Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Citizen Key With A Vengeance

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  • James Doleman,

    "I don't necessarily think it's a flaw for someone to respond to a question with "I don't know" or even (shock! horror!) "You know, I thought I knew and I was wrong."

    Unless of course they are Prime Minister and the question is "there is possibly a tsunami heading for the west coast, should we evacuate"? or "Hello my name is George Bush and I'm planning to invade Iraq, fancy sending your army to join in'?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    James Doleman wrote:
    Unless of course they are Prime Minister and the question is "there is possibly a tsunami heading for the west coast, should we evacuate"?

    *sigh* James, if the civil defence infrastructure is so FUBAR that local media need to ring the Prime Minister's office to confirm a tsunami alert... well, I'm more or less ready to die, all things considered. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Craig wrote: "The short answer: Yes it would, but it would also be nice if we didn't crucify political leaders for not having a perfectly crafted, focus group-ready soundbite on demand. I don't necessarily think it's a flaw for someone to respond to a question with "I don't know"..."

    Well, Bill English did that when I interviewed him on Tuesday.

    You see! It CAN happen!

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, Bill English did that when I interviewed him on Tuesday. You see! It CAN happen!

    New name: Slick Willie!

    I'll leave the serious discussion about the party leader with a deputy who is more experienced and assured than he is for another day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Everything before but is bullshit.

    So true! And it reminds me of this one, courtesy of Amy Sedaris:

    Everything after "because" is bullshit.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    A couple of comments on the original post - trivial ones first:

    1. Hallelujiah. Someone who knows how to use the word 'infer' correctly.

    2. Brash could never make it as a Wiggle. He's a Presbyterian Bible Class Boy, which means - and I say this as a PBCB myself - he can't dance for shit. Even Wiggles-style dancing.

    3. More seriously: Your friend who made the comments about the money trader thing is onto something. What struck me about Key some time ago is he has a money market man's sense of where the returns are. The most revealing speech he made about this - and Hager is right to highlight the speech, atlhough he draws the wrong conclusions from it - was on asset sales in early 2005. One of Key's points was privatising TVNZ would not 'make the boat go faster' in terms of economic growth. But he wasn't jsut talking about the economic calculation. Privatising TVNZ - to stick with that example - would use a huge amount of political capital. And for what return?? The BRT would go 'yay' but that is not going to be much help.

    4. Russell's point about the more experienced deputy: a lot is riding on English. Internally especially. The most signficant thing about the leadership change this week is it wasn't contested. This is a caucus which has been bitterly squabbling since at least the end of 1996. The penny has finally dropped that being in opposition sucks.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Just to support the prejudice-free trader idea: one thing I've learned over the last few years is that successful investors are not attached to ideology, or theory, or any abstract idea at all, other than that which works on practical application. And when they're wrong, they close out their position and move on, having made careful notes for next time.

    This is potentially a very good trait in a prime minister.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Stephen, I'll give you two contrary arguments, although I'm not sure they defeat it:

    1: it may tend to reinforce the status quo - the inherent bias may be conservative. Whether that's desirable or not is another question.

    2: it creates the possiblity of an empty vessel into which may be poured the ambitions of others, as has arguably been the case with Bush fils. In this instance, of course, there is English as the principal supplier.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I know at this stage it's proof/pudding, time/tell and other cliches, but in Colin Espiner's piece on the reshuffle today there were a couple of sentences that sum up my concerns - or rather, one throwaway word, which won't be making any headlines.

    He [Key] was careful not to criticise Brash, but made it clear he was setting a new direction for the party.

    That included sacking Brash speech writer and advisor Peter Keenan, who featured prominently in Nicky Hager's book The Hollow Men. He will continue as a consultant.

    Well, the book isn't terribly reassuring about "consultants", is it? If nothing else, we now know that job titles and official roles - even party affiliation - mean diddly squat.

    Talk of a "new direction" doesn't tell us much if the drivers and the destination haven't changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    David, re 1 - well, that's the conservative-liberal divide in a nutshell, yes? And re 2, I am confident in thinking that Key has more brains and more acumen than Bush fils, if not pere.

    I am a natural-born Labour supporter, but I'm a bit cross with them these days, for various reasons. If a status-quo-preserving National regime won a term (without my vote, mind) I wouldn't cry. Wouldn't celebrate, but wouldn't cry.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Rob Hosking wrote:
    Russell's point about the more experienced deputy: a lot is riding on English. Internally especially. The most signficant thing about the leadership change this week is it wasn't contested. This is a caucus which has been bitterly squabbling since at least the end of 1996. The penny has finally dropped that being in opposition sucks.

    Indeed, Rob - and, again, I find it interesting that something which is considered a virtue in the 'real world' (assembling a team on the basis of their talent rather than patronage or surrounding yourself with people you don't perceive as a threat to your own ego/authority) is considered a horrible failing in politics.

    And I don't think it's snide partisan bitchery to note that Key would be very smart to take another message from the Tories - and the ALP, and the Democrats in the US. Center/swing voters tend not to reward oppostion parties that put most of their energy into cluster-fucking each other. Ahead of the last Australian general election, I was surprised that most of my Aussie friends - generally middle-class, not highly partisan urban moderates - who didn't like Howard personally, could reel off a shopping list of Coalition policies that royally twisted their titties but... just couldn't quite trust a Latham Government to keep it together.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • sagenz,

    Interesting thread. There is a high quality and courtesy of debate on this site. How do you scare off trolls? Perhaps it is by being like British drivers, courtesy breeds courtesy

    David - to your original point. Hagers book is yesterdays cold fish and chip paper. It is well worth a read (Yes - I have it here in the UK :) ) for the insights to a strategy forming process. It is marred by a propensity to

    stever ( and to S Judds point later) regarding idea development- that is the fundamental problem I have with political correctness. It stops any debate by labelling the mere discussion of an idea unacceptable.

    Currency trading successfully is about more than being on the correct side of today's close. It is also about understandiing when there is a fundamental strategic imbalance and having the balls to back your opinion. witness soros and the UK ERM debacle in the early 90's.

    uk • Since Nov 2006 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • sagenz,

    David - to your attempted rebuttal - My comment above is why John Key will be successful. If something is working he will run with it. but if he becomes convinced that something apparently working in the short term is strategically flawed

    I would suggest that John Key's perceptive ability to understand the motivations and opinions of others has been tempered in a very competitive market. Meaning that his objective is to grow the wealth of all New Zealanders rather than that of his own and his mates. What drives him is the knowledge that if it were not for the NZ Welfare state he might not be where he is today.

    But he is part of National because he believes in individual responsibility and the market rather than state responsibility and control.

    That puts him in a very interesting position vis a vis the BRT and some of National's historically bigger funders.

    uk • Since Nov 2006 • 128 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    sagenz---

    I have with political correctness. It stops any debate by labelling the mere discussion of an idea unacceptable.

    Absolutely---labelling someone's ideas or actions "politically correct" is clearly designed to attack their position without having to think about it properly---classic "dog wehistle" behaviour. Whenever Ihear someone "close" an argument with "that's PC nonsense" I think "idiot!".

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    I think that the last para in particular of this article applies just as well to John key---and the rest fo the article is pretty relevant too!

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • kerry w,

    *sigh* isn't a great leader someone who the rest of us believes in? Even when things are done or said that we aren't that happy with?

    The leader who is always right, who never apologises or admits a frailty, a mistake or a change of heart is simply a powerful bully. Someone who must win the point in spite of any good sense shown by their "adversary".

    Why is a person who operates by instinctively negotiating the power game necessarily an empty vessel, available to be used by others? A creative person is not one who sticks to their knitting - they are open to it all. Their power lies in their ability to absorb, discriminate and simmer a whole lotta stuff before they throw the best bits together in new forms. And it usually takes a few tweaks after that to get it just right.

    I found it sad to read that Phd students and other researchers have to be reassured that it's ok to have new ideas. Supposedly, in this new age, fresh ideas and creative solutions are what will give us the competitive edge we so desperately need.

    Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

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