Audrey Young on Steve Joyce

Audrey Young hasn’t drunk the Steve Joyce Koolaid:

Steven Joyce hasn’t quite achieved the power of a Corleone Godfather in the National Party.

If he had, he would have knee-capped his way to the leadership by now.

But he lacked the courage to ever stand for a selection. I well remember the day when I was sent a missive that I was to henceforth refrain from calling him Steve Joyce, that he didn’t like it and that there would be consequences. I told the missive sender and messenger to GFY. Now Joyce is gone and I’m still here. So much for those consequences. If you want to be the mafia Don then you need to put horses heads in beds and heads on pikes.  

As soon as he thought about a seat and mentioned it in the open it was an in-house joke that if someone stood against him he’d withdraw. He always wanted a sure thing in politics.

But under John Key and Bill English, he became incredibly powerful for someone who wasn’t leader.

He became the oracle in political messaging and optics – what the party should be saying, who should be saying it and how.

Yes and to the detriment of the MPs. I well remember one Minister who was speaking publicly on a topic and then was roundly criticised by John Key and Bill English for it because between agreeing in cabinet and in caucus what the approach was Joyce ran off and did some focus grouping and changed the policy without informing the minister. This happened more often that you would imagine…where policy was changed at the whim of Joyce’s focus groups.

The year 2017 was the ultimate for him, running his fifth high-polling election campaign for National, and taking over as Finance Minister as well.

As it has turned out, it was a power that could be exercised only with the patronage of Key and English.

He exercised the power and ignored the caucus. It was a running joke that there was no point in inviting Joyce to anything because he would never turn up anyway. Caucus despised him, and it was no surprise that he failed at his desperate and forlorn leadership tilt.

It is possible that with the departure of Key and English, Joyce has unfairly become the lightning rod for all the ills of the party, and for the bitterness of not being in Government.

There was a time when Joyce was the next guy in line to be leader – in Key’s first term, had he fallen under a bus, Joyce or Simon Power were considered the natural successors.

Joyce has too much hubris and Simon Power had very big skeletons…which were discovered by the wrong people.

His star shone brightly, especially for someone who skipped the backbench and went straight into Cabinet.

He even skipped Opposition.

But Bill English’s steady performance over eight years of Government meant that when Key’s time came, English was passed the crown.

The past few weeks may have been an unpleasant revelation for Joyce, that respect and even awe of his abilities did not translate into support for his leadership bid.

If he had been in closer touch with the caucus, he probably would never have tried.

Joyce remains convinced that the world will soon discover his brilliance at all things. He’s wrong.


-NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.