It seems I’ll have to stop calling retiring National cabinet minister Simon Power by the nickname of Simon Power-Lust. It doesn’t really fit now that he seems to have given up on being Prime Minister.
Why would a man touted by his own colleagues as the next National Party leader step down now, in his early forties, just when he’s entering the best years of his working life?
I don’t buy the conventional wisdom of John Armstrong, who reckons it’s a simple political calculation based on National’s chances in 2014. I reckon there’s a little more to it than that.
Here’s a man who, if he hadn’t joined the National Party as a young man, would have faced a future as a Palmerston North solicitor*. A man who missed out on getting offered a big legal partnership, and went into politics instead. A man who as Minister of Injustice has been changing the way those big legal partnerships will all be working; as Minister of Electoral Rorts has re-written Helen’s Electoral Finance Act so insubstantially it continues to help the ruling party; and who as Minister for Public-Private Partnerships has been busy blurring the boundaries of public and private—busy, in other words, putting the state’s resources behind the pursuit of private profit.
And now, coming into the most productive years of his professional life, I suspect he wants to sit on a few of those boards and help reap some of those private rewards for himself by parleying his political connections for profit.
This is more than just Jobs for the Boy. Because as Minister for Public-Private Partnerships he’s made it possible for much political pull to make many profits—and he’s decided, you see, that he wants to be part of that New Aristocracy of Pull.
He wants to be this decade’s Mai Chen.
He wants a name change from Simon Power-Broker to Simon Power-Lust.
And, mind you, he might also want to come back into politics ten years from now (after making a small fortune from pull) to be a Prime Minister in his fifties.
So you still can’t altogether rule out power-lust.
* Not that I have anything against Palmerston North solicitors, you understand. Some of my best friends are Palmerston North solicitors. But I reckon Simple Simon always had his sights set on something much more grand for himself.
UPDATE 1: Looks like at least one person agrees with me.
UPDATE 2: Speaking of political pull, Deborah Hill-Cone lays into John Key’s “pet CEOs”—the “handpicked coterie of business leaders who have his ear and are well placed for government largesse.” Tooth and claw competition is what businesses need, she says, not John Key's mothering.
After the Christchurch earthquake there was a headline saying Key had met with a group of his pet CEOs.
The tone was all "good work fullas" with a hearty slap on the back. Fair enough, but I can't help thinking it would be wise to bring a soupcon of scepticism to this means-to-an-end attitude to getting things done.
The justification is that being patriarchal is how you make things happen on a large scale - and that might be true in extreme cases. But the reaction to the Christchurch quake - bring in the big boys - is simply a more obvious example of Key's day-to-day approach to business and competition.
[Thanks Shirley R. for the link.]
UPDATE 3: Slight editing done, and a correction made. [Thanks Chris D.]