What really drives the opposition crazy about John Key is that there are two of him. There’s public John Key – always relaxed – famously so, compassionate but sensible, obviously smart and dignified, but not above making fun of himself a bit. All of these elements combine to make Key a phenomenally popular Prime Minister.
There’s also Parliamentary John Key, who is the opposite of all of these things. He’s a guy who – literally – roars with laughter when confronted with child poverty or sexual abuse statistics. Parliamentary John Key is a ridiculous hateful child, and he’d be un-electable if the general public ever saw him; but because nobody watches Question Time they don’t. (And the PM’s awfulness is diluted by a clutch of moronic Labour MPs screaming homophobic slurs at Chris Finlayson or jeering at Gerry Brownlee about his weight.)
So the opposition has spent the last seven years trying to convince the public that John Key is an awful child, and they’ve failed because Key just doesn’t behave like that in public. Only now – with the revelation that he runs around his local cafe pulling the waitress’s hair – they get a glimpse behind the curtain.
I don’t know what any of that means in terms of ongoing popularity, polls, etc, but it can only be good for the opposition that their narrative of Key as a creepy giggling man-child has some credibility with the public.