Garth George: John has lost the key to leadership


Those folk who have read my columns for any length of time, in this newspaper and elsewhere, will know that I have been a fan of the prime ministership of John Key right from the start.

I have even suggested that he was destined to join the ranks of the likes of Sir Sidney Holland and Sir Keith Holyoake as among the finest prime ministers this country has known.

But, sadly, my hopes have been dashed. In the second term of his National-led Government, Mr Key has been a huge disappointment, and that leaves me with grave fears for our future.

It started with the postponement of the partial sale of state energy assets. If there ever was a flagship policy announced by a political party during an election campaign, that was it for National.

Yet almost at the moment Maori declared that they owned the water and began to oppose the sales, Mr Key, in spite of declaring that no "one owns water", postponed the first one.

In view of the loudly expressed opposition which had been building, Mr Key's decision could well be seen as consummate politics since he could now blame Maori for the hold-up.

But that doesn't wash with those of us who expected a far greater degree of pragmatic and purposeful leadership from the man we put in charge of our nation's affairs. It left a rather nasty taste in the mouth.

Then came the sordid John Banks campaign contributions affair. Mr Key's continued support of this Act Party minister is one of the most squalid examples of political pandering we have seen in may a year.

However, some good may come of it: Mr Banks' disreputable career in national and local politics will come to a sudden end next year and the Act Party will disappear at last and without trace. Those can only be good things for the country.

And that brings me naturally to the persistent Kim Dotcom affair, in which the cherubic and corpulent internet millionaire has John Banks and John Key running round like chickens with their heads cut off.

The whole thing would be hilarious if it weren't for the sinister activities of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, which initiated the whole affair, and the legal laxity of our own Government Communications Security Bureau, which makes the phrase "intelligence service" an oxymoron.

The FBI, known almost since its inception for its domineering arrogance, illegally took material which a New Zealand court said it shouldn't have.

Obviously, the laws of a little country at the bottom of the world meant nothing to its agents.

But as far as the GCSB is concerned, it does not matter one whit who was told what and when, because the buck stops firmly on the Prime Minister's desk. That Mr Key at first denied he had been briefed on the matter, then turned around and had to admit that he had, is just another example of his increasingly bumbling behaviour.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party, under the vapid leadership of David Shearer, stumbles along without making any useful contribution to the political scene and languishes at just 32 per cent in the polls.

The Greens, however, seldom seem to put a foot wrong and their poll rating stays either steady or grows a bit.

The Peters party, too, is holding its own if not improving, which is inevitable given that so many fall for Winston's populist posturings.

That fills me with dread. Are we always to be saddled with "governments" in which the Maori Party or, heaven forbid, the Greens, end up calling the shots?

If John Key doesn't pull finger smartly and get on with the job we've entrusted to him, that ominous political future threatens.

Garth George will be absent next week while he moves house.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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