By Willie Jackson
The more I see John Key in action, the more I see a master trickster at work.
You might argue that all successful politicians are tricksters and conmen.
That's because to win votes and stay in power, they need to persuade a majority of voters that they are intelligent, well informed, decent, reasonable and competent people.
I would have to admit that Key has all of those qualities. But he and other politicians must also show us that they have the best interests of New Zealanders at heart, that they wouldn't let their personal prejudices or ego stand in the way of serving their country, and wouldn't yield to the temptation to exaggerate when they're on the campaign trail.
So they fib. Or twist the facts. Or straight out lie. And the voters, often because they're stupid, or they're blinded by their dislike of the other parties, let them get away with it.
Otherwise, how can you explain why John Banks has made it into Parliament again? Or why Winston Peters can convince so many that he is the Messiah?
But John Key is another case. In fact, he's the craftiest of the lot. Many Maori can't decide whether he's a big supporter of advancing Maori development or just an outright trickster and opportunist.
After all, he came up with the deal which has given the Maori Party a share in Government, he supports Whanau Ora and there have been other moves, like supporting Maori rights at the United Nations and promoting Maori MPs in his party.
But hang on. Isn't John Key the guy who has said he goes along with Don Brash's Orewa speech bemoaning all the Maori privilege that somehow was wrecking the country?
Well yes, it is the same John Key - although he did make the proviso that he wouldn't have expressed his concerns in exactly the way that Don did.
And isn't this the same John Key who happily went along with that toxic Iwi/Kiwi billboard before the 2005 election?
Yep. That's him.
But, however divisive and contradictory he's been, that's history now. What's more relevant is what he's been up to lately. Well, unfortunately, more of the same.
You've seen him on telly discussing the case of water rights - giving the appearance of a thoughtful leader anxious to do the best for all New Zealanders, including Maori I suppose.
But listen to the words and here he is again shafting Maori. Implying that we reckon we own all the water in New Zealand - and possibly all the air too. Implying as well that he knows better than the Waitangi Tribunal.
There's a redneck audience keen to swallow garbage like that and John Key should immediately stop pandering to them.
Auckland Now, 31st August 2012