McCarten praises Key

Matt McCarten is impressed with ’s actions to date. Im not sure if this is a good or a bad thing 🙂

I have to admit John Key made a superb job putting a Government together. It was a seamless operation.

Wisdom suggests business types don’t make good politicians because they’re used to getting their own way. If an employee doesn’t do what they want, sacking ends the problem.

MPs can’t be removed that way. Any constituent MP who builds a strong local power base can never be sacked, no matter what grief they cause the party leader.

Conversely, a leader holds the job only by keeping a majority of the caucus on side. If the leader steps on enough of his or her MPs, they conspire to sack the boss.

Indeed. But having said that, a leader who is doing well in the polls can afford to get offside with a few colleagues. The one thing MPs hate more than a risk to their ministerial ambitions, is a risk to them staying in Parliament.

Key’s predecessors were all rolled in coups by disgruntled underlings. This fear among incumbent National leaders bred a culture of promoting allies and potential troublemakers ahead of talent and ability.

Key, whose Cabinet has thrown this expediency out the window, often refers to himself as a change agent. Opposition leaders will say this during a campaign but Key’s action indicates he intends matching his rhetoric. Bringing Act and United Future on board was predictable. But adding the Maori Party was a stroke of genius.

But long foreshadowed. Key made it clear many months ago he would make offers to the Maori Party and maybe even the Greens, even if he did not need them to govern. The Greens stupidly ruled themselves out of even achieving some policy gains in return for an abstention on supply and confidence.

It serves several strategic goals: Key neutralises Act’s influence; he significantly expands his governing authority in Parliament: and, if he can keep the Maori Party on side, he will probably win the next election, even if the centre-right vote diminishes.

Neutralise is the wrong word. ACT still has very significant influence. But it means both ACT and the Maori Party can not unilaterally veto legislation, as National can pass laws with either of them.

There is a general acceptance Key has promoted talent into Cabinet over internal politics, or personal feelings. …

Unlike previous government formations, we haven’t heard a squeak from the losers. This shows the enormous authority Key commands.

Helped by the fact there is a bunch of ambitious wee critters in the 2005 and now the 2008 intakes, who give Key many options.

Key has never pretended to put personal feelings above political management decisions. When ousting former leader Don Brash, he wouldn’t consent to Brash’s request to remain with the financial portfolio.

Brash doubled the number of National MPs and came within a seat of becoming Prime Minister at the previous election and would have expected the request to be accepted. Any other new leader would have let him hang around. Instead, Key got Brash to resign from parliament without a whimper. How ruthless was that?

But it doesn’t seem personal with Key. It appears his decisions are based on objective criteria, so it follows he will also take this general approach with policy, which is reassuring.

I was one of those who wanted Brash to be given a major portfolio, after he stepped down as Leader. In hindsight I was wrong and letting my personal liking of Don, over-ride a clear view about what was right for National. Key does have that clarity and gets it right far more often than he gets it wrong.

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