Home > The Body Politic > Dear Leader loves you!

Dear Leader loves you!

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john-key-smile-and-wave

The Cult of Dear Leader

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It was inevitable. The poll-rated ‘popularity’ of Prime Minister has evolved into a full-blown, carefully-choreographed, Cult of Personality the likes of which this country has never before seen.

The recent National Party conference focused on one man; John Key. The new catchphrase; “TeamKey“.

Everything was “TeamKey”. If you are not “TeamKey”, then obviously you are not “on-board the team”. It has a definite authoritarian, quasi-fascist ring to it.

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teamkey - 2014 national party conference - fascism - big brother -cult of personality - john key - national government (4)

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The visual effects surrounding Key became disturbingly familiar, as the Party unleashed an Orwellian-like publicity campaign reminiscent of  a Stalinist-style Personality Cult promotion of their leader;

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john key - joseph stalin - cult of personality (1)

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Team Key v.s. Team Stalin?

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Key and baby and stalin and baby

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Even the techniques seemed eerily familiar. Only the year was different- from 1984 to 2014;

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john key - Big Brother - cult of personality (2)

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The Great Leap Forward to a Brighter Future? Did Mao and Key have the same PR firm for their campaigns?

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brighter future great leap forward

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But this is the 21st Century. We don’t do tacky political posters any more. We iz more sophis-ti–katud…

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hoarding1

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For those who are  a tad long-sighted,  Party functionaries made absolutely certain that The Leader’s image could be seen from every vantage point, by every person. It certainly worked wonders for Big Brother’s re-election chances in 1984’s ‘Oceania’;

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team key - team big brother - video screens

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(If you’re going to do Cult of Personality, number one on the List To Do’s – phone Hire Quip for f*****g big telescreens.)

When the left began to refer to Key as “Dear Leader” soon after the 2008 General Election, it was meant as a spoof. We didn’t intend it to be a literal suggestion  for a future election campaign-strategy;

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teamkey - 2014 national party conference - fascism - big brother -cult of personality - john key - national government (7)

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Even the Party’s campaign slogan this year has a weird, pseudo-Soviet hint to it;

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New Zealand National Party Annual Conference

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What next,  Five Year Plans?!

Of course, no Cult of Personality is complete without the photogenic partner to complete the conflated image of sexual success with political power. It works equally well for despotic dictators as well as demagogic  democrats; for Team Key or Team Assad;

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team key vs team assad

 

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Having kids in publicity shots is always a handy bonus, to add the “family element” to any successful Cult of Personality. Above all, Teamkey must be seen as family – especially kid – friendly;

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team mussolini vs team key

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Will we soon be referring to Dear Leader Key as “Uncle John”? The kindly  Great Leader to whom we look for solutions how to increase our rice crop yields and produce more pig iron?

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John-Key-leather-chair-DimPost.wordpress.com_

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The Party will always show Great Leader relaxed. Never upset. That would reveal things to us proles, that the Party’s central committee would rather not have made public.

Things like attacking and under-mining worker’s rights; implementing mining in national parks and deep-sea drilling of our coast; rising child poverty, hunger,  and spreading incidences of Third World diseases; increasing wage-wealth inequality; 15,000 homeless people  in just Auckland alone; tax cuts for the rich, paid by the sale of state assets; increasing prescription fees which the poor could barely afford before; giving away taxpayers subsidies to charter schools, smelters, movie companies – while rape crisis centres had their funding cut (until election year rolled around) and closed down.

All these things must never be reflected in the Leader’s expression. He must be happy, casual, and supremely confident. Even when things are turning to sh*t for the rest of us.

This is Teamkey.

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john key smiles

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Certainly not this;

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John Key Liar

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In case anyone thinks that conflating our Dear Leader with the likes of Stalin, Assad, Mussolini, etc is outrageous and nonsensical – they are essentially correct.

But no more outrageous and nonsensical than the Cult of Personality that the National Party’s taxpayer funded strategists and media spin-doctors  are in the  process of creating around one man. Elevating one human being to such a position positively invites ridicule and comparisons with past larger-than-life political leaders.

There are other reasons why personality-driven politics should be anathema to our way of doing things;

1. The public becomes more cynical as our democratic system devolves into a superficial contest of personalities.

The United States is a prime example where personality-driven politics will lead us – low voter turn-out; venal, incompetant people elected to power; and the rise of extremist political factions such as the ‘Tea Party’.

2. The media will love it. Personality politics will mesh perfectly with personality-driven media reporting.

In fact, it would be the perfect symbiotic relationship, with each feeding of the other.

3. How will this impact on our political leaders’ mental state? Love them or hate them, they are human, and a Cult of Personality will eventually lead to some very bad policy-drafting; decision-making; and laws, as they begin to believe their own hype.

It has happened to us once beforte. Robert Muldoon should serve as a salient reminder to us how one man’s unrestrained ego led this country to near-ruin.

It also invites  the very serious question; if the National Party are basing their re-election success on one individual – does that mean that they have no policy successes; no social or  economic gains, upon which to base any other style of campaign?

Perhaps the real question though – is a Cult of Personality compatible with the Kiwi group-psyche of self-effacement and not blowing one’s own trumpet? After all, it is said we are a nation of tall-poppy cutters.

If   National are not careful, #teamkey may simply become hash-teamkey.

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References

Kiwiblog: The Government targets

Radio NZ: Christchurch rape crisis centre closing

Taranaki Daily News:  Hungry kids eating pig slops

Fairfax media: Auckland’s hidden homeless

NZ Herald: Meds price hike: ‘Children will die’


 

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Team key - me myself  and me

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 July 2014.

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= fs =

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  1. 15 July 2014 at 2:06 am

    That’s quite scary Frank. But how does one go about changing the psyche of the average Kiwi when the shallow media play favourites like this? I guess w really do get what we deserve…

  2. Sally's husband
    17 July 2014 at 12:32 am

    All of which goes to prove that you really can full most of the people, most of the time. Suckers.

  1. 21 August 2014 at 7:54 am
  2. 21 August 2014 at 8:16 am
  3. 26 August 2014 at 8:01 am

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