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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:51 am

Has Tea-gate outed the real Key?

Nov 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, Opinion

SMILE-LESS: John Key. IMAGE: STUFF

ANYONE seeking political office would be wise to turn down a cuppa, it seems, after the leaf has lent its name to yet another political scandal

Of course, it’s nothing to do with the beverage and all to do with deciding what is and isn’t acceptable in the media.

But for once, in a media landscape obsessed with the minutiae of political life, this week’s scandal is relevant and important.

Political campaigns are run very much like a circus.  PR ring-masters organise events and spectacle, the lions are trotted out to perform and call each other liars, and the acrobats dance on wings of rhetoric above the crowd.

But just occasionally, we stop watching the show and realise the lion has whip marks on his back and the acrobats are looking tired.

In this case, John Key’s seemingly unending honeymoon with the public may be shattered by whatever is on this tape.  Of course, we don’t know for sure, but why else is he fighting back so vehemently?

So the PM doesn’t like being taped without his knowledge.  Neither, I suspect, did the Urewera 18, and they didn’t invite journalists first.

It is at times like this we remember what an inexperienced politician John Key really is, and how few times he has been caught out.

Watching him stuck on a loop during a press conference, dictating to reporters what his public were really interested in, it seemed to me as if he had finally cracked under the pressure.

This isn’t, as Mr Key has suggested, any sort of parallel to the UK’s phone-hacking scandal.  It just doesn’t hold up, and comparing his situation to that of a grieving family was absurd.

What this tape may reveal is the private John Key, the assassin behind the smile.

How does our prime minister deal with a potential coalition partner when he believes no one is watching?  What kind of things does he say about his voters, and the public of New Zealand?

John Banks is outspoken, conservative and willing to go on record with outrageously racist comments.  In contrast, pragmatist John Key won’t even go on the record with an opinion about the Springbok tour. So how does the latter communicate with such a polemicist when he believes the cameras are off?

All too often our media doesn’t look behind the curtain.  We eat the popcorn sold to us by the public relations machine and take in acrobatic rhetoric for its entertainment value.

Perhaps what John Key is scared of is a little harsh reality creeping into the circus that is the campaign trail.

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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