Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Praetorian guard

On election night, we were treated to the unseemly sight of Prime Minister in waiting John Key barrelling into his victory party surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards, rudely shoving everyone else out of the way. Now we learn that these bodyguards are barging their way into caucus meetings at Parliament as well. Exactly who they're there to protect him from, nobody knows - so far the only "threats" they have attempted to deal with have been protesters who ask him awkward questions.

This sort of heavy, overt security presence may be par for the course in America, but it is not the New Zealand way. Helen Clark didn't use it, and nor did any of her predecessors. They understood that they should be approachable when appearing in public, and that therefore security had to be discreet. Key, it seems, would rather wall himself off from the public (and even his own caucus) behind an army of thugs, the same way he walls of his house. If he continues to do so, he may find that contempt and suspicion repaid in kind at the next election.