Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Bullshit Bingo with Key, later today

Watching John Key talk last night on both Close Up and Campbell (with the same lines wheeled out on Larry Williams radio show last night and on Breakfast TV this morning), a friend observed, "He talks a lot, but he says very little."

It's true, isn't it.

How much actual substance do you expect from his "Values Speech" today? Liberty Scott has a list of nine points of substance that he and I would both like to see in that speech, all of which actually mean something, and which taken together would actually "move the country forward" -- one of which, one law for all, Key has already said he's abandoning.

And Scott has another set of nine points ... well, nine nice-sounding empty phrases really ... phraes that, if used, will lose his interest altogether. These, I fear, have much more chance of being wheeled out. Feel-good nothings like, "Government needs to listen (and I'm a good listener)" "Government needs to be smarter" (and just look at me), "social responsibility" (who would want to be thought irresponsible?), and of course something about "families" appearing in the same sentence as "I believe in ..."

Expect more of the froth, and far less (about nine fewer appearances) from the list of substance. In fact, why not try a game of Bullshit Bingo. Score a 'Line' when you hear all of "reaching out," "inclusive," "multicultural," "tolerance," "moving forward," "forward-thinking," "unity," and "I believe..." -- and if you hear all that and "State house" then it's time to yell out "Bingo!" or perhaps "Bullshit!" since that's what you'll have been listening to.

And when he says once again (as he undoubtedly will) that he believes in "inclusiveness" and "tolerance," then bear in mind where he voted on the "litmus test" votes on Civil Unions, legalising prostitution and keeping the drinking age at eighteen.

He voted against.

UPDATE 1: Oh yes, the Herald's John Armstrong has his own ten points. I scored 'Line' by the second time he'd advised Key to "reach out." And once again Armstrong is getting advice from his own typewriter, this time when he advises Key to sack Brash now. "He is too scary to middle New Zealand to be let loose in health, education, social development, housing, accident compensation or state-owned enterprises," says Dumb John. "Too scary" is a pretty odd thing to say about someone for whom "middle New Zealand" voted in droves just one year ago, and supported in even greater proportions in recent polls.

However, given that for all Key's talk of "unity" and his joy in a"united caucus" he hasn't yet and doesn't expect to talk to Brash any time soon ("sometime in the next forty-eight hours"), it would seem Brash is already getting the "You're not welcome" signs.

UPDATE 2: Here's "a further embellishment" to the bingo game, courtesy of David Slack:
Take a drink every time you hear John say anything Helen wouldn't. So much of this is motherhood and apple pie, I think you'll have plenty left in the fridge at the end of the game.
And I think he's likely right.

UPDATE 3: Key's "Values" Speech online now at Scoop. [Click the link to read]

** So how did I do at Bingo? I lost:
  • "unity" - zero occurences
  • "tolerance"/"tolerant" - zero
  • "reaching out" - zero
  • "inclusive" - zero
  • "multicultural" - zero [of course there is this: "we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand."]
  • "moving forward" - zero
  • "forward-thinking" - zero
  • "I believe" - three
  • "State house" - one
** Scott did better. He hoped for:
  • "National’s principles" - one appearance, but perhaps a major one:

    "What you can be assured of is that our policies will always be measured against our core principles. Let me be also clear that I make no excuses for saying those polices will be harvested from wherever we see the best results being achieved.

    I am interested in what works, and not what should, or could, or might work in theory."

  • "Private property rights" - no sign
  • "Personal freedom"- one appearance
  • "One law for all" - "one standard of citizenship"?
  • "Less government is better" - "the appropriate role for the government is in the background, not in the foreground"
  • "More choice in education" - Nothing. But he did mention some problems with zoning last night, and fixing the "underclass" today.
  • "There should be less tax" - Nothing
  • "Dependency on the state is not a virtue" - Not exactly
  • "Law and order is a vital role of government" - Half a mark
** How about Scott's 'Bullshit Bingo' score, the things he hoped would not make an appearance:
  • "Government needs to be smarter" - "I am interested in what works, and not what should, or could, or might work in theory..."
  • "Government needs to listen" - zero references
  • "environment" - four references
  • "families" appeared three times, once in the same sentence as "Personal freedom, individual responsibility, [and] a competitive economy..."
  • "Government needs to help the innovators, creators and employment producers by providing funding…" - nothing
  • "More money for health and education" - nope
  • "Corporate social responsibility" - nope
  • "Inclusiveness" - no sign today
  • "Climate change is the biggest challenge in our time" -
    "...no one with any awareness of the world can be ignorant of [global warming]... all of us, across the political spectrum, with the exception perhaps of the Greens, have taken too long to put the protection of our environment at the forefront of our thinking. That needs to change. In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps."
    And those steps do not feature property-rights based solutions.
So, about even, wouldn't you say?

** And David Slack's Bingo entry, ie. "Take a drink every time you hear John say anything Helen wouldn't. So much of this is motherhood and apple pie, I think you'll have plenty left in the fridge at the end of the game."

-->NUMBER OF DRINKS TAKEN: One small sip. That quiet sip might just be the clincher.

"There is much, much more to come," says Key. You can say that again. Do we now "know what John Key really stands for" as he promised? No, we don't. Unless that is what he stands for, in which case the answer is "whatever works."

But he did write the whole speech himself.

UPDATE 4: Three useful summaries of the Key Speech:
  1. Ross Elliot at SOLO, Meet the New Boss: "Today, John Key gave his first speech as National Party leader, and it was as bad as I thought it would be. Filled with nothing but bland, soporific pragmatism and third-way, warm 'n' fuzzy, political code-speak, Key's speech says nothing and adds up to nothing. It does, however, reveal everything... Al Gore could have given Key's speech during his 2004 presidential campaign. In fact, I think he did."
  2. David Slack at Public Address, I Have Aspirations Going Forward: "For the most part, though, specifics are not to be found, and this is unfortunate for an aspiring Prime Minister, because it tends to dull the lustre of his vision. In the absence of something to latch on to, you have the appearance of floundering, or, possibly, courting the job for its own sake." Hacking through the Key flannel, David has a quiz to see if you can tell Key's speech from Helen Clark's most recent conference speech.
  3. And even Michael Cullen: Key All Style, No Substance: "The speech tells us what he is not. He is not Don Brash. It doesn't tell us what he is... "Mr Key has yet to demonstrate any substance despite having spent much of the last four years thinking about being the leader of the National Party."
Can you disagree?

LINKS: John Key - excite me - Liberty Scott
Bullshit Bingo - Not PC

Politics-NZ, Politics-National


  1. I can't help but thinking Key is just a latter day Jim Bolger. One day in the job and we've already heard the term 'inclusive'. I'm feeling more endeared towards ACT again now the Don has gone.

  2. Bill English (wishy washy) National: 21%
    Don Brash (Stands for) National: 40%

    John Key National looks like a hybrid of both, so I guess 30%!

  3. Has anyone else noted the sudden cross blog gloom at Keys rise and Brashs fall? Its wierd...just two days in and it seems everyone,even some on the Left are reflewcting on how Brash wasn't too bad and that they will miss him and what he offered...

    Over on DPFs blog theres no real joy at Key becoming no.1....just a "oh dear,its back to the sad centre with us" type of fatalism.

    Could it be that having a leader with some priciple had started to grow on some people and now they realise what they will be missing...?

  4. I agree, PC. I honestly couldn't believe the Nats voted English back as dep. Briefly caught he & Key on TV - almost hand-in-hand - last night.

    They looked a lot like Dumb & Dumber.

    By his twat-talk, my impression was that the Nats were going back to the mushy centre to stand for everything & nothing.

    Watch them ignore Brash's warning at the last Nat conf: "Stop trying to out-Labour Labour".

  5. Good points PC. Of course this whole Hager thing and Brash thing comes at good timing for Labour who are suffering in the polls after their recent crap, especially the Election Theft Validation Bill. I know that isn't the real name for it, but it should be. That way the name would better represent what the bill does. This whole thing could see Labour win again, despite not deserving to.

    Sus, indeed. English was a proven failure, so what are National thinking. Clearly, as usual, they aren't thinking at all.

  6. he used the phrase "tangata whenua" in his maiden speech as leader--that's quadruple word score!!!!

    Rodney will be rubbing his hands in glee--all the work that Don Brash did has all just unravelled.


  7. You're to hard on your self. Key said: we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand.

    So that's one for multi-culturalism.

  8. You may as well add 'solo mother' to your list cause it appears every time he says 'state house'. His mother was a widow. Subtle difference there. Don't think his Mum would have appreciated being touted around as a state house solo mother for John's purposes. Widows have always been treated by the state and society as different entities.

  9. kane bunce said...
    [... so what are National thinking. Clearly, as usual, they aren't thinking at all.]

    In that case, perhaps the National leaderships should have got former ACT leader , Richard Prebble's book:

    'I have been thinking'

    and read it, then try to think.

  10. I skimmed through David Slack's speech and apart from where the context gave it away (i.e. "the NZ I lead *will* blah, blah") I couldn't tell them apart.

    It got me to thinking, wouldn't that be a brilliant trick for a leader of one of the more ideological parties to pull when confronted with the worm on the televised leaders' debates. After appropriately castigating the audience of "undecided voters" for being so uninterested, uninformed or stupid that they had formed no opinion, I would ask them to turn their dials clockwise if they thought the statement I read out came from Key on the right or anti-clockwise if they thought the statement came from Clark on the left. And I bet the the worm would barely move from the centre.

    And then I would explain that those two leaders were trying to get through their speeches without saying anything that might offend anybody.

    And then I might explain what my party was about.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.