Dirty politics and personal attacks. They’re two of the phrases of the campaign so far. The Sunday Star Times took the time to investigate what dirty tricks might mean. According to Wanganui mayor and former National MP Michael Laws:
“A dirty trick is a covert act “that you would be embarrassed about if you were exposed”. When he was a National candidate, he was the target of malicious faxes sent anonymously to newspapers. And when he worked for the National Party research unit, he was involved in gathering dirt on Labour MPs. This was part of a system of deterrence and mutually assured destruction practised by both main parties, he says.”
So if a dirty trick is defined by the “undercover” nature of the exercise, what defines a personal attack? Is it asking questions? Is it calling opponents names? I did find Mr Key calling Helen Clark hysterical somewhat at odds with his commitment to run a clean campaign.
We keep hearing that election08 is about leadership and trust. I think it’s valid to examine past performance and past record when trying to draw conclusions. I don’t call that a personal attack or dirty tricks. After all if you can’t ask questions of those who wish to be PM/MPs at this point in the cycle, when can you?