Tracy Watkins on John Key

Tracy Watkins, in her last column as Stuff’s political editor, on John Key:

The Opposition worked hard to make it an issue of character but in the end Clark’s undoubted competence overrode that in the minds of most voters.

It was the same for John Key after National won in 2008 and he stepped into Clark’s shoes; Labour tried to chuck everything at diminishing his character in the eyes of voters.  Not much of it stuck – though like Clark, the accumulated baggage over time wore down his popularity.

And like Clark, Key also had his “scandal-gates” – ponytail-gate, where he joked around with a young waitress and pulled her hair, was probably the most damaging, because it shifted perceptions.

The hair pulling was weird, especially for a Prime Minister. Key was probably trying to be seen as an ordinary bloke sort of leader, which he often managed well, but this was out of line and yes, it was probably damaging.

I only caught the tailend of the Bolger era and Jenny Shipley’s brief reign as prime minister, but Helen Clark was a phenomenon – gritty, driven, determined, and hugely intelligent. She had an incredible grasp of detail and an amazing ability to weigh up an issue as she spoke.

Key had the same razor-sharp ability to think on his feet, and he and Clark were more similar than you might think in other ways; both were pragmatists who had an uncanny ability to sense when they were getting too far ahead of the electorate.

But Key’s humour was a welcome antidote to the increasing dourness of the Clark years; a man for the times as the dark clouds of the global financial crisis bore down on us.

Behind the humour and optimism was a sharp financial brain, coupled with an unparalleled ability to put politics and the economy in the context of the every-day voter.

Key’s legacy was shifting some of the blue-collar vote and the battling classes in the middle from Labour to National and it is one that continues today.

Key was a very successful leader, leading National to three election wins with high levels of support for a single party under MMP.

The main negative was probably due to his success – National lost potential support parties. When he stood down in 2016 National were still getting very good levels of support, but even though Blil English was seen as capable and ran a fairly good campaign, the single ACT MP, and an unwillingness to give too much to NZ First was not enough to compete with the surge in Labour support under new leader Jacinda Ardern, Greens keen to have their first shot in Government, and NZ First’s ability to take advantage of Labour’s and Green’s give up what it took to get into power.

The left left didn’t like and would never like Key no matter what he did because he was a right wing-ish politician. The Standard could only see Key’s negatives, and amplified them as much as the Kiwblog community who vilified the very capable and ver successful Helen Clark.

I saw Key speak in person once, and he came across very well, interesting, engaging, entertaining. I have also seen Helen Clark speak in person (after she left politics) and also came across very well. I haven’t seen that in person in any other leader, not that I have seen many. I went to a NZ First conference to listen to Winston Peters and he had the crowd buzzing, but it was inspiring tired old repeats of ‘jokes’; and rhetoric.

Key was a very good leader, who had the unusual ability to be on top of most policy and  most issues, but to connect with many ordinary people. He was also pragmatic, which annoyed some of the more uncompromising right wingers, but it worked well.

The anti-kiwi royals don’t care if we ditched them so we should

Some time in the future New Zealand will ditch the monarchy and become some sort of a republic. John Key liked socialising with the royals too much to consider it and wanted a knighthood too much to consider it, and I suspect Jacinda Ardern likes associating with royal celebrities too much to go there either.

But one day we will get a real progressive Prime Minister rather one than in claim only.

And when we become a country independent of the pomp and snobbery that many of our ancestors escaped from, I think the royals won’t care at all. They don’t care much about us now. We might be a bit of a perk trip to younger princes and princesses, but to the older ones we are probably just another series of boring engagements.

Jonathan Milne:  We want a New Zealander as our head of state? Just get on with it, says the Queen

Former Anglican Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves who led Charles and Diana in prayer for New Zealand’s leadership in 1983, went on to represent the Queen as Governor-General. He later told me the Queen should be replaced by a New Zealand head of state. He said his knighthood had become a part of him since its award in 1984, “but if renouncing knighthoods was a prerequisite to being a citizen of a republic, I think it would be worth it.”

All Black-turned-broadcaster Chris Laidlaw talked to Charles about New Zealand becoming a republic, too, at a dinner in 1997. “Well, to be frank, I think it would come as a great relief to all of us,” Charles told him. “It would remove the awful ambiguity we have at the moment. It seems to me that it would be a lot easier for everybody if you all had your own completely independent head of state.”

Another former Governor-General, Dame Catherine Tizard, asked the Queen the same question. “She is quite sanguine about these things,” Dame Cath later told me. “She has always said it is a decision for New Zealand to make, and ‘whatever decision New Zealand makes, of course we would accept it’.”

They would have to ‘accept it’.  They may lord over us from a great distance, but they don’t rule us.

In a new biography of the Queen, author Robert Hardman reveals the Queen came to one firm conclusion. In the event of this or any other realm opting to become a republic, they should get on with it.

‘It could not be tied to the death of the Queen,” said a Palace advisor. “That would be untenable for the Prince of Wales, untenable for the Queen and untenable for the country itself because, obviously, they’d be looking at their watches waiting for her to pass away.”

So we should at least start doing what we need to do to become a republic before the current queen dies. We can’t go annoying Charlie.

It’s no longer acceptable that our head of state’s allegiance is first and foremost to another nation, nearly 20,000km away.

It’s no longer acceptable that our head of state’s succession gives preference to Anglicans over Catholics, English peers over hardworking Kiwis.

If NZ First seriously believe in promoting kiwi values then they should lead the revolution.

In fact, it’s no longer acceptable that our head of state is chosen by succession at all, when in other spheres of life we celebrate the strongly-held belief that we should be recognised on our merit.

The monarchy is anti do-it-yourself-kiwi and anti-kiwi values, it is anti-secular, it is anti-equality, and it is anti-democracy.

All we need is an actual progressive Government to do the decent thing and ditch the royals.

 

Communism by stealth, or ‘Corporate-Capitalist Welfare by design’?

PartisanZ saved me the trouble of stating this topic:


Matthew Hooton: ‘Communism by stealth’ is here – NZHerald

“Infamously, Key then entrenched Working for Families as Prime Minister, and Ardern and Robertson have further locked in middle-class dependency with their December 2017 Families Package.

In fact in 2004, the left-wing critique of Working for Families was stronger than Key’s, that it would operate as a subsidy of low-paying employers.

That is, using Key’s original numbers, if there was a job to do worth $60,000 a year, an employer could hire someone with two kids, pay them just $38,000 a year, and they’d end up with almost the same pay in the hand.”

It’s an interesting and convoluted argument, demonstrating, IMHO, that we are no longer involved in a Left-vs-Right contest but merely exist on a neoliberalism continuum where the challenge is how to make the failed economic paradigm ‘appear’ to be working …

It’s not really about an actual economic paradigm. It’s about the ‘semblance’ of an economic paradigm. About trying to prove the mirage is the reality. I believe we need to find a coherent, comprehensible name for this phenomenon because it affects us all, whether we want a UBI or vehemently oppose it.

‘Simuliberalism’* perhaps? The similitude or simulation of neoliberalism?

“And don’t expect National to be able to do anything about it. With the financial status of so many working families now as locked in to welfare as any other beneficiary, abolishing Working for Families is becoming ever-more politically impossible.

It has transferred the primary economic relationship that determines family income from being that with the employer to that with the state. It is indeed communism by stealth. Clark and Cullen knew exactly what they doing when they set it up.”

Whatever it is, it certainly IS NOT communism … since the means of production aren’t owned by the State on behalf of its citizens … they remain largely in private hands pushing wealth upwards towards the very few … and this means it CANNOT BE communism by stealth.

Corporate-Capitalist Welfare by design more likely … Simuliberalism?

 

Hager recap on ‘Dirty Politics’

Nicky Hager has recapped what his 2014 Dirty Politics book was about at Newsroom.

Most controversial, the book revealed that prime minister John Key had a full-time dirty tricks person in his office researching and writing nasty attacks on opposing politicians, quietly sent through to Slater to publish as if they were his own.

Slater was genuinely powerful at that time because the media, to which he fed many stories, knew he was friends with Key and justice minister Judith Collins.

Key survived as prime Minister as long as he wanted to, but Collins copped a setback as a result of what Slater called embellishment and has probably had her leadership ambitions severely hobbled by it (Slater keeps promoting her on Whale Oil, reminding people of it to Collins’ detriment).

The book’s subtitle was “How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment.” Does anyone think these aren’t issues deserving sunlight?

This certainly deserved sunlight, and good on Hager for doing that. I have serious concerns about illegal hacking (if that is what actually happened), especially in a political environment, but this was a serious abuse of political and media power that deserved exposure.

‘A boil that needed lancing’

When I decided to research and write about Slater and his associates, I knew I was taking a personal risk. They were well known for personal attacks and smears. They have hurt many people. I expected retaliation.  But I knew what I was taking on and felt strongly that this boil needed lancing.

While Dirty Politics lanced a political boil (in the Prime Minister’s office) and exposed Slater and Whale Oil, rendering them far less effective, it hasn’t stopped them from continuing with attacks and personal smears. Like many others I have been the target of dirty smears and legal attacks since Dirty Politics broke.

That they have been reduced from being a festering boil to being more like cry baby pimples that hasn’t stopped them resorting to dirty attacks. And it ‘is ‘they’ – Slater is aided and abetted on Whale Oil by others, in particular Juana Atkins and Nige who also seem to fucking people over is fair game, for click bait and seemingly for fun. I’m not sure how they sleep easy.

Dirty Politics hasn’t eliminated attack politics, but by exposing some of the worst of it the poisoning New Zealand’s political environment has been reduced. It needs more exposing and more reducing – as well as involving dirty personal attacks dirty politics is an attack on decent democracy.

Key’s ‘Speargun’ claims questioned

Documents obtained by NZ Herald under the Official Information Act suggest that claims made by Prime Minister John Key about the Speargun surveillance project may not have been accurate.

NZH: John Key, mass surveillance and what really happened when Edward Snowden accused him of spying

Sir John Key’s story of how and why he canned a “mass surveillance” programme are at odds with official papers detailing development of the “Speargun” project.

The issue blew up in the final days of the 2014 election with Key claiming the programme was long-dead and had been replaced by a benign cyber-security system called Cortex.

Key always claimed the Speargun project to tap New Zealand’s internet cable was stopped in March 2013.

But new documents show development of Speargun continued after the time he had said he ordered a halt – apparently because the scheme was “too broad”.

The NZ Herald has found – after three years of refusals and information going missing – that the former Prime Minister’s version of events doesn’t match that of documents created at the time.

The plan to develop Speargun began in April 2012 under the guise of “Initiative 7418” when Cabinet asked the GCSB to develop an advanced cyber protection strategy.

The GCSB has confirmed to the Herald that a warrant was sought and granted for “Phase 1” of Speargun between July 2012 and June 2013.

GCSB director Andrew Hampton said in one response: “This warrant was sought to ensure GCSB would be able to undertake any preliminary work as part of the business case Cabinet asked GCSB to prepare.”

Details released through the OIA show there was a meeting with the GCSB over Speargun in March 2013.

This was the point at which Key claims Speargun was canned with a press release issued between the Snowden claim and election day saying: “March 2013: PM tells GCSB not to bring business case forward. Informs GCSB it is too broad. Budget contingency funding will be rolled over and used for something else in cyber security.”

But new GCSB documents tell a different story, backed up by documents from the Prime Minister’s office.

It is a detailed investigative article by David Fisher, with a number of source documents included.

Bitterness under the bus

Nicky guided a big bus over Whale Oil in 2014, and John key and National walked away. Cameron Slater is still bitter in a big way.

Slater used to promote politics done as dirty as possible, and tried to drive a few buses over others – most notably Len Brown immediately after the 2013 mayoral election, trying to upset a democratic result, and also Colin Craig in 2015. Slater seemed to revel in doing maximum damage and seem to care nothing about destroying reputations and careers both as a game and as a mercenary.

But he is not so keen when on the receiving end – the Whale has been wailing every since Nicky Hager bussed him, and since he was left in the dust by National.

His bitterness has been apparent in the recent election campaign, wishing disaster on National and on Bill English and National MPs and staff.

And he still holds a bus sized grudge over John Key deserting him.

Yesterday he posted: No hard feelings John, but no one gives a stuff what you think anymore

That’s kind of ironic, given how many stuffs are given to what Slater thinks now.

John Key’s phone must have stopped ringing, so he’s decided to come out and offer up his advice for coalition negotiations.

Key was opening of a new Trading Room at the Business School at the University of Canterbury and was asked. He didn’t write multiple blog posts every day.

What a dickhead. He saw this coming and bolted for the door that’s how much he cared about the situation. Now he has the temerity to offer up his opinion.

Piss off. He quit, that means STFU.

No it doesn’t, it means he is free to do and say what he likes.

We don’t care anymore what he thinks. What an attention seeking effwit…phone stopped ringing eh John?

No hard feelings, eh?

Sounds very much like projection of Slater’s on situation . He seems to hate that his phone stopped ringing three years ago, and still holds a grudge.

Comments and ticks were carefully scathing of Slater.

Christie’s comment was strongly supported:

He was opening the new Business School at Canterbury University. His comments were made probably in response to a journalist asking if he was in touch with Bill English. My belief is that he resigned when he did for the reasons he stated – particularly when there was another election coming up.

Bill English’s family have been treated with some respect by the media, but John Key’s kids were always fair game. Perhaps he felt – like many of us did – that a local rapper, being paid public money, writing a song about raping his daughter was a bit too much for him. Who could blame him? I don’t blame him for resigning – I just wish he hadn’t.

George Carter’s too:

Whether it was part of a speech or in a response to a journalist his point is fairly light and non intrusive. We’ve heard far more from other ex-PM’s and MP’s so i’m not sure why you’re so dismissive of his comments.

SpanishBride joined the wailing in response:

Probably because when John Key threw him under the bus after we were hacked and our private e-mails turned into a book for profit by Nicky Hager after working with the criminal Rawshark, John Key sent a message to him saying “No hard feelings.”

I suspect she misinterprets what “no hard feelings” meant there.

Wanarunna sort of supported the post:

Quite understand Cam’s reaction here. People don’t have to agree with it, and I don’t, but hey, this is Cam’s blog where Cam says what Cam thinks. Sometimes when I read comments on this blog I get the impression that some people think that Cam speaks for the Whaleoil Community (if there is such a thing), and if he says something they don’t agree with, then somehow he has it wrong. No, he’s just seeing things from his perspective, not yours.

A response to that resulted in a thinly veiled threat from Slater…

WhaleOilNoHardFeelings

…but those two responses have now disappeared.

Such is the thin skin and censorship at Whale Oil. Slater has obviously got hard feelings after three years of being belted by a bus, and shows a lack of hardness when the political booting is from the other foot.

His attacks on Key and English and National are petty and largely impotent.

Slater claimed that National without his support would tank, and he predicted them polling in the thirties. One of the more notable outcomes of the election was how well National’s support held up in the mid forties, unprecedented in attempting to win a fourth term.

They seem to be managing quite well without Slater’s dirty politics.

Whale Oil survives as a popular niche blog, but not as a political player of any importance.

Labour v Greens and the smiling assassin

Now Jacinda Ardern has taken over the Labour leadership it will be interesting to see how Labour and the Greens cooperate and compete.

She promises to be relentlessly positive, but for Labour’s support to go positive they  need to kill off Green momentum. Ardern may do that, with a smile.

Under the MoU they have committed to cooperating to ‘change the government’, but each party will be intent on maximising their party votes, which means competing with each other as well as trying to stem the growth of NZ First and claw some votes off National.

The Greens need Labour to get into government as they are adamant they won’t support a National led government (James Shaw may be tempted but Metiria Turei is very much against it, and the party members aren’t keen either).

Labour will also need the Greens, unless they can perform a miraculous turn around in support and grow (in part by taking back Green votes) enough to form a coalition with NZ First. At this stage Labour + Greens + ??? looks essential for a change of government.

Greens seemed to have decided a couple of weeks ago that Labour were dog tucker so they went for broke on their own, in particular on Turei’s benefit fraud story.

But Ardern changes things considerably, if she can stem Labour’s bleeding and turn things around.

Claire Trevett: Will Jacinda Ardern eat the Greens?

The Green Party too might want to check its fences for holes. The first votes Ardern will attract will be those she gets back from the Greens.

Ardern’s appeal is particularly high in urban areas – the very same areas the Greens have always polled strongest.

Ardern is the best revenge Labour could have served up for the Greens’ recent behaviour.

Some might say the Greens only have themselves to blame for the rise of Ardern.

Many in Labour were furious with the Greens for milking Metiria Turei’s confession for all it was worth, seemingly reckless of the damage it could do to the prospects of a Labour-led government.

It was that incident Little pointed to as the reason Labour slumped in the polls over that week.

True, it suited Labour to see those polls as a referendum on Turei’s confession because that meant they were not a referendum on its own cornerstone policy – the families package issued the week before, in which it traded in National’s tax cuts to upsize Working for Families, pump money into public services and introduce universal payments to parents of newborn babies.

It does not want those polls to be linked at all with that package, thank you.

But there was some anger as well over the Greens’ unseemly and almost cruel gloating at the 1 News Colmar-Brunton poll in which they had rocketed up to 15 per cent.

Never mind that came at the expense of Labour and put Labour over the chasm of non-viability.

Ardern does not need to win votes off National, although she will take all comers.

All she needs to do is ensure the balance between Labour, the Greens and NZ First is more heavily tilted in Labour’s favour.

That helps explain why Ardern has so far kept some distance from the Greens, delaying meeting the co-leaders and refusing to talk about Turei’s admission of welfare fraud, saying she intends to stick firmly to Labour’s campaign – not get drawn into ‘”distractions”.

Labour versus Greens will have to be a significant part of Ardern’s new strategy, while trying to appear to be working together at the same time.

Greens must also be busy reassessing their strategy. They had momentum but Ardern has probably halted that. They may hold support but could easily lose it given how much attention the media are giving Ardern. She has taken over Turei’s campaign oxygen.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out – Metiria relentlessly rebellious, versus Jacinda relentlessly  positive.

For Labour support to go positive probably means Green support going negative.

While comparisons of Ardern and Helen Clark have been made, in style she is more like Key.

They are not politically similar, although Ardern describes herself as a pragmatic idealist, while Key was simply a pragmatist.

The similarity is in their ability to communicate.

Both are chameleons, able to adapt to different social settings and to talk to suit the audience they are addressing.

Key was known as a ‘smiling assassin’.

If Ardern is to succeed she may take over that label.

Whale against the tide

Whale has appeared to have become a convert to Winston Peters and NZ First over the last few months. If things as they appear that would make Cameron Slater a bigger political somer saulter than Martyn Bradbury.

Such is the profound change from sustained attack to frequent promoter it has raised questions about whether money was involved. Whale Oil have some history of being a campaigner for hire.

But such is the lack of reaction or negative reaction to Winston Peters puff pieces, and such is the strength of reaction to attacks on National, on John Key and on Bill English once could be a bit suspicious of whether a reverse psychology game is being played.

Today in Matthew Hooton on John Key’s legacy whoever complied the article quoted Matthew Hooton’s latest NBR column:

But, in the end, Mr Key just couldn’t be bothered. Instead he wasted his eight years as prime minister on a personal project of self-aggrandisement that has ceded all ideological territory to the left. It means Mr English and Mr Joyce will almost certainly respond to Labour’s latest spending promises with new claims on the taxpayers’ wallet of their own – and they will probably be making the right political judgment in doing so.

The one hope to avoid an entirely braindead campaign is that while Mr Key turned out to be as shallow as an empty birdbath, Mr English is clearly capable of considerable ideological depth.

Whoever wrote the article then said:

John Key squandered his personal political capital. Not on useful things, but on stupid, idiotic things that were never going to make a difference to anyone, like the flag referendum. That was the beginning of the end for John Key. He realised that he could no longer sway people his way. They flipped the bird at him and killed off his personal project. I imagine his decision to jack it all in came shortly after the referendum results.

It’s sad really, no one will remember John Key in 3 years time. His high popularity was for naught.

Key was knighted last month and a few days ago Sir John Key receives Australia’s highest honour so he doesn’t seem to have been forgotten yet. Slater may not have forgotten being dropped off Key’s phone list three years ago after Dirty Politics came out in the open, but the Whale Oil troops don’t seem to hold the same grudge.

Sounds a little bitter if you ask me. Yes he could’ve done more to further a centre right philosophy instead of pinching votes with centre left antics but some might say this was required to stay on the treasury benches.

– Steve Kay, currently 11 upticks

No one will remember John Key in three years? Rubbish!
He is and will remain one of our most internationally respected politicians and New Zealand Prime Ministers.

– Jude, currently 29 upticks

John Key was the best politician of my lifetime. Did he go to the left? Yes, under MMP it is political suicide to ignore what middle voting families want.
I have never blamed Key, and the fact that the left vilified him for being Mr nice-guy says more about them than him.

– KGB, currently 20 upticks

He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister leading us through a global financial crisis and coming out at the top of the world. He wasted his eight years as Prime Minister coping with two catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch and a catastrophic earthquake in Kaikoura, and yet somehow the country is still not bankrupt. If anyone else was Prime Minister during that period we would probably now have the economy of Venezuela.

– Uncle Bob, currently 30 upticks

John Key did nothing? Apart from getting rid of Helen Clark, steering the country almost effortlessly through the worst recession in our lifetime and coping with not one, but three major earthquakes. Apart from that, you mean?

– MacDoctor, currently 30 upticks

I read Hootens article yesterday. It just reminded me how petty irrelevant people become when their jealously takes hold.

Key was one of our most outstanding PMs

We’re not a country of revolutionaries. We don’t need massive ideological swings. We like stability. Key gave us this in spades.

– Valid Point, currently 22 upticks

If the post was aimed at slagging off Key then it failed badly. But was it designed to rally the troops to show how well Key is liked amongst the Whale commenters?

I doubt it by the look of posts promoting Peters, where Slater has taken to getting directly involved on comments threads, trying to talk against the tide of criticism of Peters. Without much success by the look of the tick balance.

From Vox populi, Vox Dei: On Winston being Prime Minister:

WOSlaterVTroops

This has become quite common, with anti-National posts getting strong opposition from commenters, and pro-Peters posts getting slammed. And Slater seems to have no potency in his attempts to stem the counter-damage to his agenda.

Labour called ‘lying losers’ over Sir John pettiness

There have been a number of attacks on John Key after his knighthood was announced in the Queen’s Birthday honours. These have largely come from Labour associated sources.

One of these attacks was in a Standard post Arise Sir John, which set the tone for many dirty comments there.

While no party seems to want to associate with Martyn Bradbury he also blasted the knighthood in Why I will never call John Key Sir. Ever:

This vacant optimism merchant banker whose laid back persona struck a chord with middle NZs anti-intellectualism made this country far worse for the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us.

That sums up a common level of pettiness and bitterness in New Zealand politics.

David Farrar blasts another example in Lying losers:

What a bunch of lying embittered losers.

Once she was out of politics, John Key gave Helen Clark the highest Honour there is – Order of New Zealand. He supported her campaign for UNDP Administrator and gave her 100% support in her campaign to be UN Secretary-General. He also knighted Michael Cullen and gave him significant board appointments.

Key is retired and out of politics. But the nasty losers at Labour are so choking on their bile they actually authorise an advertisement smearing and attacking him for getting a knighthood. Have you seen anything so petty before? They also repeat their lie about taking $1.7 billion out of the health sector when in fact Vote Health increased $4.8 billion in nominal terms, $3.0 billion in real terms and by over 10% in real per capita terms.

This was in reference to this post on the Young Labour Facebook page:

YoungLabourJohnKey

In the fine print at the bottom…

YoungLabourAuthorised

…is an authorisation notice: Authorised by Andrew Kirton, 160n Willis Street, Wellington

Kirton is Labour’s General Secretary so this attack on Key seems to be authorised by the Labour Party.

I’m not a fan of titles, but using Key’s knighthood announcement as an excuse to attack Key’s record in this manner looks bad for Labour.

Green MP’s “disgusting legacy”

Steffan Browning hasn’t got the most illustrious of legacies in his parliamentary career. He has been in Parliament since 2011. From a video on his party profile:

SteffanBrowning

Browning has put a big brown stain on his career and on his Green Party with a dirty response to John Key’s valedictory speech.

From the Newshub report:

Green MP Steffan Browning scorned Mr Key’s “disgusting legacy”, posting an image of a glass full of a pale red liquid on his desk in Parliament.

“Thought John Key might like a little more blood for his valedictory speech, the day that we get confirmation of the raid he approved was responsible for innocent civilian deaths,” he wrote.

Mr Browning’s post was made on his private Facebook page, not his verified MP page – but he did tell Newshub earlier on Wednesday he wouldn’t be looking back on Mr Key’s time fondly.

“I don’t have a favourite memory of John Key, and I’m alarmed he’s not being held to account on the issue with our part in the wars in the Middle East – Afghanistan in particular,” he said.

“There’s nothing too good at all.”

This reflects poorly on Browning, and by association on the Green Party. He is another MP who has never been near being in government who has no idea about the realities of having the responsibility of running the country.

I hope the Greens distance themselves from this inappropriate gesture.

Browning won’t be standing for re-election from the Green list this year. If he had put himself forward again he would have struggled to get a good enough position on the Green list to get back in.

His most notable effort as an MP was in 2014 when Browning, while Green spokesperson for natural health products, signed an online petition supporting the use of homeopathy to treat the Ebola virus. That would risk more lives than John Key’s actions did.

Greens seem to have ditched a role of spokesperson for natural health products and are likely to have ditched Browning if he hadn’t indicated he would stand himself down.