Sunday, 29 January 2012

Cap'n Key and the Costa Concordia

The media in New Zealand are afflicted with a very bad dose of  the disease of unfounded admiration when it comes to John Key. Here is a man who earned his spurs as a senior manager at Merrill Lynch speculating on currencies in a way that contributed to the Global Financial Crisis.

When first campaigning for office Key suggested that the way forward for NZ was to copy the Celtic Tiger (this was in 2007, when the global slide was well under way), only for Ireland to be seen for what it really was - not so much tiger as neutered kitten who didn't go and hunt its prey as rather mew and eat from a bowl it is only now paying for.

When Key was opposition leader he used to slam Michael Cullen for running huge surpluses, when Dr Cullen said we needed a buffer for the down part of the cycle. When the global crisis hit, Finance Minister Bill English said it was lucky the books were in such good shape and we had no net debt. Since then he has gone on the biggest debt binge in history. Indeed Key first attacked Labour in 2008 for the bleed of Kiwi worker to Australia, our high unemployment, and for the level of poverty in New Zealand. In all these areas we are now worse off than we were under Labour.  

One of National's 'key' slogans in the 2008 campaign was  ‎"Balance the books sooner". Key told us "National is on track to get the Government’s books back to surplus by 2014/15".  Now in January Key admits what most of us knew - the claim was rubbish. Around 65 years ago Orwell wrote that "the great enemy of clear language is insincerity." When politicians make promises on hoardings that are insincere or make no meaningful sense then they remove from our democratic process the ability to choose between competing ideas and plans. National campaigned on a promise they knew they couldn't deliver on. Yet Key says, it is not his fault. Rather the problem lies with Christchurch and the Global Financial Crisis. There is only so long that people will put up with being told this. The Government will spend $18.5 billion more this year than it will bring in. Only half that deficit is caused by Christchurch. So when National says it stands for "less debt", it is making a statement that simply isn't true.

Under Key we have witnessed the steady march to New Zealand becoming a police state with the increasingly intrusive surveillance powers given to an increasing number of government departments to spy on us, the limiting of the right for citizens to elect trial by jury, the increasing power of the police to extract DNA from citizens, the loss of the right for many offences to elect counsel of choice, and the steady erosion of press freedom.  I first noticed this with Radio New Zealand's poodle like banning of Martin 'Bomber' Bradbury  from National Radio for committing the new blasphemy - doubting John Key's omniscience. Worse came with Key treating the Police as his personal goons when a journalist accidentally left his microphone on a table where the two Johns' were having their staged conversation at a carefully managed publicity stunt and inadvertently recored what the two men said. The Dear Leader was incensed - how dare this man record what he said in anadvertised publicity stunt! That Key reacted by attacking the journo and calling in the Police like his private goons to muscle in on the media to gag what was recorded was gravely worrying. The tapes have now been leaked yet to my mind it was how Key reacted to the tea tapes tells us more about Key the man, than any actual content.

Then there is National's political patronage in appointing Stephen McElrea, Key's electorate chairman to the board of NZ on Air. The same body now worrying about programmes during election time being politically neutral (this was following TV3 broadcasting a documentary abour child poverty in New Zealand the week before the election. It is weird that informed programming about issues relevant to where our society is heading should be swept under the carpet during an election period when as voters we are asked to vote on where our society is heading. 

It is shameful that under National we have sunk another 5 places in the international register of media freedom, the press freedom index. National has nothing but contempt for human rights. We saw this with the Search and Surveillance Bill, the removing of access to Court for dismissed workers with the 90 Day Fire at Will law, and now they are allowing a totalitarian single party state that executes more of its citizens than any other country and is infamous for its arrests of artists, dissidents and religious worshippers to own a sizable chunk of New Zealand.

New Zealand is demonstrably worse off under Cap'n Key, than before he took the helm. Like the Italian captain of that ill fated liner the Costa Concordia, he will be one of the first to jump ship and bugger off when he steers the ship of state onto the rocks of depression and despair. You can bet your last dollar, Cap'n Key won't be hanging around when the band strikes up, "Abide With Me" as New Zealand and all who sail on her sink beneath the waves.