Home > The Body Politic > John Key – am I detecting a seismic shift in public attitude?

John Key – am I detecting a seismic shift in public attitude?




Is Dear Leader  losing his touch? He doesn’t seem quite so “dear” to some people any more…

  • The Novopay foul-up just gets worse and worse and worserer with each passing pay cycle. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just delegate the pay-system into the hands of Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.


  • Education Minister, Hekia Parata, screws up on a semi-regular basis. Does Key hand her the ceremonial sword and with a smile tell her, “you know what to do with this”. Nah, he annoints her as National’s “most effective communicator. Has anyone ever seen 4.4 million people do a collective face-palm?! Meanwhile, Joyce is the new de facto Minister of Education and Parata is given duct-tape to put over her mouth. This, for National, is seen as a “solution”.


  • Unemployment keeps going up and up and up and up… And when the stats cannot get any worse, they do a massive West Auckland-style u-turn and wheelie burn-out… Unemployment is no longer up – people have given up banging their heads against a brick wall. So the stats are now a mess. What they do indicate is that people are turning off from looking for work.  It must be depressing getting knocked back time after time after time after… And if you think it’s bad now, in bright sunny summer – wait till the gloom and shortened days of Winter really kick in with mass-depression.


  • Manufacturing and exporters are screeching like banshees that the high Kiwi Dollar is sending them to the wall… and Steven Joyce smiles benignly and sez, “things are challenging”. Not helpful, Mr Joyce. Not one bit.


  • The country’s third biggest construction company goes to the wall and the Nats do… nothing. Question: at a time when we have to rebuild the second (or third) largest city in the country – how does a fricken construction company manage to go into receivership?!?! Someone explain this to me. Wouldn’t that be like a water-tanker truck in the Saharan desert unable to sell water???


  • We have a critical housing shortage in the country… A shortage of housing?! But, but, but… isn’t the free market supposed to prevent these shortages??? What goes on here?


  • We have a shortage of skilled tradespeople, IT specialists;  healthcare professionals… whilst on the other hand, we have 175,000 unemployed. Hmmmm… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… why don’t we-? Nah. What a silly idea. For a moment there I had this ridiculous thought in my mind about re-training 175,000 unemployed to meet our skills shortages… Bugger me, where do I get these daft notions from.


  • National doesn’t want to build housing for New Zealanders. They say it’s up to the Free Market to do this. Government, sez Joyce, Brownlee, Key, et al, say that it’s not the role of government to offer subsidies or state housing. Unless you’re a private school. Or farmers wanting irrigation systems. Or Rugby World Cup. Or investors in a finance company. Or insurance companies. Or a movie producer – especially a foreign one. Then there’s plenty of money. Whoopie – lolly scramble!


  • But just don’t get silly over housing.


  • Steven Joyce wants to put the bulldozers and excavators into our conversation lands and have deep-sea drilling off our coast, in deep waters… because, you know, we don’t mind if the remaining few native forests in New Zealand are destroyed for the benefit of foreign investors. Or that we run a risk similar to the horrendous disaster in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Caribbean. After all, the oil companies will look after us… *snort!*


  • Because National is not a hands-on government to create jobs and support local businesses. But if you’re a private school or Warner Bros, then the question becomes, “How much did you want me to make that cheque out for?”


  • Tony Ryall wants $30 million shaved from the Health budget (where else will we get the cash to subsidise those lovely furry Hobbit movies?!). So  grommett operations for kids may be cut. Hey who needs a pesky grommett anyway – and did I say how cool Hobbits are…? And of course those seven New Zealanders who are suffering from the terminal Pompe disease… they aren’t as cool as Hobbits.


There’s more.

But I think you, the reader, get’s the point. (Unless you’re a dedicated National/ACT supporter – in which case don’t you just lerrrve those cute Hobbits?)

But it seems that the bad news and continuing incompetance and just sheer lack of bright ideas from National is becoming too much for even National’s traditional cheer leaders…

Fran O’Sullivan wasn’t impressed. Not by a long shot. In fact, she seemed a bit ‘put out’ by Key’s inaction (as if it had suddenly dawned on her),


Time for Key to call an economic summit

Full story


For Fran O’Sullivan – who is widely noted as a bit of a Nationalphile – to be chiding her beloved Dear Leader indicates that even his adoring legion of glassy-eyed admirers are starting to feel frustration. When O’Sullivan criticises Key for “waffling” and then berates Key for “simply shrugging his shoulders” – then we know that not only is the honeymoon well and truly in the past, but the ‘marriage’ is verging on a trial separation.

O’Sullivan didn’t mince words when she bluntly stated that “faith is no excuse for a failure to act” and demanded that  “it’s time, surely, for Key to call an economic summit to address the issues New Zealand faces“.

Good call, Fran.

A few years too late, but hey, some of us are a bit slower than others.


Right wing/all-over-the-place  media “personality” and talkback host, Kerre Woodham wrote an extraordinary column on 23 December, last year. Had it been written at any other time than two days before Christmas – when 99% of the populace is bleary eyed with the so-called “Festive Season” (said through gritted teeth, I might add) – her words would have had far more clout.

In fact, I could just barely recall her column piece and retrieve it from my Bookmarks (filed under WTF?). For the reader’s edification – read and enjoy (if you’re a National/ACT supporter you may want to put down your deluxe, Jackson-autographed, mink-lined Hobbit and read this bit),


Kerre Woodham - Nats run out of petrol

Full story


If Kerre Woodham speaks closer for the Middle Classes, then National should be in high-gear panic mode by now. Her attitude was summed up thusly,

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

 There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.”

Source: IBID

That, readers, was the sound of a Middle Class person coming to the realisation that our esteemed Dear Leader; dodgy Party; and worthless policies – are a fraud.

That, readers, was the realisation by a Middle Class person that National was not about to meet their aspirations.

It is the same sound of  National’s ‘House of Cards’ crashing that we heard in the late 1990s. A crash which culminated in National’s election defeat on 27 November 1999.

When bene-baiting right-wing talk-back hosts like Woodham can make statements like,

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.”

Source: IBID

– then we know that the Middle Classes are starting to wake up. And they’re noticing that the Emporer is naked and it ain’t a pretty sight.


Businesspeople are running as fast as their feet can carry them – to a joint inquiry run by the Opposition Parties in Parliament – and it’s a brave/stupid/both National Government that ignores the signals,


Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Full story


When a businessman – in this case managing director Gordon Sutherland –  says,

We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

– then the Nats are treading on very thin ice to ignore such messages.

National is supposed to the the Party for business. So when business people begin to turn on the Nats – that’s a pretty bloody big signal that it’s the beginning of the end for this government. And considering Key has stated he will not lead National from the Opposition benches (see:  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election) – it’s ‘bye-bye’ Dear Leader.

Once he’s gone, the Nats will have left in their wake a poorly performing economy; high unemployment; growing income divide; higher child poverty; businesses about to collapse (Mainzeal already gone); and a raft of other tragic consequences.

The 2011-14 Key-led  administration will be remembered in the same way many New Zealanders view with derision the Bolger/Shipley-led National government from 1996-99.

Going by the next story, however, Key is already despised by a wide sector of the community.

But more to the point, that hostility is no longer held in check and is being voiced out loud,


Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

Full story


What we are seeing now seems to be a  seismic shift in public opinion on Key and National. But more importantly,  where only a year ago people were reluctant to voice their dissatisfaction or hostility in public – now that shyness is disappearing. People are pissed off and they know who to vent at,




In 2008, Key raised levels of expectation to new heights (see: A fresh start for New Zealand).

With promises of higher wages and other warm-fuzzy, populist nonsense, people voted for him in droves. Their expectations were raised as Key’s supreme self-confidence;  personal rags-to-riches story; and plausible rhetoric made them line up and put their trust in him.

The trouble with raised expectations, though, is that failing to deliver “the goods” results in an inevitable backlash. Not just at the ballot box, but in terms of vitriol. We tend to pull people of a pedestal mighty quick, if they stuff up.

National’s failure to meet those expectations may already be a foregone conclusion, as NZ Herald columnist, John Armstrong wrote on 22 December last year,

A slight sense of desperation was evident in National’s reaction to this week’s release of the Treasury’s latest forecasts.

National is not going to let anything stand between itself and its Holy Grail of a return to Budget surpluses within the next three years.

What was once merely a target now seems to be an obsession. The reason is straightforward. Some major economic indicators are starting to confirm anecdotal impressions of an economy close to tipping into recession,

National is therefore clinging ever tighter to the increasingly vain hope of balancing the books by its target date of the 2014-15 financial year.

Meeting the target is all part of National’s branding as the party of sound economic management. Failure on that front would be a major blow to its credibility.”

See: Gloom sets scene for tumultuous 2013

If meeting an accounting target is all that National has left – Shearer better start packing up now. He’ll be in the Prime Minister’s residence at the next election.





Interest.co.nz: Stats NZ reports 23,000 jobs lost

NZ Herald: Time for Key to call an economic summit

NZ Herald: Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

Fairfax media: Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out



= fs =

  1. Taura
    10 February 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Oh he gets dearer by the second. By xmas he’ll be worth 50 grand a day.

  2. Procrastinator
    11 February 2013 at 12:20 am

    It’s interesting how reading the comment section of many NZ Herald columns over time, there is a distinct change evident in people’s support of this government. Many comments are highly critical and those comments that have all the hallmarks of those who slavishly support National face heavy ridicule.

    A desire for change does seem afoot, though I have my doubts if we can expect much from a Shearer led Labour government, they seem a safe bet for maintaining the status quo.

    • 11 February 2013 at 8:26 am

      “It’s interesting how reading the comment section of many NZ Herald columns over time, there is a distinct change evident in people’s support of this government.”

      Yes… I’ve definitely noticed that as well, Procrastinator. It was something that I hadn’t thought much about. But taken in context with the above stories, and I think it’s meaning is greater than I’d realised.

  3. Mooloo Magic
    11 February 2013 at 1:10 am

    Totally agree with you Frank, again another well written article. However I have two concerns, the Polls still suggest that this ghastly government is still popular and secondly there is nothing so far about David Shearer that gives me confidence that a Labour led government would be much better. So far there is every indication that a Shearer led government would stick with the lunacy of the neo-liberal ideology.

    • 11 February 2013 at 8:23 am

      Fair questions, Mooloo…

      There’ve been suggestions that current polling methodology is flawed because they contact potential respondent only via a phone land line. This cuts out people with cellphones or no phone contact at all. (See Sam’s comment below.)

      As a point of interest, something I heard from a contact over the weekwend is that Colmar Brunton was canvassing a door-to-door poll (on superannuation, according to my contact). This would be an unusual departure from polling companies which haven’t conducted door-to-door polling for several years (over a decade?).

      I take your point about Labour perpetuating much of the New Right nuttiness that has caused so many problems over the last 30 years. I guess the only safe-guard we have is a strong Green and Mana Party presence in Parliament. A strong Green/Mana presence ‘encourages’ Labour to over-turn many of the New Right policies ands return to some semblance of common sense.

      If Shearer & Co play silly buggers over problems such as child poverty, environmental protection, healthcare, industrial laws, etc, then the election outcome in 2017 could be ‘awkward’ for them.

  4. Sam
    11 February 2013 at 6:02 am

    The polls could be partially rigged, not the fact that national has purposely done it, but if you look at the fact they tend to ring landlines, which is what most national voters have because they can afford it, while poor beneficiaries can barely afford the rent let alone the landline, so when these polls are done, they will get a result that is more favoured by the rich. Now if there was a policy to push the living standard up, by trying to make it affordable to have a landline, then we could see it as a way forward. When i was a kid, everyone had a landline except for the odd few, they would be in the days when landline rental was about $20 a month and to ring a toll call was through the roof. So then the polls would have a more accurate result than now; Technology has moved so we can make cheap toll calls, but the landline rental costs are through the roof, $50 a month, thats alot of money, and wasn’t until the Canterbury Earthquake, you couldn’t Winz on your mobile, also you still can’t ring the IRD, now is this government agenda to stop support for the working poor from getting service they need like working for families, as i say, this living standard has gone down.

    • 11 February 2013 at 8:35 am

      Indeed, Sam.

      Some work I did with MRL Research in the 1980s gave me a pretty good picture how polling companies used to work.

      They used to go door-to-door. In one instance they trialled a polling technique (originated from Massey University, if memory serves) where the respondent was first asked a verbal question regarding who they might vote for if an election was held today.

      The trial aspect came when the respondent was handed a dummy Voting Paper and asked to tick which Party they would vote for if the election was held today. The person conducting the Poll was asked to turn away whilst the respondent filled out the dummy ballot paper.

      The ballot paper was then placed into a sealed bag with a small hole for insertion.

      According to results, the dummy ballot yielded a slightly different result than the verbal questioning. It was surprisingly more accurate as well.

      I’ve no idea why it was never implemented…

  5. mick
    11 February 2013 at 7:21 am

    There is only one thing missing from National ,all the above is true and yes we have a Prime Minister that got to be there through the “cult of personality”.
    He arrived home from his time in international finance as a role model of ring wing ideology ,his wealth carrying him into the top position within the National party like a magic carpet.
    But what people are starting to realise is that a perpetual smile isn’t an asset when critical thinking is required to guide New Zealand through these difficult times.
    And the one thing National is missing …LEADERSHIP !

  6. Paul Gilbert
    11 February 2013 at 7:33 am

    Good argument. IF Labour gets/handles the required mediatime. And/or the Greens.

  7. Denny Weisz
    11 February 2013 at 8:14 am

    Keys pointless waste of tax payers money. A former police informant who spied on protest groups is planning to sue police for the consequences of his decade of deception.
    Rob Gilchrist was outed in December 2008 after his girlfriend, animal rights and Labour activist Rochelle Rees, stumbled across police emails when he asked her to fix his computer.
    Mr Gilchrist spent about 10 years spying on Greenpeace, anti-Iraq war groups, and poverty and beneficiary rights groups, among others.

  8. 11 February 2013 at 8:36 am

    “But what people are starting to realise is that a perpetual smile isn’t an asset when critical thinking is required to guide New Zealand through these difficult times.”

    Got it in one, Mick.

  9. Matthew
    11 February 2013 at 9:32 am

    One of the main reasons National still poll so highly is a complete lack of a credible right-wing alternative. While the ‘left’ voter has several options, a voter on the right does not.
    I would also suggest that telling businesses to ‘get efficient’ in this day & age is like telling motorists to improve fuel economy by taking all those cinder blocks out of the boot & drive a bit slower… sorry but thats been done a LONG time ago.
    2014 cant come soon enough, I just hope the damage is reversible.

    • Vagabundo
      14 February 2013 at 8:18 am

      I think you may have a point here. You look at the left(-ish), there’s Labour, then further along, there’s the Greens. If the Greens are a bit too milquetoast for your tastes, there’s Mana.

      On the right, who is there besides National? ACT is basically undead, kept walking by the voodoo necromancy of John Key’s machinations. The Conservatives will maybe get 1 seat in parliament, but it’s unlikely. All the left has to do is wait for Colin Craig to open his big stupid mouth and watch the negative press tumble in.

      Maybe there’s NZ First, as a right-ish party that will probably get some list MPs into Parliament, but it doesn’t really have an ideology besides populism. Even then, they tend to shoot themselves in the foot every so often with their rampant dogwhistling and their perception as a party that’s Winston Peters + the dregs of politics.

      The Maori Party have pretty much alienated their core constituency and someone who could vote National probably won’t vote for them anyway.

      If anything, Key’s legacy won’t just be the damage done to New Zealand as a whole, but also the damage done to credible right politics in New Zealand. I’d wager the 2017 elections will have similar results to the 2002 elections for National, only there won’t be a credible right-wing opposition bloc to the government at that stage.

      • Green Meadows
        15 February 2013 at 2:12 pm

        You’re forgetting what was Rural NZ, the newly renamed Focus NZ, which will be after the party vote, no candidates, and very National friendly. And don’t forget those mad Liberterianz. I think you’ll find there’s as many, if not more, of the “right” political persuasion for people to vote for, but there isn’t the jostling and squabbling that continually distracts as there is on the “left”. Why is this? Is it because there isn’t a clear leader to bring them together as a unit as we seem to think there has to be an overall leader of a coalition government, someone wielding the big stick to keep the rabble in line. The Asset Sales petition has been a fantastic example of all parties working together for the common goal. I hope all can draw some inspiration from that and start working together as a cohesive unit.

  10. Budinski
    11 February 2013 at 11:49 am

    Nice work Frank. It astounds me that the NZ public believe this whole free market bullshit that the nats have been preaching. If free markets work so well than why is the US $16 trillion in debt with rising unemployment? Only a complete fucktard would buy the “let the market decide” lie. Your point about refusing to subsidize housing while throwing money at the Hobbit is bang on. Our country must be a laughing stock to the neo-con circle jerk. John key is so incompetent I’m starting to think its time he was suicided, for the good of the entire planet.

    • Matt
      2 April 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Wow you really think the US is a free market? There’s more manipulation by the Goverment in the ‘free market’ of the US than nearly any where else on the planet. When a govenment has the power to influence and amend laws that benefit big corporations, that government is too large and too powerful. Exactly what happens here in NZ and the US and in fact most of the world that is now under the control of central bank policy and the disgusting NWO that the EU talks of!

  11. john
    11 February 2013 at 1:32 pm

    david shearer has a soul. john {planet}key values $ over humanity.
    money does’nt need to be keep warm and feed. people do.
    this prime minister will floaunch off back to his island paradise in the us. we or those of us who cant afford to leave will be helping to pick up the pieces after yet another national disgrace

  12. Sue
    11 February 2013 at 10:56 pm

    That is quite easily one of the best articles I have read in a long time…perhaps because it mirrors a lot of what has been going round and round in my head for several months, without ever quite being able to join up the dots. Thank you for allowing my mind to unscramble and see exactly and clearly how I have been thinking and feeling. Regards the one personality getting the votes…wouldn’t it be so cool if the best of each and every party in parliament could work together for the common good…bringing all the best things needed for everyone in this society, not just one sector. That is what I dream of! Something my father used to say years ago is what I think of now when I think of John Key and all the “nothingness” that has come from all his promises and b/s, and that is “all hair oil but no socks”. Again….thank you for an awesome article!

  13. 12 February 2013 at 5:46 am

    I’m sure that the National Party will leave behind a golden legacy… Erm, maybe not!

    • Vagabundo
      13 February 2013 at 9:24 am

      That depends. [Offensive comment deleted – FM]

  14. samwise
    12 February 2013 at 9:25 am

    Plenty of people I know who voted for the prick last time and have had a gutsful of him and his monkeys. He’s out, Labour is in. End of.

  15. Priss
    17 February 2013 at 2:13 am

    Lately I’m not meeting many peple who have a good thing to say about Key.

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