Clean it up

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:

Let’s be clear what is meant by “Dirty Politics” as outlined in Dirty Politics, by Nicky Hager

Hager and his book Dirty Politics

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.

See chapter 5 here “The Lusk Plan”

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.

The full text is here:

Dear Politicians,

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.”


70 comments on “Clean it up”

  1. Sable 1

    The mainstream media need to be held to account before anything else can change. Ironic the ad is in the Herald….

  2. Ad 2

    Who are the people behind this effort?
    They sound like they have their heart in the right place.

    • karol 2.1

      According to their “About” page they are:

      Independent and member-led, we are affiliated with no political party, and answer only to our members. ActionStation is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on donations from real people to fund its work and in-kind donations from the public. We do not accept donations from political parties or the Government.

      If you think that ActionStation is a much needed solution to the problem of political disengagement and you want to see us thrive — then please join us.

      Their contact page gives some people’s first names (pseudonyms?) only:

      National Director? That’s Marianne
      Volunteer with us! Email Laura:
      questions about donations and membership, contact Lesleigh

    • Tracey 2.2

      They were trying to raise money for this prior tot he election. I donated. I wonder if the Herald didn’t have space for sale last week?

  3. Bill 3

    I believe your post talks to the most important issues in NZ as of right now.

    Unfortunately, I expect it all to swamped, washed away and largely forgotten – courtesy of a tsunami about to be generated by ‘Our Children in Wellington’

    I wonder if anyone will forgive them that?

    • weka 3.1

      The list of unforgiveables is getting a tad long.

      • yeshe 3.1.1

        +1 weka — it’s like the elastic in their ethics is stretched and their unforgiveables will eventually end up around their ankles and trip them up ! ( very mixed metaphors, but I’m sure you’ll get the visual!)

  4. SeanExile 4

    Do you seriously believe all this yourself?

    the conspiracy to move National right and having John Key as a frontman and involved in this grand plot.
    All led by bloggers and dark moneymen.

    The reason it will be buried is that for most normal kiwis this isn’t interesting nor will it register on the voters. Politics is dirty – ohh id never thought of that before…

    This is important to activists who think the standard is a bastion of objective truths were the worldview of ordinary voters is formed by activists who think that they have the only correct answer and that everyone who doesn’t see this is part of the giant conspiracy against them. the rest sees the changes in Labour and the installment of leftwing leaders as being as dirty as whatever Slater and his gang has done.

    When one think there is an absolute truth and that truth is identical to ones own opinion its time to wear that tinfoil hat…

    • karol 4.1

      Objective truth? You don’t seem to be dealing with that.

      Have you read Dirty Politics? Do you understand the difference between what is exposed in that book, and the usual kinds of politics in NZ? – it maybe grubby, but it’s not on the same scale as shown in Hager’s book.

      When one think there is an absolute truth and that truth is identical to ones own opinion its time to wear that tinfoil hat…

      I love the way so many rightees accuse the left of their own failings.

      How’s that hat fitting?

      Hager has produced some evidence, you are only spouting un-supported opinions.

      • Murray Olsen 4.1.1

        Has she/he read Dirty Politics? I doubt it, but I’d bet they’ve read about it on Whalespew. Ede, Adams, Collins, and others are conveniently left out of the comment.

        I just hope Beverley Wakem is up to the job.

    • Kaplan 4.2

      “the conspiracy to move National right and having John Key as a frontman and involved in this grand plot. All led by bloggers and dark moneymen”

      Leaving the deliberately conspiratorial sounding language aside. Anyone who has read dirty politics, seen the evidence, seen the actual results, and really believes that these people who want to see the end of Labour are not using these methods, show’s an extreme naivety.

    • Tracey 4.3

      I am guessing you didnt read it… and still have an opinion on it.

    • gobsmacked 4.4

      Hi Sean, good to see you’ve dropped the pretence of being a Labour guy.

      People on the left can disagree about pretty much anything … except what they think of Slater and his gang.

      Put more effort into your concern t**ling, it ain’t working.

  5. Gosman 5

    You are aware that the left lost the election aren’t you? That tends to limit the ability to demand action with an expectation that it will be acted upon.

    • minarch 5.1

      “You are aware that the left lost the election aren’t you? That tends to limit the ability to demand action with an expectation that it will be acted upon”

      you will note the Add is appealing to the citizens of this country Gosman, not any one particular political party

      or do the citizens not get a say either after the bold new dawn of the messiah ?

      I actually saw a commenter on the herald the other day refer to JK as god, disturbing to say the least !

    • emergency mike 5.2

      You are aware aren’t you, that the government is supposed to represent and listen to ALL New Zealanders. Not just the 29% who voted for them.

      • Blue 5.2.1

        Yes they are, I’m sure theyll represent the 14% that voted Labour just as well.

      • Gosman 5.2.2

        I’m well aware of that. I’d suggest demanding what is blatantly a partisan investigation in to the actions of members (including the leader) of a political party that has just won a third term in office with an increased majority smacks a tad of arrogance and wishful thinking .

        You might get more purchase if perhaps what was being asked for was a review in to how politicians in general interact with the media with the aim of setting up a code of conduct.

        • framu

          the fact that nats won doesnt magically make the issues go away

          thats innocence by populism

          • Gosman

            I didn’t deny any problem exists. I stated if you want it resolved it is unlikely to get done if you make it a partisan political issue straight after an election where your side just got trounced.

    • Puckish Rogue 5.3

      Come now Gosman, if you take away the amount of people who didn’t vote then you’ll see National only got a third of the votes and not nearly half and besides theres a growing belief that John Key is a very bad man who won’t give the left a go at running the country

      I have a view of the people running this are sitting around a table in a cafe having competitions seeing who can say how bad NZ is and theres one person with their head down just quietly saying sadly “I just really, really hate him”

      • Bill 5.3.1

        Thank god decent humour hasn’t died – 🙂

        • Puckish Rogue

          Thanks, I wasn’t sure if that last bit was going to work…maybe it would have been better if I’d used just quietly weeping saying “I just really, really hate him”

      • Gosman 5.3.2

        Are you trying to appeal to the people who represent the people who didn’t vote. Oh wait. They don’t have any because they didn’t vote.

    • Tracey 5.4

      Are you aware that “winning” the election doesn’t mean that everyone has to settle down in their armchair and wait for the next one while closing their eyes to how some behave.

      FOG thinking

    • framu 5.5

      christ gosman – no one thinks your quite that stupid

      you know the issue here (not hagers book itself – but what this ad is asking for) is really about the govt, any govt abusing its power to manipulate the electorate and attack those it doesnt like

      so – heres your chance – do you support big govt meddling and abuse of power or not?

      • Gosman 5.5.1

        See above for my reply to that.

        • framu

          i dont see any sort of answer to the question

          how about you humor me and just answer it here?

          do you support big govt meddling and abuse of power or not?

          I would support a wide ranging bi-partisan investigation – because i see the issues that were exposed by dirty politics as very major. Do you?

          or are you just an apologist for state corruption?

          this acutally is one of the rare occasions where the issue is black and white – either you support any govt doing was what revealed or you dont – there is no middle ground on this one

          • Gosman

            Excellent then we agree. A wide ranging bi-partisan review of the relationship between the media (both formal and informal) and politicians with a eye to developing a set of standards or a code of conduct is acceptable to me as well. However if you are looking for a witchhunt you are bang out of luck.

  6. Lanthanide 6

    Hager should have called the book Abuse Of Power.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    There seems to be some confusion about the dates. The ad was placed last week, wasn’t it?

  8. Granted 8

    I don’t recall Hagar predicting a National win for the elections. I could be wrong, but seems to be his message now.

    He has had his few weeks in the limelight to ensure he sells a few books just like the other times.

    No doubt he will release another book just prior to another election and try to sell some books. It seems to work for him.

    He really is irrelevant and not entirely honest.

    • Murray Olsen 8.1

      What has he said or written that was dishonest?

    • karol 8.2

      What has anyone’s predictions got to do with it. Predictions are merely guess work – some better informed than others. Some of us don’t go in very much for doing predictions.

      Hager has reflected on what actually happened based on the evidence available.

      You don’t seem to want to engage with the evidence in Hager’s book, just blow out a lot of smoke and hot air.

      When has Hager been dishonest?

      What is dishonest in Dirty Politics? Or are you another person criticising it without having read it?

  9. Carol 9

    What can’t be ignored is the public’s perception of what Dirty Politic’s is, and they voted accordingly. They viewed the printing of stolen emails as no better (and perhaps worse) than the content of the emails themselves. The public also questioned the motive and timing of the release of the book. If anything those behind the book Dirty Politics underestimated what the publics reaction would be when the book failed to deliver fact – only allegations and innuendo.

    • Tracey 9.1

      No, you believed mr key when he said it wasnt fact. Slater sued to get his emails back, the same ones hager quoted. You havent read the book yet here you are espousing the truthfulness or otherwise.

      The election is over now, sit down and have the courage to read it.

      Arguably the CP got votes from nats who didnt like dirty politics. If you add their percentage to the left vote you get quite a few who didnt like the revelations about ms collins, mr key and the band of nasty men and women.

      Add nzf votes in too… And you are left with 48% , cos dunne got 4500 and act about 16,000

      Now pop away and spin that.

    • karol 9.2

      Carol, try reading the linked article at the bottom of my post – where Hager talks about the election and how it was the result of the dirty politics he wrote about.

    • Craig Glen Eden 9.3

      “The book failed to deliver fact-only allegations and innuendo”

      So tell me why did Crusher resign from cabinet, why did Jason Eade disappear then resign, and why is it that the Ombudsman is conducting an inquiry? If it was all allegations how come not one thing in Hagers book has been shown to be incorrect?
      How come Journalist came out and confessed to there role in the sorry saga. What they just decided to go along with the contents in the book for…… shits and giggles.

      Keep spinning Carol.

      • Carol 9.3.1

        While you are all entitled to your views, my point was that they clearly were not shared by the majority of the wider public. If there was indisputable fact of wrong doing proven in the book National would not have been re-elected. Only two points were raised that have required further investigation, and I like most sensible people will wait on the results before commenting. Judith Collins is on public record as resigning so that she can defend ‘allegations’ of corruption made against her which she felt she could not do while still being a Minister. Let’s see what comes of this before claiming victory. If this blog is the voice of Labour, then I suggest you all conduct yourselves with a little more respect if you want people to view Labour positively when vistors come calling. We do vote.

        • Tracey

          Your concern for us is touching. This website isnt the voice of labour. I notice you didnt read dirty politics. Youmight want to read this sites policy and about us

          • Carol

            One of us is confused. If you google this blog, ‘The Standard’, you will see that it is identified as being ‘the Voice of Labour’. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that The Standard was the name of the newspaper that the founding Labour movement published back in the 1930’s. I also note that this blog describes itself as being committed to the values and principles of the Labour movement. Perhaps you are right, this may not be the voice of Labour as I am having trouble finding evidence of those values and principles. What I have witnessed is just condescension.

        • Tracey

          If you did vote labour, can you explain to me why you are so eager to disbelieve mr hager, whom no one has sued for defamation?

          you believed mr key when he said it wasnt fact. Slater sued to get his emails back, the same ones hager quoted. You havent read the book yet here you are espousing the truthfulness or otherwise.

          The election is over now, sit down and have the courage to read it.

          Arguably the CP got votes from nats who didnt like dirty politics. If you add their percentage to the left vote you get quite a few who didnt like the revelations about ms collins, mr key and the band of nasty men and women.

          Add nzf votes in too… And you are left with 48% , cos dunne got 4500 and act about 16,000

        • karol

          Actually there are way more than 2 issues that need investigation. Expect many of them to gain attention over the coming months.

          There’s the issue of the Ports of Auckland.

          They are alleged to have used tax payer money to slip private details about striking employees to the Whale Oil blog.

          The SIS is conducting an inquiry, there are calls for a wide ranging investigation into issues related to the Serious Fraud Office.

          Key and his office have refused to allow the media access to Jason Ede, in his role int he PM's office. Why was he hidden away during the election, then resigned immediately after it. It suggests an attempt at a cover up.

          There's other issues around Katherine Rich and tobacco lobbyists… on and on it goes.

          • Carol

            Thank you for your response Karol. I look forward to following the events you have mentioned over the coming weeks /months.

        • gobsmacked

          Carol, you’ve made the word “fact” mean no more or less than what you choose to believe.

          Maybe you believe the sun orbits the earth. But that doesn’t make it a fact. Just a perception. One that is disproved by evidence.

          Why don’t you look at the evidence? If you disagree with it, challenge it.

          Page numbers and specifics please.

        • RedBaronCV

          Carol If you have not read this book then please try. While it doesn’t neccessarily convert to an easy sound bite it details orchestrated campaigns of smears eminating from the right of politics preventing people doing their job properly. Yes a large part of the NZ public are probably ignorant about and the intention clearly is that they stay that way.
          And believe me , you should be very thankful the left don’t go wiping some pretty dreadful personal right wing behaviour all over the internet.

        • framu

          really? – most sensible people would easily spot the stinking fetid pile of corruption, realise the implications of it and back away

          which leads me to think you havent read it, or didnt get it

          question – do you think that “all parties do this”?

          • gobsmacked

            Since the misogyny and nasty abuse in the e-mails from Slater, Lusk etc is far worse than the comments on this thread that have “offended” Carol, I think we can safely conclude that she hasn’t read the book.

      • SHG 9.3.2

        So tell me why did Crusher resign from cabinet, why did Jason Eade disappear then resign

        To make sure those two people weren’t distractions during the campaign, and it worked.

  10. unaha-closp 10

    If Dirty Politics is to be believed then its ultimate success is surely the destroying of David Shearer. A Labour leader who consistently polled in the low to mid 30s, coupled with the Greens on low teens, is a real danger to the Nats. They needed to get rid of him, so they did.

    Cameron Slater portrayed him as a stammering fool, there were WO comments inferring UN links of his vintage to child sex rings and terrorism. A consistent stream of derision, soon there was a little slip in the polls and he was gone.

    Of course the funny thing is the partisan Right did not act alone, they had a lot of help from the Labour Left. This place and Public Address can take a big bow, for how effectively they destroyed David Shearer.

    Labour ended up with Cunliffe, a Left faction dreamboat. Totally unelectable as it turns out.

    • karol 10.1

      Seriously? You must have missed the relentless, and endless attacks on Cunliffe, some pedaled via WO and KB, all getting into the MSM, from before Cunliffe became leader.

      You must have missed how the likes of Hooton first talked up Shearer, then knocked him down, and are now talking him up.

      it is in the interests of the Nat smear machine to have had a changing Labour leadership throughout the last term. And they would like to see it again through this term.

      And the ABCs can take a bow for all the white anting they did against Cunliffe, via the media.

  11. Richard 11

    “Cameron Slater kind of agrees with him, but, showing just how ethically challenged he is, he claims people just don’t care.”

    I hate to say it but I sort of agree with slimy Slater – this selfish fucked-up venal little piss arsed country doesn’t care. I feel very less proud of the country I live in. In this selfish climate I can’t ever see us again standing up nationally to an issue like nuclear ships in our ports, nuclear testing, or anything to do with our environment for that matter. What does a government have to do before the country holds them to account?

  12. venezia 12

    Can someone please clarify whether or not there was a complaint to the Police about the hacking of the Labour party Website by Slater, Ede and cronies? That breach involved access to Labour Party lots of personal information like donor details, membership data, credit card details. Pretty serious stuff.

  13. dale 13

    I personally wont read Hagars book, simply because it’s one sided and he keeps lying about it. How many left supporters read Absolute Power? The real dirty stuff was hacking and stealing. The ad in the Herald means shit without the names behind it. Whos gonna sign up and give money to that. The left has learned nothing. Can’t wait for the enquiry. That’s when labour will be truly exposed to the nation. Mark my words. I have said that before and all came true.

    • framu 13.1

      so you wont read the book but you know whats in it?

      are you some sort of wizard?

      re: hacking and stealing – are you aware that national party staffers accessed information they knew was private, carried this out in secret and celebrated the fact they didnt get found out, then gave that info to a proxie in order to run personal attacks against innocent citizens?

      This is all blatantly admitted to in the email exchanges – there isnt even any conclusions or dot joining required for that one

      but your cool with it cause it didnt happen cause you didnt bother to check

      if your angry about the hacking of whale oil – who is in the employ of the current govt – who must be livid about the govt accessing AND using private info on hundreds of utterly innocent NZers

      So – heres your chance – are you in favour of the govt snooping into private data, regardless of how the data was obtained, for political gain or not?

    • framu 13.2

      and considering the inquiry is only looking at judith collins and has been instigated by a book written by someone whos not a labour member im curious how you think labour will be exposed for anything

      your talking utter shit dale – and making yourself look really stupid in the process

    • karol 13.3

      So you’ve managed to decide Hager’s book is worthless without reading it?

      Hager uses a wealth of evidence from the emails. A lot of it is supported by what actually went down on the WO and KB blogs, and they way their attacks were picked up y the MSM. It is also supported by information or statements provided by National insiders. There’s also Lusk’s statements about his own plan – it’s all out there.

      I have read Absolute Power. In comparison it’s a work of arguments stretched well beyond the evidence.

      At its core, there is the argument that Clark is a closet lesbian, who entered into a marriage of convenience,. Wishart keeps claiming that, if Clark would lie about one thing (her marriage) in her life, then she will and does lie about anything and everything. Wishart draws on such non-evidence as the fact that Clark was into Simone De Veauvoir in her younger days (weren’t we ll of that generation of tyhe left?) – and de Beauvoir was also a bit of a Sapphist….. geeze… weak, weak, weak… and then there’s paintergate, etc.

      Apart from anything elese the whole book dog whistles with homophobia. It has nothing to do with the way Clark performed as a PM, or the conduct of her government under her watch.

      Dirty Politics, on the other hand, IS about the whole MO of the Key government, and the manipulations to get him in power and keep him there.

      Wishart’s weak non-arguments focused on some irrelevant or minor things related largely to smearing Clark’s personal life. It just does not compare with the scale of manipulations, planned deceptions, and covert smear attacks that have been relentlessly carried out by the Nat smear machine.

      Things like the manipulations of SIS and SFO info, the leaking of workers personal details to Slater by Ports of Auckland during a strike – really, really corrupt and possibly illegal practices.

      So, until you’ve read Dirty Politics, and can present arguments based on its content, you’ve got nothing – just more smoke and hot air from the Nat-WO-Lusk-Ede (and Wishart) apologists.

      No wonder you don’t want to read Dirty Politics. It really shows up, not only the ethically-challenged depths of the Nats and their associates, but Wishart’s nasity use of non-evidence to join the smear attacks. And that was part of the VRWC – the advance guard of the WO-Lusk-KB smear machine.

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