|John Key following the script|
Traditionally, hard questions are always directed at politicians attending the Waitangi day celebrations at Te Tii Marae. John Key knows this and fled before the first question was fired his way. In doing so the Prime Minister showed an enormous amount of disrespect for his hosts and indeed tikanga Maori.
However, this is not unexpected. Waitangi day is a triumphant marketing day for the current government. The government relies on a peaceful and uneventful Waitangi Day to cement the idea that Maori and the government share a mutual relationship of respect and compromise, epitomised by the Maori/National Party coalition. A peaceful and uneventful day is also crucial in terms of perpetuating the Prime Ministers image as an everyman loved by all (even Maori radicals). If The Prime Minister had the courage to stay he would have been held to account. Accountability is a fundamental democratic concept, obviously, while image management is fundamental to the game of politics, John Key seems to value the latter. John Key needs to realise democracy is bigger than politics, an informed populace is better than one that operates according to perceptions. But i guess above all John Key values image. Receiving a verbal bashing from people who were so infatuated with you one year ago is not in the interest of a positive image. It is not in the interest of any Prime Minister to stick around while your every failure is highlighted in front of virtually every media outlet in the country.
I guess this is another instance in which John Key is exposed as all spin and no substance. He turned up to Waitangi, literally smiled and waved, talked to a few children, brown people and lots of other non-National supporters. He gave a cute speech then fucked off before anyone had the chance to ask him anything remotely serious. Can’t say I, or anyone else, expected anything less.
It’s a shame Waitangi Day is now an elaborate PR exercise. A day where the government makes New Zealanders feel good about themselves and their country. This not a bad thing but it is a shame that we need a PR team to orchestrate a day where we can feel proud to be New Zealanders.
UPDATE: I enjoy how Key labels anyone protesting against the government as rent-a-crowd. I think that label is beginning to lose its venom. Repetition tends to have that effect though.