Thursday, June 26, 2014


 “Politics is the cruellest of careers. Those elected to its highest office must endure constant criticism for as long as they retain the country’s confidence and can expect to be regarded at best with public indifference once their time has passed. This book aims to illuminate the life and politics of a Prime Minister at the height of his power.
It might have been possible to tell the story without his co-operation but it would have lacked his voice and struggled to reflect his personality. The book appears in an election year, a timing of obvious risk for Key. When I sought his co-operation it was on the understanding that this would not be an ‘authorised’ biography. At no stage was he offered, nor did he seek, an opportunity to see the finished text or any part of it before publication.
All unattributed views and conclusions are mine. – John Roughan’s author’s note

John Key. The smiling Prime Minister who can be ruthless, the dollar dealer who rose from political obscurity to New Zealand’s highest office faster than any prime minister of our times. In his sixth year of power his popularity is unrivalled. But who is John Key? What makes him tick?

John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister is the first major analysis of one of New Zealand’s most popular and influential leaders, and a timely one, as Key and his party campaign for a third term in Parliament. Seasoned political journalist John Roughan had extensive access to John Key, his family and closest advisors, in the research and writing of his unauthorised book. The result is that much of John Key’s story comes from the man himself,in extended quotes that run throughout the book.

John Roughan’s portrait of John Key the man and politician is an intimate, insightful and balanced study, and one that asks many searching questions, including: how John Key’s humble childhood shaped him; what motivated him to become Prime Minister; why did he turn his back on a highly-successful career as a global forex trader; what impact have the many major political and national events had on John Key, his family and party; and why it came to a point when he and his wife Bronagh discussed whether he should carry on.

John Key’s early life was rather unorthodox for the future leader of the National Party. Raised in a state house with his two sisters by a Jewish refugee mother – his parents separated when he was young – John Key’s roots are undeniably working class. His mother placed great importance on hard work, education and the discussion of world events. John Roughan believes that John Key’s political views were formed by those early years and that his political decisions fit within the context of his life story. Startlingly, he reveals John Key to be a man little interested in history – either personal or political.

John Key’s two terms as Prime Minister have required every ounce of his financial and political nous. His tenure has been characterised by consistently high approval ratings and robust polling, despite the impact of the global financial crisis; the Canterbury earthquakes and rebuild; the Pike River Mine disaster; partial asset sales; and controversy surrounding the so-called ‘teapot’ tape and the arrest
of Kim Dotcom. How has John Key’s leadership not only endured but thrived during this time?

John Key’s confidence, instinct and will to win have served him well throughout his lifetime, and there are strong signs that he will serve another term as New Zealand’s Prime Minister. John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister provides new insights into what drives our Prime Minister, examining his thoughts and aspirations. John Roughan pays close attention to his rapid political rise and assesses
John Key’s performance in power to date. He also describes the ease with which John Key moves on the world stage, recounting how he came to play that round of golf with President Obama, and spend a weekend at Balmoral Castle with the Royal Family.

John Roughan is a journalist who has been observing and writing on New Zealand politics for the past 40 years. Born in Southland and educated in Christchurch, he graduated from Canterbury University with a degree in History and a diploma in Journalism.
He began his newspaper career on the former Auckland Star newspaper before travelling extensively, working on newspapers in Japan and the United Kingdom at the time of the election of Margaret Thatcher.

On his return, he joined the New Zealand Herald and was posted to the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Wellington in 1983. There he covered the dramatic final years of the Muldoon era and the beginning of the Lange-Douglas Government’s rapid reforms of the New Zealand economy. In 1988 he became the New Zealand Herald’s chief editorial writer and in 1996 he was invited to write a
weekly column which continues to appear in the Weekend Herald.


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