The Dim-Post

March 4, 2011

Power vacuum

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:56 am

John Armstrong writes about Simon Power’s surprise resignation, its impact on the National Party and the likely successor to John Key:

And the next leader of the National Party is … well, step up to the mark, Steven Joyce. If John Key stepped down tomorrow, the only other viable candidate just ruled himself out.

My assumption is that Judith Collins will replace Key as National leader, and since Collins is a dangerous sociopath Steven Joyce would be a big improvement. But as Transport Minister he’s waged a jihad against improving public transport in our largest city while approving the construction of massive new roading projects all during a period of soaring petrol prices, so I don’t think he’d be a particularly impressive party leader or Prime Minister.

[Power’s] departure is a major loss for National. Articulate, competent and fastidious to a fault, Power is also blessed with a high degree of common sense – a commodity which tends to evaporate once someone is in the Beehive.

He was touted as a future leader. But while National has been odds-on to win this year’s election, 2014 will be more difficult. If National lost, it would mean Opposition again, possibly for two terms.

As leader, that would mean it would be 2020 before Power got the keys to Premier House.

I don’t know why Power resigned, but nine years isn’t really that long to wait to become Prime Minister – and I don’t think senior politicians make these kind of base calculations about their own careers anyway. Their self-confidence is such that they assume they can drive history before them, win the next election no matter the odds etc.

Max Weber famously described politics as ‘the slow boring of boards’. It doesn’t have to be – a politician can ‘show true courage’ and ‘rush through radical reforms’, but in a complex modern democracy they tend to create more problems than they solve, provoke a backlash and lead to unpopularity and strengthen your opponents who can then sweep to power with a mandate to undo much of your work. Power seems to realise that meaningful reform must be considered, managed, achieved through consensus if possible, and made to endure. So I can see why he doesn’t want to spend the next decade of his life ‘slowly boring boards’.


  1. Judith Collins = electoral oblivion for the Nats. I hope they pick her

    Comment by Michael Stevens — March 4, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  2. Surely he already has a job lined up. In probably unrelated news, I hear Fonterra has a job opening?

    Comment by Phil — March 4, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  3. Judith Collins?! You must be kidding…

    And Phil while I don’t doubt Power’s abilities, I really don’t think he has the track record for Fonterra CEO. He was a lawyer until 29, then went into Parliament. Certainly the Commerce portfolio work would help with Fonterra’s tricky capital restructuring needs but that’s really not enough…

    Comment by garethw — March 4, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  4. Can a bloke not simply decide to actually spend more time with his attractive wife and two children any more without there being an ulterior motive? I applaud Simon Power for looking up and seeing that politics is a rather soul-destroying career in the long-term.

    Comment by Bearhunter — March 4, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  5. And the next leader of the National Party is…

    You’re forgetting that Gerry can already appoint himself Leader of the National Party, under CERRA, if he so chooses.

    Comment by Phil — March 4, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  6. Bearhunter, he was on the radio yesterday saying that politics has run in his veins since he was 15, and always will. He didn’t sound too discouraged…

    Comment by StephenR — March 4, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  7. @ StephenR: Did he? Well, I never. OK, carry theorising you lot.

    Comment by Bearhunter — March 4, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  8. George W. Bush. The law is being changed to enable him to become the next leader of National without living here or having been born here, without getting the support from the majority of the party, and I also hear a sordid rumour that, come election time, the ballot boxes in Kaitaia and surrounds are going to be eighty years old and flown in from Mexico and/or Nigeria.

    Comment by Betty — March 4, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  9. “I don’t know why Power resigned, but nine years isn’t really that long to wait to become Prime Minister – and I don’t think senior politicians make these kind of base calculations about their own careers anyway.”

    He had a law career before he became a politician so unlike numerous labour MP’s who have spent their lives as career politicians he probably wants to do something productive with his life.

    I pity Phil Goff having waited decades to become PM only to have it denied to him.

    Comment by JD — March 4, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  10. Ms Nice: The adventures of a newspaper columnist who finds her career curtailed and turns to importing massive amounts of illicit drugs

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 4, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  11. Argh, wrong thread.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 4, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  12. JD

    Your point being?

    A law career up to the age of 29? Really? That is a career?

    Being a lawyer is being productive? Really?

    This post is about Simon Power and politics.

    I take it from your comment that being a politician is non productive.

    Perhaps you mean politicians who are not Labour are the only one’s who are productive?

    I repeat my question, “What is your point?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 4, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  13. peterlepaysan, take a look at CV’s of Labour MP’s.

    At yes I don’t view politicians as productive but a necessary evil for the workings of a democratic society.

    “A law career up to the age of 29? Really? That is a career?” – why not.

    My point is that someone who had a substantive career prior to politics will have recourse to resuming that career if they decide to leave parliament and thus they are not reliant on their role as a politician to provide them with a above-average standard of living.

    Is that really that hard to understand? Post again if you wish me to explain in simplier terms. [disclosure] I’m a trained lawyer so I’m used to explaining such challenging ideas to the layperson.

    Comment by JD — March 6, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  14. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings :
    disclosure] I’m a trained lawyer…… why not.(sic); a above-average standard (sic); to explain in simplier terms.(sic)

    Nuff said?

    Comment by Galeandra — March 8, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

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