Last week Colin James wrote that behind National’s one-page wonder policies there was actually a substantive body of work. The publicly-released work rights policy (“workplace policy”, as the Tories call it) was only half a dozen bullet points long but James assured us there was a 34 page document backing it. OK, he hadn’t been allowed to read or look at the document and John Key had just read him the headings… but, still substance, yes? Well no, turns out all the Nats have is a 14 page document recounting the history of employment policy. The bullet points is all the policy there is. But wait, Duncan Garner then reported that he had been told there is a ‘phone-book’ of detail behind the Nats’ one-pagers. Turned out they were lying to him too. Garner was rightly furious at being deceived. By the end of the week, there were some embarrassed and pissed off journos who had relied on National’s word.
Then came the tapes. The Nats tried all their old tactics again – they claimed it didn’t happen, they argued it was taken out of context, they attacked the source. As we’ve seen before, National tried to distract the media from the content of the tapes by getting hysterical about their source (was it Young Labour!?! OMG!). But this time the strategy hasn’t worked. The media have largely refused to follow National’s narrative.
Why? Because they’re sick of being lied to; sick of being treated as a vehicle for Crosby/Textor lines. As damaging as the revelation of the secret agenda has been for National the loss of a compliant media willing to run their lines may be even worse in the coming weeks. And, as with the the exposure of their secret agenda, the Nats have no-one to blame for that but themselves.