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Of course it’s dirty politics

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, July 13th, 2020 - 39 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, making shit up, national, same old national, spin, todd muller, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

National’s latest attempted spin is to try and suggest that last week’s clusterfuck of rolling events did not involve in any way the slightest trace of dirty politics.

From Spinoff:

Nikki Kaye, speaking on Q+A on TVNZ, acknowledged “the perception was that Todd hadn’t received the information” and that it “should have been [made] clearer to the media”. The party “could have done better”, she said. She insisted, however, that Boag had not provided her with any of the information, and dismissed the suggestion that it was a case of “dirty politics”.

The party had taken swift action in response, Kaye said, with Walker announcing his departure from politics and Michelle Boag quitting a bunch of roles, including her position with the helicopter trust, place on Kaye’s own Auckland Central campaign committee and even her party membership. “You can’t control some of the events that come at you,” said Kaye. “You can control how you deal with them.”

Where to start?

“Events that come at you” suggest that these events are random events and not within National’s control.  When a trusted National Party operative gets sensitive personal information and leaks it to at least two MPs this is not a random random.  When one of them goes to town on attacking the Government about with one of them saying it was “unconscionable and unacceptable” that the leak had happened this is not a random event.  When the second one says there is a stream of Covid infected Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans heading to Queenstown hotels this is not a random event.  When he then leaks personal information to the media in the mistaken belief that it backs up his racist dog whistling this is not a random event.

And when your leader gets asked repeatedly if any other National MP including Woodhouse had the information leaked to Walker and Muller fudges then denies that this is the case it is not a random event.

Muller has been trying to justify his “obfuscation”.  The particular pinhead that he has been trying to dance on is very small.

Besides Muller does not have a poker face.  Just watch this clip.

In 2014 I marvelled at John Key’s ability to bluster through allegations of dirty politics. Muller does not have the same skill.

Is it dirty politics? Nicky Hager thinks so. He said this:

Of course, sometimes in politics things stuff up and go wrong and you don’t know what’s going on, but yes, this had a distinct smell from the beginning.

“The distinctive things are you’ve got a party that is kind of in trouble, it’s not doing very well in the polls, it’s looking for a way to knock down its opponents rather than sort of win the arguments.

“You see, one after the other, tricky things start to happen. When we talk through it, I think it’s become pretty clear that this was an organised campaign.”

Did Muller know what was going on? Hager said this:

[M]y view is that it is 100 per cent impossible that Todd Muller didn’t know that the strategy was to try and find a series of stories which kind of disappointed people’s feelings about the Covid response because Labour was up so high in the polls because they’d done so well on Covid – they wanted to drag that down again, so he knew that.”

The departure from well practised dirty politics here is that Hamish Walker sent the confidential information to the media. Any seasoned operative would have used an intermediary. After Waker did this National was directly implicated. To succeed with dirty politics you have to have to have plausible denial that you are involved.

The one aspect that is really upsetting is that National is willing to threaten the country’s Covid response for political gain. People realise this. That is why National is tanking in the polls.

I spent some time on the weekend doorknocking the good people of Avondale. Everyone knew what was happening and how messy National was. Even people who I thought would normally be National Party supporters were trending left for this election.

National has a hell of a problem to deal with. And I don’t feel sorry for them one bit.

39 comments on “Of course it’s dirty politics ”

  1. Ed 1

    I agree with your summation.

    However, it is much hard to resist such dirty politics, when significant parts of the media work in collusion with the National Party.

    Glen Johnson wrote an excellent article pointing out the way the billionaire press, fronted by Fox News style presenters ( Garner, du Plessis-Allan and Hosking) have framed the narrative so that "public health concerns have been eclipsed by a clamouring commentariat, all seeking to score political points and undermine the government's health-first priorities."

    How New Zealand's media endangered public health

    My full thoughts on the issue are here under Open Mike today.

    https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-13-07-2020/#comment-1729216

    [Link to comment fixed]

  2. The masks slipped to show the inflated belief that "winning is everything"

    New Zealanders of all stripes have weathered the lock down period with relief and pride that we have controlled this "tricky virus" so well.

    There is now growing anger at perceived threats posed by self interested politicians journalists and absconding returnees.

    National and some in the msm have made a health issue a political football instead of joining the team to fight this, and show poor ethics and judgement, and yes nasty "Dirty Politics"….planned and deliberate leaks… perhaps initially from the MOH or related department?

    Criticism is acceptable but wrecking and endangering is not, and that is a clear message to a party who appears to be losing their new mandate, and their hard right wing will peel off and possibly join Act.

    Those in the centre may join Labour or the Greens, though NZ First could gain as well.

    The problem for National now is a lack of credibility and sound policy which will see them in realms of the 20% region again. It will be a slow road back.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Listening to Linda Clark's lawyer-view yesterday made it clear how vulnerable National is. Breaking privacy law is serious in a political context so close to an election. I wonder how soon Heron QC will issue findings from the inquiry. Boag seems liable to prosecution, but will parliamentary privilege protect the others involved??

    And even if the findings do suggest they can't be prosecuted, if there's evidence of collusion by those Nat MPs – and the media report it – the public are likely to deem them guilty as sin regardless.

    • nzlemming 3.1

      Parliamentary privilege applies in the Chamber only, not to anything a Member might do. You've been around long enough to know this.

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Yeah I know the principle. Whether it gets enforced is the question, and it depends on the behaviours in context. Prosecutions are produced by a judgment call made by prosecutors. All hinges on if they see misbehaviour as law-breaking or not.

        I suppose you may be implying that an MP breaks the privacy law if they supply private details of quarantine-breachers to the media? You & I could agree it looks like law-breaking, but a prosecutor may not. In law, opinions matter as much as facts…

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.2

        Gordon Campbell has this on the issue, see http://werewolf.co.nz/2020/07/gordon-campbell-on-why-todd-muller-needs-to-own-the-privacy-leak-scandal/

        Apparently, the Privacy Act allows MPs to release private health information not only inside Parliament, but outside of it as well. Legally, Walker seems in the clear for what he did.

        That does seem weird, given that the libel laws – which exist to protect reputation from harmful allegations – DO make a distinction between what MPs can do and say freely inside the Parliamentary chamber, and what they can’t do with impunity outside of it.

        Alas for Michelle Boag, it seems that no immunity defence is available to her. Boag’s declared aim – to allow Walker to back up his previous comments about the ethnic/national origins of the people bound for quarantine in the South Island – would appear to contravene the Privacy Act.

  4. observer 4

    It's actually worse than dirty politics. Maybe we need a new term – "dirty dumping on the public"?

    Point is, "dirty politics", nasty though it is, basically comes down to spreading manure about political opponents.

    This was about private citizens. People who are entirely innocent, and for all we know, may even be innocent of a heinous crime like voting for the wrong party. National shat on them anyway.

    • In a nut shell, observer. I always felt that 'dirty politics' never made much impact with the general public – just those pollies having a go at each other, don't you know.

      But this is much worse – this is the Natz potentially endangering the lives of the same public and undoing all the hard work that lockdown entailed.

      This is unforgivable in the eyes of, to coin a keyism, the mum and dad voters.

    • Pat 4.2

      "Point is, "dirty politics", nasty though it is, basically comes down to spreading manure about political opponents."

      that would appear a misanalysis….if 'dirty politics' is as described by Mr Hager’s writings, there were many examples of non political actors being targeted/ used.

      Sadly (as tends to be typical) that which is stated by politicians as the case turns out to be the opposite…..they are nothing if not predictable

  5. ianmac 5

    The climate of constant hunting for dirt on the Government is Dirty Politics and the climate it exudes leads the National Party to normalise such use of hunted grubby stuff. The sad thing in the current viral crisis is that the people may loose confidence through constant efforts to undermine.

  6. Robert Guyton 6

    Woodhouse claims the emails he received from Boag were different from the ones received by Walker. How will we ever know if that's true; he deleted them. Was that so Muller could make the claim he (disingenuously) made?

    • nzlemming 6.1

      More importantly, how can Woodhouse even make the claim if he a) hasn't seen what Walker was sent and b) hadn't even opened 3 of the 4 emails he was sent? Where are the journalists, so outraged by Glen Johnson's article attacking their integrity, and why aren't they asking these question?

      • observer 6.1.1

        I don't think he's said that he deleted them without reading them, has he? His language has been deliberately vague throughout (as in "subsequently", a word meaning absolutely nothing – there's no other time he could delete them, unless he has a time machine!).

        But ironically these criticisms of journalists are also vague, and unjustified. When Woodhouse has fronted (he barely has) he has been asked these questions. See Kathryn Ryan on RNZ, for example.

        Specifics are important here. It's hard to discuss these complaints without examples.

        • Sacha 6.1.1.1

          He would still need to know what was in the email to Walker. How did that happen?

          • observer 6.1.1.1.1

            I think we can infer from the careful language NOT used that Woodhouse and Boag had contact in some form. Not hard to say "I did not reply to the e-mail" while leaving many other contacts possible.

        • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.2

          He quite clearly said he'd opened and read the first, but deleted the others without reading them. Not even faintly credible, imo. How then, can he claim they were different from Walkers? Utter nonsense. Untrue too.

      • Sacha 6.1.2

        Quite, let's hear who reassured him if not himself.

    • mickysavage 6.2

      I am sure they were different in that some of them were earlier lists with some different people on them. I presume that it was the same list that was circulated. If not there are even more questions for National to answer.

    • Pat 6.3

      Apparently nothing is irretrievable…..will his hard drive be subpoenaed and examined?

      It should be.

  7. Reality 7

    The "born to rule" self-entitlement of National seems to mean it's ok to do anything and everything, no matter how unethical, to get into power.

    Nikki Kaye displayed that on Q&A. If she had accepted the wrongs done, people could have at least respected her for acknowledging that. Instead she was more worried about Boag being upset etc. Where was her concern for the people who had their private details leaked.

  8. Marcus Morris 8

    In talking with Jack Tame on television yesterday Kaye made the astounding claim that in passing judgement on Hamish Walker one had to take the "human element" into account. Good Grief. Did she and her colleagues, as well as the usual media culprits, take that into account when they crucified Claire Curran and David Clark. Unadulterated hypocrisy from the party which claims it has a "moral duty" to win the election.

    • I Feel Love 8.1

      Take into a account the "human element", like the Nats do when beneficiaries fuck up, or when people run from the police, or Turei, ironic how the Nats get all touchy feely soft on crime when it's their own.

  9. anker 9

    Marcus Morris, Yes really annoyed that Kaye attempted to play the victim card for Boag and Walker……………..we the people must realize that they are only human and gosh the guys are really hurting…………..

    So definitely conditional compassion for her own team………………….where is the outcry for the rancid behaviour of Woodhouse with the toilet seat with Curran picture??????

    No I hear deafening silence from the Nats…………………….

  10. Stuart Munro 10

    I think it can be regarded as part of National's "moral obligation to win" a kind of jesuitry or special pleading that looks a lot like delusions of infallibility now that the media are not entirely bought and the media life support Key enjoyed is no longer comprehensive enough to conceal it.

    • Wensleydale 10.1

      I still find it hilarious people are using the terms 'moral' and 'National Party' in the same sentence. I suspect they might mean 'amoral'.

  11. Tricledrown 11

    Mullers Strong team can't stop the rot .polling means most of Nationals list MPs will be gone Goldsmith,Woodhouse.

    National in a complete shambles like Muller trying to make hits on the govt while trying to herd the Catastrophe of his leaking and Dirty Politics Caucus.

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