For the past six years (seven if you count from 2007 when National under Key first overtook Labour in the polls) John Key has managed to rule during difficult times with astonishingly robust support.
He has done so by keeping his finger on the pulse of the nation and his hands off the corrosive controls of government as much as possible. The ongoing matter of whether he was briefed by the head of the SIS (of which he is the responsible minister) or whether his staff was, and whether he means his office when he refers to himself.
This brings to mind the observable pattern in political leadership, that time in office changes and alters everything, often imperceptibly. The result is that eventually the qualities that brought a leader to the summit of power now brings them down to the deep valley. Margaret Thatcher is a good example of this, so is Helen Clark, and so is Tony Blair — although cool-headedness has yet to spread amongst would be biographers, and he is much more immediately polarising than other political leaders.
This pattern is not observable for shorter term leaders (I’d say less than five years), because one needs wider scope for analysis. But John Key has been Prime Minister of New Zealand since November 2008, and I think either he falls at this election, or we’ll see a clear difference in his leadership over the next term. There is a word that sums up what I am suggesting, that word (which I believe to be justified) is terminal.
|The Happy projection may have already gone.|