Richard Long writes on Bryan Gould’s comparison of John Key to Muldoon:
Jetlag is bad enough, but returning to headlines about Rob Muldoon last week was completely destabilising. I thought I’d been transported back a few decades.
Part of this was publicity over the Bats theatre play portraying the former Prime Minister as the most evil leader we have ever had. As one who suffered under his idiosyncrasies (banned from his press conferences at times; fingered to this newspaper’s chairman of directors as someone who should be fired) even I felt this was a bit over the top.
Could you imagine a politician today getting away with banning journalists and lobbying to get them sacked.
As for Bryan Gould, we can only assume that the political scene in New Zealand is a huge disappointment. It has to be remembered that Mr Gould was on the Left of the old British Labour Party in the days when many clung to the credo of nationalising the means of production, distribution and exchange.
About the only thing to the Left of British Labour then was the Soviet bloc, the Cubans and the maniacs in North Korea. Mr Gould, tipped as leadership material, lost out because he was too far to the Left of the British Left!
Instead of emigrating to North Korea, he then returned to New Zealand where life must have been a series of disappointments: Roger Douglas’ economic reforms; Ruth Richardson’s mother of all budgets; and now a former international money trader riding a phenomenal wave of electorate approval even as he prepares to prop up a massive Budget deficit by selling state assets and boosting mining and oil exploration.
Life must be very tough for poor Bryan as his socialist nirvana remains a distant dream.
Mr Gould lamented that Mr Key was a commentator on everything – national leader, moral guide, social commentator, sports journalist, pub drinking companion, comedian and was always on the news bulletins.
Yes, for two reasons: the electorate wants to hear his views and Mr Key has this disarming style of answering questions that are delivered his way, even when, at times, he probably should not.
I suspect his staff would rather he sometimes uses the phrase “no comment”.
My favourite, at a time when inflation was hitting 18 per cent, was the fallout to the question on whether he had a policy to deal with inflation. Of course he did, Muldoon responded, but he would not say what it was.
Next day’s front-page report that he had a secret new policy left Muldoon furious. The result was the ill-fated wages-prices freeze – a final straw for many Nats.
The late Treasury Secretary Bernie Galvin grumpily confided to me some time afterwards that officials had managed to talk Muldoon down from the madness of a wages-prices freeze till that report drove him into a corner.
So the media are to blame for the wage and price freeze