Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our spineless Prime Minister

Last week, John Key demonstrated his utter lack of backbone by refusing to stand up to Paul Henry's racism, either at the time or after the fact. Yesterday he did it again. Challenged in his weekly press conference about his government's failure to congratulate Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo, he procrastinated and wibbled and then said:

“I’m not aware of why he’s in jail and it’s not for me to comment about what’s appropriate in terms of a country’s putting people in those facilities.”
Character is revealed under stress, and what's revealed here is appalling: an ignorant and insular man, who hasn't bothered to read a newspaper (or, presumably, his MFAT briefing) over the weekend, but also one who, when confronted with the story of someone who has been jailed for standing up for democracy and human rights, doesn't think it is appropriate to comment. Does Key have any principles at all? Or just a default setting of kow-towing to China?

But all is saved - overnight Key has stuck his finger in the wind, ran a focus group, and now feels it is politically safe to congratulate a Nobel prize winner and victim of Chinese oppression - albeit perfunctorily and with bad grace:

"Yes the Government offers him our congratulations," Mr Key said this morning as he headed into the National party's weekly caucus meeting.
If that's all he's going to say, you have to wonder why he didn't say it yesterday. But that would have involved standing for something - something our Prime Minister never does. The contrast with Helen Clark couldn't be clearer - we knew what she stood for. But Key stands for nothing. He is a man without principles, spineless, hollow.