The secret taper has revealed himself as Kees Keizer, a leftie from Wellington. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday encouraging Keizer to tell his story, preferably to The Standard or the Herald (more credible), and he steadfastly refused. So imagine my surprise when I see a three page article of him talking to the Herald’s Patrick Gower.
It’s a facsinating read. Keizer says he just walked in, went up to people and started talking. He gave his real name and said he was interested in joining the Young Nats. And they talked back. Kees says he was ‘appalled’ by how readily the Nats talked about their secret plans when among what they assumed were friends. He says that all it took for English to start spouting off about Obama and the EU was for him to mention his interest in European politics. And we can hear on the first tape that English is basically just talking freely when he unfolds National’s view of the ‘punters’, ‘Labour plus voters’, his view of Key, and National’s plans for Working for Families and Kiwibank.
Now, I know Kees. Which is hardly surprising. We both studied international relations in similar areas (myself democratisation, he conflict resolution), we are both into environmental politics, we both went on cycle trips last year (myself through Europe and he through Europe and North Africa) and we exchanged comments on each others travel blogs. We get along well. I wouldn’t say we’re best buddies though. Frankly, as the face of The Standard, I’ve met just about every leftie in town. If National had identified someone else in leftwing activist circles from Wellington as the taper, then they probably could have found some link between me and that person as well. It would be more surprising if I’d never heard of Kees. Unfortunately, for the conspiracy theorists on the Right, I knew nothing of the fact that he’s the taper.
I have no trouble in believing Keizer acted alone. My impression of him is he’s that kind of character: a self-starter and one for coming up with unusual ideas. This is a man, after all, who cycled North Africa, up through Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon by himself introducing himself to various government ministers, militants, and ordinary people along the way. I don’t know who he talked to about the tapes, he says he ‘took advice’ from some people but I seriously doubt it was the Labour Party. His interest is international relations and he’s well to the Left of Labour on that. Times I’ve spoken to him he has been critical of Labour sending troops to Afghanistan and when I’ve taken slightly realist positions on conflicts he has accused me of being too like Labour.
It’s interesting to see Cameron Slater admitting that he and David Farrar work closely with the tax-payer funded National Party research unit to dig dirt on people. It’s also interesting to learn that National has known Keizer is the taper for some time, probably a couple of months since the Electoral Commission finding on Keizer’s EFA regarding the Employer and Manufacturers’ Association ads. That would fit with Key repeatedly saying they knew the identity of the taper but not revealing the name. Why didn’t they? Because they knew Keizer has nothing to do with Labour. Yet, despite that knowledge, they continued to claim Labour was behind the affair. That is disgraceful. Key has repeatedly lied to the media on this issue.
Matthew Hooton has constructed a bizarro world where a grab-bag of people who have been to Drinking Liberally is somehow behind the tapes. Maybe, Hooton should come along to a Drinking Liberally event to get a firmer grasp on reality. Drinking Liberally is not some secretive set, it’s just an organisation that gets speakers along to have a talk and gives lefties a chance to meet each other. Anyone can come along and everyone does. A typical Drinking Liberally Wellington event draws a hundred people. So it’s not surprising that Hooton can look at the pics of the events and the hundreds of members of the DL Facebook group and identify a dozen people (here’s a tip, secret groups don’t have Facebook groups); just about every left-wing activist in Wellington has been along to at least one event. It’s as if I took a whole bunch of pics from St John’s bar, identified the names of a few people in a few of the pics, and concluded there was a great conspiracy between young Tory wannabes in ill-fitting suits and stockmarket wankers.
I have to say, I think Keizer has done very well. He pulled off an audacious piece of work exposing National’s secret agenda (that audacity alone was enough to convince me there was no Labour Party involvement – you’ve never met a group of people more paralysed by fear of something going wrong). Thanks to him, there can be no doubt that National is telling the pubic one thing, while planning something else in private. On that score, isn’t Key’s response when asked whether he is worried there is a tape of him enlightening? Clark would just say ‘I’m not worried because what I say in private is what I say in public’. Whereas Key, dissembles, ums and ahs, and says ‘you would have to look at the context’. What has Key been saying behind closed doors? Perhaps we’ll find out shortly. What we do know is that whatever Keizer recorded can only be the tip of the iceberg. He was one guy at one National cocktail event. Who knows what else, what worse things, they talk about when there’s no-one to expose them?
Keizer has also explained his actions very well in the Herald piece, keeping the focus where it belongs, on the politicans and their secret agendas. If I were to give him one piece of advice it would be to release the full conversations to Duncan Garner so he can be confident that they haven’t been doctored (Keizer insists he just removed his own voice from the recordings). If I have one criticism of the Herald article it is that Gower calls The Standard ‘Labour-affiliated’ when just yesterday I was having a moan to him about how, as a Green Party member, I get sick of my work being constantly attributed to the Red Tories.
Basically, good on you Kees, you’ve done this country an invaluable service. No political party should be allowed to hide a secret agenda. I suspect that I’m not alone in saying I’ll buy you a beer next time I see you.