Rhetoric & Reality 3: Crime

Written By: - Date published: 11:57 am, June 8th, 2009 - 17 comments
Categories: crime, law and "order", national - Tags:

One of the most tedious and predictable right wing electoral tactics is to try and whip up a frenzy of fear about crime, especially violent crime. Mix in some “fear of youth” dog whistling for extra impact. Last election National were guilty as usual. The rhetoric:

Key: I am extremely worried about the youth crime problem, with senseless violence and killings seemingly occurring on a daily basis. Good, law-abiding Kiwis end up paying the price. We must act now to defuse these unexploded human time-bombs, who are on the fast-track to Paremoremo.

The Action Plan: National Party Leader John Key has today released his Action Plan for Violent Crime and declared that it is ready to go from the first day of a new National-led Government.

“This list by no means covers all the steps National will take to make our communities safer, but it does show how urgent the situation is and that we are prepared to take up the fight when our opponents haven’t.

“National’s Action Plan for Violent Crime will take the practical steps necessary to start addressing these failures and to squarely face the challenge of escalating violent crime..”

After the election: In particular, [my government] will address the frustrations shared by many New Zealanders who have conveyed to my Government their concerns at the high and climbing levels of violent crime throughout the country.

And so on. Goodness – however did we survive those dark times? Maybe because the reality is very different:

Most peaceful: New Zealand has been judged the most peaceful nation in the world. An Australian thinktank recognised our stable political situation, relatively low rate of violence and decrease in military spending.

The voices speaking out against National’s propaganda campaign were too few. Victoria University felt moved to debunk two of Key’s alarmist claims (“Violent youth crime is at an all-time high”, and “Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar?”). And naturally The Standard tried to keep the record straight:

SP: The latest Police statistics show crime is still dropping. Crime dropped from 1013 offences per 10,000 people in 2006 to 1008 in 2007. There was a dramatic reduction in homicides (down 10.1%, following a 10.2% drop in 2006), sex attacks were down 2.3%, and “Dishonesty” offences, including thefts and burglaries, fell 5.1%.

National’s scare-mongering was aided by an apparent rise in domestic violence, but this was as a result of the successful “It’s Not OK” advertising campaign:

3 News: The overall crime rate was down in the year ended June 30, but a surge in reported family violence offences meant violent crime was up 11 percent.

Annual crime statistics released today for the financial year to June 30 showed 107 more offences were recorded in the year than in the June 2007 year. Adjusted for the population increase in the same period, this was a 1 percent decrease, police said.

Violence offences rose 11.1 percent — with the family violence sub-category increasing 29 percent. Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said the increase was due to the It’s Not OK campaign and mandatory police training on family violence which prompted an increase in reporting of family violence.

The truth was always there, but of course more complicated and less marketable than National’s lying sound bites:

The Herald: Police crime statistics released today showed a small increase in total recorded offences with 426,380 – 0.5 per cent more than 2006. However, with the population increasing this figure represented a drop of offences per 100,000 people. New Zealand recorded its lowest murder rate for a decade at 45, with 41 resolved before the end of the year. Robberies and kidnappings were also down by seven and two per cent respectively.

Given the reality, National’s rhetoric was a crime in itself.

17 comments on “Rhetoric & Reality 3: Crime”

  1. Ag 1

    They wouldn’t pull this trick if it wasn’t a reliable vote getter. People are stupid enough to fall for it, so they get the idiotic, authoritarian government they deserve.

    • Mr Magoo 1.1

      I used to think this, but to be honest with our media the way they are and spin doctoring happening at such a corrupt and polished level I am not sure this is fair anymore.

      Yes NZers are mostly responsible for not holding our politicians to account and being led by the nose from media too easily. But they are up against millions of dollars and research and so forth.

      Saying someone “deserves” anything is a tenuous proposition most of the time I guess.

  2. Ianmac 2

    Sadly, when the stats are reported honestly in the months to come, guess who will claim success for the “improvement”?

  3. Tigger 3

    But National has proposed a brilliant strategy of building more motorways – surely this will curb the rising tide of lawlessness in our nation…?

  4. Nick 4

    Hey Jonkey, I am so f*****g bored. Do somehing useful.

  5. randal 5

    hi nick.
    so am I.
    all keys can do is tell porkies,
    commit crimes against the english language and run off like an ambulance chasing divorce lawyer.
    the guy thinks he’s still a big swinging dick at merril lynch or something.

  6. StephenR 6

    The voices speaking out against National’s propaganda campaign were too few. Victoria University felt moved to debunk two of Key’s alarmist claims (‘Violent youth crime is at an all-time high’…

    Where do they do that?

    P.S. that link is broken.

  7. Ianmac 7

    John Key responded to reporters on TV as he stepped out of a building re his changing his mind about meeting the Auckland woman. He said something like: ” I mean. It would not be reasonable for a Prime Minister to meet her would it without….” Just paraphrased but isn’t that a dopey thing to say? A PM is too important to meet a lowly person?????

  8. StephenR 8

    thanks rob, sometimes i can only be bothered going so far with my researching

  9. George D 9

    When did Labour ever stand up against this nonsense?

    • r0b 9.1

      I’m sure they made the odd press release on the facts at the time, but I doubt if there was a strong enough rebuttal. The right always do rabid better than the left! Ironically, it seems like Labour waited until after the election to rebut, Fall in murder rate in past nine years encouraging:

      An annual murder rate that declined by almost 15 percent during the past nine years proves false claims by the Government that Labour was soft on crime, says Labour law and order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.

      “If you listened to what National said, particularly in the two years leading up to the election, and if you paid heed to what some of the bloggers were saying, you might well have believed our streets were paved with danger,’ Clayton Cosgrove said.

      “That was simply not true. While every murder remains a tragedy, the rate of murders per million people has, in fact, halved since the mid-1980s.

      “The reality is that the number of murders hardly fluctuates at all from year to year, and that’s why it was so sickening that National, aided and abetted by some commentators and bloggers, so dishonestly built the picture last year of our streets not being safe for New Zealanders.’

      “The overall crime rate is not getting worse in New Zealand. The fear-mongers in our society, led by right-wing bloggers and senior National politicians who should know better, have much to answer for. If society is more afraid than it used to be, such fear is often driven by perception, not reality.

  10. Rex Widerstrom 10

    Thank you, anaonymous author, for yet again raising this issue here. Would that more media did so, especially the MSM.

    Ag is right in that politicians resort to this sort of manipulation regularly, and voters fall for it. But voters don’t have the time and resources to undertake even a cursory analysis of what they’re told by politicians – that’s supposedly the role of the Fourth Estate.

    So when a politician – and they all do it – says “we’re facing a crime wave” the correct response as a journalist is:

    1. Note the statement and the statistics (if any) used to back the assertion.
    2. Undertake your own research to tes the validity of the statement.
    3. Seek at least one (and preferably several) comments from “experts” (e.g. criminologists, statisticians etc. not other politicians).
    4. Contact the maker of the statement and challenge them on any inaccuracies and record their response.
    5. Then, if it’s thought necessary for the story, contact an opposing politician. However, if they resort to the “rising tide of crime” malarky, call them on it too.
    6. Write a story reporting the original statement but highlighting any provable inaccuracies and mentioning any doubts about its validity held by experts.

    However, all too often the media’s response amounts to:

    1. Slightly re-write press release.
    2. Add your byline.
    3. Ask Garth McVicar, add his comments to the bottom.
    4. If you’re TV, find a victim and get them to cry on camera.
    4. Profit!!

    It’s grabage and it’s time we, as consumers, called out the media every time they do this.

  11. Craig 11

    I have to agree with Rex the level of so called reporting is quite pathetic. Most of the political reporters are nothing more than PR writers for National at present.

    The level of actual policy evaluation and ability to identify the real issues is very low.

    But unless we start calling them on it we will continue to get it dished up day after day. The Herald is one of the worst offenders I think although Tvone morning breakfast is equally as bad.

  12. The GSK 12

    Over the weekend Ms Likely watched Big X in TGE. Companion was Master Probable who knew the 1960s master movie ans who had noticed the presence of probability – ie Mr Power’s utterance on RNZ about the “balance of probabilities” re innocence in the Bain decision and wondered how soon the word would catch on among the non-Cabinet hacks.. For whom a lack of certainty is otherwise hazardous

    Anyway, to Master Probable she was excited when Big X – escape supremo – declared to his compatriots that they would do everything by the book so much that they’d “put the goons to sleep”.

    “That’s it,” said she, as far as Nact are concerned the Opposition are the goons. Ignore them. else work around and without them.

    Classic case of… Friday on-air the eventual P-Mumbler: yeah, I’ll meet her. Then telling the staffer to put ’em off, anything to givim room. Then, later still what Deemac noted above.. about being back in his bubble and folks with legit complaints weren’t worth the trouble(pun intended)..

    But the point is is to have the P-Mumbler, henches and honchos continue believe ignore and ignorance wins..

    While a good turnout Saturday grounds reality.. and more folks knowing better.

  13. The GSK 13

    oops! should read Ianmac, not Deemac..

  14. rave 14

    What John Key should have said on youth crime but couldnt … yet

    Yes melud I plead guilty to being a bankster raider.
    I beg to do community service for all those I have ripped off.
    I will restore to the workers all the wealth they have produced and my has class lived off for centuries.
    I will personally see that all the alienated youth have a decent home, school, health services and plenty of art galleries and race tracks.
    I will personally guarantee to deliver this reparation within my lifetime and that of my co-conspirator banksters.

    Of course melud is Comrade Melody of the peoples antifascist tribunal sitting on the case of Key vs the People at some date in the not far distant future.

    Captcha: profound allay [I have a machine for a comrade]

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