On ‘doing what it takes to win’

Written By: - Date published: 10:51 pm, October 9th, 2008 - 33 comments
Categories: bill english, election 2008 - Tags: ,

As you know, the latest secret agenda tape has Bill English saying National will do what it needs to do to win, even if that goes against their stated principles.

The obvious line from National, which their spin doctors will have been running to the press gallery, is ‘this is nothing, winning trumps principles, all politicians are like that and everyone knows it’. It’s the kind of cynical yet insightful-sounding thing that makes people feel like they’re superior and cool insiders when they say it (watch to see who runs it tomorrow). But it is wrong on two fronts.

Ordinary Kiwis who are not close political observers do not expect their political leaders to have secret agendas and no commitment to the principles they espouse. The first secret agenda tapes came as a rude shock to many and my inbox is already filling with people writing ‘wow, the buggers really will do whatever they need to do to win’.

In real life, most politicians are not unprincipled. The Greens will not abandon their commitment to the environment and social justice to get power. Today, NZF and UF both said they would not work with National if it means accepting National’s gutting of Kiwisaver. Labour may make only cautious progress in line with their principles but they rarely go against them. ACT, too, is highly principled. National is the exception. The idea that you would do anything to win actually makes a mockery of the reason most people go into politics in the first place: to make a difference, to further their principles. If you’re willing to desert your principles, you may as well let the other side govern.

Unless, governing is an end in itself. If you don’t care about furthering your principles, if only you want power for power’s sake, then you will “do what it takes to win”.

33 comments on “On ‘doing what it takes to win’ ”

  1. Rose 1

    ” In 1990 at the very last Labour caucus , Helen Clark, then Deputy Leader, told the assembled Labour MPs something that I wrote down carefully at the time. She said she would be and I quote from my caucus notes “as vicious, nasty and opportunist as anyone’ in the fight to return Labour to the Treasury benches”

    People in glass houses?????

  2. Your assessment that National is the only party that will sacrifice anything to win matches my own after observing them for 25 years. This is why they are the only party I can’t seriously consider voting for. They let Muldoon get away with anything….and didn’t stand up for their principles then, either.

    They would have sold the lives of Kiwi soldiers invading Iraq in the hope of winning an FTA with the US.

    When you get life and death matters like that badly wrong, I can’t vote for you.

  3. Rose: I don’t see her saying she would sacrifice Labour’s principles.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Yawn Rose. Basset doesn’t give any context for that quote, so we don’t know what they were talking about. For all we know Basset had just accused her of being too soft for leadership.

    That article is interesting though. You should link to it.

  5. rave 5

    Power for power’s sake? Hardly.
    Power to rule to accumulate capital.
    So far its working.

  6. sean 6

    Surely organising the secret taping of politicians in opposing parties and then releasing it to journalists is a prime example of desperation and the will to win no matter what the costs. It surely is the polar opposite of having principals – that much is true.

    But as usual your double standards shine through…..Whats the view like down there in the gutter?

  7. sean. who did the taping? You seem to know. If you don’t, your arguments are pretty dumb.

    What’s it like supporting a party that will do anything to win, includng deserting what it stands for

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    The National Apologists…er, I mean the NZ Herald are on to it already:

    However, the motives of whoever taped it and is deliberately leaking it to the media, is the issue.

    Yep, according to the NZ Herald, lying, cheating and misrepresenting yourself into power isn’t a problem but showing that the National Party are doing that is.

    Steve Withers:

    They let Muldoon get away with anything .and didn’t stand up for their principles then, either.

    Steve, the National Party doesn’t have any principals.

  9. Draco – to be fair, I think Peachy was a principal

  10. r0b 10

    Ho! Not bad for this time of night.

    Get some sleep Steve – tomorrow is another day…

  11. 🙂 just been writing the morning posts and working on some new posters. night.

  12. noxxano 13

    You can almost smell the desperation, fear, and panic among the left-wingers dwellers at The (Double) Standard. It´s quite an enjoyable experience.

    Get used to be opposition for a few years, you socialist lot!

  13. Barb 14

    Couldn’t believe that there is absolutely nothing on tv one breakfast news about this major further evidence of National’s lies and deceptions. To think we had months of major news items on Winston’s supposed donation lie.. – surely further evidence that a party is lying and deceiving it’s way to win an election is major, major news!!!!

  14. Janet 15

    Is Rose Michael Bassett in drag?

  15. Ben R 16

    “Your assessment that National is the only party that will sacrifice anything to win matches my own after observing them for 25 years. This is why they are the only party I can’t seriously consider voting for. They let Muldoon get away with anything .and didn’t stand up for their principles then, either.”

    What about Labour & Rogernomics? Has the current Labour govt unwound benefit cuts? Closing the gaps, Foreshore legislation? I think it’s a bit dishonest to suggest Labour doesn’t make sacrifices to win.

    [lprent: I think that you are confusing governance with electioneering.

    Faced with an inability to pass legislation, any government scales back and waits for later. It doesn’t change the determination to move forward on their overall programme. Faced with evidence that what they were planning on doing will not work, then they change their programme to suit.

    Labours programme is quite clear and has been for decades even when Rodger Douglas was there. In fact substantial parts of that same philosophy are still strangely in Act’s manifesto’s. Most parties publish manifesto’s and policies each election in something more substantial than A4 pages.

    With National in electioneering mode, it would appear that they are capable of saying ANYTHING to ANY audience if it sounds better to that audience. Then they will go down the road and promise something that contradicts the earlier statements. They have been doing that for decades. I guess that to be a National party politician it pays to be a hypocritical liar.]

  16. higherstandard 17

    If anyone here is delusional enough to believe that either of the major two parties won’t do “whatever it takes to win” I would suggest checking yourself in to a psychiatric ward now.

    [lprent: I’ve never seen it happen to any significant degree in the NZLP and I’ve been very active in there for a long time. I have also not observed it in the greens, alliance, or act. It seems to be a philosophical infection that largely afflicts the Nat’s. I’d suggest that you may have been around those bad influences again, have been infected and could do with a good cleansing scrub. Perhaps a rehab clinic?]

  17. ak 18

    Utterly incredible. As if it weren’t patently obvious from the fact that National has brazenly embraced all the “evil, communistic” policies of Labour, we now have it direct from the horse’s mouth: “Nothing beats winning in politics, despite all our highly principled statements. It’s fantastic….do what we need to do to win.” and yet still the media treats our would-be leaders with kid gloves.

    Oh for a secret recording revealing what has become more and more obvious since 2005: a deliberate determination by key media players that Labour must go. Whatever it takes – including the loss of any remnant of journalistic integrity and independence. Good for the blogosphere but, keep it up folks.

  18. tony norriss 19

    Barb said: “Couldn?t believe that there is absolutely nothing on tv one breakfast news about this major further evidence of National?s lies and deceptions”

    Thats because it got about as much media attention as it deserved. As I said on another thread, trifling.

    As for doing whatever it takes to win and ignoring principles, what about Labour steeling 800k of public money for their pledge card (proven fact). What about Labour setting up an electoral finance act that is specifically designed to stifle debate. As the electoral commission says, having a “chilling effect” on democracy.

    National has a lot to learn from Labour when it comes to abandoning principles and winning at all costs.

  19. Scribe 20

    Draco,

    The National Apologists er, I mean the NZ Herald are on to it already:

    However, the motives of whoever taped it and is deliberately leaking it to the media, is the issue.

    Yep, according to the NZ Herald, lying, cheating and misrepresenting yourself into power isn’t a problem but showing that the National Party are doing that is.

    That’s a Newstalk ZB story run on The Herald site alluding to comments from Barry Soper.

  20. Strings 21

    I suggest that the only party that has a secret agenda is the Labour Party!

    It is the only one not to have announced any policies for the next governmental term!

    This, more than anything else, suggests to me that the Labour Party has run out of ideas and vision OR that it recognises that the state of the nation is so bad they don’t want to be responsible for sorting it out.

    Comment?

  21. Matthew Pilott 22

    Yeah Tony, as I mentioned to someone on another thread, doing something like the S59 repeal, which was highly unpopular and very principled, really proves your point.

    Pull the other one mate.

    And while you’re at it – learn to read and think for yourself. Your homework is to try and honestly represent what the electoral commission said about the EFA.

  22. Pascal's bookie 23

    Comment? Sure. Those suggestions contradict each other.

    Which suggests to me tha your post was a grab bag of ‘look over there’ crap that you thought would make people forget that National admits that it’s image aint it’s reality.

  23. Tony Norriss 24

    Matthew said: “And while you’re at it – learn to read and think for yourself. Your homework is to try and honestly represent what the electoral commission said about the EFA.”

    And why is it that the only people who seem to be breaching the EFA are the very people who voted it in?

    Matthew, I guess by your lack of response, you seem to agree with me about Labour stealing 800k to fund its pledge card. Pretty hard to deny that one, I must admit.

    Matthew said: “I mentioned to someone on another thread, doing something like the S59 repeal, which was highly unpopular and very principled, really proves your point.”

    No. Its just evidence of Labour’s nanny state mentality and their creeping desire to infiltrate every aspect of our lives along with telling us what light bulbs to use and how to shower.

    [lprent: I think that the number of ‘breaches’ of the EFA has more to do with the number of the EFA opponents doing that creepy stalking around with cameras and complaint forms. It is like something out of a bad private eye movie. The obsessional factions of the right appear to think that it makes a difference. For the campaigns it makes bugger all difference

    What I find puzzling is that they actually seem pretty competent at the skulking from the reports I’ve had back. I have to ask – what other professions require those skills. Peeper, paparatzi (?sp), crim, police informant, ???]

  24. Scribe 25

    MP,

    Yeah Tony, as I mentioned to someone on another thread, doing something like the S59 repeal, which was highly unpopular and very principled, really proves your point.

    At the time, many Labour apologists (not sure if you were one of them) talked about how S59 wasn’t a Labour thing, it was a Green Party private member’s bill. Now you’re using it to prove Labour does things that are unpopular.

    To quote a usually thoughtful blogger: “Pull the other one mate.”

    PS National voted for the S59 repeal as well, in case some have forgotten.

  25. Vanilla Eis 26

    tony: It’s spelt “stealing” and they paid it back. Under protest, admittedly, but it’s not like the money isn’t there anymore.

    You’d be a lot more credible if you ran your comments through a basic spellcheck first. Hell, try proof-reading your own work.

    And no, setting up the EFA doesn’t stifle “debate” – it stifles third party campaigns. What stifles “debate” is when both Clark and Key refuse to appear in a “debate” with the leaders from the minor parties – and that irks me.

  26. Tony Norriss 27

    Matthew said “Yeah Tony, as I mentioned to someone on another thread, doing something like the S59 repeal, which was highly unpopular and very principled, really proves your point.”

    Na. Its just more evidence of Labour’s inherent desire to intrude into every aspect of our lives. Along with telling us what lightbulbs to use, and how to shower.

    Matthew said: “And while you’re at it – learn to read and think for yourself. Your homework is to try and honestly represent what the electoral commission said about the EFA.”

    So, why is it only the people who voted it in who seem to be breaching the act?

  27. higherstandard 28

    Lynn

    “lprent: I’ve never seen it happen to any significant degree in the NZLP and I’ve been very active in there for a long time.”

    So Labour dancing the tango with Winston Peters, smearing their largest donor and giving tax cuts at the worst possible time during the last time in office and against their ideology is not doing whatever it takes mmm ok right glad we’ve got that settled then.

    Unlike your fine self I don’t mix very much with members of any political party (at least not that I know of) so if anyone’s likely to be around bad influences I’d suggest you look to yourself before me.

  28. higherstandard 29

    Feck apologies Lynn my typing is cak.

    during the last time in office = during their time in office this term.

  29. higherstandard 30

    Tony and Matthew

    The repeal of Section 59 was a green piece of legislation (Sue Bradford) politically it would have been hard for Labour not to support it despite what the PM said at the time.

    I disagree with the bill but accept that those who voted for it in parliament had good intentions (as did those who voted against it no doubt)

  30. Matthew Pilott 31

    Na. Its just more evidence of Labour’s inherent desire to intrude into every aspect of our lives. Along with telling us what lightbulbs to use, and how to shower.

    So, Tony, if Labour wanted power at any cost then they wouldn’t be interested in managing every aspect of our lives, because that would annoy people and possibly cost them ‘power’.

    In case you’ve missed it, there’s an inherent contradiction in your position:

    *To have power at any cost, you won’t do anything to lose it.

    *To not do anything to lose power, you won’t do anything to annoy those who can remove your ‘power’.

    *If you can’t do anything to annoy those who can remove your ‘power’, you have no power.

    So your comments vis-a-vis Labour’s infinite desire to interfere with out lives and desire to keep power are paradoxical. I fart in your comments’ general direction.

    Matthew, I guess by your lack of response…

    There were a fair few other points, all of which have been covered extensively here, that I couldn’t be arsed rehashing. Some are easily dismissed in a sentence, which is why I chose to comment about them. Some would takle us all day and most of the weekend to adequately resolve. The pledge card being one of them.

    So, why is it only the people who voted it in who seem to be breaching the act?

    Because their opposition are very actively pursuing examples where a lew law has not been understood. Do you think that these are brought to the electopral commission’s attention by pixies?

    Now, about that wee homework task I set you – how are we doing with it? I guess by your lack of response you’re admitting you were wrong, but can’t quite bring yourself to retract. Don’t worry, Tony, I’m a forgiving soul.
    _ _ _

    Now you’re using it to prove Labour does things that are unpopular.

    To quote a usually thoughtful blogger: “Pull the other one mate.’

    Scribe, it is true that it was a Green act. When people point that out, it’s because people are pointing to it and crying “secret agenda”. That it was a Greens’ Privaste Members bill proves otherwise.

    That Labour supported it shows that they hold principle above ‘keeping in power’. No pulling required.

  31. lprent 32

    Tax cuts were only going to come when we’d reduced government debt down, dropped unemployment to virtually nothing, restarted the infrastructure, at least made a start on the superannuation shortfall problem, etc. That was discussed in conference and in public in 1998 when the 39pc tax bracket was being discussed.

    I’m with Cullen on this one. If we’d known then what we know now about international economy, then I’d have held off on initiating the tax cuts. But they’ve been promised and legislated for, and there is no particular reason to hold off on them. Labours tax cuts are designed largely to get rid of acculmulated fiscal drag

    The other two examples have nothing to do with labour policies. They’re just muck-racking crap from the right.

    BTW: Glenn was the biggest single donor if you are looking over a few years from 2003-2005. However his donation is just part of the contributions to the NZLP. It was significant but not massive. We managed to pay the $800k that the A/G made his mistake on in about 6 months after deciding it was going to be required for public relations.

    That was pretty much drawn from fund raising party members and was on top of the usual donations and memberships. I’m always surprised that the right focuses so much on a single public donor.

  32. lprent 33

    hs: The intent behind s59 was already Labour policy from some time ago. It’d been passed as a remit quite a while previously.

    However it wasn’t something that Labour government had committed to putting a lot of effort into. It was just part of the party objectives along with quite a large number of other things. It certainly wasn’t campaigned for during 2005.

    However when it came up, due to Sue Bradfords private members bill, then essentially the Labour MP’s were obliged to support it. That is because of the party rules about implementing policies.

    BTW: The remit sessions are *incredibly* boring during conferences. But they get a good attendance and a lot of people poring over the detail. The reason is that those remits if passed define limit on Labour governments.

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