The National Party, Integrity and John Phillip Key

There have been a few things floating around in my head over the last week. I’ve started this post several times and deleted it as I tried to gather those thoughts together into some kind of coherent narrative.

Following the release of Dirty Politics, I spent an evening this week doing something I’ve been wanting to do for some time – I watched The Hollow Men – the documentary based on the Nicky Hager book of the same name. You can also spend time watching it free of charge if you wish as it is up in full on the NZ On Screen website.

In the context of the current National Party meltdown, this is an incredibly salient piece of work as it highlights the very beginning of the party’s use of Crosby Textor as a public relations entity. The thesis of The Hollow Men as it is with Dirty Politics, is that the National Party presents a positive face to the public of New Zealand yet delves in to all sorts of other negative strategies behind the scenes.

There were two major points of The Hollow Men that ring within my ears – ears that have been deafened in recent hours by the shrill cries from Judith Collins that it is SHE who is the victim in all of this.

  • During Don Brash’s bid for the leadership of the National Party, John Key told Bill English that he would be voting for him. However, on the day of the vote he went for Brash.
  • Following the defeat of Brash by Helen Clark’s government at the election in 2008, John Key took over as leader of the National Party and retained the public relations services of Crosby Textor as he began his reign of terror leadership.

There are so very many questions that my mind has been grappling with as the political events of this week have unfolded while the words and images of National’s duplicitous 2008 election campaign rattled around in there with it. I’m just going to list them as a series of questions. National supporters will read these and allege a massive left-wing conspiracy but it’s very hard to maintain that when the “conspiracy” being alleged has been developed with the help of your own emails.

  1. If John Key misled Bill English over having his vote, what was his end-game? Did he know at the time that Brash, being a relic of the 1980s and loathed by many people, was unlikely to win therefore opening the way for his tilt at the job he had coveted most.
  2. If Key misled English over the leadership vote and was fully aware of the implications of changing his vote (if, that is, he ever intended to vote for English in the first place), he has that capacity in him to mislead and communicate in public relations speak without guilt. If he did it then, who’s to say he’s not doing it now? Or that he has been doing that constantly since 2008?
  3. Crosby Textor have worked with John Howard in the UK, the Tories in the UK and National in New Zealand. Their style, as highlighted in The Hollow Men, is very negative playing on fears about immigration, beneficiaries and so on. John Key maintained their services after he took over the leadership of the National Party. Did he want them to continue their negative style under his leadership? Would Crosby Textor change their style because a more relaxed Key was head of the party? Was their first advice to Key the same as the advice they gave Brash – play on the fears of people?
  4. With all the fantastic strategising that would have gone on behind the scenes to create these parallel universes, did the National Party not think to have a plan of attack if they were uncovered? If not, why not? Are they so arrogant to believe in a small country like New Zealand that this kind of nonsense wouldn’t find the light of day?
  5. At what point does John Key take responsibility for all this? He is the leader of the party. To say that everyone does this sort of thing OR that it was someone in his office doing things without his knowledge OR that it is some kind of insane left-wing conspiracy is not good enough. He is leader. He is responsible. Grow some and admit it (the irony that he is blaming a massive left-wing conspiracy for outing a massive right-wing conspiracy is not lost on this blogger. Did Crosby Textor come up with that gem?).
  6. Bill English has come out this week and said this isn’t his style. That is a very interesting comment.
  7. What would John Key’s mother think of all this?

Ultimately we live in a democracy. The reason the National Party feel they need to hide the way some of them like to do business behind a smiling and waving everyman who gets selfies with the trannies at the Big Gay Out is that they know in their hearts that the New Zealand public would never vote for their real agenda.

Otherwise the would put it out there in full, leave the PR at home, and let the public decide.

National: working for themselves since 1936.



5 responses

  1. The question about John Key’s mother is one I often have, too. If he were my son, I’d be more heartbroken than proud.


  2. A bit of a deviation:

    “The reason the National Party feel they need to hide the way some of them like to do business behind a smiling and waving everyman who gets selfies with the trannies at the Big Gay Out is that they know in their hearts that the New Zealand public would never vote for their real agenda.”

    “trannies” – obviously you didn’t get the memo…


  3. Arrogance begets arrogance: they give unquestionable despotic rule when all that is wanted is reasonable governance.


  4. From Wikipedia entry on John Key:

    In 1998, on learning of his interest in pursuing a political career, the National Party president John Slater began working actively to recruit him. Former party leader Jenny Shipley describes him as one of the people she “deliberately sought out and put my head on the line–either privately or publicly–to get them in there”.
    Are a few pennies starting to drop….?


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