One of the pleasures of our daily morning walk around Ponsonby/Herne Bay is stopping and chatting to other locals enjoying their long blacks and flat whites outside the numerous restaurants and cafes. Politics is the most popular topic with left and right more or less equally represented. There are few arguments and, remarkably, few disagreements. While we each have our loyalties and preferences, none of us is one-eyed. This also goes some way to explaining why Michelle Boag and I rarely disagree when we’re on Jim Mora’s Panel. Reasonably intelligent people an example of false modesty, since I actually think I’m hugely intelligent and Michelle is quite smart reasonably intelligent people are likely to agree on most things.
Until recently the talk has been around David Shearer’s leadership of the Labour Party and his chances of being our next Prime Minister. The left/right consensus has been that Shearer is the wrong man for the job, but if he survives beyond mid, he’s likely to get it anyway. A Labour-led coalition will win by default. But the really interesting development among the Ponsonby/Herne Bay political intelligentsia is the number of right-wingers who expect John Key to stand down in the middle of next year. While I’m not going to risk $5 on iPredict, I’m reasonably sure there’s a more than 50:50 chance that they’re right. Reason One is that I don’t think John Key sees himself as, or is a career politician. He’s already on record as saying that if National loses the next election he’ll move on.
Reason Two is that Key is Prime Minister of New Zealand because being Prime Minister was on his bucket list: make it big on Wall Street; make 50 million bucks, become Prime Minister of New Zealand; write a book, star in a movie with Madonna; buy Queensland… And the thing with bucket lists is, when you’ve ticked each one off, you move on. So this is really just another version of Reason One. Reason Three is that bucket-list people are only interested in doing things that bring them pleasure. Key isn’t having fun anymore. He has that ‘can’t be bothered’ look of someone who thought it was going to be all wine and roses – and for four years it was – but now finds that the wine has gone sour and the roses are wilting.
Reason Four is that it can only get worse. Who needs it? Who needs having to make a grovelling apology in the House? Who needs being badgered by Gower and Garner and Soper and all those other smart-arsed pricks in the Gallery and having to be polite and keep your temper when you’d really like to tell them to shove their microphones up their arses? Who needs being lampooned daily by the cartoonists and lectured by the editorial writers in the press? Who needs having to depend on idiots and liars to keep your majority? Who needs any of it when you’ve got 50 grand in the bank (plus megabucks of interest) and could be touring the world with your lovely wife and children on your super yacht?
Which brings me to Reason Five. Unlike most Members of Parliament, Key has options. He has options galore. But, mostly, I think Key looks over it – tired, jaded, disillusioned. Good god, you can’t even make a bloody joke about some fat German with the ridiculous name of Dotcom without it coming back to haunt you. Watching Key replying half a dozen times to the same question put to him half a dozen times by Paddy Gower a night or so back, I was reminded of how I feel when I have a diabetic hypo – lethargic, listless, your energy just drains out of the bottom of your legs. Not a good feeling. Not a good sign. Maybe I’ll invest that $5 on iPredict after all. Oh, and I forgot Reason Six: Key doesn’t like to lose.