I first met John Key in 2005 when he’d been an MP for a couple of years and I was National’s Otago electorate chair.
He was relaxed, personable and genuinely interested in the people he was meeting.
I was at a dinner with him in Christchurch on Thursday evening – just him, a couple of hundred others and me – and he was just the way he’d been six years ago.
As he went round each table, chatting to everyone, it was like watching a movie star except with him it’s not for show. He is a really good bloke, genuinely interested in people, relaxed with them and likes them and they respond to that.
One of the friends at my table commented how rare it would be in most countries for a political leader to be interacting with people like that and it must make life difficult for his security people especially in a less formal setting than a dinner.
To their credit the security staff cope really well, although yesterday one got a little more than he bargained for.
Canterbury engineering students hung a sign out a window saying “John, mate, come up for a yarn with your country’s future engineers” and he did.
It’s about 4 minutes into the clip before John sees the sign.
There was a bit of banter between John and the students and one asked if one of the security men would challenge the students’ arm wrestling champion.
The story and video have gone round the world giving publicity money can’t buy and reinforcing again just how difficult it will be for the opposition to counter him.
When was the last time a group of students cheered any Prime Minister, let alone a National one?
Offsetting Behaviour loves the informality of New Zealand politics and reckons a National win is underpriced at 95% likely to win the next election on iPredict.
I can dream, but know that getting more than 50% was very rare under First Past the Post and hasn’t been done at all since we’ve had MMP.