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National’s ethics

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, July 13th, 2020 - 49 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, national, political parties, Politics, same old national - Tags: , ,

There is a particularly resonant piece by Tim Watkin in Pundit. “National’s problem with privacy and privilege“. I’m only surprised that he seems to think that the National party is at all redeemable. Personally I think he is somewhat to charitable. I think that the corruption is embedded too deeply. I suspect that with the diminution of of their caucus after the coming election – all it will have done is concentrate the bile.

National has a problem. And it’s time they said it out loud. It can’t be dismissed as a one-off anymore or excused because ‘everyone does it’. No, it cuts deeper than that.

National has an ethics problem. Especially when it comes to privacy and using ordinary people as pawns in the cut and thrust of politics.

In the following four paragraphs, he gives a very brief overview of some of the political examples about what he is talking about. I could easily double that just from the ones I’m aware of.

For years the party has been able to shrug off the issues because they confuse – and frankly bore – most voters. And because their opponents had issues and dysfunctions of their own. Such antics do not directly influence the wealth and health of voters, and because of that, most voters don’t let the details trouble their busy lives. Ironically, because politicians are already held in such low regard by voters, MPs can get away with troubling – some would say appalling – ethical decisions because we assume the worst anyway.

But there’s no denying a worrying pattern for National. Under four consecutive leaders now, party MPs have used their privileged positions as representatives of the public in an attempt to score political points and play games. They have used private information for personal, political gain.

In the ever present journalistic trait of ‘balance’, Tim then points to two instances in Labour – reaching back to:-

Think back to the Helen Clark years and you think of Taito Phillip Field and his Thai tiler or Chris Carter sneaking around leaving an anonymous letter about a leadership challenge against Phil Goff. You might think of Clark herself speeding across the Canterbury plains.

I could add a few more there as well. However I’d point out that these were either arguably just for personal gain (even getting between appointments) or Labour infighting. If you wanted to take it down to that level for National, then you’d have to write a book. Labour just isn’t orientated to this kind of ethical crap in the same way that National is at a political level.

Almost all of the exposed examples of National MPs being complete arseholes involve them using their privileged position to dump on others in less powerful positions. The nearest Tim Watkins could point to was Taito Phillip Field in Labour with a tardy and outright stupid personal cost saving.

It also isn’t exactly hard to find instances of straight personal gain if the rumours that swirl around about National MPs are in any way correct. For instance Richard Worth in my neighbouring electorate of Epsom with his 2009 trip to India, that got him in disfavour with John Key when they became public.

But National has a specific, recurring problem: Using power and privilege for political gain. And a complete disrespect for New Zealanders’ privacy.

The question now is whether Todd Muller is willing to ask why. He wants to be focused on new policy and campaign strategy ten weeks from an election, but as the saying goes ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. Unless the culture is addressed, these sort of self-inflicted wounds will keep happening. It’s surely in National’s best interests to stop excusing this behaviour as normal, hard-ball politics and face it head on.

It’s no longer tenable for National to excuse these incidents as one-offs or the perpetrators as rogue MPs. Or for Todd Muller to dismiss the behaviour because “it doesn’t support the values of the National Party I know”. I’m sure he’s right to affirm that most party members and most MPs have the country’s best interests at heart and it’s natural to defend your team. But it’s time for Muller and the party, for its own good, to admit it has a problem. Otherwise it won’t be able to face it and deal with it. And if it won’t face the problem, voters have every right to draw their own conclusions about the character of the people wanting to run the country.

So far, that hasn’t been apparent. What we’re hearing is the same dumb-arse excuses from the leader of a political party that just keeps doing this over and over again.

Sure Labour has an annoying tendency at present of over-promising and under-delivering on policies. But they are progressing things like KiwiBuild, and more importantly the building of Housing NZ stock – that ultimately underpins the rental market. The planning for transport towards the airport is proceeding – even if I still think light rail is hopeless compromise.

The problem is that Todd Muller will over-promise not only on political matters, but is blind to the ethical and corruption problems in his own party. You get the idea that National simply thinks that it has a right to rule and that all of the peasants should kowtow to them.

For me, I just look at their record not only on ethics, but also their complete inability to be aware of the future. Their clear lack of policy on basic infrastructure like how to grow cities if you want to high immigration. Their fetish on rural roads. Their focus on commodity exports and tourism that won’t provide jobs for either our youth or the kids of immigrants.

National appear incapable of dealing with even immediate issues. I got incredibly irritated by their annoying (but thankfully diminishing) calls to open the country up to a virus that we still don’t know nearly enough about. You only have to look at Melbourne to see the potential consequences as it sinks again into lockdown.

We’re processing at near capacity on returning kiwis. We’ve had something like breaches, mostly from self-entitled idiots, out of close to 30 thousand through quarantine. It could be improved. But there is a delicate balance between the public safety needs of the public, the privacy and public protections of the individual, and the potential for exhausting the capabilities of the police who have the power to enforce the quarantine directives of the direct of health.

National’s response has been to spread fear, uncertainty, and dirty politics. But that is National for you – they’ve consistent…. Stupid, unhelpful and short on ethics.

49 comments on “National’s ethics”

  1. mickysavage 1

    For readers of this blog Lprent and I did not coordinate the writing of our latest pieces and use different information sources although we do come up with the same conclusions …

    • lprent 1.1

      Yeah. It was definitely a snap. I was reading Tim Watkin's piece over breakfast.

      Put your one at the top because it was more measured..

    • Incognito 1.2

      Heh! To some it is stereo surround sound that soothes the soul, to others it is a pandemonium of parrots trapped in an echo chamber.

      • sumsuch 1.2.1

        Far too much communication, Incognito, from my early adult decades when I wished for far more. Now, we think communication beats reality. And the American plutocracy relies on it to divide their poor minions.

  2. aj 2

    Tax cuts and dirty politics. It's all the right stand for, unfortunately it's been a winning formula around the world for some time now.
    “Moral obligation to win” – that leaves everything on the table.

  3. Peter 3

    When someone of eminence, some great contributor to the community dies we hear 'a mighty totara has fallen.'

    National is a forlorn weedy little sick shrub.

    The mother's milk which nourished those who got it to be that sorry sight has come down the line from Muldoon.

    A letter in the Herald today mentions Muldoon and Colin Moyle. Obviously it was a different era. Times and tactics change but nastiness goes on. I believe that even in 2020 some National people would be for stomping hobnail boots all over Moyle.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    I agree with all that. National is ripe for a culture change, but has another leader who seems blind to the depth of that required. He did start well by signalling a shift, but that initial signal got overtaken by events and he seems insufficiently adept to show that he's learning in the top job.

    I assumed that his uncertainty could be explained by lack of caucus support & factionalism but a real leader will soldier on regardless and be forthright in calling situations as they see them – particularly when a moral context requires that. When right wingers appear in the media criticising his lack of leadership, that lack is more than obvious; it's now harming the National brand in the public mind.

    • Nick 4.1

      Muller 'insufficiently adept' Do you mean at spinning?

      Is 'learning on the job' mean not caught lying.

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.1

        Spin to win is often a useful tactic, but can fail when winning requires more than mere spin. And who is doing the lying within National is a matter of perception, not reality. Heron QC will elucidate that, maybe even create a new political reality in doing so. Never underestimate the ability of lawyers to fudge moral issues!

        What Todd can't seem to grasp is that looking like a PM in waiting is only achievable when the contender transcends partisan thinking. So he has to represent the electorate as a whole to get there. When he frames issues to party & media, I mean. I get the impression he intuitively senses that he has to stop being partisan, but doesn't know how. Since Hooten also lacks that gnosis (mostly), only Janet Wilson can solve the problem and she may not yet have realised that.

        Traditionally, the next level up from political leader is statesman. It takes a huge psychological shift to get there. Can't do it unless your right brain hemisphere provides you with the big picture. Ardern seems to have made that shift years ago.

        • georgecom 4.1.1.1

          If Muller can do a fairly quick but comprehensive clean up of National Party culture then he might stand a chance of being leader of the opposition in 3 years time and having another crack at becoming Prime Minister. If not then he will warm the seat until Chris Luxon takes over.

          [Fixed same error in user name]

  5. Hanswurst 5

    The problem is that Todd Muller […] is blind to the ethical and corruption problems in his own party.

    Is it really plausible that he's blind to them, though? Surely the fact that the caucus saw fit to make him leader invites the suspicion that he is either involved in, or comfortable with, that sort of culture, and his performance over the past week substantiates that considerably.

    • Nick 5.1

      Totally agree Hanswurst. The blind part was his lust for power, which made him blinkered to ethics and corruption.

    • Sabine 5.2

      +1

    • observer 5.3

      I think many MPs simply wanted to save their jobs, in a likely defeat. Muller wasn't put there because he was a cunning fiend, the best choice for devious dirty politics – he was put there because Bridges had to go, and everyone else wanted to sit this one out. Collins, Mitchell etc are the ones with the track record (see Hager).

      Woodhouse was firmly in Bridges' camp, and didn't want a leadership coup at all.

      • Hanswurst 5.3.1

        I'm not suggesting that Muller was put there to perpetuate, much less mastermind, any skulduggery. I don't see, however, why a caucus intending to limit damage in the election would vote for a leader who would be blindsided by scandals, or any reason why they would want someone who was likely to try to upset the apple-cart by trying to sweep the operation clean. That's the sort of approach that might be advantageous after an election, if it were going to be advantageous to the National Party at all. Muller's performance last week has me much more suspicious that he has been well in the loop for those sorts of activities, rather than keeping (or being kept) out of it.

    • Incognito 5.4

      Maybe Todd’s problem is that he is not blind to them, that he thought he could rise above them and clean the party from the inside, but that he now finds himself between a rock and a hard place and in a huge dilemma. He needs to make a decision on a personal level before he can move as the Leader. The longer he takes, the harder it gets. If he’s a man of integrity and honesty (firstly to himself) he will do what Andrew Little did in 2017.

  6. anker 6

    I think Nicky Hager is right when he said Muller must know (or words to that effect).

    Remember when he first took the leadership someone leaked, possibly to Tova that Gerry was setting up an intelligence unit or some such term, to look for dirt. National of course denied it.

    However if Muller didn't know a good leader would have done a Jacinda when it was revealed about the two women who left isolated and then tested positive for Covid. Organised a quick news conference, stated it was an unacceptable failure and then told us what she was going to do about it. Muller superficially cauterized the wound, so he could move on, nothing to see here.

    God the Nats are appalling.

  7. Visubversa 7

    And Helen Clark was not driving across the Canterbury plains. She was sitting in the back seat of a Crown limo – probably writing the notes of the last meeting, or refreshing herself on the notes for the next meeting. Crown limos are very smooth and there is no evidence that she knew the driver was speeding, or instructed them to do so.

    • Peter 7.1

      Plus she was drinking a $100,000 bottle of wine wasn't she?

    • anker 7.2

      And of course Helen Clark being driven in a speeding car is absolutely the same as National obtaining and distributing private patient details and passing it on to the media, of course it is.

      I assume your comment Visubversa is an attempt at Labour did it too. What a pathetic attempt at diversion. Go and buy and copy of Nicky Hagers book Dirty Politics and read it. Then you might begin to understand whats really going on here with National

      • In Vino 7.2.1

        Visubversa is on your side, anker: See the main post, paragraph starting, "Think back to the Clark years…"

    • Stuart Munro 7.3

      I'm inclined to believe that the limo incident was not motivated by Clark at all. There is a paucity of other evidence to suggest she had an immoderate desire to see rugby games, and it is likely her enthusiasms were saturated with matters political. Her driver and security detail however, might well have been looking forward to a bit of entertainment. Clark knew better than to bag them of course.

    • peterh 7.4

      Jez you must be old, well if thats all you can come up with ???

  8. mac1 8

    And if they can't hack it, steal it, or have it leaked?

    Then they'll make it up- homeless men, fiscal holes………..

    Or they'll play the fear game- dancing cossacks, returnees during the pandemic…….

    Or they'll take dodgy foreign money in a dodgy way for unknown paybacks.

    Or they'll 'borrow' others' music for their campaigns……..

    Never let any right winger say that politics is not important, or worth voting for.

    They try so hard with so much money and questionable tactics for it not to be seriously important.

  9. observer 9

    More misleading not-quite-porkies, this time from Amy Adams.

    She says that Woodhouse deleted the e-mails. She gives the impression he did so when he received them. He didn't (and there were 4 in total).

    According to his own version, Woodhouse only deleted the e-mails weeks later, when the Heron inquiry was announced. He did none of the things he could/should have done (told Boag to stop, informed Privacy Commissioner, deleted them immediately, etc).

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/07/national-s-amy-adams-describes-todd-muller-as-straight-up-person-who-could-ve-been-clearer-over-privacy-breach.html

    • Sacha 9.1

      Days later. Only feels like weeks.

      • observer 9.1.1

        Ultra-pedantically, 2 weeks is plural. But anyway, the key point is: inquiry announcement was the spur.

    • mauī 9.2

      Why would he wait a couple of weeks to go back through his inbox and delete 3 emails he never opened? Very strange.

      Also strange is that he said he had a conversation with Bo-Agriculture first before receiving the emails. The content of what she wanted to send to him never came up in that conversation??

  10. "I think that the corruption is embedded too deeply"

    I tend to agree with you Mathew

    AND "I could add a few more there as well". So could I. All political parties have their share of dirty linen. Darrens and Jevons and crap like that, as well as things that are yet to come. Shit happens.

    The really BIG difference is that the current crop of gNatz seem to think its OK to actually engineer some of these things rather than having them occur naturally.

    The good thing, it seems to me is that Labour (and Greens for that matter) are unwilling to stoop into the sewer. The gNatz really should be wondering whether politics in the sewer is really worth it because there's a load more toxic shit yet to go through the filters if that's how they'd really like to play it.

    Some of those 'old school Nats' we were referencing on OM yesterday must really be grieving. And if they are – time to speak up. Just like Labour was hijacked in the 80's, the Nat's are going through the same shit now

    • OnceWasTim 10.1

      "And if they are – time to speak up"

      That is of course if they want to preserve their "BRAND". If not, keep what plays in Vegas stay in Vegas and leave them all to self-destruct

      • Anne 10.1.1

        Unfortunately most of them are dead now OWT so they can't speak up.

        • OnceWasTim 10.1.1.1

          I'm afraid so yes. One of the reasons I give @ Wayne a hard time (not that he'd even notice, although @ David Mac has) is that he comes from the same era where there were quite a few principled gNats, yet his default position – as a retired politician, is to defend everything and anything, no matter how good or bad. But as I said on another thread (OM 13/7/2020) – I love watching his contributions about as much as I like watching fossils evolving.

          And now that Todd Muller has resigned, I expect to see a clamour of gNat spinmeisters telling us all how in the end, the current crop of gNats really do have a heart.

          heart

  11. ianmac 11

    Critics scoff at Todd Muller's 'Gerry rebuilt this city' call in Christchurch

    Claims by National leader Todd Muller that his party took “decisive action” to drive Christchurch’s post-quake rebuild have been met with scepticism and derision by politicians, academics and residents.

    Wow! How can Muller misjudge the mood at Christchurch Employers Chamber of Commerce 10 July? Muller continues his belief that they are above reproach.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122103558/critics-scoff-at-todd-mullers-gerry-rebuilt-this-city-call-in-christchurch

    • I Feel Love 11.1

      Have you been to ChCh recently? I was there last year, I played at the opening of the Town Hall, beautiful building and apparently it was supposed to be demolished but the town fought to save it. Anyway, I was shocked how empty the main centre is, there's nothing there, to get a drink we had to go to this temp caravan picnic table indoor outdoor flow type place, in town. Was a fun night, and people were positive, but when I think how long ago the earthquake was it's quite an eye opener. Pretty dumb of Muller to be bragging about it.

  12. Pat 12

    To understand how irredeemable National are we only need to look to the character of the current and previous campaign managers

  13. National came about through desperation as Labour swept to power in the 1930s. national was always a collusion of pissed off well off Townies and Farmers with british based class values.

    Anyone relying on british class system is utterly self entitled and can do whatever they like.

    Most of the collusion voted Labour in. Once Labour restored their incomes they voted national.

    That collusion took over under sid holland. The collusion weakened a union movement tainted with communist supporters. The cold war was at its height. Communists were/are evil Our social security system was pretty ok. Everybody had housing, every body ate, jobs were not hard to find.National is still living in the pre 1930 past.

    national never grew up. It just wants to keep its toys in the cot.

    Then came douglas, prebble, shipley, richardson, key english (good south stock, careless of the poor unemployed, and underfunded hospitals and health services (typical ignorant treasury fuckwit). the last two nat hopefuls were mere self entitled born to rule cronies of the electorate selectors (who clearly have brilliant judgement).

    This election could be interesting. Where is Winston?

  14. sumsuch 14

    I'm always beneath the surface waves of politics — the last word for which I care much — but I think National's dirty politics aren't the world's. They have scruples and morals.

    Should we go in for the kill like the British army should have in the first year of the American War of Independence? The poor and climate change determine everything.

    I've never said this before you computer fruits.

    • sumsuch 14.1

      My last sentence is in response to an automatic response saying I've already made this comment.

      ‘They’ in my previous comment referred to National. They aren’t the horrors of America or the idiots of Oz.

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