Key refuses to release embargoed speech to media – media not trusted to spin it the right way

Golly. ?Look how surly John Armstrong was yesterday

It is not common for the Prime Minister’s office to refuse to supply the news media with embargoed copies of a statement or speech containing a major announcement.

However, requests by media organisations for an early copy of John Key’s speech to Parliament confirming that New Zealand will be sending military personnel to Iraq to train local troops were rebuffed.

Rather than enabling them to have news stories ready to go the moment the embargo was lifted, the media – like everyone else – would have to wait until the Prime Minister spoke in the House.

In adopting such an approach, Key was seeking to go over the heads of the media and talk directly to New Zealanders about the reasons why such a deployment is necessary without his rationale being analysed and criticised before the public had actually heard that rationale.

You have to love the entitlement: ?”Key was seeking to go over the heads of the media and talk directly to New Zealanders”.

The anger is palpable. ?

That Key resorted to such a tactic is an indicator that on the question of whether and how New Zealand should contribute to multinational efforts to counter Isis, the Prime Minister is not really winning the debate.

An extraordinarily lengthy softening-up period has failed to do its job. If anything, the positions of opponents of the deployment have hardened.

Opinion polls show a slight majority of the public in favour of the deployment. – 49 per cent as against 43 per cent opposed on an average of two recent television polls. There is no upside in this deployment. Even if things go smoothly, the numbers favouring the mission are unlikely to rise. If the contingent strikes trouble, Key could quickly find himself on the wrong side of public opinion.

That is a position that he finds more uncomfortable than other leaders, such is the Prime Minister’s unrelenting efforts to keep National anchored firmly in the mainstream of public opinion.

In Parliament, Key was Man Alone. Even Act – a party which is straight up and down about New Zealand needing to contribute to curry favour with traditional allies – is expressing reservations about the deployment.

Armstrong does have a point. ?Key?is a man alone. ?He’s having to deliver on being part of an international defence coalition – now called ‘the club’. ?Our country has long term relationships, agreements and pacts that we need to honour, no matter how petulant and selfish most of our media, parliament, and almost half of the country are.

Key had to roll this out, come hell or high water. ?In the end, he did it with no support from anyone, and by forcing it upon his own party. ?No vote in parliament. ?All coalition partners against, or with clear caveats.

One thing was for sure: ?he could not rely on the media to give him a fair go. ?The only answer was to freeze them out. ? That too will have damaged the increasingly strained relationship Key has with media.

A man alone. ?Absurdly, a government with the most popular PM and the most votes ever during the MMP era is between a rock and a hard place, and taking a lot of political damage.

 

– NZ Herald

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