Written By: - Date published: 7:41 am, December 6th, 2018 - 56 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, articles, making shit up, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: dead cat strategy, maggie barry
Yesterday was shaping up to be a particularly bad day for National.
The leaks were continuing with suggestions that the recent Colmar Brunton poll result for them was overly optimistic and the anonymous caucus texter or another anonymous caucus texter had resumed contact with the media.
The anonymous texter, who leaked details of National’s internal polling last week, has hit back at the party’s leader who said the leak did not come from within his caucus.
After last week’s National Party caucus meeting RNZ received a text message outlining details of internal polling, claiming there was a lot of disappointment among caucus members.
“I’m not going to talk about internal polls, what we know is we’ve got a poll there that’s public, that’s 46 percent, that shows we’ve got momentum, you can understand there’ll be speculation and rumours.”
He was asked about the internal polling, putting his party 4 points lower at 41 percent.
“I don’t talk about internal polls, it’s a Labour Party trick.”
And Maggie Barry’s problems intensified with one of the complainants being interviewed on Radio New Zealand and a complaint that Barry had been misusing Parliamentary Services resources for National’s benefit being made to the Auditor General. From Kirsty Johnston at the Herald:
A former staffer who accused MP Maggie Barry of bullying – including allegations she expected staff to do political work on taxpayer time – has laid a complaint with the Auditor General about misuse of public money.
The Herald understands evidence provided includes examples of National Party work completed by state-funded staff while working for Barry, which is prohibited, and would be unlawful.
The Auditor General’s office confirmed today it had received the information, and would assess it.
So what does National do? Engage in as cynical example of dead catting that you can imagine by creating a big stink in Parliament and then accusing Mallard of bias when he responded in the only way he could.
The strategy has been described in these terms by none other than Boris Johnson:
There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.
As Lprent has stated Mallard’s decision yesterday to throw Bridges out was perfectly appropriate. Mallard was on his feet and Bridges then basically accused him of bias. Of course Bridges had to go.
The subsequent “walk out” was cynical in the extreme with MPs being coaxed out of the house one by one.
The strategy is a short term one. It has created a bit of a stink and National’s problems have been relegated in the media, at least for now.
But the trouble with the strategy is that if the news that you are trying to hide is that bad then you have to keep lobbing dead cats onto the kitchen table. Until the media works out what is happening. Then your credibility takes a big hit.
National may be at that stage now. But don’t discount the possibility of more dead cats appearing as National grapples with the multitude of problems that it is currently facing.