In a brilliant essay, published on ‘Buzzfeed‘, McKay Coppins offers his insights into what motivates a man like Donald Trump to ascend the greasy pole of politics to take on the Republican candidacy in the up-coming U.S. Presidential elections.
It is the sort of insightful analysis that allows one to have a glimmer of understanding what motivates a man to enter into what is most likely the most vicious politics on this planet. Also probably the most expensive.
But whilst Coppins paints a reasonable picture of Donald Trump the person, he glosses over what has made him so popular with up to 45% of American voters, according to a recent NBC poll.
Trump has stunned people by defying not just the odds, but the powerful, entrenched Republican establishment. He fought off sixteen other candidates – including seasoned politicians.
He has used the mainstream media and gained free publicity not accorded to any other candidate. According to either the New York Times or MarketWatch, that free publicity is valued at anywhere between US$2 billion to US$3 billion.
His most effective strategy has been to make outrageous statements;
- Trump says he will build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States
- Trump called Mexican immigrants drug dealers, rapists, and criminals-in-general
- Trump wants all illegal Mexicans deported from the United States
- Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States
- Trump has called on the registration of all muslims in the United States
- Trump stated that the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre should have been armed; “If the people so violently shot down in Paris had guns, at least they would have had a fighting chance.”
Trump is very gung-ho on gun-rights for Americans
- And Trump expresses demeaning views of women, with Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly as examples
These vocalised opinions, and others fit perfectly with the typical American right-winger/conservative. They are views more often than not expressed by supporters of the US Republican Party.
Republican political figures – especially those on the far-right – have often endorsed right-wing sentiments that appeal to their right-wing/conservative constituents. Sentiments that are usually reactionary when it comes to misogyny; homophobia; hostility toward ethnic groups; xenophobia; religious bigotry; pro-gun; etc.
This is the very essence of the right-wing constituency of the Republican Party.
This is what Donald Trump has tapped into. It is red-neck territory that other Republican Presidential contenders have never dared venture into.
In September 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney was caught off-guard with a secret video-tape of comments he made at a closed door fund-raising event;
“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.
All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.
These are people who pay no income tax.”
The comments were the sort of conservative bigotry parroted by the uninformed; the resentful; the judgemental – in short right-wingers who believe the nonsense that Romney was spouting.
But by October, Romney had apologised for those comments on the Fox Channel’s Hannity programme,
“Clearly in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case I said something that was just completely wrong.”
Trump does not apologise. He ratchets up his outlandish invective because a sizeable chunk of the American public thinks and often expresses similar reactionary views.
Which makes it deeply ironic that the Republican Party hierarchy so despises Trump, and has tried every ‘trick in the book’ to undermine his chances to become the Republican candidate. Ironic, because Trump not only verbalises what many in the Republican Party think – but is also willing (according to his rhetoric) to act on it.
After decades of right-wing, reactionary sentiments endorsed and exploited by the Republican Party, they now have a candidate who publicly expresses those views.
That is the “secret” of the rise and rise of Donald Trump. There was fertile ground, carefully prepared after decades of conservative, reactionary intolerance. Decade after decade of bigoted, moralistic views.
Donald Trump simply planted himself in that fertile ground. And grew and grew and grew.
The real surprise is that the Republican hierarchy are themselves surprised. Did they never foresee that one day a shrewd, manipulative operator would make full use of the fertile soil of conservatism that had been so carefully laid over the years?
Donald Trump is not some alien outsider to the Republican Party – he embodies the naked spirit of the Republican Party, with all the P.R. spin stripped away. Donald Trump is the Republican Party.
The Republican hierarchy are powerless to stop their own political scion – a product of their own right-wing bigotry. He is their “Frankenstein’s monster”; a creature of their conservative values.
And the creature is loose.
Buzzfeed: How the Haters made Trump
New York Times: Who Is Running for President?
New York Times: $2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Donald Trump
The Guardian: Mitt Romney under fire after comments caught on video
International Business Times: Romney Apologizes For ’47 Percent’ Comment – ‘I Care About The 100 Percent’
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 July 2016.
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from: Frank Macskasy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
to: Dominion Post <email@example.com>
date: Sun, Jul 17, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor
On 17 July, on TVNZ’s Q+A, former National Party president. Michelle Boag, parroted the now oft-repeated cliche that “government don’t build houses”. This was in response to our worsening housing crisis.
Former Labour Party President, Mike Williams, duly corrected Boag by reminding her that successive Labour governments have built over 68,000 state houses to provide homes for the poorest and most vulnerable families. These homes give a roof over family’s heads and stability for children so that they may attend school on a regular basis.
Even our current esteemed Prime Minister once lived in a state house.
It seems to be a misguided notion by many on the Right of politics that governments “cannot do things”.
The power stations, transmission grid, roads, railways, schools, hospitals, airports, telecommunications system, state housing, and many other aspects to our modern lives are based on what successive governments and previous generations have built.
The $1.5 billion fibre-optic cable up-grade throughout the country is the latest investment by the State, for the benefit of all.
I suggest a refresher course in New Zealand history for Boag and her right-wing colleagues might be in order.
[address and phone number supplied]
TVNZ Q+A: Housing Affordability -Panel
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On Monday 11 July, right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton was making his regular appearance on Radio NZ’s Nine To Noon Political Panel programme. The host was Kathryn Ryan, the commentator from the Left was Stephen Mills.
During the debate on Labour’s recently-released housing policy, Matthew Hooton made this startling revelation;
Matthew Hooton: “And Labour’s at twenty eight percent… And, and, look here’s the thing, Labour, in the latest UMR poll for June, done by Steven’s polling company, Labour was at twenty eight percent, Greens at sixteen. So we are, so they will need to increase because currently they’re polling worse than Jeremy Corbyn.”
Kathryn Ryan: “And where is National at, in that poll?”
Matthew Hooton: “Forty two.”
Using a search engine I could find no reference to any poll carried out in June having been released.
Through Twitter, I asked if Matthew could clarify his comment regarding such a UMR poll. He promptly replied, confirming his statements on Radio NZ;
When I asked for a source, Matthew replied;
“No. It’s secret.”
I have no way of confirming the validity of Matthew’s assertion of the existence of a secret poll by UMR. He could be mischief-making, for which he occasionally has some inclination.
The alleged UMR polling bears striking similarity to a recent Roy Morgan poll released on 20 June;
In the Roy Morgan poll above, 5.5% were Undecideds.
According to Hooton’s “secret poll”, a combined Labour-Green rating of 44% has over-taken National on 42%.
If the so-called “secret poll” is legitimate, then that explains the recent flurry of panicked activity from National to counter Labour’s recently released housing policy.
The next few polls will be Crunch Time for National and if they bear out Roy Morgan and the “secret UMR Poll” – then we are indeed witnessing the decaying administration of John Key’s third term government.
The rich irony of such a crisis for an incumbent government is that attempting to avert the down-ward spiral becomes a hopeless exercise. The more policies they “throw” at a problem, the greater the public’s perception that they are panicking.
“Policy-making on the hoof” reached new levels of comic-absurdity when the “Fixit Minister”, Steven Joyce, announced by Twitter that Housing NZ would forego dividend-payments to the National government for the next two years;
Shipley’s short-lived administration and Helen Clark’s final three years were marked by similar acts of desperate ad hocery. (But without “Tweeting” sudden policy lurches.)
Our esteemed Dear Leader may be about to discover the same fate.
Roy Morgan polls are considered more accurate because they call respondents using both landlines and mobile telephones. (See: Census, Surveys, and Cellphones)
Twitter: Mathew Hooton
Twitter: Steven Joyce
Chris Trotter: The Terrifying Radicalism of Matthew Hooton
Previous related blogposts
Mr Morgan phoned (2013)
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 July 2016.
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Open warfare has broken out between the National regime and the Reserve Bank. Recent media statements indicate that we are seeing an increasingly bitter war-of-words; a battle of wills, taking place over the growing housing crisis.
National is demanding that the Reserve Bank implement policies to “get on with it” to rein-in ballooning Auckland housing prices. The Reserve Bank is resisting, in an almost Churchillian-way.
In April this year, Key denied flatly that there was any “housing crisis” in this country;
“No, I don’t think you can call it a crisis. What you can say though is that Auckland house prices have been rising, and rising too quickly actually.”
But a year ago, on 15 April 2015, Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer warned that investors/speculators were becoming a major problem in the housing market;
“Investors are often setting the marginal market prices that are then applied to the full housing stock within a regional market.”
Spencer went on to issue what must be the most prescient statement ever uttered by a senior civil servant;
“Indicators point to an increasing presence of investors in the Auckland market and this trend is no doubt being reinforced by the expectation of high rates of return based on untaxed capital gains.”
Predictably, Key rejected taxing capital gains as an instrument to control rampant speculation;
“I remember when everyone said to [introduce] the equivalent of a [capital gains] bright line test, it will solve the issues. Well, it really didn’t.”
“We’re going to stick with the plan we’ve got.”
Of course Key is not prepared to reduce immigration . It is one of the few drivers for current economic growth that is stimulating the economy. Curb migration and the economy stalls. Stall the economy and National would have nothing to take to the election next year.
As National’s own minister, Jonathan Coleman stated in 2011;
“It’s important to highlight the economic value of Immigration here…
…New migrants add an estimated $1.9 billion to the New Zealand economy every year.
Immigration recognises the strategic importance of the tourism and export education sectors and the direct links they provide to employers.
Given these compelling figures, my number one priority has been to ensure Immigration is contributing to the Government’s economic growth agenda.”
Coleman’s 6 May 2011 press release was entitled, “Immigration New Zealand’s contribution to growing the economy”.
Key deflected criticism and instead blamed the Auckland Council. In a blustering attack reminiscent of the late Robert Muldoon, Key threatened the Auckland Council with over-riding it’s Unitary Plan;
“The effect of the [government] National Policy Statement would vary around the country, but in essence it linked the price of land to demand in the economy. If the land price is going up too quickly (councils) have to amend their plans to release enough land, and if they don’t do that they’ll breach the law. If the Unitary Plan doesn’t meet the demands of Auckland, the National Policy Statement because of the way it works will drive it, mark my words.”
His solution? Build more;
“Look, in the end, we’ve been saying for some time it is not sustainable for house prices to rise at 10, 12, 13 percent a year. The only answer to that is do what we’re doing: allocate more land and build more houses. It certainly will stop it, there’s no question about that, because if you build enough supply, you eventually satisfy demand.
The mantra to ‘build more, build more‘ overlooks recent statistics which showed that nearly fifty percent of housing in Auckland was being purchased by investors/speculators;
The Reserve Bank has for the first time unveiled official figures that break out the Auckland market from the rest of the country’s mortgage lending figures. The figures confirm what some previous research and anecdotal evidence has pointed to. Investors are huge in the Auckland market.
The figures show that in April, investors committed to $1.623 billion of the $3.536 billion worth of mortgages advanced in Auckland. That’s just a tick under 46% of the total.
Labour’s Phil Twyford said that in some areas of Auckland, up to 75% of housing was being grabbed by investors/speculators. Twyford said;
“They should start immediately by banning non-resident foreign buys from speculating in New Zealand property, unless they build a new dwelling. That’s the Australian Government policy and we think it makes a lot of sense.”
So unless National is prepared to ban foreigner and local investors/speculators from purchasing around half of all new housing in Auckland, building new homes will not address the growing crisis.
On the issue of foreign-ownership of residential property, Key was adamant that his open-door, free-market policy of foreign ownership of housing would be unchanged. Even if it meant New Zealander’s would find it harder and harder to buy their own home, in their own country. As he said to Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A last year;
“But the point here is simply this – I don’t want to ban foreigners from buying residential property.”
But Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse, was having none of Key’s bullying tactics. She responded with her own tough message;
“We’ve got six and half years of land planned for, infrastructure in the ground and ready to go. Government themselves have got more than 20 special housing areas that belong to Housing New Zealand that are ready to go. There’s no shortage of places to build. Our question to government would be, perhaps you just need to get on with it.”
The reality is that National is unwilling to implement any policy that might lower property prices. As Key has said previously;
“If it is left unchecked, some buyers could find themselves substantially overexposed in an overvalued market, and we all know what happens if those values start to fall.” – John Key, 23 July 2013
“Let’s just take the counter-factual for a moment. Would you want your house price going down? And what most Aucklanders say to me is ‘I’d rather my house price went up, but I’d rather it went up a little more slowly than this’.” – John Key, 6 August 2015
So Key is in a bind. His government’s continuing popularity is at the pleasure of property-owners with bloated housing values.
Build too many houses or implement too many restrictions (including new taxes), and property values in Auckland and elsewhere in New Zealand might begin to fall, as they did in the late 1990s. That would be a financial shock for many New Zealanders who, through rising property values, are feeling like “millionaires”, albeit on paper.
If that happens, National’s popularity – riding high on 47% – would finally crash and burn, paving way for a Labour-Green(-NZ First?) coalition government next year.
However, National’s desperation to resolve what has become a major public crisis has apparently found a new scape-goat – the Reserve Bank.
National’s cunning plan is for the Reserve Bank to do their “dirty work” for them. If the RBNZ were to implement policies that would result in property values levelling off – or even dropping – then Key and English would have “plausible deniability”. They could point to the Reserve Bank as an independent body and wash their hands of its actions.
Recent demands from John Key for the RBNZ to “get on with it” are not the first time that National has interfered with the independence of the bank.
In April last year, in a classic example of nepotistic cronyism, Bill English’s brother was appointed to the RBNZ as an “advisor”;
A year later, in April this year, Bill English took an unprecedented step in demanding greater over-sight of Graeme Wheeler, the RBNZ’s Governor;
According to the Fairfax report, English said;
“The duties of the board include keeping under review the performance of the governor. I would expect to discuss your assessment of the governor’s performance from time to time.”
On National’s* own website, English went further;
“Ministers typically send letters of expectation to the Boards of entities in their portfolio. This letter was prepared after The Treasury identified an opportunity to bring the accountability framework into line with other Crown agencies.”
This is naked interference in an institution that, since 1989, was to be protected from partisan-political interference. The RBNZ supposedly acts according to legislation – not the demands of the Finance Minister. Not since the Muldoon era has the RBNZ been controlled directly by a government minister.
It can only be assumed that National is meeting stiff resistance from the bank’s Governor, Graeme Wheeler, as English attempts to assert direct ministerial “over-sight” (ie, control) over the institution.
The fact that a recent war-of-words has erupted over the RBNZ’s involvement in Auckland’s housing crisis suggests that English’s Very Kiwi Coup may not have been successful.
In fact, the Cold War has become a Hot Conflict.
In the last week, the ‘battleground’ between National and the Bank became more public, as government minister and chief Head-Kicker, Steven Joyce and Grant Spence continued their war-of wills.
6 July, 1.10 AM
“But my sense is potentially one of the risks is you have got people buying rental properties at the moment, borrowing more money but fearful that the Reserve Bank is going to move. If they are going to make changes, probably they should just get on with it.”
Grant Spencer (RBNZ);
“Increased housing demand has been driven by record net immigration, low mortgage interest rates and increasing investor participation. Net migration flows continue to hit new records, with annual net PLT migration now approaching 70,000 persons…
A dominant feature of the housing market resurgence has been an increase in investor activity. In recent months, investors have accounted for around 43 percent of sales in Auckland and 38 percent in other regions […] The prospect of capital gains appears to remain a key driver for investors in the face of declining rental yields.
The declining affordability of New Zealand housing and increasing investor presence have seen a downward trend in the share of households owning their own home. This ratio has fallen steadily since the early 1990s, reaching 64.8 percent at the 2013 Census. The recent increase in investor housing activity suggests that the home-ownership rate may have declined further since 2013.
The Reserve Bank considers that rising investor participation tends to increase the financial stability risks relating to the household sector in severe downturn conditions.
…However, we cannot ignore that the 160,000 net inflow of permanent and long-term migrants over the last 3 years has generated an unprecedented increase in the population and a significant boost to housing demand. Given the strong influence of departing and returning New Zealanders in the total numbers, it will never be possible to fine-tune the overall level of migration or smooth out the migration cycle. However, there may be merit in reviewing whether migration policy is securing the number and composition of skills intended. While any adjustments would operate at the margin, they could over time help to moderate the housing market imbalance.”
8 July, 7.46am
Don Brash (Former Reserve Bank governor);
“The Reserve bank has no statutory responsibility for Auckland house prices or indeed house prices anywhere else…
The Prime Minister wants to pretend this is somebody else’s responsibility. I think the Reserve bank is absolutely right, that this responsibility for Auckland house prices lies first and foremost with local government Auckland and central government in Wellington.
Central government, because it controls the rate of migration, which is by any international standards a very high level, that pushes demand for housing. And of course the Auckland Council, not just now, but for the last couple of decades has restrained the availability of land on which to build Auckland houses...”
8 July, 7.51am
Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development);
“Migration is a contributing factor to housing demand…
The prime minister’s comment was entirely fair, which is to to suggest to the Reserve Bank [that] if you’re going to these things then, then do move on them quickly…
The Prime Minister’s comments on Tuesday were just to highlight the fact that actually if you’re going to make these sorts of changes, do make them reasonably quickly…“
8 July, 7.57am
Grant Spencer (RBNZ);
“What we’re saying is that the, what we’re seeing in the last three years is 160,000 net in-flow is unprecedented and it’s an important driver of the current housing situation and therefore it can’t be ignored….
“You can’t manage or fine tune the migration cycle, we know that, but all we’re saying is that given it’s an important driver that we should be taking a look at that policy – making sure that we’re getting the numbers and the skills that government’s really targeting.”
It’s an important driver in the housing market, yes. There’s no doubt about that. But we’re also saying there’s no easy solution. You can’t manage or fine tune the migration cycle, we know that, but all we’re saying is that given it’s an important driver that we should be taking a look at that policy – making sure that we’re getting the numbers and the skills that government’s really targeting.”
We’re running at a rate of 60,000 at present, but how many years can we continue running at a rate of 60,000 and continue to absorb that rate. It get’s more and more difficulty when the country doesn’t have that absorbtive capacity.”
Current battle-status: stalemate.
Controlling house prices, as former Reserve Bank governor, Don Brash said, is beyond the bank’s statutory responsibility. On top of which, the RBNZ is unwilling to be the “patsy” for implementing policies (even if it could) that might crash house prices, and make them the Bad Guys in this worsening crisis.
Only a government can act decisively in such matters – but to do so would be political suicide for Key and his fellow ministers.
Fran O’Sullivan is usually sympathetic to the National government, but her column on 6 July was damning of Key’s inaction;
Most National Cabinet ministers and MPs are well invested in “real property”. So are many of their counterparts from other political parties.
Like most of us who are “established” – that is those of us who bought into the housing market a decade or more ago – the MPs have seen their own on-paper wealth double.
Having rejoiced at the wealth effect, neither the MPs nor the rest of us want to take a financial haircut. Key is right on that score.
But it is a pretty crap society that pulls the ladder up on younger people or those less well off just because they want to preserve their new unearned wealth.
Key again duck-shoved the issue, suggesting it was the Reserve Bank’s responsibility to “have a look at the question around investors”.
What’s notable is his Government will not slap investors with an effective capital gains tax, preferring a “bright line” test which is easily avoided by holding a housing investment for more than two years; refuses to introduce specific taxes to punish land bankers; and will not introduce rules to preserve the acquisition of existing residential housing for citizens or curb migration.
Key could pass special legislation to do this.
The question is why won’t he.
“Why”? Because Key doesn’t want to lose the 2017 election.
This is National’s Achille’s Heel, and it is fully exposed.
In May this year, a TV3/Reid Research Poll was scathing of National’s inaction on the housing crisis. Even National voters were getting ‘grumpy’;
Current ballooning property prices are the highest in the developed world;
• $975,087- Auckland: Average house price, up 4.7% in past three months and 16.1% since June last year
• $492,403- Hamilton: Average house price, up 6.9% in past three months and 29% since June last year
• $599,915- Tauranga: Average house price, up 4.9% in past three months and 23.6% since June last year
Inflation is currently at 0.4%, according to Statistics NZ.
* I have downloaded and retained a copy of the National Party webpage. In the past, National Party webpages tend to “disappear”, and are no longer searchable, making referencing and verification of quotes problematic. If this webpage disappears, English’s comments can still be verified to anyone requesting it. – Frank Macskasy
Radio NZ: Key denies Auckland housing crisis
Fairfax media: Reserve Bank call to look at untaxed property gains
Radio NZ: No change on immigration, says John Key
Beehive.govt.nz: Immigration New Zealand’s contribution to growing the economy
Scoop media: PM – I don’t want to ban foreign buyers from buying
Fairfax media: Key expects LVRs to go ahead
QV.co.nz: How fast is the current property market rising compared to the past? (2013)
National.co.nz: English releases RB Board letter of expectations
NZ Herald: Auckland property: $400k deposit please
Reserve Bank: Housing risks require a broad policy response
Fairfax media: Why MPs may want house prices in New Zealand to keep rising
TV3 News: Government gets thumbs down on housing
NZ Herald: Auckland property – $400k deposit please
Statistics NZ: Consumers Price Index: March 2016 quarter
Previous related blogposts
Cartoon acknowledgement: Tom Scott, Dominion Post
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 July 2016.
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1. Credit where it’s due!
TV3’s The Nation on 2 July was probably the most incisive investigative journalism this blogger has seen for a long time. The only “fault” is that The Nation is ‘buried’ at the ghetto time-slot of early Saturday (and repeated early Sunday morning). Mediaworks is wasting a tremendous opportunity to use their current affairs journalistic team as a critical lynch-pin of their broadcasting line-up.
(Especially after the fiasco surrounding the cancellation of Campbell Live. But let’s not go there and rain on The Nation’s well-deserved parade.
In this episode;
- Patrick Gower interviewed John Key and elicited some eyebrow-raising responses from him
- An investigation by Phil Vine and Heather du Plessis-Allan into the Saudi sheep deal yielded disturbing revelations
2. Evidently, we’re “better off”?
Following on from Bill English’s tragi-comical assertion in Parliament on 29 June that “there is no evidence that inequality in New Zealand is increasing“, our esteemed Dear Leader repeated the mantra three days later in response to a question from Gower;
Patrick Gower: “Good morning, Prime Minister, and thank you very much for joining us. Now, I want to take you back to your first big speech as leader of the National Party – that speech about McGehan Close. You talked in that speech about streets in our country where helplessness has become ingrained and said we have to do better. Now, on McGehan Close, when you went there, people were living in homes. Now we are looking at people living in cars. Is that really better? Is that better?”
John Key: “I think there’s no question New Zealand’s better…”
As reported in a previous story (see: Foot in mouth award – Bill English, for his recent “Flat Earth” comment in Parliament) practically every metric used presents an unflattering picture of New Zealand in the early 21st century.
From the Children’s Commissioner;
Child poverty is now significantly worse than the 1980s. In 1985 the percentage of children in families experiencing income poverty was 15%, compared to 29% now
Put another way;
“305,000 New Zealand children now live in poverty – 45,000 more than a year ago”.
Statistics NZ’s reported;
“Between 1988 and 2014, income inequality between households with high incomes and those with low incomes widened“
And the OECD was also damning, stating;
“rising inequality is estimated to have knocked more than 10 percentage points off [economic] growth in Mexico and New Zealand.”
Perhaps the most credible indictment of Key’s misguided view that “there’s no question New Zealand’s better” is from Key himself, from 2011;
He said he had visited a number of budgeting services and food banks “and I think it’s fair to say they’ve seen an increase in people accessing their services. So that situation is there.”
The difficulty with Key’s statement that “there’s no question New Zealand’s better” is that no one believes it.
3. Unemployment is down?
When Gower pressed Key that things had not improved much since Key’s visit to Aroha Ireland in McGehan Close in 2007, Dear Leader responded;
“The unemployment rate in New Zealand is now falling pretty dramatically.”
Well of course “unemployment in New Zealand is now falling“. Unemployment has “dropped” from 5.7% to 5.2%.
But not because National’s policies have created twelve thousand new jobs.
But because Statistics NZ had conveniently revised its method of calculating the number of unemployed men and women by arbitrarily excluding those who were jobseeking using the internet;
Looking at job advertisements on the internet is correctly classified as not actively seeking work. This change brings the classification in line with international standards and will make international comparability possible… Fewer people will be classified as actively seeking work, therefore the counts of people unemployed will be more accurate.
The utter cheek of Statistics NZ to claim that “therefore the counts of people unemployed will be more accurate” by excluding on-line job-hunting is matched only by Dear Leader Key who wasted no time in taking credit for “unemployment rate in New Zealand is now falling pretty dramatically“.
We are being lied to – and it is officially sanctioned.
4. Cosying up to Winston?
Gower then touched upon Key’s attitude toward NZ First leader Winston Peters, and asked;
Patrick Gower: “But what about deputy prime minister? Do you rule out Winston Peters being deputy prime minister in one of your governments?”
At this point, my mind immediately Quantum-Leaped back to 2008 and 2011 when Key categorically, absolutely, 100%, resolutely, ruled out any possibility of having Winston Peters in his government;
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation [on the Owen Glenn donations scandal].” – John Key, 27 August 2008
“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead. Historically, he has always been sacked by prime ministers. It’s a very different style to mine and it’s rearward-looking. I’m about tomorrow. I’m not about yesterday. If Winston Peters holds the balance of power it will be a Phil Goff-led Labour government. ” – John Key, 2 February 2011
Seems fairly straight forward; Key was holding up his own “No” card, a-la Winston;
Except, in the next breath, Key over-ruled himself and his previous pronouncements;
John Key: “Well, I’m not going to rule those sorts of things out.”
Perhaps Key mis-heard Patrick Gower’s question. Perhaps Key had mistakenly thought that Gower had asked him; “But what about deputy prime minister? Do you rule out Moonbeam being deputy prime minister in one of your governments?”
So, being the fair-minded journo that Gower is, he repeated the question;
Patrick Gower: “Yeah, but do you rule out Winston Peters as John Key’s deputy prime minister?”
John Key: “No, because in the end, in 2017, we’re going to have an election, and when we have that election, what we’ll have to do is I’ll ultimately put together a government. I can’t determine that. The people of New Zealand determine that. What I have a responsibility to do is to put together a government — if I’m in the position to lead the largest party and to lead those negotiations — then to try and make that work. But I’m not going to say who’s a minister and who’s not or what role they have and what they don’t.”
So there you have it. John Key – a Man of his Word. And principled. And flexible. Flexible with his Principles.
Or else, the John Key of 2008 and 2011 is not the same man who calls himself “John Key” in 2016? An imposter?
The only reason that people like John Key can get away with back-peddling; mis-information; and bendy-truths is that the voting-public are more cynical than ever. (Hence the rise of anti-establishment figure, Donald Trump; the in-your-face “Brexit” vote, and the success of Independent candidates in the Australian elections.) Voters expect politicians to be dishonest, manipulative, and abandon all principles in pursuit of power.
In this respect, Key has not disappointed.
5. Matthew Hooton
Well known right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton, has been scathing in his condemnation of Murray McCully’s “Saudi Sheep Deal”, and has conducted his own investigations into the scandal. His findings have been published on the National Business Review’s website.
Whilst Matthew and I hold wildly differing political views, and whilst his involvement in ‘Dirty Politics’ is questionable, his insightful analysis and commentary on McCully’s dealings with Hmood Al-Khalaf has to be respected.
Matthew was a valuable contributor in analysing the “Saudi Sheep Deal” on The Nation, proving a credible counter-foil to Michelle Boag’s slavish and occasionally near-hysterical defense of Murray McCully’s dubious actions.
The panelists lamented the fact that the Auditor-General’s report into the Saudi Sheep Deal was “not imminent”. I do not share those feelings.
Next year will be Election Year, and the closer the report’s release is to Election Day, the better it will be for the Opposition. If the Auditor-General’s findings are as scathing as many believe it will be, McCully will be sacked from his Ministerial position. The inglorious demise of his career will add to public perception that National plays “loose” with laws if there is a “buck” to be made.
The release of the Auditor-General’s report next year would be a strategic coup for Labour, Greens, and NZ First.
7. Final Word
Final word from that outstanding episode of The Nation has to go to Victoria University political scientist, Dr Jon Johansson;
“ People are utterly fed up with their Establishment, their elites, never accepting accountability for anything.”
Nailed it, Doc.
TV3: The Nation
Parliament Today: Questions & Answers – June 29
NZ Children: Child Poverty Monitor – Technical Report
Radio NZ: A third of NZ children live in poverty
Statistics NZ: Income inequality
NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing
NZ Herald: A day out with friends in high places
Scoop media: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government
NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal
Fairfax media: John Key’s Cat Moonbeam
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 July 2016.
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