John Key vs Clarke & Dawe: slippery as

27 Feb

This week David Parker cited John Key’s similarity to Clarke and Dawe. How similar are they? The slipperiness seems hilarious, until you look at the actual consequences: the erosion of democracy and the undermining of NZ’s independence (or what’s left of it) internationally. Today Toby Manhire exposes some of the contradictions.

John Key’s leadership is one of diverting from, burying, and avoiding any honest accountability.

David Parker does John Key as Clarke and Dawe – a true story. John Key in a press stand up, being question on his private dinner with Donghua Liu. [h/t The Standard]

It goes like this:

Reporter: Are you misleading by omission?

JK: No. I mean, look at the end of the day, we’re never going to start getting into a process of saying where we had dinner.


JK: I knew it was a cabinet club dinner.

Reporter: To be clear, last year your office denied the dinner was a Cabinet Club dinner. Emphatically they said. “No”.

PM: Right.

Reporter: You’re saying it was a Cabinet Club dinner?

PM: Well that’s only what I read in the paper in the weekend.  People have their own definitions of it.

Reporter: So to be clear, was it a Cabinet Club dinner?

PM: I don’t know, you’d have to ask Jamie Lee ross. He organised it.

Reporter: But didn’t you say it was a Cabinet Club dinner?

JK: Well, like I say,

Reporter: How do you define a Cabinet Club dinner?

JK: Well, that’s right, how do you?

Reporter: Well we don’t go to them?


Reporter: So, you seem to be contradicting your office who emphatically said it was not a Cabinet Club dinner?

JK: Well, probably, it wasn’t then. I don’t know. I don’t know the details.

Reporter: But just moments ago, you said it was a Cabinet Club dinner.

JK: Well, only because that’s what I read in the paper. If you’re telling me it wasn’t, then it wasn’t.

Reporter: But you were there.

In comparison, here are some Clarke and Dawe videos:

On Tony Abbott’s government borrowing to achieve a surplus, while also saying borrowing never results in a surplus – while also selling assets that make no financial sense – sound familiar?

On the (Aussie) “War in Debatistan”; the Aus government saying debate is a good thing, except no when making judgement about Aussie troops in Afghanistan.

Then compare all that contradictory slipperiness with the content of Toby Manhire’s excellent article, “There are many ways to show guts”. It strips bare Key’s hollow accusations of Andrew Little being gutless in not supporting the NZ government’s decision to send troops to Iraq.

Opposition parties raised questions about an absence of strategy, about the risk of mission creep beyond the planned “non-combatant” role, about the billions already poured into training by the US to negligible effect, the sectarianism and corruption rife in Iraq’s Government and army, and most compellingly, the historical fact that Western interventions in the region have repeatedly and horribly backfired, claiming a terrible human toll and acting as a recruiting sergeant for extremists.

The Prime Minister diagnosed cowardice. “This is the time to stand up and be counted!” he roared across the House. “Get some guts and join the right side!”

The tone was a little less armchair-Agincourt a few hours later when Key appeared on Seven Sharp (he had turned down an invitation to appear on Campbell Live, for reasons of schedule, presumably, rather than spite or, God forbid, gutlessness).

Manhire highlights the contradiction in Key saying the decision to send troops is a matter of values and standing up for principles, while also saying it was the price of being part of the 5 Eyes’ club – even though other members of the “club” put their own decision to the vote in their houses of representatives.

Manhire suggests that rather than spending money on a likely fairly fruitless endeavour of sending troops to Iraq, perhaps the money could be better spent: e.g. taking more of the refugees from the years of civil war in the region.

New Zealand’s quota of 750 refugees a year – a feeble per capita number by world standards – has not increased since the mid-1980s.

A contribution to the struggle against Isis, a way of doing something both substantial and richly symbolic, would be to double that number and welcome blameless Syrians to resettle in New Zealand.

It won’t be the easiest sell. Still, some things take guts.


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