I'm having a T-Shirt printed with this logo: "Snow White has left the building and we're left with these little dwarves."

In the wake of the tugboat John P Key there is the tiny flotilla of jetsam hoping to get the mothership National safely to berth in the Beehive.

Assessment time is here but, first, a word of praise ... for President Barack Obama who ordered the stopping of the oil pipeline that put the drinking water and sacred lands of the Dakota Sioux at hazard. That took political courage which builds his legacy - 400 years of ethnic cleansing ought to be enough.

John Key's legacy is something else.


The "smiling assassin" became "Teflon John". His own stated regrets - failure to secure the Trans-Pacific Partmership; failure to get his tea towel flag accepted - tell us that while his reign was open season on exploitation of our natural resources, he didn't quite get to sell the country completely to the corporations.

It would be stretching generosity to credit Key for steadying our economy during the 2008 global crisis. The real credit goes to our Australian-owned banks which, like their Canadian counterparts, did not engage in the financial hi-jinks of New York and London.

And we did not have a housing bubble to burst then, unlike today with Auckland threatening to be one thanks to Mr Key's stances on its development as against the regions.

The downside legacy is glaring.

Reversing Robin Hood, Key lowered marginal taxes on the upper earners while raising GST by 25 per cent, thus costing the poor more.

The Pike River mine tragedy was on Key's watch, compounded by failure to prosecute anyone. The fiasco of the Christchurch rebuild is still going on - and 25 per cent of our kids still live in poverty.

Key looked prime ministerial except when looking downright silly (cf. pulling ponytails, going Gangnam Style, mincing cat walks etc). His achievement as long-running PM is reminiscent of the portrayal by Roberto Benigni in To Rome With Love of the man who was famous for being famous.

Let's look at the epigoni. With Bill English as accidental PM - 59 votes - and Paula Bennett as deputy, we have the bland being followed by the blind.


Bill's default appearance is funereal but he started his term as treasurer in the devil-may-care mode of costing taxpayers $2 billion in the Canterbury Finance debacle. Anyway, who's counting?

Bennett, who played the Hillary card to get the number two spot, said in her campaign: "I'm a woman." Great.

She had been in the Key regime's "kitchen cabinet", seldom moving far from the refrigerator. Bennett admits she has a big mouth. She was a teenage single mum and, aside from a few months of real work, has been at the public trough ever since. She famously climbed with governmental largesse and then pulled up the ladder.

Bennett's is nothing but grasping ambition, having fulfilled the Peter Principle in her role as social housing minister.

The rest of the National bench is also lacklustre. Imagine Judith Collins and her blogger buddy, the cetacean lubricant. No, I can't. Gerry Brownlee - Finland's favorite punching bag? It goes downhill from there.

Most of these folks couldn't reliably run a bath. Novopay anyone? In Spanish it means the pay ain't going anywhere.


Landslide Bill English better call elections soon to take advantage of the Key afterglow. That fades quickly.

Andrew Little ought to choose Jacinda Ardern as deputy, an effective counterweight to both English and Bennett. Jacinda even claims to lack ambition - always good, if unlikely, news.

What Labour really needs to generate excitement - if it wants to win (with the Greens) - is a programme to raise up everyone, especially the average working Kiwi, and not just those fortunate enough to have a fortune. They need to address both poverty and global warming.

Finally, it will always be the economy, stupid. Labour needs to get back to its basics. That's the way forward to get to hopey and changey.

**Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable