On Tuesday, Helen Clark was asked what she thought of the fact that both John Key and Bill English have been unavailable for comment when the media have had questions about National policy this week (not being available for comment is a Crosby/Textor tactic for shutting down stories). Clark, who is renowned for the hours she puts into her job, remarked that it appears they put fewer hours into the job than Labour Ministers do. The comments weren’t publicly reported.
So far, so what. But Key’s advisors got hold of the footage somehow and saw an opportunity for a nasty attack.
Yesterday, Key, back from his holiday at his Omaha beach house, was on the TV saying ‘look, I’m a family man, I was spending time with my family, personal attack etc etc’. Of course, as Duncan Garner pointed out, Clark had made no mention of Key’s family. Garner said it was just an attempt to paint Key as the victim of personal attacks.
But there’s another subtext here: Key managed to mention his family four times in twenty seconds, why do that when Clark hadn’t mentioned families? Simple, the counter-point to Clark. Ever since Clark rose to promenience in politics, National and its allies have been attacking her for being a woman who doesn’t have children. Key’s comments were designed to attack in this mysogynist fashion once again.
It’s nasty, nasty stuff and I honestly believed National had grown past that. Turns out you can never expect too little from the Tories.