The leaked emails which helped bring about the downfall of former Nat leader Don Brash hit the headlines again today, for all the wrong reasons.
Journalists have already forgotten the insidious tricks and dodgy connections still maintained by the top echelons of the National Party. The real story is not the emails, but their contents, published in Nicky Hager’s Hollow Men. The media have a duty to intensely scrutinise the modern National Party (and other parties) for the same old tricks.
These were emails that revealed National Party connections to shifty organisations like the Exclusive Brethren. They revealed underhanded donations, radical right-wing ideology, and “dog-whistling” strategies to attempt to trick Kiwis into voting for them.
And Don Brash was just one of the men involved.
The big players are all still present in National. They include the highly influential Minister Steven Joyce, who as the 2005 campaign manager for the Nats worked very closely with the Exclusive Brethren on their $1m campaign to oust Labour. During the campaign Joyce was adamant he’d had no such connections, but The Hollow Men revealed him to be nothing more than a liar. Now, the media love him.
Of course let’s not forget about the Prime Minister John Key himself, who was fingered in the book as receiving emails from the brethren, and treated as an ‘insider’ by the Brash camp. And Key’s Government is still using many of the same Crosby/Textor strategies today. In fact Crosby/Textor are still Key’s first PR port of call.
Key may not be crying ‘one law for all’ (rather, that seems Phil Goff’s forte lately). But Key is using the same old Crosby/Textor tactics to sell tax cuts and cuts in public services. The extent to which the deception of language is used pushes morality to the brink. Apparently, under Key’s regime tax cuts for the rich will make the poor better off, and cuts in the state sector will consolidate public services.
And why wouldn’t the Nats continue using the same tactics? It’s worked wonders for them.
Ironically it was those Crosby/Textor tactics that got the Nats out of the Hollow Men pit in the first place. The story was turned swifty away from the email contents to the question of who “stole” them… The story was now a “who dunnit”.
It was a remarkably successful Tory decoy that journalists are still falling for hook, line, and sinker.
It’s time they woke up.
The media have a duty to remember the book that did their job for them.