Posts Tagged ‘Teflon Man’

Teflon Man No More

19 September 2014 3 comments


teflon man


On 26 August, as Nicky Hager’s expose on New Zealand’s right wing politics hit public consciousness and confirmed our worst fears, I wrote,

“Dirty Politics” has achieved more than simply revealing  unwholesome machinations between National party apparatchiks, ministers, and halfway-insane right-wing bloggers. The book has explained the nature of Key’s seemingly “Teflon” nature. The secret is revealed; the mystery is stripped away; and now, when Key is confronted by a media pack, the brown smelly stuff is sticking to him.

Two days later, I repeated my belief that Key’s seemingly air-of-invulnerability had been swept away;

The Teflon Man is no more. He has been terminally weakened by his own ‘kryptonite’ – truth.

My perception of Key’s new status as just another garden-variety politician has been born out by this extraordinary exchange between TV3’s Lisa Owen, and our soon-to-be replaced Prime Minister;


Lisa owen - john key - TV3 - The Nation - election 2014


Until 7.05, the rather routine discussion between Owen and Key centers around National’s options to govern, post election. Coalition options and minority government are discussed, and Key confidently handles each scenario thrown at him by the host.

At 7.05, however, matters take a turn for the worst for Key when Lisa Owen raised the subject of child poverty and asked Key,

“One of the big issues this election has been child poverty. And you have said, just last year, you said ‘we are proud of the government’s record  tackling child poverty. Do you stand by that?”

Key replied,

“I absolutely I do.”

At Owen’s further questioning, Key responded by saying that he was proud of his government’s track record in dealing with child poverty.

Owen then lobbed this “grenade” at him, namely a quote from John Key himself, reported  in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 September.

  “Our opponents say more children are living in poverty than when we came into office. And that’s probably right.”

This frank admission runs counter to every line uttered by Key, Paula Bennett, other National ministers, right wing commentators and bloggers, et al. In fact, with four simple words, Key has effectively demolished his own government’s insistence that child poverty has been reducing over the last six years. Crosby Textor’s spin doctors must have collectively moaned in despair when they read that comment.
From this point on, Key squirmed uncomfortably as he tried to wriggle out from this admission to the Sydney Morning Herald – including at one point revealing his frustration by  blurting out (@ 9.15),
“Lisa, don’t be silly!”
Owen persisted challenging Key as he tried to wiggle out of his SMH comments – but she would have none of it.
For possibly the first time since Stephen Sackur interviewed Key on Hard Talk in May, 2011, this was a moment when our Prime Minister faced serious hard questioning and was not allowed to wriggle his way out with nonsensical, glib answers.

Since Nicky Hager’s revelations and the sacking of Judith Collins, Key’s preternatural teflon-shield has been stripped away. He is now just another politician, and if by some miracle he successfully leads the next government post 20 September, he will find  his interactions with journalists becoming harder and harder.

It may not be what he says that lowers his esteem in the public eye. It will be the way he says it.

Lisa Owen was simply the first.




TV3:  John Key – Minority government possible

Sydney Morning Herald: The Key factor

Youtube-BBC:  John Key on Hardtalk (Part 2)

Previous related blogposts

The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next Leader of the National Party?

“Dirty Politics” – the fall-out continues




Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 September 2014



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The Rise and Fall of John Key – who will be the next Leader of the National Party?

26 August 2014 7 comments




It was all set to go: Teamkey would be the cult of personality that would do Stalin, Mao, Reagan, Thatcher, or any of the Nth Korean Kim Dynasty, proud.  National and it’s “Teamkey” propaganda strategy  would cash-in Big Time on Key’s immense public popularity.

It was a popularity that seemed impervious to all the scandals, stuff-ups, and questionable economic and social policies enacted by this government over the years. Every time a minister stuffed up,  Key’s popularity remained unblemished.

People couldn’t work out how it was being achieved. Despite shitstorms surrounding so many National ministers – many of which resulted in sackings/resignations – Key walked through it, much like Superman might walk through an atomic bomb-blast, barely feeling a tickle.

But Key is no extra-terrestrial super-powered being (despite accusations to the contrary). His seeming talent for invulnerability wasn’t a preternatural super-power. It was wholly manufactured by mere mortals, working in back-rooms, funded by tax-payers, and played out with ruthless efficiency.

The plan, as outlined in Nicky Hager’s expose, “Dirty Politics“, and based on leaked emails, was that Key would be kept “above politics”. Others would do the dirty work, and he would maintain an “apolitical”, almost Presidential style. It was a form of fake neutrality.

When  Key said in January 2011,

“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.”

– he wasn’t talking about his own persona, he was reciting a pre-prepared script.

Nicky Hager’s book has stripped away the secrecy to this plan and Key’s closeness to the players in dirty politics has been exposed to public scrutiny.

Russell Norman once pointed out that there is a great deal of similarity between John Key and Robert Muldoon. Russell was half-way correct. Key’s politics was every bit as destructive as Muldoons, attacking, destabilising, and under-mining critics of the government.

The only difference is that Muldoon did his own dirty politics. He never hid behind others.

Dirty Politics” has achieved more than simply revealing  unwholesome machinations between National party apparatchiks, ministers, and halfway-insane right-wing bloggers. The book has explained the nature of Key’s seemingly “Teflon” nature. The secret is revealed; the mystery is stripped away; and now, when Key is confronted by a media pack, the brown smelly stuff is sticking to him.

Result? Key is just another self-serving politician and his bloody-mindedness in continuing to shield Judith Collins is corroding his reputation and public standing. I am guessing this will be reflected in coming polls. It’s game over for this government.

If National loses this election, Key has already made it abundantly clear what his intentions will be;


Key says he'll quit politics if National loses election



Which then begs the question – who would replace Key?

Of the options available to National, I offer these insights;

Steven Joyce




Style: loud, abrasive, intolerant of dissenting views.

Low points: his “debate” on TV3’s “The Nation“, with Labour’s Grant Robertson, where he continually shouted over his opponant and almost hijacked the show.  Or his veiled threats against protesting tertiary students in September 2011.

Leadership chances: 5/10

Electoral saleability: 3/10

Comment: Joyce alienates people by shouting them down. It is bullying and as a political strategy makes him a liability. His pugnacity is more openly Muldoonesque than any other politician.

Judith Collins




Style: abrasive, intolerant of dissenting views, 100% Pure vindictiveness in high-heels.

Low points: her relationship with National’s black-ops team headed by Jason Ede and Cameron Slater; lying about journalist Katie Bradford; dodgy dealings with Oravida; mis-use of ministerial power; etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Leadership chances: 2/10

Electoral saleability: 0/10 (nil)

Comment: Collins would be a gift for the Left if she were elected Leader of the National Party. She brings back memories of Jenny Shipley – and didn’t that end ‘well’? The Nats would be unelectable with her as Leader. (In simple terms, her political career is over.)

Bill English




Style: inoffensive.

Low points: rorting the ministerial accomodation allowance (double dipping) in 2009. A silly thing to do for minimal gain. Mostly forgotten by the general public.

Leadership chances: 7/10

Electoral saleability: 7/10

Comment: English has been mostly untainted by all the scandals swirling around Richard Worth, Phil Heatley, Pansy Wong, Nick Smith, Aaron Gilmore, John Banks, Hekia Parata, Judith Collins, et al. In fact, he distanced himself from Collins’ actions in leaking a civil servant’s personal information to far-right blogger, Cameron Slater, by saying,

“I certainly wouldn’t condone an attack by a blogger on a public servant doing their job.”

If  English is positioning himself for a future leadership bid, it was a good move.

English was Leader of the National Party from 2001 to 2003, and was dumped after the Nat’s worst electoral result in decades. During that time, he’s kept his head down; focused on economic issues; and avoided public controversies.

He comes across as likeable, and the public might be persuaded to give him another shot as a Leader.


The political dramas will only be beginning on 20 September.




NZ Herald: Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election

Fairfax media:  Key’s staff can’t disprove reptilian theory

NZ Herald:  Norman – Key ‘acting like Muldoon’

TV3:  The Nation – Debate: Grant Robertson and Steven Joyce on the wealth of the nation

NZ Herald: Bill English to pay back part of allowance

Wikipedia: Bill English – Leader of the Opposition

Wikipedia: 2002 General Election

Radio NZ: Key, English distance themselves from Collins

Previous related blogposts

Dear Leader loves you!

It’s official: Political Dissent Discouraged in NZ!



20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 August 2014



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Labour to win in 2014 – does the media know?

5 November 2012 10 comments


Full story


TV1/Colmar Brunton’s recent(4 November) poll yields some interesting results and points to a conclusion that the author of the article has missed.

The results of the recent poll are,

National: 45%

ACT: 1 seat (highly unlikely)

United Future: 1 seat (possibly)

Maori Party: 3 seats (???)

Labour: 32%

Greens: 12%

NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)

Mana: 1 seat (likely)

TV1’s analysis and conclusions are,

The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition.

National would get 58 seats, add three from the Maori Party and one each from Act and United Future and the centre-right would have a majority of 63.

The opposition would have just 41 seats from Labour plus 16 from the Greens and one from Mana.”

Source: Ibid

I see no rationale as to how he author of that article can predict an outcome that “The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition“.

There are at least four unknown variables present in the above data,

  1. NZ First’s 4.9% could easily become 5%, thereby passing them over the threshold. If National legislates to reduce the Party threshold from 5% to 4%, that automatically translates into seats with this poll.
  2. ACT’s John Banks is unlikely to retain his seat.
  3. Without polling the three Maori Party electorates Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauāuru, Waiāriki, there is no telling how many seats the Maori Party are likely to win. Neither is their preference to coalesce with National a foregone conclusion.
  4. Ditto for the Mana Party.

Taking more certainly from the following data, a National-led coalition is less than likely, and shows a consistant preference for a Labour-led coalition government,

National: 45%

United Future: 1 seat (possibly)

Maori Party: 3 seats (???)

Total National-led coalition: 45% plus up to 4 seats

Labour: 32%

Greens: 12%

NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)

Mana: 1 seat (likely)

Total Labour-Greens-NZF Bloc: 49% plus 1 seat

Perhaps the most telling aspect of this poll is  Key’s personal rating.

A 2009 UMR Poll had John Key at the stratospheric approval ratings

In 2008, JohnKey’s favourability rating (‘very favourable’ or ‘somewhat favourable’) was consistently in the mid 60’s, however he started 2009 on a high when this jumped to 75%. His ratings were in the high 70’s throughout most of the year, with a couple of peaks of 80% and 81% in June and October respectively. No other politician, in a series dating back to 1996, has recorded a favourability rating as high.”

See: UMR Mood of the Nation Dec 2009

By 5 November 2011, Key’s popularity – though still high – was beginning to drop,

In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, John Key is well ahead of any other rival for business voters, with 69% support.”

See: National a Sure Thing for Business Voters

A year later,  Key’s popularity has plummetted,

John Key’s popularity has been slowly dropping away since the election but 42% still want him as Prime Minister.”

The interesting point here is that more respondents support National (45%) than they do John Key (42%).

This indicates that the scandals; the untenable support for John Banks; the lack of growth in jobs, despite big promises in 2008 and 2011; embarrassingPrime Ministerial faux pas; unpopular policies;  an impression he no longer wants to be Prime Minister; and other bad stories, have eaten away at Key’s image like some political ‘necrotizing fasciitis’.

Any impression that he is the ‘Teflon Man‘ is long gone.  Bad, smelly stuff is sticking to him, and the public perception of Key is that of someone who isfailing to meet expectations; break promises;  and ducks responsibility on major issues. He is not just seen as evasive on contentious matters, but is developing a reputation for witholding the truth; using memory loss as a convenient excuse; and the suspicion that he is telling outright lies.

National’s public support continues to fall, and the outcome in the next election will most likely be a new government.


Interestingly, the same  UMR Poll ranks the top five respected professions as nurses, doctors, teachers, police, and dairy farmers. The bottom five are bankers, politicians, share brokers, investment bankers, and real estate agents.

Real estate agents rate below politicians?!





UMR Mood of the Nation Dec 2009


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