Julie Christie: Muck raking will draw a backlash

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Mark MitchellPrime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It’s hard to believe it’s almost three years since Richie McCawesome and his boys held the fate of John Key’s Government in their hands.

Just 34 days before the 2011 general election, there was fear that the French would rob us yet again, and that the wrong World Cup result would mean an anti-government backlash and an election loss for the Nats.

The 8-7 victory brought the Nats closer to a return to power that day. It also made the country feel good about itself.

But a country that feels proud of itself gives, to quote my late mother, “those who like the sound of their own voices” nothing to talk about. It’s a political reporter’s job to find dirt that may derail the frontrunner. A conspiracy theory is always preferable to a World Cup loss. Note to Nats, make sure the next America’s Cup campaign is nowhere near an election!

Such an election-busting conspiracy theory has conveniently reared its head prior to every election since 1996. Again this year the conspiracists, plural (no one thinks that book was the work of one man, do they?), get to savour their moment knowing this close to an election no one will sue. Those who feel wronged won’t even risk screaming very loudly. So the author feels no risk in forgetting to ask for the other side of the story from those accused, before publishing a book.

At the same time, our most embarrassing resident continues to buy friends and political allies, espouse his desire to topple the Government of a country of which he’s not even a citizen, and get away with threatening our entertainment industries by referring to his making money receiving and on-selling goods as “file-sharing”.

The polls lead us to believe 65 per cent (Herald, August 22) of New Zealanders want John Key as our PM. He’s a girl’s boy. He’s charming, looks like he’d be lots of fun at the dinner table. His teenage kids have probably given him headaches. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect, has never been an academic and doesn’t need the job. And we’ve outgrown our petty dislike of self-made success stories … well, most of us.

But you’d never cast our PM in a reality TV show; he doesn’t have the American trait of verbalising every thought. He ain’t no Kardashian. He doesn’t appear to cry, fight, swear, scream or backstab nearly easily enough for TV. What you see on the TV screen is what you get. He’d be the world’s greatest actor if another person altogether had been hiding inside JK since he took the top job in 2006.

If you want festering conspiracies, corruption and a nation that’s really disenchanted you need go no further than SkyNews Channel 85 where excellent political reporting lays bare the pitiful soap opera that is Australian politics. It’s a great watch, mostly because you can thank the lord that’s not us.

Right now, we feel like the lucky country while our closest neighbour flounders. The annual survey of the world’s 25 best governments (viewfromseven.wordpress.com) places us fifth and scores us an A, based on these values: voice and accountability, rule of law, control of corruption, regulatory quality, government effectiveness and political stability.

Australians tell me New Zealand’s political stability is the key to our regional success story.

The real backlash for the conspiracists could be that the latest dramas do little more than ensure a lot more right-leaning voters turn up at the polls out of sheer fear we could end up like the Aussies if they don’t. The complacency has gone for National voters, along with the assumption their team is a shoo-in. They will likely now vote in greater numbers than ever.

I don’t think that’s what the less cock-eyed conspiracists thought when they set out to change a Government.

Julie Christie is an Auckland-based former journalist and media entrepreneur.

NZ Herald

Article source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11315418&ref=rss