I see the Free Speech Coalition hasn’t learned anything from the ramshackle PR fiasco that was their launch and have posted up another billboard in Invercargill today, this time featuring Robert Mugabe and criticising the government’s ‘silencing’ of Mayor Shadbolt, who is ironically one of the least silent people in the country at the moment.
This is interesting for at least two reasons:
1) The Free Speech Coalition has still not accounted for more than $11,000 of donations despite promising to do so more than a month ago, and despite being bound to do so according to the terms of their Trust Deed. This latest effort would (according to Irish Bill’s estimates) add up to another $4,000 that needs to be declared.
2) By hitching their billboards to Shadbolt’s campaign, which is being funded by Hollow Men the Talley brothers, the Free Speech Coalition is, as many have suggested, fighting not for the right of New Zealanders to speak their mind, but for wealthy interests to abuse our electoral laws.
These billboards went down badly enough in Auckland, where former ACT MP Deborah Coddington described them as “ridiculously hyperbolic” and suggested the FSC’s antics were likely to become a liability for National in the 2008 election. This is even more true in the conservative and politically intelligent electorate of Invercargill, where I suspect it will go down like a cup of cold sick. Eric Roy is a longstanding member of the community there and has always held himself with a certain dignity and good humour. I imagine he won’t be happy with this – any association with this kind of tasteless propaganda can only do him harm.
Update 23/01/08: the free speech coalition has released its update donors list and it makes for interesting reading including a P Shirtcliffe who has donated $5000. Could this be the same P Shirtcliffe who ran a multi million dollar campaign against MMP?