Small on Key

June 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

It is hard to know whether to laugh, cry – or maybe cross your legs – when the prime minister is prepared to reveal off the cuff at a press conference that he has had a vasectomy.

Like his “joke” about being on the menu at a Tuhoe dinner, it has gone around the world, but this time he hit the right note.

It is testament to his extraordinary confidence and openness – unless you are so cynical as to think it was planned – that he is prepared to take such risks in the interest of a self-described “self- deprecating” joke.

His skill and wit may not be as sharp as David Lange’s, but he has the same ability to beguile his listeners. Unlike Lange, he rarely if ever turns his wit on others in a cruel way.

Which is one of the reasons he is very popular. I’ve never detected in Key the contempt and hatred for his opponents, that often exists amongst Prime Ministers.

It must be the cruellest cut of all for Labour that, at a time when the Government is on the back foot over so many issues – from the impact of the Budget on middle-income families to mining on conservation land to the seemingly transparent “blind trust” Mr Key’s lawyers have constructed for him – he can still ooze such easy ordinariness.

His approach – apparently instinctive – is not, as many would have it, simply a willingness to take calculated risks. It has now become an integral part of “brand Key”: ability mixed with the everyday; a man who can run the country and – that most valuable of attributes for many Kiwis – not be up himself.

I recall a few months after the election a couple of gallery journos saying how Key hasn’t changed at all since becoming Prime Minister. They were expecting him to do so, but he hadn’t.

If the normal rules of politics apply, Mr Key’s greatest asset will in time, as voters tire, become his greatest weakness. What is charming will become glib, what is light-hearted will become clownish and a light touch will become lightweight.

There is a risk there, but Key can also do serious. At business meetings especially I’ve seen him talk about business and economic issues with a level of detail I doubt any other PM could ever meet.

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39 Responses to “Small on Key”

  1. m@tt (587 comments) says:

    “Which is one of the reasons he is very popular. I’ve never detected in Key the contempt and hatred for his opponents, that often exists amongst Prime Ministers.”

    He saves the contempt for the general public with claims like the Nat’s will never ever sell Kiwibank, Whitechapel ‘may or may not’ act for others, GST will not be raised and tax cuts ‘north of $50′… just to name a few.

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  2. GJ (329 comments) says:

    Because he has been sucessful in life and lived under huge pressure the jump to PM was not a big one. Hence his relaxed and confidient manner.

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  3. Manolo (13,326 comments) says:

    “Which is one of the reasons he is very popular. I’ve never detected in Key the contempt and hatred for his opponents, that often exists amongst Prime Ministers.”

    It could be that Key saves the contempt for the people who voted for him, New Zealand’s middle-class, which is now being ignored or not listened to by the Prime Minister.

    What about his advisors and other National Party colleagues? Do they share the same air of infallibility or “I know better” that appears to have taken over Key? The same air of supreme political arrogance that was the downfall of the despicable authoritarian Clark.

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  4. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    I was remembering one of the things improv guru Keith Johnstone teaches.

    Loosely, if you can do the kind of thing people normally associate with making an idiot of yourself (the technical improv term would be “fail”) and yet still be cheerful about it, that’s as good as a magic trick.

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  5. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    John Key’s position in New Zealand political history will not be determined by lightweights such as Small, the Fairfax and APN mob and the doctrinaire fools writing above. If only they had any conception of the REAL size of NZ vis a vis the World ….

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  6. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    If only they had any conception of the REAL size of NZ vis a vis the World ….

    Since you’re talking about NZ political history, why does NZ’s size matter?

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  7. Eddie (295 comments) says:

    You need to break out the virtual lithium for this crowd David.

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  8. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    the snip-quip was a see-thru-trust smokescreen…

    “..no..no..!..don’t look over there..!

    …look over here..!..at my dick..!”

    my question is:…

    how will he top that..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  9. m@tt (587 comments) says:

    “how will he top that..?”
    By trying to explain a future pregnancy perhaps.
    Oh that would be gold. With no mining required.

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  10. Repton (769 comments) says:

    how will he top that..?

    He’s Jewish descent .. it may have already been topped :-)

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  11. OTGO (510 comments) says:

    Actually I’m finding all the sniping (not snipping, I meant to type sniping) directed at Key a wee bit passe. The fact that he doesn’t appear to care about the arrows coming his way and deflects them actually makes me like him even though I never voted for him. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “is that all you got? How about coming up with some policy or ideas instead of firing arrows at me?”

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  12. Jeremy Harris (323 comments) says:

    “At business meetings especially I’ve seen him talk about business and economic issues with a level of detail I doubt any other PM could ever meet.”

    Really..? I’ve never heard him make anything but sweeping generalisations about economics… Very frustrating for people who take an interest…

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  13. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    His easy going confident manner is something we have not had from Prime Ministers very often. The ones really since Keith Holyoake had a chip on their shoulders, could get petty and nasty. Clark and Bolger stand out so far as that is concerned. No body could do nasty like Clark and Bolger had a nasty streak in him too. This has led some people to think they could bully the Prime Minister, a very reckless approach but there is nothing stopping some fools apparently. But the PM carries on. He is my ideal Prime Minister, the best in my lifetime by far.

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  14. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    Gollum is probably already delving through the records at the vasectomy clinic in an attempt to find embarrassing details on the dimensions of the PM’s portfolio.

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  15. GPT1 (2,087 comments) says:

    You posted something pre election (ironically there was almost a typo there) from a dude who ran Agenda basically saying that once Key got going on the economy it was most impressive.

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  16. dime (9,367 comments) says:

    my tax cut was well north of $50 thanks :)

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  17. pushmepullu2 (32 comments) says:

    I believe you DPF about Key’s impressiveness when in business meetings. But I share the wish of some others here that he would not reserve the detailed economic policy talk for meetings of businessmen. I think the public deserve and are capable of understanding a more thorough description of his plans for NZ’s economy which, as others have said, right now he seems to be limiting to broad strokes.

    I don’t intend this as a criticism of Key, I have no doubt that his plan is a good one. I just wish he trusted the average kiwi with a higher level of economic literacy. OK, so it’s true the average kiwi could be more economically literate, but maybe the PM could work on educating them? It would be a great legacy to have.

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  18. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    tvb (912) Says:
    “No body could do nasty like Clark”
    hmmm I’d put Muldoon up there alongside if not ahead

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  19. big bruv (13,210 comments) says:

    Voice

    Nah, with Klark you knew she meant it, she was/is pure evil.

    While Muldoon could be a tyrant he never came across as anything like as vicious as Klark.

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  20. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    He used to make lesbians cry though bb.

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  21. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    vor, yes indeed. Yesterday I saw a clip of Muldoon dealing to an obnoxious journalist. He was nasty in capitals but it was a delight to see the young smart arse get put in his place.

    Will some brave TV producer put together a half hour reprise of Muldoon at his cringe-worthy savage best? I hope so. Compulsive comedy.

    I remember hearing a puffed up buffoon who had been a captain of industry during Muldoon’s reign complaining about the rudeness of Muldoon. The buffoon’s company was subject to strike action at the time he traipsed off with a high powered delgation to negotiate some industry favours from the Great Man and apparently the conversation went something like this.

    “Who are you?”

    I’m ****** CEO of *********** Corporation

    “What? You can’t even keep a few labourers under control, sonny. Come back when you’ve learnt to run a business.
    Who’s next?”

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  22. NX (602 comments) says:

    He is my ideal Prime Minister, the best in my lifetime by far.

    Agreed. The antithesis to H Clark.

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  23. big bruv (13,210 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    True, as I said, he was not all bad.

    What ever happened to the real characters that we used to have in the house, Norm Jones, Banksie, Lange, Moore…people who were fun, while you may not have agreed with them they were still bloody funny.

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  24. OTGO (510 comments) says:

    I was at a rugby test at Eden Park (a long time ago because it was a day game) and I found myself at the urinal at half time standing next to Muldoon. Without thinking I said, “Gidday Piggie”. All he said was gidday back. Funny now but a second after I’d said it I wondered where the bodyguards were coming from to take me out the carpark for “a chat”.
    Other thing I remember was, fuck he was short.

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  25. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    Their like shall never be seen again bb.
    All fucked by the creeping cancer of political correctness I fear.
    Hone Carter is probably the last survivor.

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  26. david (2,531 comments) says:

    OTGO … as opposed to “tall”? or as opposed to “long”?

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  27. OTGO (510 comments) says:

    As opposed to tall david. I try not to make a habit of checking out other guys dicks.

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  28. tvb (4,196 comments) says:

    Yes I had forgotten about Muldoon’s nastiness, but with him I felt the nastiness was business not personal. It was a technique of doing business if it suited his ends. Clark was personal, if you did not support Labour she hated you. Yes hated you.

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  29. Repton (769 comments) says:

    I can’t help but think that Helen Clark would be quite pleased that you guys don’t like her, who think so fondly of Rob Muldoon.

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  30. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    So you think that she prefers that women like her rather than men Repton.

    Not an original idea but do tell us more if you have new information.

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  31. Anthony (766 comments) says:

    I have it on good authority that Clark had a regular late night woman visitor at Premier House who used to use the side entrance …

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  32. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    My bank manager is a nice guy to but he still takes his cut out on the 20th. I wonder if Shonkey will still be smiling come 2011, sounds like he might lose some rural voters, not that he would give a fat rat’s arse but it might be a cause of some reflection as discontent builds in the provinces.

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  33. Clint Heine (1,563 comments) says:

    I was at a cocktail party in London recently, with some gentlemen who were ex employees of John Key, and they said he was extremely good at his job and could not give anybody higher praise. They said NZ is very lucky to have somebody like him in charge. These were not the kinds of guys who would talk like that, but apparently he is that good.

    I just wish he wasn’t held up by having to please all the idiot statists and socialists we have in NZ!

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  34. Eddie (295 comments) says:

    Knocking back Red Stripe at the Slug N Lettuce passes as a cocktail party these days Clint?

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  35. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    I’ve never heard of the “side entrance”.

    Is it perhaps related to the well known “trades-mans/womans” entrance utilised in a more lateral position?

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  36. Jeremy Harris (323 comments) says:

    “OK, so it’s true the average kiwi could be more economically literate, but maybe the PM could work on educating them? It would be a great legacy to have”

    We all need to talk about the economy more, the really big issues aren’t even on the agenda, things like; solid currency, road and parking pricing and compulsary super are really, really big issues that get put in the too hard basket and never get talked about in the “to privatise or not to privatise that is the question” turd fight…

    Might be nice if our leaders started the debate and inspired us to learn… I’m sure I read that learning was a good idea somewhere…

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  37. GPT1 (2,087 comments) says:

    What was it Clark said in her book about National Party supporters? Something about being nasty people. She really had a problem with people who disagreed with her.

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  38. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    Which is one of the reasons he is very popular. I’ve never detected in Key the contempt and hatred for his opponents, that often exists amongst Prime Ministers.

    He has not come from a politics background. You get those nasty Labour types who have spent all their lives in unions, around politicians and finally become one. They know nothing else.

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  39. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..What was it Clark said in her book about National Party supporters? Something about being nasty people…”

    not talking about those swinging voters…who have voted national at some time..

    but that hard-core/gimlet-eyed/fervid national supporter usually has a very ‘nasty’ load of baggage..eh..?

    they are a party of personal-greed..and fuck everyone/everything else..

    (and that includes the environment..(‘blue-greens’..now there’s an oxymoronic-benchmark for ya..!..eh..?)

    immigrants are going ‘to take away our country’..

    they think ‘maari’ need to be kept in their place..out-of-sight or in prison…

    ..and share that conservative/tory ‘fear’…of a shit-load of things/people..

    ..that social/financial-support should be torn away from those who need it most…

    ..they are a party for the rich (c.f..tax-cuts)…

    ..a party that wages class-warfare against the weakest/poorest..

    i mean..what the fuck is not ‘nasty’..?..in that little potpourri..?

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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