The stolen emails defence

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, August 6th, 2008 - 29 comments
Categories: national, spin - Tags: , , ,

So National has finally reverted to the ‘stolen emails’ defence to combat the damaging recordings from the weekend’s party conference. I’m only surprised it’s taken them this long – the misdirection tactic is classic Crosby Textor and it’s served the Nats well in the past.

My guess is that National was hoping Bill’s humiliating charade in front of the press yesterday would put an end to the scandal. You take the one-off hit of a bad night of news coverage, Key gets to strengthen his brand by showing he’s still the boss, and the story quickly disappears down the memory hole.

What National didn’t count on was another recording from Lockwood Smith coming out and completely undermining the strategy. After last night’s revelations, ‘I mispoke’ really doesn’t cut it, and there’s always the fear that there could be more embarrassing audio to come.

Utterly exposed and embarrassed, National’s only option now is to inoculate any further releases and misdirect the coverage away from the real issue. It’s the exact same strategy they used to great effect in dealing with the revelations in the Hollow Men – attack the source of the leak, accuse Labour of dirty tricks, and for God’s sake get the media talking about anything other than the inconsistency between your public and private statements.

The media fell for it hook, line and sinker on the Hollow Men. The only question is whether they’ll fall for it again this time.

[Of course, National’s carefully manufactured moral outrage over these recordings is the height of hypocrisy. There was no moral outrage from the blue camp when Mike Williams was secretly recorded inside the Labour Party congress just a few months ago. National isn’t outraged over any high political principle, they’re outraged they’ve been caught lying to the public, again.]

Image: 08wire

29 comments on “The stolen emails defence”

  1. Greg 1

    While the secret recordings are rather embarrassing for the National party, they don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Maurice Williamson was quite accurrately describing the problems associated with an MMP electoral system and the policies that result. As was Bill English – they were talking about policies they’d both like to employ but can’t for fear of scaring off the electorate.

    But is Labour any different? Of course not! They took money off their blue collar support base to fund the rich through their student loan bribe last election – a policy that went against the core principles of Lablour but got them a lot of votes – and now it seems there’s another big bribe coming the students way this election!

    Attack National on this sure, but then don’t go defending Labour when they bribe the electorate once again!

  2. Greg have you ever been a student?

  3. Greg. “Maurice Williamson”? Are you even following this story?

  4. Patrick 4

    Greg, one of Labour’s long term goals is to make tertiary education more affordable. Interest free student loans, capping university fees etc are all steps along this path.

    It’s one of Labour’s stated principals and has been for years. Hardly shocking is it.

  5. Lew 5

    As an adjunct to this defence, Key is claiming the recordings may be doctored: http://stuff.co.nz/4645524a6160.html

    “Who knows whether these tapes are actually sort of completely real they could well have been doctored. No one really knows this stuff.

    He was dead right until he got the the bit I’ve put in bold. People do know this stuff. It’s not incredibly hard to verify the integrity of an audio recording. I wonder if someone will do it?

    L

  6. Hazel 6

    Greg – what do you know about Maurice Williamson that we don’t know?

    And isn’t it funny that when Labour announces policy – e.g. tax cuts – (a) it is castigated as far too late and far too little, (b) it is a “big bribe”, and (c) it is trumped by National with an even bigger . . . (couldn’t be a bribe, could it!) . . . inducement!

  7. Hazel – there’s a big difference. National has campaigned consistently on tax cuts. Cullen is philosophically opposed to tax cuts. In 2005 he promised the “chewing gum” cuts in 2007, which he later cancelled. He even had to immediately legislate for the October cuts to lock them in because as he joked at the time, he “couldn’t be trusted” to deliver!

    [Inv2. Cullen is not philosophically opposed to tax cuts, watch he speech at Drinking Liberally. SP]

  8. outofbed 8

    Radio nz apologies to Hager

    The conversation didn’t seem any big deal until shortly afterwards when the state broadcaster, reportedly at Hager’s behest, issued a public grovel: “We accept Nicky Hager’s continued assurances that he did not steal the emails which were published in his book The Hollow Men – Radio New Zealand apologises to Nicky Hager for comments which asserted the position was otherwise.”

    This morning on TV3 Key said near the end or the interview
    Labour was cheering on Nicky Hager for “breaking into our email system”

    Do you think we will get a similar apology from Mr Key?

  9. Patrick 9

    Sorry Inventory2, wrong.

    Cullen is a Keynesian, as he has hinted many times in interviews. This does not mean he is philosophically opposed to tax cuts, it means he advocates countercyclical fiscal policies. I.e., tax cuts when the economy is slowing down.

    It seems sensible, and consistent with his economic philosophy.

  10. Daveski 10

    Patrick – You are right, there are a lot of principals and unionists in Labour and no so many workers.

    The point that Greg makes is entirely valid and undermines the whole show us your policy charade. It is entirely reasonable to see the student loan changes as a bribe given their timing and targetting of a particular voting bloc. Smart politics too.

    The additional point that Greg makes is that any universal changes to university fees & allowances always favours the higher socio-economic groups. I would add to this means testing for super but that too would be political suicide. It would still be principled tho.

    I agree that ALL sides have displayed breathtaking hypocrisy re the secret taping. It is undoubtedly embarassing and amateurish of National to get caught out in this way. But I still haven’t seen anything stated that you couldn’t have reasonably assumed.

    My concern is that it sets a very low threshold for how the election will be run. By all means the Standardistas are welcome to gloat at National’s stumbles (it’s not fatal) but given the rigthousness displayed here by all and sundry about principles and policies, this is something that should be a concern not a celebration. Sorry, in a hurry and sounding too much like Pollyanna but you get my drift.

  11. lprent 11

    Lew: You mean voiceprint biometrics. I’m sure that it could be done. But it is pretty moot in Bill English’s case since he has said that it was him.

    What has Lockjaw Smith said?

    Damn that is not nice Lynn, but my parents always used to call him that when he was their local electorate MP. Can’t actually remember his actual first name. They should be on kiwiblog for repetitive renaming.

  12. Lew 12

    Lynn: Voiceprint biometrics is pretty redundant, since nobody is denying it’s their voice. What I’m talking about it verifying whether the recording has been `doctored’ as Key says it might be – there’s a public interest in that, I think.

    L

  13. Felix 13

    “But I still haven’t seen anything stated that you couldn’t have reasonably assumed.”

    Agreed, however the tapes have brought the discussion into the mainstream media and perhaps to a wider audience than those who follow this stuff closely anyway.

    It’s a bit sad IMO that the media seem to have picked this up because it has the whiff of scandal about it. If they’d been doing proper analysis all along they would have raised these policy contradictions themselves in interviews and commentary long ago as part of the normal functioning of the fourth estate. Unfortunately it seems it’s only newsworthy when there’s some shock-horror or cloak & dagger value to it.

  14. Daveski 14

    Felix – couldn’t agree more.

  15. pinetree 15

    …voiceprint this, or that….netiher here nor there as this whole thing is shaping up as a “perception vs reality” thing…

    It’s embarassing, and the focus is all wrong, and the “PR” bit went south, and all round a bit of a balls up really…

    ….but in terms of the substance of what was said by English/Locky, I’m not suprised, and I don’t know that anyone should be – we got caught pantsdown and exposed the public to the whole realpolitik thing, media love it…plenty of column inches for that one….unfortunately for us Nats, swingers might just take that for “hidden agenda”….

    …..maybe a matter of degrees, as I’d like to think even the hardiest supporter on this site wouldn’t suggest that sort of thing atypical….

    I doubt I’ll get much support for that view here though !

    You know what I think was worst, the English subtext re Key….that all looks a bit “papering over cracks” to me….

    …..”hidden agenda”, great phrase by the way, so perfectly stacked, and we’ll see how the Lab party strategy on this one plays out…privatisation, hidden agendas, cuts in education etc etc……almost C/T-ish (!), if it wasn’t such a simple part n parcel of today’s politics…

    I think Nats hand on widening the debate will be forced shortly, perhaps as early as the next round of public/internal polling, which will indicate how certain things have played…

  16. Lew 16

    Felix: The thing which strikes me about this episode is that it’s made the assumed duplicity of politicians plain to the electorate at large, who seem to have thought that Key and National aren’t actually politicians, but ordinary geezers who want to do right by the battlers of NZ.

    If it doesn’t win Labour and allies the 2008 election, it might help them win the 2011. It’s confirmed suspicions that National have been running a bait-and-switch, and to combat this National will probably need to reassure the electorate – and the media – that they’re not really big bad market fundamentalists as their enemies claim. This will involve more promises like Key’s `no privatisation in the first term’ and so on – which circumscribes National’s ability to differentiate themselves from Labour, and restricts their options as far as dealing with the economic downturn we’re currently facing. Alternatively, they can just break these promises out of economic necessity – but that leaves them wide open to the same criticisms which sank the Lange government and sent Labour into exile for a decade.

    Interesting times.

    L

  17. burt 17

    I’m looking for Labour policy heading into this election, I have this link: http://www.labour.org.nz/policy.html but there seems to be nothing there.

    Is this because National have not yet told Labour what they need to campaign on?

  18. lprent 18

    Lew: The question then would be in what way he thinks that it has been “doctored”. Ummm I’ll have a look at your link.

    Ok – he is non-specific. It all seems to be a bit redundant to me since the voices are admitted to be the people in question. I think he is flying a dead herring to the masthead hoping that the smell will spread.

    The only way I could envisage would be to splice statements together. Now in the fragments that I’ve just listened to on the TV3 website, I’d note 3 things.

    1. There is a hell of a lot of background conversation. Slicing would probably cut those conversations. I can’t hear any. The segments are long enough that if the phrases had been ‘compiled’ up, then it should have shown some kind of breaks.

    2. Bill English is obviously raising his voice to get over the background in at least a couple of bursts of background babble. That tends to say that at least some of the background is legit.

    3. It was a hellishly short time to get something made up. Release time was just after the conference? I think it’d be quite hard to do it. Depends on how long the tape is – I guess.

    Actually the crappy quality of the tape would make it hard to say that it is doctored. It isn’t like the background is low. It reminded me why I avoid talk-talk parties.

    I think that John Key is knowingly bullshitting to suggest that the tape is doctored. In fact I’d go so far as to say he is deliberately lying if he says that is what he thinks.

    captcha: Pow rockets

  19. r0b 19

    Is this because National have not yet told Labour what they need to campaign on?

    I guess so Burt, yeah that must be it.

  20. Matthew Pilott 20

    burt, have a look at the budget for a few ideas. Write to your local MP. read a few press releases, if you’re so inclined. But it’s all about personal responsibility, Burt, get out there and see wwhat you can achieve – don’t depend on The Standard to always bail you out…

    And what does Labour’s policy have to do with “what National need to campaign on”? I suppose the admission that they are a bunch of idea-bereft conservative old reactionaries is nice, but I had hoped they could think for themselves. Anyway, they don’t need to campaign on anything remember – just keep “the Punters” happy, “don’t scare the horses” and “that nice Mr Key” will sort everything out.

    And devil take the hindmost.

  21. Felix 21

    I does seem more and more that if the nats are elected they’ll be so tied up in knots they won’t be able to do anything without breaking promises and becoming a one-term govt.

    Add to that the apparent conflict at the top end of the party and it’s hard to see them even getting through one term.

    My view is still that the NZ electorate – given a few more slip-ups like the weekend’s – will never fall for it anyway.

  22. Lew 22

    Lynn: More or less what I’m driving at, though unless it comes from a respected audio engineer with a background in forensics, I don’t figure it’ll count.

    L

  23. chris 23

    Looks like the nats need one of these

  24. of they could just say the same thing to their mates as they do to the public.

  25. pinetree 25

    “…of they could just say the same thing to their mates as they do to the public….”

    Is that the benchmark Steve ?

  26. lprent 26

    Lew: Yeah that is what I figure as well. But from current indications I’d say that John Key is just doing a standard Crosby/Textor line of trying to get the opposition to have to defend themselves.

    All I’m saying is that after pasting my skeptics hat on, I can’t see how it could be “doctored”. I’d say the burden of ‘proof’ would be on the Nats to point to something wrong. At present I haven’t heard them denying ANYTHING in the reported segments.

    When they do that (which they won’t want to do if they know it is genuine) then would be the time to get it tested. It is really up to the Nat’s to say if they think it is a fake.

    John Key, Bill, or Lockjaw should put their nuts on the line if they think it is doctored and say specifically where they think it is incorrect. I’m afraid that without that, then I’d have to assume it is genuine and they are just doing the C/T big lie technique.

  27. Greg 27

    In referemce to my earlier comment – I meant Lockwood Smith – I must have had Maurice Williamson on the tip of my tongue for some reason! Yes I have been a university student, in fact I am one, thats why I used the example.

    My point was Labour professes to be a party of the working class and critisises those ‘rich pricks’ and is opposed to a flat tax rate on these principles (no matter how much sense it makes) etc etc, which is all well and good. But then they spend large amounts of money on tertiary students, a segment of the population that is destined to become significantly more well off then the rest of the country and generally quite capable of paying back even a substantial student loan over time. They are effectively subsidising the rich, which I think is contradictory to the key principles behind the labour party.

  28. r0b 28

    My point was Labour professes to be a party of the working class and critisises those ‘rich pricks’

    Does it? When?

    and is opposed to a flat tax rate on these principles (no matter how much sense it makes)

    It makes not much sense at all.

  29. Fascinating.

    Yet another damning indictment of right wing politics . . .

    . . . successfully diverted off track by dubiously ambivalent or curiously conservative commentators.

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    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago

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