The problem started back during the campaign, when Key lied about the “black ops” political dirty tricks operation his office was running, in connection with National Party-aligned attack blogger Cameron Slater. Then, when the report of the investigation into the politically-motivated release of NZ Security Intelligence Service information was released, Key disingenuously spun his response to try and convince New Zealanders that his office had done nothing wrong. He steadfastly refused to apologise to New Zealand for the actions of his staffers.
But things got even worse when he was caught lying to the media—and to Parliament—about his continued contact with Slater. Today Labour Leader Andrew Little summed up the entire situation Key is facing:
“[Key] lied to the Gallery (reporters) on Tuesday, he lied in the House, he then corrected his lie in the House, he lied about the correction about the lie, this just goes on and on. The guy cannot tell a straight story. It's time to say game over, John. Front up, admit the truth, tell New Zealanders. Say sorry and we'll all move on."Not for the first time, Key has made a very bad situation much, MUCH worse. First rule of politics is, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging! Brian Edwards, who knows thing or two about training politicians’ media performance, noted the inherent problem Key is facing:
The problem with denial when you’ve done something wrong is that far from making the issue go away, it amplifies and protracts it. Admitting your mistakes tends to have the opposite effect. Your opponents may have a field day of self congratulation, but it will at least be brief.That’s precisely Key’s problem. But instead of apologising—or event admitting the mistakes—Key went on the attack (making all sorts of truly bizarre claims about Labour and the Greens), he tried throwing out all sorts of red herrings in a desperate attempt to deflect attention, and then he flat out lied. It’s been a truly despicable performance, and he came across as an arrogant jerk.
Because John Key won’t resign, and his caucus won’t roll him until their polls drop low enough (which is likely to be quite awhile yet), Key has two things he must do. First, he must stop his nonsense and apologise to New Zealand. Second, he must back a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the whole “dirty politics” scandal. Unless he apologises, no one can respect him. Unless there’s a full, complete and impartial investigation, no one can trust anything he says, ever again.
My prediction is that Key will do none of these things. Instead, he’ll continue to use denial, deflection, and attack, until it all finally blows over. And if history is any indicator, it will—until the next scandal hits National and John Key, because there will be one. The arrogance of Key, his cronies in caucus, National Party apparatchiks and assorted trough-feeders and hangers-on, is already getting out of control. So, even if this scandal does finally die, there WILL be another. Sooner or later, he’ll run out of luck, and out of time.
John Key has been a disgrace, and he and his caucus have brought all of New Zealand democracy into disrepute. We’re better than that, better then them, and in 2017 (if not sooner), we’ll restore honesty, integrity and honour to the government so badly damaged by John Key.
But he really should resign.