Where’s the Christmas Spirit?

When the condemnation by an independent review of “state-sponsored” doping of Russian athletes is reported on Russian television, followed by an assurance from Vladimir Putin’s Minister of Sport that the accusations are groundless and should be ignored, we feel justified in rolling our eyes. “What else do you expect?” we say. Russia may claim to […]

No One’s Fault But Ours

Nothing so clearly demonstrates John Key’s contempt for the New Zealand voter as his confidence that we will believe whatever he tells us. He has had ample experience to back up that confidence. The course taken by the dirty politics saga is perhaps the most obvious case in point. If the polls are to be […]

John Key and the Law

There are many reasons for concern about the GCSB Bill that has just passed into law, but one we might not have expected is the extent to which the Prime Minister seems unaware of its true implications. It must surely have come as a shock, even to his supporters, that John Key seems not to […]

Tipping the Balance

In his first term as Prime Minister, John Key made a determined effort to be all things to all men – and women. In his second term, however, he hasn’t bothered; he has clearly calculated that he can still win an election while quite overtly tipping the balance of advantage further in favour of the […]

The New Muldoon

In August 2011, the Herald published a piece of mine in which I warned that John Key was in danger of posing, by virtue of his dominance of both the political process and the media, a Muldoon-like threat to good government and accountability. Today, in the light of more recent events, there may be a […]

The Deal-maker

Our Prime Minister revels in his reputation as a deal-maker – and with good reason. His success in making a personal fortune as a foreign exchange dealer is, it seems, a major factor in establishing his claim to be an expert in how to run our economy. It may not be immediately obvious that the […]

Can We Trust John Key to Fight Our Corner?

Ask yourself a simple question. If John Key had come to power before our non-nuclear policy had been decided, would he have initiated it on his own account? Or would keeping in with the Americans have been his first priority? The question is worth asking because New Zealand Prime Ministers are constantly faced with striking […]


It is the sad fate of leading politicians in a democracy to be heartily disliked, whatever their personal merits may be, by a substantial proportion of the voting public. That is as true of John Key as it was of his predecessor, Helen Clark. It is not usually the case that it is the personal […]

Crisis? What Crisis?

In January 1979, the British Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, returned from a Summit meeting in the Caribbean to a Britain suffering the serious industrial unrest that became known as the “winter of discontent”. Interviewed at Heathrow airport, Callaghan’s relaxed attitude to talk of chaos was translated by The Sun the following morning into a headline […]

What the Hekia Doing?

John Key enjoyed his first term as Prime Minister. It all seemed so easy. But now, in his second term, it’s not so much fun. The rot began to set in even before the last election, with the ill-fated storm in the John Banks teacup, and the Epsom MP has continued to give him nightmares […]