The Problem for John Key
Helen Clark always said that NZ is conservative with a little c, I think we are also racist with a little r. The garden variety bigotry that we saw explode with Don Brash’s ‘Maaaaaaari get too much’ shows up the mainstream misperceptions many white folk seem to have in this country, and it is those misperceptions fuelled by red neck talkback rhetoric that may be the biggest hurdle for John Key to have to clear.
Currently, the Conservative leader in Britain, David Cameron, is trying to broaden his party’s appeal beyond the RW and S class (Rich White and Selfish), because trying to run a Government with such narrow support is only possible in Florida. Cameron is running into trouble though because many of the ‘hip’ candidates he is trying to run in an attempt to shake the perception that the Conservatives are just rich white tax cutters who want to reintroduce poor houses and chimney sweeps, are being solidly turned down by party rank and file who seem to be horrified that ‘the help’ might actually be allowed at the decision making table beyond simply serving the earl grey at 5pm. This may well be the problem that John Key now encounters in NZ, without broader electoral appeal, National will never win an election. As MMP starts to mature in NZ, we move further away from the Personality Cult parties (Dunne, Peters, Anderton) and move closer to the cultural tribal groupings that occur throughout the country (Maori Party, Greens). In such a future, National are never going to get over 50% of the vote, a realization that Key must now be now aware of. How does Key convince angry white National Party voters to move beyond their misperceptions and broaden support? Trying to educate the opposition on why you are right and they are wrong is one thing, but pointing out to your own electorate that they have been narrow minded is a cross only Jesus could carry, and even accepting the State House mythology at face value, John Key doesn’t strike me as the self crucifying type.
John Key makes his state of the nation speech today.