A hard place

Written By: - Date published: 11:41 am, August 10th, 2008 - 13 comments
Categories: Media, same old national, spin - Tags:

Kudos to Crosby Textor for doing such a good job of changing the secret agenda debate to the issue of who taped the conversations (although whoever came up with the absurd idea of taking photos of John’s rubbish should probably be put on leave until the election is over) but they have a harder job ahead of them now the news has broken that there are more recordings out there.

It has been clear for some time that the Nats are playing a small target/brand Key/Labour plus* campaign game but they may have to rethink that now as every time they put out a “policy” document, write a speech or even release a basic media statement they are going to be doing so without knowing if there is something on a tape out there that contradicts what they say and, if so, whether it will be released.

Obviously the way to deal with this would be to pull the entire caucus together and find out exactly what they said at the cocktail party but to do that successfully the Nats would need a tight and collaborative caucus that felt safe admitting their errors openly and I don’t think they have that. Especially after the humiliating example that was made of Bill. Can you, for example, imagine Murray McCully or Gerry Brownlee fessing up to their colleagues that they mouthed off to a total stranger about using front groups to smear Labour politicians or their desire to flick off energy SOEs? And even if they did would they be trusted by their party to have told the whole story?

So how do they ensure they can campaign without setting themselves up for more secret agenda falls? I’ve thought long and hard about that and I don’t think they can without either coming clean with detailed policy (which they can’t afford to do politically but should for the sake of democracy) or by knowing everything that was recorded and working their spin around it. That means finding the guy/s that did it and explains why they are going to such great lengths to do so. Unless they do I expect we’ll see National’s PR machine being throttled back. And given that machine has been used to continually mislead the electorate, that may not be a bad thing at all.

*It was illuminating to hear Bill use the phrase “Labour Plus” as it seems very much the kind of cynical catchy shorthand C/T would use for the strategy they’re running.

13 comments on “A hard place”

  1. deemac 1

    Chris Laidlaw did his bit for the Nats on radio NZ this morning (Sunday), reading out a daft email comparing the taping to the Watergate buggers and referring to “stolen emails” as another example of dirty tricks. If you keep repeating “stolen emails” often enough, no doubt it seeps into peoples’ minds that that’s what happened. And of course the Watergate conspirators had no intention of making any recordings available to the public.

  2. outofbed 2

    What I want to know is did the people in the foyer of the Michael Fowler Centre know they were being filmed and are they pleased that the video is being scoured over ?
    Strange that one secret recording is used to find evidence of another. Is it me or is that slightly hypocritical ?

  3. ghostwhowalks 3

    The people going into the cocktail party arent all that interesting.

    Its when they are leaving…. and with whom.

    Interesting in that nationals stasi wannabes can ‘view’ the tapes , but I doubt if the privacy laws allow them to publicise the person they maybe interested in ( who may be a grandson of some long forgotten NP cabinet minister).
    Since they dont allready connect the face with a name they would depend on wider public or party recognition

    Thats flies slap bang into privacy laws.
    Wonder if the Tory media will be so outraged by underhand tactics as they were last week.

    Thats if they dont get 40 names for a pic !!
    I dont think they have really thought this all out

  4. coge 4

    What happened to Steve P’s alledged 10K evil tory reward, a rich fabrication I’d suggest. Pretty consistant with the whole affair. Some people seem very keen to protect the identity of the covert intruder. Karma does have the habit of biting ones arse.

  5. lprent 5

    coge: I believe that SP said it was a rumor – ie unsubstantiated. That puts it in much the same level than some of the stuff I’ve seen from the nats this last week.

    1. it was a young Nat
    2. no it wasn’t – person was too ‘hip’
    3. it was young labour
    4. it was labour
    5. young labour got ejected from the conference (it didn’t)
    6. no-one ever protested at the labour congress
    – except those anti-EFA people..
    7. it was an enemy of the nats (ok that one I’d guess was correct)

    etc etc

    As far as i can can tell almost all of these are all rumors, however they have all bee said by senior Nat’s publicly this week. It is amazing what a flurry of chaotic activity can happen when Nat’s are honest (and recorded).

    Talking about that, what happened to the famed ‘security tapes’ that would identify the taper? They must have been able to have found those and identified the bod by now. Or should I class their existence as another rumor.

    I saw in another blog that they’d heard that the security cams weren’t running. I suppose someone thought that seeing who was talking to whom might seem a bit too honest as well.

  6. coge 6

    Iprent, I guess when rumours start flying the story has captured peoples interest. Like you, I’m curious & keen to learn the facts.
    Rumours are best put to rest.

  7. lprent 7

    coge: As far as I can tell so far, the only facts are…

    One or more people got into the cocktail party at the start of the Nat’s conference – probably as an invited guest or they paid their $130 tab. They were wearing something that recorded at least some conversations.

    From what I’ve heard from the news media and the recordings, they talked to some senior National politicians about where they saw policy directions going.

    Legally if they were a participant in the conversations (ie not eavesdropping), then there is unlikely to be any legal remedy available to the Nat’s or the politicians, and no criminal charges could be laid.

    We don’t know if all of the taped conversations have been released yet.

    We also don’t know the identity of the taper(s). However bearing in mind the furor over the revelations about Nat’s private policy ideas, I’d suggest that the taper(s) keep his/her heads down.

    We now know that some senior Nat’s ‘personal’ policy preferences go beyond those expressed in public. That is something that was speculated on, and frequently avoided or denied.

    We also know that they have quite derogatory ways of describing voters. That was some rather interesting choices of words and phrases, essentially talking about voters as if they were dumb animals under training.

  8. coge 8

    Iprent, I agree with parts of you summary. Just to clear things up,
    who you are refering to when you say “we”. I take it is not the royal “we”! Cheers.

  9. lprent 9

    🙂 Yes, as in ‘we’ – the public. I’ve probably just sparked yet another conspiracy theory.

    The impact of all of this? That will be interesting to see, but the nett effect to date has been for people to see the Nat’s on a confused defensive. It hasn’t been an edifying experience. Most of what was actually said wasn’t new, it was obviously the direction of the Nat’s thrust.

    However what it will have done is to remove the blinkers that some people had that they could just change governments and expect few changes in direction. That will hurt national in the soft vote. No amount of smiling will get around that.

    captcha: girl Emperior

  10. Scribe 10

    Coge: What happened to Steve P’s alledged 10K evil tory reward, a rich fabrication I’d suggest.

    lprent: I believe that SP said it was a rumor – ie unsubstantiated.

    I see the post — http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=2707 — now talks about it being a rumour, but I’m not sure that was how it was presented initially. I seem to recall it was presented as fact, because I went searching for a website reporting the story and didn’t find it.

    I may be wrong, but I will let Steve clear that up. I’d be disappointed if he just changed the original post to cover his derriere (without acknowleding it at least).

  11. r0b 11

    No, it hasn’t changed. It was originally reported as rumour.

  12. lprent 12

    Scribe: It said that it was a rumor when I saw it in the scheduled release queue.

    If it hadn’t then I’d have been the first asking where the link was.

    Besides the comments section would have been full of comments asking for the link, proof, whatever. There isn’t. Read the comments section.

    captcha: No subtarget

  13. Scribe 13


    Thanks for clearing that up.

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