Grannywriter Audrey Young’s story headlined “Exclusive Brethren’s email sets stage for Electoral Finance Bill” is more National Party spin. The Brethren’s email to Chief Electoral Officer Henry on 8 June 2005 followed their letter to Don Brash and John Key on 24 May 2005 in which they wrote of a meeting the previous week with then National party manager Steven Joyce. Hickmott’s offer went to Joyce, then to Key and Brash, and he was obviously warned to check how they could do it legally without cutting into National’s spending limit.
National wasn’t spending up early because of uncertainty over the election date. It was because they knew there was over a million dollars worth of pamphlets arguing for a party vote to “change the government,” the National Party slogan, coming from the Brethren in the last week of the campaign. They thought they could spend their money and have a “parallel campaign’ to use Don Brash’s words, working for them in the last two weeks.
‘National believes the Exclusive brethren cost the party the election” parrots Audrey – well in a funny way it did, as the campaign was a complete fizzer – but it was their own fault. And the Brethren aka “Christian businessmen” – Audrey’s also into a bit of Brethren spin – didn’t out themselves. It was the Greens – the Brethren had used identical pamphlets complete with the same grass leaf against the Greens in Tasmania the year before.
And nobody should think that we have seen the last of them. National has recently re-appointed Steven Joyce as campaign chairman, and the Brethren in Australia have been in to discuss “constituency matters” with John Howard in Australia in the last month or so. Joyce was the author of the National slogan, and anyone who thinks that the Brethren just happened to think of it all by themselves is playing with the fairies.