Saturday, 19 July 2008

NZ HERALD & POLITICAL ANIMAL COMMENTARY: In search of John Key

According to yesterday's Roy Morgan Poll and a trend in polls going back to the end of last year, John Key looks like he is going to win the Prime Minister-ship of this once great country, New Zealand.
Inspirational where Helen Clark is confrontational, practical instead of academic, Key has the promise of the majority of Kiwis behind him, for a return to a prosperous, inclusive New Zealand, where hard work meant reward and welfare was reserved as a backstop not a lifestyle.

Motivating and leading individuals by example to achieve independence, success, wealth and a good life, an anathema to Helen Clark, her Cabinet and those that vote for her.

As the NZ Herald has reported though, we only know Key from some of the mud slung from the left and the fact that he came from an impoverished, poor background-unlike Helen Clark who was brought up in very comfortable surroundings and had an easy life- and worked his way to the top, principally because of his mother, who instilled in him the seed to get on in life.

Something sadly missing from our record numbers of families on welfare today.

People can see in him already the character of the struggling kiwi that once was and that we all have inside us, but need to let go of the State apron strings first to truly fly.

I'm quite excited by the promise to come for the country and hope he has the determination and will that has made his life such a success, from such humble beginnings, to inspire a whole country to get behind him and succeed individually, and to break the current slide into State dependence.

*The first part of the Herald story starts today and finishes next week with part two.
*Read: "Helen Clark: Absolute Power" by Ian Wishart


3:00PM Thursday June 19, 2008
By Eugene Bingham, Carroll du Chateau and Paula Oliver
A young John Key. Photo / Supplied

A young John Key. Photo / Supplied

John Key Timeline

* In three months John Key will be standing for the country's highest office
* Polls suggest that the 47-year-old will be New Zealand's next Prime Minister
* Yet he remains relatively unknown. Who really is John Key? Where did he come from and what motivates his ambition?

One day around 1971, John Key arrived home from school, flopped down his bag and made an announcement: "I'm going to learn to play golf."

He was about 10, a cheerful but unremarkable pupil at Cobham Intermediate. His family - mother Ruth and older sisters Liz and Sue - lived in a state house on Hollyford Ave in the Christchurch suburb of Burnside. Inside, the turquoise carpet was offset by orange and black sofas, the lounge cleaned and tidied to motel standard. There wasn't room to practise putting, let alone a chip shot, on the bare, sloping front yard.

The family blanched. "He might as well have said he wanted to fly to the moon as far as we were concerned," says Sue. "Mum said, 'Why do you want to do that? That's going to cost money!"'

John, the man of the house since his father died several years before and the light in his Jewish mother's eyes, sat down and explained himself.

"He'd figured out that business guys have golf lunches," says Sue. "He told us 'I have to start working on those skills now so when I need them they're in place'."This is one of hundreds of anecdotes the Weekend Herald gathered from scores of interviews for this project. His sisters spoke candidly about him after they were approached in the course of this inquiry, revealing family stories that even their famous brother wasn't aware of. The golf tale is a telling insight because it shows that Key, even as a child of 10, was driven and had calculated what he would have to do to achieve his goals.

The interesting thing about the Key family is that no-one tried to divert him from his golfing ambition. Ruth, who had worked nights to keep the money coming in, probably half expected it.

She would constantly tell the children, especially John: "You can do better than this; I expect you to work your way up in the world."

Step one in John Key's audacious plan was in place.

More than 35 years later, Key is making a bid to be prime minister. But who is he? Compared with others who have stood to lead the country, Key is a relative unknown. He swooped back into New Zealand six years ago, a multi-millionaire thanks to a lucrative investment bank career, then quickly rose to the top of the National Party. Poll ratings suggest he has a royal chance of seizing control.

For five months, the Weekend Herald has researched Key's background to ascertain the essence of the man. The picture which has emerged is of a person of driving ambition and determination who is prepared to do what it takes to achieve what he is aiming for. In pursuit of his goals, Key will not hesitate to seek out people he thinks are best-placed to help him. He is decisive and appears genuine, but at the same time does not like giving offence - it's this aspect of his character which, as we shall explore in part two next week, provides the ammunition for his political opponents to label him "Slippery John".


Related Political Animal reading

Pointing Fingers in the playground

Desperation by Labour backfires

What happened to risk?

Helen Clark's words ring hollow

c Political Animal 2008

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