John Key’s public image has been all about the self-made man. His success as National Party leader has been credited to his “quick political instincts”, his “intuition”, his “natural” and “spontaneous” character and his skill in “creating strong visual images that push all the right buttons”.
Some journalists have asked: “Who is giving John Key all this good advice?” But they have merely been pointed to the crew in his parliamentary office. Asked last year if he was getting media training, Key replied: “No. Should I be? I guess there’s part of me that says I’ve got my own natural personality and it’s served me well over the last 45 years. I’m not convinced I should try and make myself into something that I’m not.”
But Key has not been disclosing an important secret about his leadership: that each step of his campaign to become prime minister has been overseen and directed by the same professional manipulators used (and also kept secret) by his predecessor, Don Brash. They are the Australian political tacticians, Crosby/Textor. Their role advising Key is known to National Party staff, including some who are uneasy about Crosby/Textor’s involvement, but has been kept secret from the public.