Sunday, February 7, 2010

John Key’s hidden agenda

Karl du Fresne has a piece in last week’s (30 January) Australian edition of the Spectator summarising the state of the nation after one year of the new government. There’s nothing in it that residents won’t know already but I’d recommend it to anyone overseas who is in the least bit interested in New Zealand. He begins:
In the last weeks of New Zealand’s 2008 general election campaign, a tired and desperate Labour government, sensing impending annihilation, tried to throw a scare into the voters by painting National party leader John Key as a far-right zealot in disguise. It didn’t wash. Voters found it too much of a stretch to reconcile Key’s sunny affability with Labour’s dark allusions to Trojan Horses and secret agendas, and National was duly elected in a rout that left Helen Clark’s centre-left party demoralised and floundering — a state from which it shows little sign of recovering.

Amid the ashes of defeat, Labour’s only consoling hope was that its doom-laden predictions would be proved right. But if Key has a secret plan to starve the unemployed and bayonet the elderly — which is only a slight exaggeration of the claims made by some of his more hysterical opponents in 2008 — then it remains as well-hidden now as it was then.
I had forgotten about Key’s secret, hidden, evil agenda but yes, this was widely believed at the time. But as Karl reminds us, it hasn’t happened yet. He then goes on to outline why, because of this, some National diehards have been disappointed. The whole article is a great read, and far from uncritical, but I was struck by this comment on the deal with the Maori Party:
It was typical of Key’s inclusive style — but it also showed political cunning and a degree of ruthlessness, since it drove what may be a final, fatal wedge between Maori voters and the Labour party that for decades had complacently counted on their support.
What surprised me was that Karl seemed surprised that John Key might be cunning and ruthless.

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