The Odd Couple – the John and Rodney show

Oh Mr. Key how you kid us about Rodney, the big bad wolf from the ‘extremist’ Act Party.  How the two of you bicker and squabble in public, how you dislike that dastardly Mr. Hide and all he stands for!

We’re led to believe our beloved Prime Minister, with his ‘ordinary New Zealanders’ line – because only a man with a $9 million dollar home in Parnell, not to mention other houses in Omaha Beach, Helensville and Hawaii – knows about the general population and what they want, think and feel, and is protecting us from the radical types off to the right.  The same party who they signed up to a confidence and supply agreement with; the same party who they gave ministerial posts to.

During the Auckland city shake-up over the last two years, various media types, opposition politicians and other commentators were quick to lay into Rodney Hide for his right-wing transformation of the city, against the wishes of the people, and asked why was Mr. Key not reigning him in?  Well, there’s a simple answer – John Key is quite happy with what Rodney did.  The National Party might be at odds with a significant number of the population, but they’re not so dim as to think Rodney Hide would do anything other than put in place right-wing ideals when working on the ‘super city’.  Let’s be clear – John Key chose him as minister for local government, gave him the mandate and let him loose.  For over a year there were constant attacks on the Act leader from the political left, even the NZ Herald portrayed him as undemocratic.  Did anything change in Government?  Did John ask Rodney to reign it in, listen to what the public were saying?  No, of course he didn’t.  The National Party led by John Key is as extreme as Act, but a hell of a lot smarter.  Rodney is quite happy to get publicity by any means, even if it means being seen as the big bogeyman – let’s not forget, this is a man who appeared on the TV show Strictly Come Dancing, was utterly hopeless as a dancer and dropped his partner on her head while attempting a far from simple manoeuvre – hardly the actions of a mild-mannered introvert who lets his work in public office do the talking.  So, John gave Rodney a position in Government, knowing full well what he will do, but not overtly backing any of his actions, remaining silent and portraying a shocked demeanour, implying ‘Oh, Rodney – what have you done! That wasn’t what we wanted, oh if only there was some way of stopping you!’.  Well, there is, and you didn’t take it.  The worst case scenario for National was Rodney doing something very dim, and being kicked out.  As he’s shown, he’s not the brightest kid around and sure enough he got booted by his own party.  Does Mr. Key care?  Not really – at the worst he’s lost a foil to blame all the radical right-wing policies on, but National still look clean and like they represent ‘ordinary New Zealanders’.  So Act have a new leader, and Rodney’s career is likely over for the short-term – will Don Brash fulfil the same role as his predecessor?  He’s never been the image-conscious showman that Rodney is, but I suspect he will still be more than keen to take the ‘credit’ for whatever unpalatable policies National come up with.  Maybe after the next election they will make Don a Minister with the mandate to sell off NZ-owned assets, and then sit back and watch us attack Act again?  National gets its wish to privatise everything including the air we breathe, and still looks like they are in touch and a caring Government.

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