Rules of the game

Written By: - Date published: 9:59 pm, December 3rd, 2007 - 54 comments
Categories: articles, dpf, election funding - Tags: , ,

Just had a read of Colin Espiner’s latest opinion piece. He certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Here’s what he has to say about the EFB:

But despite attempts by Labour to patch up the worst of the bill’s flaws, it remains a shoddy piece of legislation that should be consigned to the dustbin.

And, in the interests of balance, here’s what he had to say about the Nats:

There can be no doubt that National is every bit as motivated by self-interest as Labour over the bill. While the Opposition in public keeps its comments focused on the impact on legitimate public debate, it is deeply concerned its ability to campaign will be constrained by this legislation.

So far so ordinary but then…

There is also no doubt that the debate has been effectively hijacked by Right-wing supporters of National such as David Farrar and John Boscawen, who have even appeared in the media as “independent” commentators, despite one being National’s Wellington Central campaign manager and the other an Act Party fundraiser.

Excuse me? Did I read that right? “hijacked by Right-wing supporters of National such as David Farrar and John Boscawen”?? But this was a grassroots uprising wasn’t it? It’s not about partisan politics or big money at all. Surely?

Nah.

I’d thought the tide was turning for these astroturfers after nearly every media story covering last Saturday’s march mentioned how much money they’d pumped into it but to have it called by a senior political commentator is pleasing indeed. The anti-EFB campaign has hurt Labour. There’s little doubt about that but for DPF it’s been a Kamikaze run in terms of his credibility and his usefulness. Oh, he’s trying to inoculate it with the old “Aw shucks they just asked me what I thought and I told them” angle but given DPF’s work at National’s HQ and his years working for them in Parliament nobody but the blindest KB disciple would believe that. And it looks like the media has rumbled him.

It all reminds me of something an old hand in this game once told me, “backroom boys should stay in the backroom”. There’s a lot of slight of hand in politics. Always has been, always will be. Nearly every political story you read or view has been orchestrated by someone in the background – it’s all about tactical leaking, running lines and generally shaping the discourse and one of the things about being a backroom “boy” is you never get the credit for it publicly. But if you let your vanity get the better of you and step out into the media spotlight you’re marked. People know you as the face of a single issue or political position and bring that idea of you to everything you’re involved with. And that means you’re a one-trick pony and your value as an operator is shot. Who knows whether that’s fair or not, but DPF is learning about it now.

54 comments on “Rules of the game”

  1. Lampie 1

    wonder if the Herald will pick it up, might get a bit more credability (spelling??) in my books.

  2. Susan Deare 2

    Nice to see Espiner call it how it really is. Bloody sick of Farrar getting off as an ‘independent commentator’.

    Lampie – I don’t think the media will pick up on it. They’ve all used Farrar in some ‘independent commentator’ capacity over the past month. They’re not likely to admit their mistakes. Nonetheless, let’s hope IrishBill’s right, that at the very least Farrar’s reputation in this arena is as fucked as it deserves to be.

  3. Gruela 3

    The opposition to the EFB seem to have fatally diluted their protests by not concentrating on the few flawed aspects of the bill, but by appearing to rail against the very idea that they shouldn’t be allowed to spend as much money as they like during an election cycle. They were never going to win that argument, and having such an extremely right-wing cadre lined up against it probably didn’t help their cause either.

    Lampie

    As to spelling, try right-clicking over the word. Modern technology is here to help you.

  4. Lampie 4

    this has word chect?

    damn

    I don’t think the media will pick up on it.

    Typical

  5. outofbed 5

    Firefox checks spelling as you go

  6. Lampie 6

    Firefox checks spelling as you go

    Ah ha, I use cheap arse explorer, see Gruela, I have modern crap….about as useful as a National party DVD in a video store

  7. insider 7

    Jeez, you guys just lose all sense of proportion when it comes to DPF.

    Why should farrar’s reputation be at all affected by this? He has never denied who he is, where his alliegences lie, who he has worked for – you guys only know he has been working at Nat HQ because he openly posted it on his blog, you know the one you guys spend a lot of time reading as do apparantly thousands of others – including a lot of media judging by the regular references to it in news and gossip columns.

    YOu laughably say: “And it looks like the media has rumbled him.” Unbelieveable. Is this the same media that on plenty of other occasions have referred to him as “prominent national party blogger”? Since when is disclosure seen as a negative for someone’s reputation. Oh that’s right, since it became a conflict of interest to have an involvement with National – go ask Madelaine Setchell…

    Last I heard DPF did not make editorial decisions for major media, nor is he a news captioner/writer. Your vitriol would be better aimed at those who made the editorial decisions to give him a platform without mentioning these things – perhaps they forgot?

    Get a grip guys. Got anything to say on the deepening do-do that Parker’s finding himself in for meddling in the independence of the PS? You guys should be aligned with the PSA on this surely?

  8. Lampie 9

    cheers outofbed

  9. Gruela 10

    Interestingly, my original porn name was Fire Fox, but I had to change it. You know, for copyright reasons.

  10. Lee C 11

    Neat jump from the criticism of the EFb to the real issue taht is affecting New Zealand – another ‘Hollow Man’ paranoia trip.

    And, according to wikipedia only two days ago, DPF has links to neo-nazis!
    Is it possible that a concerted effort to neutralise DPF is now underway?
    I mean, surely it is about time that this cancerous and corrosive element in New Zealand politics was eliminated?

    Then we can all get the EFB into law with as little fuss as possible?

  11. IrishBill 12

    Insider – there is a big difference between having something tucked away on your blog and being branded in the mainstream media. If you really were an insider you’d understand that.

  12. insider 15

    I’d add that you have a fundamental misunderstanding of astroturfing, a key element of which is plausible deniability of any link back to a vested interest – you really should read Wiki (interesting some of the earliest examples of the practice came from unions…).

    Given Farrar’s open alliegence and Boscowen’s never denied alliegence and his public listing on the donations to ACT list, this really doesn’t meet the test any more than Destiny’s Enough is Enough work.

    But I suppose it is a neat new word for you to play with, just like “dog whistling”. But if you are going to use it, please at least make sure you use it appropriately.

  13. a_nerd 17

    Lee C

    I think you are onto it. The vindictive hate speech about the EB was so incorrectly linked to Nazi style behaviour when it was coming from Labour. All along it was DPF was had links to the Neo-Nazis… Well once a great supporter of the standard and a great proponent of left wing thinking had finished spreading propaganda he did.

    Shameful that he hasn’t been banned here and shameful that so many of the standards regulars have had vented their splines about DPF banning him on kiwiwblogblog

    Shame on the standard for not taking a stand against this sort of deliberate vandalism and concerted hate campaign.

  14. Tane 18

    Hi Insider,

    My personal position on DPF being quoted as an independent commentator is here:

    ‘Political commentator David Farrar’

    David Farrar is a political operative, and he’s National Party to the bone. He’s certainly not an independent commentator.

    That it’s come to this is no indictment on Farrar personally. He’s spent years building up Kiwiblog as the National Party’s online messaging hub, and judging by its popularity and influence he’s done a bloody good job of it too. You can hardly blame the guy for taking advantage of an opportunity to do the same thing in the mainstream media under the guise of independent commentary. The real fault lies with media outlets that should know better.

    I think IrishBill’s point was that
    a) the EFB campaign was a piece of astroturfing
    b) Farrar is not an independent commentator and it’s good the media are finally calling him on it, and
    c) By choosing to cross into the public arena he’s doing himself long-term harm as a backroom operator.

    I’m no big player myself, but from what I’ve seen of the game IrishBill’s analysis is right on the mark.

  15. Wayne 19

    That’s a lot of shame you’ve got there Nerd, but if you want therapy then you’re better off at http://dad4justice.blogspot.com/. This place is for grown ups.

    (Speaking of the EFB- captcah is ‘contribute $2,000’. Rock.

  16. burt 20

    Tane

    I guess what you are saying is that DPF wouldn’t get any senior job in the public service under the current Govt. I won’t argue with that.

  17. outofbed 21

    http://www.wastewatch.co.nz/
    more laughter

    captcha man leftwing ( someones having a larf)

  18. insider 23

    Thanks Tane, I completely agree with your old post.

    IB has taken a very different angle, missed the target completely and in a quite vinidictive and deliberate way. (but then he is the same supposed “expert” who said Claire Curren would not be running for the nomination in Dunedin South)

    You know DPF is open about who he is. He has been a minor but growing public figure on the political scene for a couple of years now. He’s hardly sudden;y “crossed over into the public arena”. Any harm he could have done was surely done long ago. ANd that is why his EFB campaign is not astroturfing

    Given that background, you can’t in all honesty blame him for how the media label him. It’s not as if they can say they didn’t know. It’s a bad choice of words to say they are “calling HIM on it”. Calling him on what? SOmething he’s never hidden? It’s more like they are doing their job properly. .

    I also don’t actually think David is much of a backroom operator in terms of framing strategy etc – no inside knowledge here, just a personal impression on the basis that he talks way too much and very publicly about what he thinks and does (not suggesting he is a loose talker – he just seems fairly straight with his views). Sure he works for Nat party, but then so do a few others in a range of roles, not all of which are machinating the succession of big business policies.

  19. Lee C 24

    DPF’s crime is that he is open about who he works for, and open about his political views and attitudes.

    Evidently this kind of ‘thought-crime’ must be cut out root and branch if democracy is to flourish..

    If only he would take a leaf out of others’ books and maintain a dignified secrecy about where his pay packets are sourced, then he would have the freedom to villify and besmirch whoever he likes with impunity.

    And, according to Sam Dixon, he’s a nazi-loving right-wing scumbag.

    I don’t know how he can lie straight in bed at night.

  20. The Double Standard 25

    Out of bed – I think you meant

    http://youpaidforit.co.nz/?q=image/tid/6

  21. The Double Standard 26

    IB – do you think that this place has such a high level of credibility, given you obsession with DPF and John Key?

    I would think that most would respect DPF for his openness about his connections, as posted on his site. We still don’t know anything about the standardistas. For all we know you could be working in the beehive.
    Farrar doesn’t label himself as an “independent commentator”, that is done by the media outlet.

    Nice effort to pull something out of the hat on your usual obsession on a column that is mostly about Labour’s failure to deliver effective law, or perform effective lawmaking. Given the lack of posting on the topic here, I looks like you are saying that the EFB should be dropped.

  22. IrishBill 27

    Insider – I was not being vindictive. I was simply pointing out that David has become the face of a PR exercise. And the anti-EFB campaign is astroturfing, it’s just a really bad attempt at it here’s David’s offsider Cameron Slater claiming it’s “apolitical”:

    I notice David has also got on board with Slater’s “You paid for it” campaign and is claiming that’s apolitical. I also noticed that at the Wellington rally he claimed he didn’t work for the National party when he was challenged by the lead counter-protester.

    As far as I’m concerned David has every right to involve himself in these campaigns but by becoming the public face of the anti-EFB campaign he has firmly identified himself as a National party operative whereas previously he was perceived only as a political insider with National party leanings – his disclaimer was part of that cover.

    I’m glad you brought Curran up. I admit I was very surprised when she confirmed she was standing for selection. That was because I had assumed she wouldn’t stand because she is also a “backroom boy”. It’s instructive to see what has happened to her since she decided to become a public figure.

  23. Santi 28

    “I’m no big player myself” C’mon Tane don’t give us that bogus humility.

    Those in the know can tell you’re famous (or was it infamous?) around the blogs for your impeccable behaviour, well reasoned and unbiased postings, and very good manners. You’re a good example for others in the loony left.

  24. Robinsod 29

    Sorry to post off-topic but this just in on DVDgate: “Produced for National by Production Shed TV, the cost has not been disclosed but The Press understands the party spent $110,000 on it.”

    I guess all those righties who banged on about “at least $50k” being wrong and slandered the standard’s research should apologise now?

  25. Lee C 30

    “I guess all those righties who banged on about “at least $50k” being wrong and slandered the standard’s research should apologise now?”

    Robinsod I think you will find that $110,000 is more than $50,000, so it is true to say the DVD did cost ‘at least’ $50,000.

    Who paid for it? Oh of course it will be illegal to spend your own money to make a political point soon, won;t it?

    Is that why Labour used tax-cash to sneakily update their website, mere weeks before the EFB came in so they could not be charged later with teh electioneering spend?

    I wonder how much taxpayers cash went into that venture, at least?

  26. Robinsod 31

    Lee – the point is National doesn’t like the EFB because it will stop them spending teh oodles of cash they’ve got from “anonymous” corporate backers. The DVD was an attempt to spend a big chunk of cash ($110k apparently) outside of spending limits for a PR tool that they could then use during the election campaign . It’s about National being the party of PR cash rather than the party of policies, ideas and all those other annoying things they need to govern properly.

    And you never answered my question about the march – you got a second chance to take a meaningful stand against the EFB on Saturday. Did you march this time? Or are you all talk?

  27. Lee C 32

    Robinsod I’m plainly all talk. The floor is yours. Enjoy it.

  28. Lee C 33

    PS while we are on the subject of PR Tools,

    Is that why Labour used tax-cash to sneakily update their website, mere weeks before the EFB came in so they could not be charged later with teh electioneering spend?

    How much taxpayers cash went into that venture, at least, do you estimate?

  29. Tane 34

    ‘sod, interesting you say that. Tracy Watkins says in the Dom Post this morning “the campaign is believed to have cost up to $200,000”

  30. MikeE 35

    If the anti EFB is astroturfing that must be news to:

    – NZ First Supporting Greypower
    – Green Party Supporting Anarchists
    – God knows who supporting Democrats for Social Credit
    – Former Members of Princess Street Labour
    – Human Rights Commission
    – NORML

    And other bastions of the vast right wing conspiracy

  31. Lee C 36

    Back on thread – I thought it was interesting that DPF has been villified by the BNP they issued a picture of him with ‘Juden’ written on his forrehead.

    Then He gets linked to the same Neo-Nazi organisation by Sam Dixon?

    Does this indicate that the Hard left and the Hard right are merely mirror images of each other, with someone like DPF in the middle?

    Surely it speaks volumes that they are both willing to use identical tactics to destroy a political opponent?

  32. Tane 37

    Lee, if it was Sam I suspect it was a drunken prank rather than anything malicious.

    Have you read the Hollow Men yet?

  33. Lee C 38

    The other interesting thing is that the left are very keen to discuss how National spends its money in support of its own world-view, but very loathe to discuss how much money the unions dedicate to extolling theirs. For example, let’s say (hypothetically) someone in the union movement was on a salary, to promote his or her union.

    Then let’s suggest they spend a lot of their time (most days, perhaps) slandering the opposition party in government.
    In the interests of transparency,
    i) How much of their labour time would count as electioneering?
    ii) How is that accounted for against election costs?
    iii) Are they able to claim they are private citizens? expressing a political view
    iv) does the fact they are doing this in work time mean they are doing it with the blessing of their employers
    v) should they rather be spending their time and justifying their salaries by dealing with issues which affect the members who pay their subscription fees?
    vi) Is ‘The Union’ merely a corrupted big-business interest, which exploits its members as cynically as Big business exploits the consumer?

    Just hypothetically, of course?

  34. Billy 39

    Tane, Sam said yesterday he wasn’t denying it.

    Key DVD canned over Clocks fiasco

    So I think that’s answered. If you can pass off anti-semitism as a “drunken prank” good on you. I am kind of against it.

  35. Lee C 40

    But back on thread – we would never know whether this was or was not the case, would we, because all theime those individuals are going on about ‘transparency’ anmd ‘Hollow Men’ in politics from their rather lofty high-ground, they are in fact hiding behind their own anonymity all the time!

    Go figure….

  36. Lee C 41

    Tane you have my address – send me a copy.

  37. Lee C 42

    But I will suggest that if that is all you guys are going to fight the next election on, it will sadly back-fire on you.

  38. Lee C 43

    Lee, if it was Sam I suspect it was a drunken prank rather than anything malicious.

    And yet here you are the very next day on a character assassination of DPF – are you ‘drunk’ too, tane, or was this just the logical next step in the demonisation of your enemies agenda?

  39. PhilBest 44

    The trouble with this, is something that Lee has touched on already, and that is that “independent commentators” on the Left are plentiful and tend to be provided for financially by either Taxpayer or Union money. There is no equivalent on the Right, of a similar number of paying positions for people like me, where we will be able to spend time for which our income will not be reduced, on blogging and political activism. Restrict the few like David Farrar and John Boscawen who do what they do at considerable financial sacrifice, and there would be nothing left. (Or EVERYTHING “Left”).

    I’ve only put some TIME into this sort of thing recently because of the EFB and the sheer danger of the way I can see NZ heading. But I can’t sustain it. I disappear from the blogosphere for considerable chunks of time at times.

  40. r0b 45

    Fascinating piece of in depth musical analysis above Phil!

    Anyway, don’t feel too sorry for the poor, underrepresented voice of the right. Seems to be they are adequately, nay bounteously represented by right wing think tanks such as:

    The Business Roundtable
    The Maxim Institute
    The New Zealand Institute
    The New Zealand Centre for Political Research
    and so on…

    Not to mention owning most of the “msm”, and perhaps, who knows, even influencing its editorial policy.

  41. Tane 46

    Lee, I don’t agree this piece was a character assassination, nor did I write it. Are you drunk? 🙂

  42. MOz 47

    Since we’re entertaining the pedants, There’s a lot of slight of hand in politics would have more tradition behind it with sleight in there instead. But I do like the metaphor of National’s slight hand not quite grasping the change in politics…

    And as for DPF’s crime, I thought that was repeatedly failing to learn from experience. He’s widely known as a National party hack, yet persistently tries to pretend that he’s not. In an environment where even letters to the editor get “Nic Tae, Middleton (Green Party member)” appellations, the claim that a staunch National Party supporter, member and employee has suddenly become independent reeks of … hoping the rest of us are gullible morons?

  43. PhilBest 48

    rOb: The Business Roundtable
    The Maxim Institute
    The New Zealand Institute
    The New Zealand Centre for Political Research:

    How many people are provided with paid time for blogging and activism by the above, and how does this compare with all those bureaucrats, ministerial aides, academics, and quangoes, all paid for by the taxpayer, plus Trade Union officials, that I refer to above, all beavering away at the leftwing agenda.

    The MSM “right wing”??????????????????????????????????????????????

    BALLS.

    The acid test: what does the MSM say when the Nats float the idea of privatising ANY government activity or asset?

    BALLS again.

  44. the sprout 49

    it sounds like you’re not big on books Phil, so try starting with this

  45. you know what i like instead of an argument sprouty? lots of question marks

    i am going to try that from now on. sometimes you do slay me with your nimble wit sprouty but now i am armed. take that?????????????????????????????

    and that???????????? haHA game, set, match

  46. PhilBest 51

    sprout: I’d like to recommend to you the following, which are a few of the books I have read: Hayek: “The Road To Serfdom”
    Friedman: “Free to Choose” Orwell: “Animal Farm” and “1984”
    Courtois: “The Black Book of Communism” Schumpeter: “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” Goldberg: “Bias” Horowitz: “Left Illusions”
    Huxley: “Brave New World”

    In a lighter vein, ALL of P.J. O’Rourke’s books.

    When you’ve read those, come back to me and I’ll recommend you some more. If I could persuade you to try just ONE, make it “Left Illusions” (a political journey” by David Horowitz.

    Regarding the video, Noam Chomsky particularly live on another planet in a paralell universe. His opposite numbers in US political commentary, David Horowitz, Peter Collier, Allan Dershowitz, and others, frequently use a standard term, “Planet Chomsky”. It is a huge mistaken direction to take in one’s life, to go headlong into Chomsky’s propaganda without first getting a firm grounding in the historical record of the REAL world. The works I refer to above are of course “classics” of the “right” wing (not in the Ayn Randish sense, mark), but I was passionately interested in all history from a young age and read extensively. I tell you, I have tried to start a couple of Chomsky books and if they weren’t library books, by the time I got to about the fifth page I would have torn them to pieces, but sufficed by throwing them at the opposite wall of the room and screaming for a bit.

    By the way, no response from anyone on my acid test over whether our media is right wing or left wing? Presumably YOU think they’re “right wing” because they refer to people like Joe Stalin, Mao tse Tung, and Pol Pot (on the rare occasion they DO mention those people – most of the time they’re slagging the USA past and present) in terms other than sainthood? Just curious.

  47. merl 52

    PhilBest, do you *really* believe in “the liberal media” (which is central to Horowitz’s worldview)?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_bias_in_the_United_States

    Because that seems like a right-wing meme to me.

  48. merl 53

    More on David Horowitz:

    “Baghdad is liberated. In the days to come let us not forget that if it were not for one man, and one man alone—George Bush—the people of Iraq would not be celebrating in the streets and pulling down Saddam’s statues today… We have entered the era of a new civil war between the forces of freedom and the powers of Islamo-fascist and communist darkness, and once again the left is clearly determined to take its stand on the other side. The good news is that America is back. Our military has performed superlatively. Our leadership has stood tall. We ourselves can celebrate over this and look confidently towards what lies ahead.”
    —FrontPageMagazine.com | April 9, 2003

  49. the sprout 54

    you’d really have to have shit for brains to think the msm was liberal

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