Quoting out of context

Written By: - Date published: 11:54 am, November 10th, 2007 - 18 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

DPF and the National Party have made much of a Helen Clark quote unearthed from her conference speech in 2000 on tax cuts.

I’ve just read it on Kiwiblog and was puzzled by the elipsis in the middle. DPF writes:

“Tax cuts are a path to inequality They are the promises of visionless and intellectually bankrupt people”. Who said this and when?

So I went looking for the complete quote (found it via Google in Vernon’s piece in the Dom):

“Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment in today’s circumstances. They are the promises of vision-less and intellectually bankrupt people”

To misquote her so deliberately – by removing the three crucial qualifying words – is an absolute disgrace. While it’s just the kind of thing you’d expect from an increasingly desperate “one-trick-pony” National Party, I’m a little surprised that DPF went there too.

It’s common knowledge he’s a National Party insider – he’s on the payroll and spends all day blogging from their headquarters – but this has to count as a cheap shot, even for him.

On reflection, this isn’t “quoting out of context”. It’s “quoting having removed the context”.


Puzzling how this quote from John Key’s address to the Police Association National Conference escaped media attention:

Kiwis fear that ours is not a safe society. They fear . police officers… Increasingly, police are . high on drugs and unaware of their surroundings. Tasers are the obvious answer.

Certainly gives new meaning to getting tough on law and order.

18 comments on “Quoting out of context”

  1. milo 1

    A one trick pony on tax cuts? What is this one trick? I know! It’s being right when Labour were so wrong, for so long.

    And not only were Labout so wrong, for so long, they tried to sheet the blame home to officials. That is just shameless.

  2. thomas 2

    But Milo have you any thoughts on the quoting out of context highlighted in the above post

  3. all_your_base 3

    milo, you’re entitled to your opinion but it doesn’t alter the fact that National have heavily and deliberately misquoted the PM.

    It certainly doesn’t speak volumes for their honesty – intellectual or otherwise.

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Tuesday, Nov 6, in the House:

    John Key: In preparing her conference speech this year, which praised tax cuts, did the Prime Minister get any advice from the Labour Party leader, who announced at Labour’s 2000 conference that “Tax cuts are a path to inequality. They are the promises of a visionless and intellectually bankrupt people.”?

    So basically, Key fabricated a quote, and misled the House.

  5. r0b 5

    This kind of post is The Standard at its best. Show up the National spin for what it is, and drag their intellectual dishonesty out into the sunlight for all to see. Thankyou!

  6. milo 6

    Thomas; All Your Base:

    I haven’t checked the original source, but assuming the original post is accurate, then yes the quote is misleading. It’s not, however, a fabrication – the quote includes an ellipsis, indicating omitted text. But it certainly appears the omission is mischevious. It’s not National though – it’s a blogger. And he would probably argue that the quote, as he presented it, still accurately represents the Prime Minister’s view.

    Nonetheless, mischevious.

  7. gobsmacked 7


    As I said above, it is National’s leader, speaking in the House. Here’s the source:


    The quote, now recorded in Hansard, is false. Key misled the House. There are no ellipsis dots in oral questions.

  8. Margaret 8

    Didn’t Lianne Dalziel lose her cabinet place for misleading the House in the guinea pig memo affair?

    I couldn’t believe the misquote of Clark when I read about it in the paper this morning. Surely National have enough faith in their people and policies that they don’t feel the need to lie?

  9. Tane 9

    From Vernon’s article:

    “Miss Clark’s office pointed out that National had been extremely selective by leaving out the “in today’s circumstances” from their version of the speech. But it is a fine point that will be lost on most voters.”

    See, that’s their strategy – find a message and just ram it home so relentlessly that by the time the govt has had time to respond the message is already out there. And as John Key said himself, by that stage it’s too late because ‘explaining is losing’.

    You see this every time National sends out a half-baked, misinformed and misleading press release. And every time Simon Power opens his mouth. It is a rather cynical way of doing politics, and it’d be nice if the media called them on it more often.

  10. Ha ha ha! Oh, this is priceless! I think from now on I’ll respond to every instance of “Liarbour” with “What about that John Key then? He said ‘Increasingly, police are . high on drugs and unaware of their surroundings’ – the lying bastard!”

  11. milo 11

    Thanks for the link Gobsmacked. You are quite right. Still seems a bit of a storm in a teacup to me.

    The rest of the Hansard is pretty interesting too. I really don’t think Labour looks good on this issue. Just one example – sometimes working for families is a tax cut, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes Labour have already made tax cuts, sometimes they haven’t. Not a very coherent policy.

    And I stand by what I said about blaming officials.

  12. PaulL 12

    Get a grip guys. It must be hard to work up such righteous indignation about nothing.

  13. Tane 13

    milo, as I understand it WFF has pretty consistently been sold as a ‘tax cut’. Cullen’s even gone so far as to use Tory language and call it ‘tax relief’.

    The welfare tag has been used by National to try and make it look like half the country are on benefits – probably because so many people actually were on benefits under National due to double-digit unemployment.

  14. milo 14

    Then why did the Prime Minister announce tax cuts the conference, and say they were only doing it now because it was the first time they were affordable?

    Doesn’t add up. (I know, it’s just politics, but really.)

  15. The welfare tag has been used by National because it fits. Technically, it might not be “a benefit,” but it certainly is welfare for the middle class.

    Of course, Key shouldn’t really be bleating about welfare for the middle class when all he wants to do is bribe them a different way. Fuck ’em.

  16. milo 16

    Pscho Milt,

    Yes, one could say they all have dirty laundry, and a plague on all their houses. Except that the only thing that keeps any of them tolerable is if we regularly change that selfsame laundry.

  17. r0b 17

    Occasional renewal (as per Labour currently) and frequent elections works for me (I’m glad we stuck with the three year term).

    I don’t think a government that is competent and performing well needs to be changed just for the sake of change.

  18. Tane 18

    Then why did the Prime Minister announce tax cuts the conference, and say they were only doing it now because it was the first time they were affordable?

    I imagine it’s because WFF was targeted tax credits aimed at helping families, while the proposed tax cuts will be across the board, regardless of family circumstances. I would personally rather see the money go into social services, but if there are to be tax cuts then it’s better they’re done according to Labour’s four tests than National’s slash and burn mentality.

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