Gordon Campbell on the Key resignation

The resignation of John Key is one thing. The way that Key and his deputy Bill English have screwed the scrum on the leadership succession vote (due on December 12) is something else again. It remains to be seen whether the party caucus – ie, the ambitious likes of Steven Joyce, Judith Collins, Paula Bennett, and Amy Adams – will simply roll over and accept being reduced in this way, to becoming a mere rubber stamp for the English succession. If so, the only drama on December 12 will be in the race for second place, as deputy to the “new” leader. (The scare quotes are deliberate. The words “Bill English” and “ new” don’t belong in the same sentence.)

In the end though, the caucus will have no choice but to grin and bear it. To do otherwise would be to invite an outbreak of the same bitter faction fighting that anointing English was intended to prevent. Yes, this has been smart politicking again by Key, in his exit from the political stage. Yet the collusion between English and Key on the management of this transition is also a sign of weakness. It shows an utter lack of faith in the National Party’s ability to manage a democratic succession process. There is nothing at all democratic about how Key has anointed his successor, while on his way out the door. It amounts to a palace coup, and is not conducive to a free caucus choice.

Laughably, Key spoke at his press conference today about ‘fresh leadership’ for National, going into the 2017 election. The succession is plainly nothing of the sort. English is a vote for continuity, not for change, or for an injection of new thinking about the social and economic challenges facing the country. We’re talking about Bill English, for Pete’s sake. Hardly an unknown quantity, and hardly a fount of new policy ideas. The public has seen a lot of Bill English over the past 20 years, and it didn’t much like what it saw when he was the leader of the National Party the last time.

Admittedly, times have changed and that prior leadership stint was in the wake of a devastating electoral loss. This time though, English is riding a wave of popular political success that’s due very largely to Key, with English as only the backroom guy. It is entirely possible that English will be able to ride to success on Key’s coat-tails next year, but the attack line for Labour is obvious : good enough at being number two, but not anyone’s real choice as number one. Not up to it, hasn’t earned the top job, failed the last time he asked the voters for a mandate for it. At least Andrew Little fought it out with his colleagues to get the job as Labour leader. Sure, it can be a bruising process, but at least Little earned the position he holds. It wasn’t an early Christmas gift handwrapped for him by his predecessor.

That’s the real sticking point. In choosing English in the way they are now being led at gunpoint to do, the National caucus will have shielded its new leader from competition; quite ironic really, in a party that claims to believe in the virtues of competition as a spur to excellence. Instead, it is dodging the real risks and rewards of genuine renewal. Moreover…it is trying to ensure that a dodgy English pick as leader will get National over the line in 2017 only if they give him a big bag of lollies to distribute in the shape of tax cuts. (Tax cuts that he will be more than pleased to own.) But without Key, National’s tax cuts will look even more like a sweetener now deemed necessary to sell the public on a dodgy used car.

There is precedent across the Tasman for why National may still be reasonably confident. While some are citing the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown transition in the UK – and didn’t that work out well in the end – there’s a better example closer to home, in Australia. Plainly, National is hoping that English will become its very own John Howard ie. a figure who showed himself capable of resurrection after early, repeated failures and who went on finally to achieve a sustained run of political success in his own right.

Obviously, it could happen. Like Michael Cullen did, English has accumulated a reputation for stability and canniness, out of not spending money on the public services that people thought they were getting in return. In terms of realpolitik, choosing English might even prove to be the right choice for National, given the alternatives. A couple of months ago, I asked Greens co-leader James Shaw who would be the easier target for the centre-left in next year’s election – Steven Joyce or Bill English? Without any hesitation at all, Shaw replied : “Joyce.”

Footnote: in the contest for deputy, Amy Adams is the safe, non polarizing option. Relatively speaking she isn also a new face, and a marketable sign of renewal. By choosing Adams as his deputy, English could avoid making a choice from the Joyce/Collins/Bennett nest of vipers. Yet picking Adams would mean two South Islanders in the leadership roles, and would anoint her as the eventual future of the party. Paula Bennett however, would offer gender & geographical diversity, is popular within the party and is a livelier, more populist figure than English – and is also (marginally) a less divisive figure to the general public than Collins or Joyce. Plus, she’s associate finance minister, already.

How Did I Get Here?

That’s the question that Bill English could well be asking himself today, and on December 12. Come 2002, and with National at an all time low under his leadership, he must have kissed off his chances of ever being top dog and Best in Show anytime again. In this lifetime, anyway Been down, but he got up again. I think that the current ‘same as it ever was, sort of’ bid for continuity (amid dislocating feelings of sea change) was conveyed pretty well by David Byrne and Talking Heads, in this classic video. Twice in a lifetime.

19 Comments on Gordon Campbell on the Key resignation

  1. The worst result of the Prime Minister’s resignation may be that Kim Hill and Kathryn Ryan are bullied out of Radio New Zealand for their honesty in confronting a nobody like John Key ‘leading’ the country away from confronting the future.

  2. What utter crap his media resignation release is.
    Why is Key really resigning ?

    The banksters have just replaced minion Key with another minion, the cringe causing bully Collins, (all his space fillers/replacements are cringe worthy) .
    She will be selling off to China the remaining scraps of what is left of the nation following Key’s “austerity and privatization” .

    Key is leaving either on a “High” from all the P his cronies brought in or “high” on the stink smell of all the bankster austerity policies that have hit the poor and middle class of NZ hard -as they were intended.

  3. Its called the Bankster shuffle, same day as Key Carstens, head of the Mexican central bank, former Mexican finance minister , resigned to take the top job at the BIS Bank for International Settlements in October for a five-year term.
    We’ll see what the real reason for the resignation is in due course.

  4. It was Key’s privilege to serve the banking cabal, while the people of NZ were ” served” .
    And after fleecing the people of NZ I am sure he’ll get his bankster promotion.
    @Richard, I Agree Key led a team of bullies, bullies whom like Adams seeking control of the internet by using the excuse of other ( non govt) internet bullies. When for the problem of internet bullying anyone can chose to not go online, deal (or not deal) with the bullies virtually .
    @Anabel, yeah I see a big fat bankster promotion for John Keys role as an economic hitman.

  5. Why are National MP’s being rushed to make a decision about a new leader in Parliamentary time?

    It costs The taxpayer heaps to run Parliament and MP’s each day supposedly for the benefit of all New Zealander’s.

    They should deliberate about their decisions on the leadership in their own personal time and over the forthcoming holiday recess.

    It’s just another example of the “political class” thumbing their noses at the expense of the people.

    We are not being governed- we are being ruled

  6. @John, yip we are still being ruled by an illegitimate foreign controlled government that we have never written a constitution for nor have we the people agreed to be governed/ruled by the banking cabal and its minions.

    Parliament operates for the Bank of England’s Crown nz govt and not for the people’s interests .
    The people of New Zealand are unwittingly used as debt slaves for the Oligarchy and its govt.

    “Leadership” …not a sign of it, Parliament contains only self serving MP’s, bureaucrats and misc politicians. All of them do more harm than good and they cost a fortune and that money is borrowed privately with interest in the name of the people.
    The list of replacements for the investment banker/insider trader Key reads like the contents of the big bags of “pony poo” that we see for sale on the side of state highways.

    In this banking cabal dictatorship, we don’t have a democracy, the people play no part in John Key’s replacement, which is supposedly needed for his banker promotion( TBA).

  7. Our economic history is that of being debt slaves to the central banksters that we let rule our nation.

    “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and US-dominated World Bank have been major players in the global economic landscape . These international banking organizations, which are privately controlled by the notorious Rothschild (and other major banking families), pressure nations to deregulate their financial sector, allowing private banks to loot their economies. The banksters want more , even with the govt borrowing money with interest in the people’s name from private bankers for “the budget”.
    Governments use the people as debt slaves to bail-out their deregulated financial sector, the IMF or World Bank sets up a loan package written in secret by central bankers and finance ministers that undermine their national sovereignty and force them to adopt policies of austerity that harm workers, families, and the environment. All the unnecessary expensive projects and spending is directed by the banker’s positioned “economic hitmen”(PM, finance minister, local govt Councillors, MP’s, bureaucrats and politicians)

  8. Andrew Little may well have fought for the Labour leadership but he has since shown that the faith in him was totally misplaced. His worst crime is that he mind-numbingly dull. AS THE POLLS SHOW. You say that the public didn’t like much of English the last time he was National’s leader. But you make no mention of the obvious fact that the public currently don’t like much of Little. AS THE POLLS SHOW. That’s so in keeping with the knocking from the left. So quick to attack each and every aspect of this very successful National government. But so in denial as to the pitiful state of their dysfunctional party.

  9. @ jim, Polls are full of shit. The desired opinion for ” hive minded” idiot savages.
    All the govt is dysfunctional not just one part.
    Coleman?! Really !? (Dr strikes, privatizations, fraud , with dodgy accountants making health and medical decisions running down the hospital) Coleman is a corrupt idiot savage, Collins is a bully and Blingslish is a central bankster.

  10. Police don’t prevent crime or reduce crime.

    Creepy Collins wants to grow her NZ police state portfolio, as one of the bankers “economic hitman” she wants to protect the status quo and increase costs for the public.
    Police knew about the gangs dealing P , by police consent and inaction in P gangs, police supported setting up the new P gangs.

    The replacements for the bankster Key promotion are as comedic candidates as Trump and Clinton were for Americans.
    a) A Bully, b) A Bankster c) An Idiot savage.

  11. You make about as much sense as Little does Anabel. Leftie-wefties like you are so quick to condemn polls when they reveal what a pitiful state your mob finds itself in. Best you attempt to substitute your petty name-calling with some rational debate. But quite possibly beyond you

  12. Come on Helen S. Next time, don’t make it so obvious that you’ve had a second go by swapping your original “Anabel” moniker.

  13. I am ashamed of most of the comments.

    What is it with Labour supporters?

    And I am not ashamed that my PhD is banking. I am fully aware of what goes on in the background …

    Some, idiots, are not!

  14. No doubt Key will be off to Honolulu soon to pick up his US Green Card… probably after a game of golf with his mate Barack.

  15. ” jim” you talk about debate and yet have no substance.
    Are you a politician.
    Polls in many cases are bought and paid for , data is even selectively used( massaged) to promote whatever nations rulers want the people to think.

  16. Bankster Key will eventually let his banker promotion out the bag.

    The replacement PM drama is utter bullshit.
    The three bankster candidates are unfit to lead human beings.
    One Coleman couldn’t even run a hospital (or keep drs working safe hours) , the other Collins built up the police “shoot and pepper spray innocents/police rape culture without accountability ” and increased P in NZ once non P gangs.Not reporting crime anymore doesn’t mean Collins hasn’t increased crime with the bullying, fraudulent, and criminal so called “role models of leadership”.

    Police don’t prevent or reduce crime.

    Blinglish is a fricken central bankster vomitting up his “Banks first people last” Bankster Budget.
    As to where any of the three flaccid, banking and bullying characters can lead the people of NZ .Deeper into an unregulated and dysfunctional parliamentary mess.

    @ “Brennan Kerr NELson” Only idiot savages still support any part( party) of the unregulated illegitimate parliamentary govt .
    All the NZ political partys in parliament are part of the problem. The political parties do nothing but pretend to oppose in words/PR only and they do this so that people still believe they are represented by the “bankers govt of NZ”.

  17. Three words – Brexit, Trump, Winston. And that’s what the PTB are worried about, the masses keep protest voting.

  18. The Hon. Jefferson Smith makes similar observations to Gordon Campbell. It should be especially noted in retrospect that the coolness of the lie Key gave, not only to the electorate but even to his own party (!), about his intentions for the next term is typical of a psychopath. Also, the noted absence of policy in the proceedings of transition is consistent with a sort of ‘political psychopathy’, though I’m not sure of precisely what I mean by that term, ha.
    Others, notably Rod Oram, have also commented on the ‘management’ successes of Key-led National governments but rated them exceptionally low (‘2′ of ’10’!) in leadership for a future politics, which I must say will continue to be dominated, one way or another, by climate change. This is also consistent with a politics taking its inspiration from the psychology of the psychopath in that it is a manipulation of a desperation gripping the electorate.

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