustainable level.
He failed to rectify our trade imbalance and placed more burdens on those who produce the trade and wealth, instead of reducing bureaucracy/compliance/cultural and so-called Global Warming costs plus the ever increasing demands of the Green Party.
Finally he failed to reduce welfare dependency by the simple expediency of cutting benefits and payments to the unemployable in the community.
“A misquote from History”
He failed to take action where he was in a position to do so.
And took action when there was no need to do so!
Against the above, he inherited power from an administration which had increased subsidies to all and sundry, and sold out this country to establish a former Prime Minister in a comfortable position within the United Nations.
He was also hamstrung by the confines of a MMP electoral system, by a Parliament only half elected by a democratic process, and by the constant shadow of another impending election.
He will be regarded by history as just another “New Zealand Prime Minister”.
Brian

Anonymous said...

Do you remember Tom Pepper he was hung for being a stranger of the truth, whatever Key promised before the election, he has done the opposite, would not raise GST and did not believe in global warming no ETS,but English and Key made sure they recieved a great tax rebate to cover it for thier selves,He seems to be bent on promoting racist country,the thing that is holding this country back,it seems he wants to be sure of the backing of the Maori party if National does not get enough votes in the election,is one of the reasons he wanted to be Primeminister was to be called Sir John, would go down better in the circles Key wants to be in.I voted National like many others because Key seemed to have a monetary background and was the man to get us out of the money woes this country was in,maybe his qualifications need to be looked into.
Key will be remembered as untrustworthy.