Granny’s campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill started with a bang and ended with a whimper. On Monday there was a banner headline “Democracy under attack”, complete with a front page editorial, a fuzzy picture of a masked woman, and a serpent cartoon. By Friday our crusading heroes had reduced the protection of democracy to the rights of cranks to spend their own money. Benazir Bhutto and Imran Khan would be impressed.
And what a rewrite of history. According to dear old Granny, (and it may be a sign of early Alzheimer’s), the Exclusive Brethren were just a harmless bunch of tieless men and women with bad haircuts wearing hankies on their heads, so their money wouldn’t be a problem to anyone. And if the bumblefoot National party leader just happened to let slip what the world wasn’t meant to know, well no harm was done because we found out about it (but not via Granny).
It is a pity that New Zealanders are so badly served by the quality of most – not all – political comment in our media. The Australians do it much better. If you want a couple of decent analyses of the Brethren’s covert political activities around the world, read David Marr in the Sydney Morning Herald here, or watch the ABC’s recent Four Corners programme here. At least the Fairfax media repeated Marr’s story in the Sunday Star-Times.
The covert collusion between the National Party and the Brethren (among others) to avoid the spending limits of the Electoral Act was by far the biggest political story out of the last election campaign. Brash was caught lying in the campaign, but it took Nicky Hager to tell the full story of the extent of that collusion in the Hollow Men.
The second biggest political story of recent times is just who were the group in the National Party who provided that immense quanitiy of leaked material to Hager. Leaks of that scale and size are very rare in politics, and are evidence of deep-seated division and malaise in the National Party. Since the reef fish in our political media don’t seem interested in the really big stories, thestandard will bring you all the facts and the questions over the next little while.