Yesterday was a rather brutal day.
Kurt Taogaga, who I know and respect, was caught out with some seven year old tweets.
He was much younger when he made them. They display a critical view of a particular religion, consistent with a critical view of any religion. From his tweets he thought there might be some good in a Richard Prosser article. This is the sort of thing that all young intellectuals do, try to analyse all nuances of an argument no matter how bad and see if there are elements that may be true.
Perhaps he should have said that the article was a complete festering pile of cant. If he read the article after March last year before commenting I am certain his views would have been different. But seven year old historical tweets written without the ability to look into the future can look pretty bad.
How it came into the public realm needs some analysis.
Jacinda Ardern was blindsided by Tova O’Brien on Newshub Nation about the comments (14 minutes into the video in this article) and said she was not aware of them. Shortly after this Kurt resigned.
Interestingly a month ago Newshub’s Tova O’Brien said this:
Newshub can reveal that under its new leadership the National Party has set up an “intelligence unit” to dig up information on its political opponents during the 2020 election campaign.
National MPs leaked details of the unit to Newshub, concerned it would be used for “black ops” and dirty politics – claims National’s campaign chair Gerry Brownlee has flatly rejected.
It comes after National’s new leadership team of Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye suffered a fraught first day in Parliament on Tuesday, as they struggled to defend a lack of Māori MPs on the party’s refreshed frontbench.
Not long after National’s first top secret caucus meeting wrapped up that day, MPs were leaking, telling Newshub new campaign chair Gerry Brownlee had announced an “intelligence and espionage unit” – black ops to dig dirt on National’s political enemies.
Newshub asked Brownlee on Wednesday to explain the “intelligence and espionage unit” he’s setting up and he insisted those words do not describe it.
“Firstly, take those words away – they’re completely ridiculous.”
Asked if it’s about digging dirt on opponents, he said: “No, it most definitely is not my style. We have no interest in that.”
I get the feeling that this unit has been busy and has its first victim. The media companies are all struggling with resources. Trawling through decades of social media of hundreds of politicians takes a great deal of resource. Maybe it was an accidental discovery by a reporter but somehow I don’t think so.
The incident brings back bad feelings of the Dirty Politics era. It was not a dark part of National’s history that they have learnt from. It was business as usual.
And it is funny that National can be utterly bereft of policies, apart from announcing a new road they have announced a number of times before.
But digging up ancient dirt on the opposition and anonymously drip feeding it to the media? I am afraid this looks like business as usual.
To those that say Labour does it too name a recent incident. Comments are open.