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
- "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
- "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.
** 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:
- 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."
- 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.
- 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."
LINKS: John Key - excite me - Liberty Scott
Bullshit Bingo - Not PC
RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-National