Written By: - Date published: 11:51 am, June 4th, 2015 - 42 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, Annette King, john key, national, phil goff, same old national - Tags: dirty politics, fran o'sullivan, murray mccully, sheepgate
Remember dirty politics? Do you recall that even though there was no evidence that the left had ever smeared public servants, hacked computer systems, leaked information to bloggers who then attacked critics of the Government and facilitated the release of SIS information so that Phil Goff could be attacked Key made the allegation that the left wing did it too?
It was clearly a sign of desperation. Danyl McLaughlan described an early event in these terms:
John Key did a media stand-up yesterday about Dirty Politics in which he mentioned the words ‘left-wing conspiracy theorist’ about twenty times, and insisted that everything in the book is a lie, and that the real dirty politics comes from the left.
From a communications point-of-view that’s a sensible approach. His audience is not the journalists at the stand-up, but rather the television viewers who haven’t read the book and who will see excerpts of the statement and be reassured by the PMs words.
But some of the reporters listening to the PM have read the book. And when Key insists that the real dirty politics comes from the left, I think, or hope, that they’ll reflect that no one on the left is publishing the addresses of journalists online in the hope that someone assaults or murders them in revenge for writing about tax-havens, which is what Cathy Odgers, Cameron Slater David Farrar and Matthew Hooton discuss on page 91. Also, no one on the left is going around brothels trying to find out whether journalists have visited them, so they can be blackmailed, which is what Cameron Slater, the Justice Minister’s close friend, and long-term collaborator with the Prime Minister’s office is up to. No one on the left runs smear campaigns against attempted rape victims, or publishes graphic affidavits describing their political enemies having sex. There’s no one comparable to Slater on the left of politics, or blogging. He is a phenomenon unique to the National Party. Key can insist that this is all just a lie, just a conspiracy story, but people who read the book know that this is simply documentation from Slater’s emails and that the Prime Minister is lying to their faces.
It was clearly a sign of desperation. No other rational defence was left. National had positioned Key as the non politician and had to burn up political capital by getting him to repeatedly tell fibs about the left. They were relying on a feeling of disdain that the general population has for the political classes and the aim was to neutralise the effect that Dirty Politics was having on National.
A great amount of false equivalence was required. The left also have blogs therefore, according to Key’s logic, they also engage in smearing and the publication of public servants’ details and the feeding of attack posts written by the Prime Minister’s Office’s staff.
I had a feeling of deja vu yesterday watching Key in Parliament answer questions about Sheepgate. The video is below. Key was at his teenage adolescent bravado best. Every question was responded to by the claim that “Labour did it too”.
Key said that Labour was aware of the problem in 2007 and was considering its options therefore it also engaged in the same sort of behaviour.
The alleged cabinet papers have not been released and I have no idea of the background although McCully’s cabinet paper hints at it. In 2007 there may have been a claim notified. This is the year that Labour imposed a formal ban on the export of livestock for slaughter. There has been talk about a letter from Chen Palmer. The normal limitation period would have expired no later than 2013 and there has been comment that the legal claim had been withdrawn. So it would have been appropriate to discuss resolution of a claim in 2007 but not in 2013.
But Key would have us believe that discussion of a claim in 2007 equates to payment of money to settle a non existent claim in 2014. The talk about a legal claim is a false equivalence. The money was clearly paid to a private individual in the expectation that a free trade agreement would be signed. There is a description for this but it is not settlement of a legal dispute.
Key’s further claims that Annette King and Phil Goff were trying to set up Andrew Little is a joke. King is clearly animated at the allegations and she is totally justified.
Phil Goff and Jim Anderton have called for the Cabinet Paper to be released. For the sake of transparency this is important.
So now we have another classic “Labour does it too” situation. But the false equivalence is that Labour may have been considering the legal implications of the matter as it then existed whereas National has paid money when clearly the legal dispute had run its course.
Clearly Fran O’Sullivan can tell the difference. Hopefully the rest of the media can do the same.
Update: This afternoon Labour tried to table the 2007 Cabinet Paper in Parliament. National refused leave and indicated that there was an OIA seeking the paper. No doubt they will want to redact parts and still have some wriggle room in what is in the public domain.
— Felix Marwick (@felixmarwick) June 4, 2015
— Matthew Hooton (@MatthewHootonNZ) June 4, 2015
Parliament is not subject to the Cabinet manual. Parliament makes its own rules. #nzqt
— Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) June 4, 2015
Nats object to releasing the very papers John Key threatened to release yesterday, because they haven't had a chance to doctor them #nzqt
— Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) June 4, 2015
Bridges suggests the Government could expedite release of papers. #yeahright
— jo (@jofromgreylynn) June 4, 2015
You know those Cabinet papers the PM reckons incriminate Labour in the Saudi farm deal? Well, Nats just stopped Labour releasing them.
— Heather dPA (@HDPA) June 4, 2015
John Key yesterday. "You just wait until these documents come out" National today. "We don't actually want these documents to come out"
— Richard Hills (@richardhills777) June 4, 2015
Been 24 hrs since I lodged urgent OIA request on the Goff/Anderton cabinet papers Key alluded to.They've ok-ed it. Why are we waiting Nats?
— audrey young (@audreyNZH) June 4, 2015