Poll driven flip flop

It was classic John Key – last week he batted off and played down criticisms of New Zealand tax and trust legislation, but he arrived into this week suggesting and then announcing a review of those laws by an ‘international tax expert’, John Shewan.

Media and political opponents predictably called this a flip flop and a u-turn. And it didn’t take long before there were accusations of being internal poll-driven.

Danyl at Dim-Post in Panama Papers thoughts:

In terms of Key’s reversal from last week on whether our trusts need investigation, I wonder if National now have a formal process in which they respond to breaking stories like this.

Phase one. Deny everything while blaming Labour.

Stage two. Poll.

Stage three. If the polling hits some pre-arranged benchmark then reverse your position and/or announce an inquiry.

Nick R responded to that:

I reckon that’s probably how it works. And it works very well, because the polling seems to be very accurate and the occasional abrupt U-turn in policy position never seem to hurt the PM at all. When he does this, it is so fast that it barely seems to attract any comment at all, and certainly not negative comment.

It often does attract comment.Like amirite at The Standard:

How’s the Dearest Leader polling? Fantastic, only he had to flip flop 360 degrees on his ‘NZs foreign trusts practices are legit-stance, move on, nothing to see here’ to saying he’ll appoint an independent expert to review the policies.

I thought a flip flop would have been more like 180 degrees but the intent of this comment is clear enough.

And like the Greens in Inquiry into foreign trusts must restore NZ’s reputation:

The Green Party is welcoming John Key’s U-turn on foreign trusts…

Danyl happens to be on the Green campaign committee but this could be a coincidence.

Back at Dim-Post Tinakori posted:

My god, a government that often listens to public opinion and/or waits to see if there is substance in an issue. Is that weird or what?

Surely you don’t expect a government to announce an inquiry into a subject the moment it becomes a news story or an issue in Parliament.

Winston Peters and the Greens seem to be quick to call for inquiries, despite a lack of evidence being available. Peters in particular is keen on promoting fishing expeditions based on little more than his innuendo.

The public sector would be engaged in nothing but inquiries if that were the case.

Some issues resonate and some don’t. Some issues have substance and some don’t. Some issues have legs and others don’t…….

Once again, the test is what would you be saying if the incumbent government was one you favoured. I can see the blog post now demanding a measured response to the issue du jour.

That’s politics.

John Key has mastered the art of dampening down or fobbing off issues, and then after a while reacting contrary to his initial indications.

Even if this is in response to polls gauging what the public think and want is not a bad thing at all in a democracy.

And I’m sure David Farrar isn’t the only expert Key goes to for advice.

I’m sure Key gets some advice from the advisers that work in his office, from Government departments and from people around the country and around the world.

While he is open to criticism with the way he manages issues and manages the media, being prepared to react in line with public opinion should be seen as a positive.

And Key’s opponents seem to flip flop between accusing him of being poll and public opinion driven, and being an elite rich person who is out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders.

That’s more like flip flops in futile frustration.

The media just seem to love exaggerating things, sometimes to extremes, to create headlines and drive clicks.

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  13th April 2016

    Does he still get advice from that Ede joker? Or does he still give instructions to that Ede joker? 🙂

    Reply
    • Ede seems to have disappeared from sight. Not that he was in sight much until the Dirty Politics revelations.

      I’d be surprised if Key does much if anything with him now.

      Reply
  2. David

     /  13th April 2016

    The journalists get so over excited again and again over non issues that only excite their twitter groups. Little should just leave it to Winston because now he now just looks totally desperate and spectacularly unsuccessful, 178k a year when a union boss and the amount he makes as an MP and he has absolutely nothing to show for it…nothing, and its just confirms the guy has no aspiration, drive, will to succeed and get ahead and is just a dour unionist. Even Sue Moroney has a couple of rentals for goodness sake.

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  13th April 2016

      Apparently she’s getting flagpoles installed.

      Reply
    • jamie

       /  13th April 2016

      How do you know what Andrew Little has done with the money he has earned? Perhaps he bought his mum a house.

      Not everyone spends their whole life feathering their own nest you know.

      Reply
    • Missy

       /  13th April 2016

      On that about Sue Moroney, IIRC of the main Ham West candidates (N, L, G) I think she was the only one with a beach house and rental properties. Does that make the L Ham West candidate a ‘rich prick’ and the N HW candidate an ordinary bloke?

      Reply
  3. Iceberg

     /  13th April 2016

    It’s a strategy to shut down the harping from the opposition. The Panama thing is a case in point. He hasn’t really changed his position, just instigated a process that takes out the squealing. He didn’t need polling for that. It’s predictable and logical. Now, the arguments are starting about the appropriateness of the investigator and terms of reference. Key doesn’t care about those arguments.

    Reply
    • jamie

       /  13th April 2016

      I think going from ‘no problem with nz trust law whatsoever and anyone who disagrees is an idiot’ to ‘the concerns raised are serious enough to warrant a formal inquiry’* in a matter of days is definitely a change of position.

      *not actual quotes 😉

      Reply
      • Iceberg

         /  13th April 2016

        That’s why Labour will lose again. Like you, they are focussed on the irrelevant.

        Reply
        • jamie

           /  13th April 2016

          Labour’s problems are not my problem.

          You say he hasn’t changed his position. Ok, then what is this strategy you mentioned? What does it consist of if not a change of position?

          I have spelled out quite clearly the two positions taken in the space of a week. If that’s not the strategy you are referring to, then what is?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2016

            The Opposition should be saying ok that’s fair enough. Can we please have an honest discussion about the ToR.

            Reply
          • Iceberg

             /  13th April 2016

            He hasn’t. He’s just changed how’s he’s dealing with the squealing.

            Reply
            • jamie

               /  14th April 2016

              Ah I see what you mean. He’s pretending to change his position but it’s just a trick.

        • Gezza

           /  13th April 2016

          Non-issues or uncomfortable ones take up a huge amount of time and energy. Addressing them like this by saying we have initiated an enquiry, it will look into the matter thoroughly and report back, then we can discuss the issues if any that come out of it, means they can move on instead of responding over and over to allegations for weeks.

          Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th April 2016

        “The concerns raised are loud enough to require a formal inquiry.”

        Fixed it for you.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th April 2016

          I’m going to give Key points. I’d actually be prepared to say the message is “The concerns raised are important enough to require a formal enquiry.”

          Reply
  4. jamie

     /  13th April 2016

    “being prepared to react in line with public opinion should be seen as a positive”

    If that were the case I’d agree, but I think the polling is a bit more sophisticated than that.

    It will be designed to measure the opinions of people in terms of their voting history, voting intentions, party support etc. They will be trying to find out whether the people who are interested in a particular issue are likely to vote National, and whether the particular issue is likely to affect that intention one way or another.

    It will be less about the govt being “in line with public opinion” and more about whether an issue will hurt or help the National party politically. Those can be quite different things.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  13th April 2016

      I think you are right on that Jamie, and maybe it is something that Labour should do as well. This is why I think the Govt have remained reasonably popular, they are looking at what people will vote on, Labour are just listening to their echo chamber.

      Reply

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