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Polity: The game is the game

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, June 20th, 2014 - 24 comments
Categories: bill english, david cunliffe, election 2014, john key, national, same old national - Tags: , , ,

polity_square_for_lynnRob Salmond at Polity offers this advice to the National smear team.

As the confusion settles this week, it has become clear that the Beehive was central in enlarging and promoting the Cunliffe / Liu letter story.

National certainly knew about it well before anyone else, and were gloating about it on online forums over the past weekend. I’m betting National also had a hand in cajoling reporters to ask very particular questions of Cunliffe just hours before the incriminating OIA would be released.

And, to be blunt, there’s nothing really wrong with that.

We on the left blogs would jump to congratulate Labour MPs who goad Ministers into misleading the public. Think Robertson on Collins, for example. Given that, we can’t really cry foul when National does the same thing to us, at least if we care at all about our ethical consistency.1

Be a little slow, be a little late

Having said that, I have some advice for National. If you are going to orchestrate a smear against your opponent, but hope to fade into the background while the smear unfolds, it really pays to have your cover-up stories straight. Did you ever hear about Labour’s role in forcing [redacted] of the [redacted] party to resign back in [redacted]? No, I bet you didn’t.

When you screw up and start contradicting each other’s stories, you look like a pack of low-rent numpties. And it reveals your tactics for all to see, which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

It is bad enough that we had the Deputy Prime Minister intoning shock and surprise, just as the Prime Minister is gloating that he’s known about the letter for weeks. But yesterday we saw the added spectacle of Michael Woodhouse changing his mind within hours about when he first saw the letter, and what he did with it.

And, with that Inspector-Clouseau style caper going on in the background, John Key wants to climb onto the Security Council! Good luck with that. If they can’t pull off a decent smear when they’re in charge of all the information domestically, imagine how clumsy and counterproductive they would be when negotiating with the P5.

  1. Similarly, of course, National supporters crying “gotcha politics is terrible!” over Labour’s attempted gotchas of Collins had better also be crying “gotcha politics is terrible!” today, too.

24 comments on “Polity: The game is the game ”

  1. freedom 1

    the red link is busted, on TS and at Polity

    • lprent 1.1

      Yeah. No information to figure out exactly what it was meant to point to, but I have put the link to the story giving a timeline at the herald.

      • freedom 1.1.1

        imho,
        Adam Bennett has always been an oasis of reality in the Herald’s desert of hypocrisy

      • Pasupial 1.1.2

        Bennett’s timeline starts at:

        May 8: Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is questioned in the House and by media about his meetings and any National Party association with Donghua Liu. Mr Woodhouse requests information on the file to see if there is anything relevant that he needs to know about. The Herald requests Liu’s residency file under the Official Information Act (OIA)

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11277608

        Which misses out this information (perhaps because not from a Herald story?):

        Mr Woodhouse said Mr Liu – who was involved in National MP Maurice Williamson’s resignation – lobbied him in April or May at the businessman’s Newmarket hotel.

        http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/301445/woodhouse-confirms-meeting-liu

        Is there anyway to OIA request any notes the minister’s office might have regarding that meeting? I suspect there would be some “commercial sensitivity” getout clause.

        • veutoviper 1.1.2.1

          There was a lot of reports in the media in early May about the Woodhouse/Liu meeting with detail of their discussions – ie Liu lobbying for relaxation of the wealthy immigrant rules.

          Here is the Herald article

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/isaac-davison/news/article.cfm?a_id=586&objectid=11251387

          Plenty more reports on TV3 etc which you can find by googling “Woodhouse meeting with Liu”.

          • Pasupial 1.1.2.1.1

            VV

            Thanks, I don’t read Herald articles unless someone links to them, so thought it could just have been the ODT doing a story on a local MP which everyone else had passed on. That does makes Bennett’s omission of this meeting from his timeline more puzzling.

            And yes, I saw that Woodhouse claimed the meeting was about:

            Mr Liu was seeking a new immigration category in which non-English speakers could pay less than the $10 million threshold… his plans for $70 million development in Newmarket would go ahead following “improvements to New Zealand’s business migrant rules”.

            But given his imperfect recollection of the timing and nature of Lui-letter disclosure to the PMs office, I thought an OIA request for meeting notes might be in order. There might be donations of money and information to the Nat immigration minister which have not thus far been disclosed.

            • David H 1.1.2.1.1.1

              ” his plans for $70 million development in Newmarket would go ahead following “improvements to New Zealand’s business migrant rules”.”

              So in other words “you do as I say, and then I’ll hold up my part of the Bargain…..

  2. ianmac 2

    The PM seems very confident that he has more information on thousands of dollars more donated by Liu. Apart from it being a bit nasty for a PM to be gloating over gossip and rumour, perhaps he does have information (from Liu?) that will blast the Labour Party. But if there has been no evidence in the Labour records of this, then there would have to be more than just saying it was so. Show me the money or at least a cheque or a receipt or something tangible. Otherwise Mr Key and the Media should be held to account.
    A smear could get even worse for Mr Key.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      The PM seems very confident that he has more information on thousands of dollars more donated by Liu. Apart from it being a bit nasty for a PM to be gloating over gossip and rumour, perhaps he does have information (from Liu?) that will blast the Labour Party.

      And this should be the Labour response:

      “We’re willing to work with National to set tough new standards for the regulation of political donations in this country, including limiting anonymous political donations to no more than $5,000. Anyone wanting to back a political party to a higher level than that needs to be willing to front up in our democracy.”

      (Mind you many political parties rely on a handful of big usually anonymous donors who contribute the bulk of party finances so there may be some all round reluctance on this, but that’s just another reason why this needs to go through)

      • srylands 2.1.1

        This should be the Labour response:

        “These electoral laws regarding political party financing and donations are crock of shit. They should all be abolished. Anyone should be free to donate their money to a political party. The public disclosure of the identity of donors should be voluntary.

        Along the same lines, there should be no restrictions on political advertising or the financing of such advertising.”

        There you go problem fixed.

        The solution to prosperity is not every more regulation and banning of things. “Ban” – The Greens’ favourite word.

        • freedom 2.1.1.1

          The stand up routine is coming along nicely srylands.
          Have you got any confirmed tour dates yet?

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.2

          You’ve “fixed” one problem, only to create many many others. See also: The United States of America.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.3

          Ah, SSLands comes out with his prescription of turning NZ into a plutocracy.

    • Bob 2.2

      My guess is Mr Key is learning from Winston Peters, you don’t need to ever produce any proof of anything, as long as you get your message across to a gulible media at the right time mud will stick.
      If the multiple experiences with Winston are anything to go by, Mr Key has nothing to worry about it is now on Labour to potentially prove a negative or come up with their own next distraction.
      NZ politics really has reached the gutter thanks to our poor media that have forgotten about fair and balanced reporting both ways!

    • karol 2.3

      The issue isn’t just about donations, but, of “cash for favours”.

      Merely showing there has been a donation doesn’t amount to much on its own. There needs to be substantial evidence of favours done. Cunliffe’s 2003 letter as a constituent MP back in 2003, just doesn’t cut it in that regard.

      Ultimately, though, the long term solution is to end donations to political campaigns – maybe state funded plus private donations to election funds to be split evenly between parties?

    • David H 2.4

      And Cunliffe has said if you got it then bring it on. The fact that TricKey hasn’t leads one to assume that he’s just full o’ shite.

  3. Ant 3

    I think this would normally matter but National unfortunately has most of the media running cover for them.

  4. Ennui 4

    National and its’ trained seals are in full production. To quote the late Justice Mahon,, “an orchestrated litany of lies”.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Funny how the Herald allows Woodhouse to ‘clarify his previous answers-twice- without screaming ‘you lied to us’
    Then I suppose you go easy on one of the members of the ‘team’

    BMW, is it just me, but doesn’t Woodhouse look like one of the Kray twins?

  6. karol 6

    So now Jared Savage is saying OIA requests for letters for Liu from government ministers were denied.

    Letters of support from two Government MPs for Donghua Liu’s citizenship bid have been kept secret – despite letters from Labour politicians for his residency bid being released this week.

    The Herald reported in March that Liu received citizenship in 2010 against official advice after lobbying by Maurice Williamson, the Minister for Building and Construction, and John Banks, the Mayor of Auckland at the time who later entered Parliament as an Act MP.

    However, the Department of Internal Affairs refused to release the letters sent by Mr Williamson and Mr Banks under the privacy and commercial provisions in the Official Information Act.

  7. DH 7

    Events like this bring to mind the term cognitive dissonance, where people see what they want to see.

    John Armstrong looks to have suffered there, he said this in his last missive;

    “However, the letter highlights Liu’s intention to set up business in New Zealand and export “huge quantities” of agricultural and horticultural products to China.”

    The letter Lprent linked to says this;

    “…. who will export large quantities of agricultural and horticultural products to China.”

    From reading the letter to writing his commentary Armstrong has morphed large into huge. He even quoted it. Quite strange, makes one want to think up a pun about Chinese whispers….

  8. karol 8

    Trotter’s latest post does focus on something that bothered me about Salmond’s post above, when I read it: the way he treats politics as all being about the game.

    It’s one of the things I like about the Greens. They are far less about the “game” and more about policies and values.

    Righties are gleeful that the Nats are so good at playing the ruthless game of manipulation and deception. To me they are spoiling the well of democracy. Making it hard for policies, and the wants and needs of the least powerful people to get a look in.

    I find it depressing that NZ politics has become dominated by this (and the media is helping to fan the flames).

    • Pasupial 8.1

      Just read Trotter’s post over on TDB myself – it’s one of the good ones.

      “Righties are gleeful that the Nats are so good at playing the ruthless game of manipulation and deception.” – ran into that myself last month while visiting family. I responded to a claim that; “Judith Collins has been a great Justice Minister”, with; “What has she achieved? What legislation has she got passed?”, which was met with total vacancy.

      The idea that a Minister should be judged on their deeds rather than party status, or public profile, seems totally incomprehensible to the Nactolyte.

  9. Paul 9

    If you look at the comments below Trevett’s and Armstrong’s attacks on Cunliffe, it would appear that the vast majority of readers who have commented think it is the Herald’s ‘journalists’ who should resign, not Cunliffe.
    Methinks the corporate media may have cried wolf once too many and that many people now see them for the Tory toadies that they have become.

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