Chris Trotter, in an article about John Key, explains why it is that Labour is tits with its policy of “Get Key”. The Labour party unfortunately doesn’t much listen to Chris Trotter, instead preferring the endless pratfalls of Trevor Mallard for strategic advice:
The reason members of the Labour Party underestimated John Key from the beginning is all to do with intellectual snobbery, says left-wing political commentator Chris Trotter. “No matter how much people crow when they add Labour and the Greens’ latest polling together, Key’s is an extraordinary result to be looking at three-and-a-half years into his time in office and in the midst of economic circumstances that could hardly be described as benign. “For a political leader to be in charge at a time such as this, and for people to say, ‘Oh, look, he’s only got 45.8% of the vote’, really is an extraordinary testimony to his political skills.”
Trotter contends that the left-wing of New Zealand politics always “grossly underestimated” Key’s skills – to its cost. “There is a tremendous amount of intellectual snobbery in the Labour Party particularly, if not across the left in general, which regards someone who’s done very well in business as a lesser being than someone, perhaps, who’s won the Booker Prize. There’s just this attitude that ‘he can’t be that good if he hasn’t lectured at a university or if he isn’t called Dr’. And this approach is very, very self-defeating on the part of the left, because you just have to be guided by the facts.”
Labour think this about a number of National politicians. They believe that their university politics courses educated and groomed careers in the beehive mean they are superior in every way to the life experiences of politicians like John Key, Judith Collins and Steven Joyce. They have an abiding belief that they are smarmy, stupid or devious and their brilliance will shine thrrough in the face of political reality.
The facts, says Trotter “are that this guy took over the National Party, its numbers recovered almost immediately and they soared to unprecedented levels in the polls”. What’s more, that polling occurred under a proportional representation system “when it is extraordinary to see any single party win 44-45% of the vote. “So, unless you’re putting National’s success down to sunspots, you have to sheet home responsibility for those results to the political leadership of the party.” Key lacks some of the hallmarks of recent admired political leaders, says Trotter. “He may not be as menacing as Rob Muldoon, he may not be as eloquent as David Lange, he may not have the amazing grasp of detail and very broad general knowledge and mastery of her party that Helen Clark had, but you have to go back to figures such as Savage or Seddon to get anything like the level of support that John Key has enjoyed, and continues to enjoy.”
Key has significant political capital.
Key’s skill was demonstrated by dropping the class-size issue, Trotter says. “That ability to simply say, ‘This isn’t worth it, get rid of it, go hard to starboard’, is rare in politicians. Most will die in a ditch rather than admit they were wrong. “Key has this facility, which we saw over mining in national parks and now over class sizes, where he just cuts his losses, and I think that’s attributable in a strange way to his experience in the currency trade, where you do not throw good money after bad. If you’ve made a bad choice, take the loss and make it up somewhere else in the next few hours or next few days. That’s a marvellous ability to bring to politics, because if you’re on a hiding to nothing, then accept nothing and stop taking the hiding.”
Basically you got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em….Labour tried to label John Key a gambler in their silly song, but the fact is John Key is a pretty good political cards player….and he keeps on trumping Labour everytime.