Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, September 23rd, 2014 - 70 comments
Categories: accountability, blogs, brand key, david cunliffe, David Farrar, democracy under attack, john key, Left, news, spin - Tags:
Action Station (campaigning for a fairer NZ)
has taken took out a full page ad in today’s last week’s NZ Herald, asking to vote to clean up dirty politics:
— Dirty Politics (@DirtyPoliticsNZ) September 16, 2014
Let’s be clear what is meant by “Dirty Politics” as outlined in Dirty Politics, by Nicky Hager
Several journalists in the mainstream media, have taken to using the term Dirty Politics pretty loosely. They are implying it is a reference to Hager’s book, but use the term in ways to make it seem like the opposition parties do it too. Dirty Politics does not refer to every isolated example of attack politics. It does not refer to any attempt to critically hold the governing party to account.
Dirty Politics (as Hager exposes it), is an orchestrated plan by the National Party and their associates, to relentlessly attack their opponents using a two track strategy and covert black ops.
The aim of Lusk and his allies like Cameron Slater is to use a two track strategy to install far right MPs in the National Party, and thereby move the party and ultimately government to the right. This involved having a smiley front man (John Key) as leader of the party, and PM. He would be kept at a distance from the orchestrated attack politics.
Opponents, within National and in opposition parties, would be relentlessly attacked using covertly orchestrated black ops. This involves National MPs and party staffers feeding information to Cameron Slater, his Whale Oil blog, sometimes in coordination with David Farrar and his Kiwiblog. This serves as a vehicle to feed attack stories to the mainstream media. Alongside this, attacks and threats (of personal revelations) have been used to ensure journalists worked for and not against the attack bloggers and their preferred candidates or MPs.
The current state of our mainstream media serves to enable and amplify such covert black ops. It is dominated by commercial imperatives that promote infotainment, and superficial reporting, focused on drama and sensationalism. With constraints on time and money, many journalists are too willing to repeat lines fed to them by political operators, rather than do more in depth investigation and analysis. And the National Party’s covert smear machine uses a lot of personal, sensationalistic smears of the kind that infotainment feed on.
Lusk based his approach on the idea that attack politics disengages many potential voters from politics and is a disincentive to voting. The result is that it lowers voter turnout, but especially disengages more potentially left wing and independent voters. (p. 18 of Dirty Politics: How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment).
Such attack politics were used consistently and relentlessly against David Cunliffe, before he became leader of the Labour Party. Some of the MPs in (the mainly right wing of) the Labour caucus were also against Cunliffe becoming leader, hence their name “ABC: Anyone But Cunliffe). And these ABCs appear to have been consistently feeding their version of the struggle to the media. However it is done, and whoever is doing it, it is the ABC’s version that gets the most coverage, and the most positively slanted coverage. Such an approach also feeds into the Lusk-Slater black ops attack machine.
Cunliffe never has had a fair go, being always under attack from the right wing smear machine, while also never fully being supported by the conservative elements within his own caucus.
Any opposition party MPs who work in such a ways as to reinforce the National Party smear machine, are complicit in driving away potential left wing voters.
You can click on a link here to open the Action Station letter in a more readable window.
We, the undersigned XXXX New Zealanders, are concerned about the state of our democracy.
We’ve recently learned that some of our politicians have taken dirty politics to new depths and have seen how democratic checks and balances have been eroded in New Zealand.
Some people say we don’t care. Some say dirty politics will discourage us from voting.
But we do care. Very much, and we will step up and vote for democracy this election.
Here are five urgent steps that need to be taken by our political leaders:
– Establish a high calibre, non-partisan Royal Commission to investigate the workings of government.
– Restore democracy to Christchurch by handing back leadership to elected local representatives.
– Ensure our academics and community leaders can speak out freely on matters of public importance.
– Increase and secure funding for high quality public interest news broadcasting.
– Increase protection for freedom of information.
Can you, our political leaders, do it?
We will be voting and we’ll be getting others along too. We are asking you to show some real leadership and start doing what it takes to restore our democracy.
That’s what we’ll be deciding on — you can bet your vote on it.
XXXX members of ActionStation
The election has come and gone. But the other requests can be a focus for a lot of future action.
Update: Hager on the election.
Nicky Hager has been reported as saying that the attack politcs that he described were used in the election. Cameron Slater kind of agrees with him, but, showing just how ethically challenged he is, he claims people just don’t care.
Hager said the issues revealed “have to be addressed” and should be seen as “accountability” in a democracy rather than attacks on National. “What we saw in the results was that National won, Labour was pretty discredited and piles of people didn’t vote – that’s what my book was about.
“It shows their tricks and smears and the systematic abuse of power I wrote about has a damaging effect. Writing about it is part of the road towards trying to fix it.
“These issues have begun – they haven’t ended – with the election day. The result was always likely to be what it was.”