The optimistic Mr Key

Rob Hosking had an article in last week’s NBR about how Opposition Leaders are normally not as positive as John Key is.

And he doesn’t mean positive and cheery in terms of personal demeanour (even though Key certainly is that).  He means positive about NZ’s future.

Normally the Opposition Leader portrays NZ on the edge of Armageddon, and only by them becoming Prime Minister will the country be saved.  Bolger did this in 1990, Clark in 1999.

But in almost every speech Key gives, he starts off saying how he thinks NZ has a great future ahead, and the next 30 years could be wonderful with demand climbing for our dairy and other agricultural products.

He then of courses shares his concerns.  The brain drain, the school dropout rate etc.  But he makes clear that he is not saying NZ is stuffed if they don’t change.  He’s saying that NZ will miss out on opportunities, will fail to achieve its potential and the gap will just get bigger between us and Western Europe, with Eastern Europe becoming our new benchmates,

Also lacking from most of his speeches is the harsh criticism of the incumbents.  Other MPs do that, and Key certainly will throw some barbs, but usually with humour rather than outrage.

It’s a novel strategy for an Opposition Leader.  Not totally new.  In 1935 the then Opposition Leader did much the same.  Now I’m not saying there are any similarities, just that 1935 was remarkable for how Savage conducted his campaign.

It will be interesting to see whether the tone changes, as the election comes closer.  For now, it certainly seems to be a winning strategy.

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