The aftermath of Nicky Hager’s book rumbles on. The Herald this morning has further coverage on issues arising from the Book. The discussion between Cactus Kate and Slater about Hager’s address and how publishing it could put him in some danger is the subject of an article. The subsequent publishing of Hager’s address by Slater says a great deal about what sort of person he is.
John Armstrong has a prescient column about the week’s events, rightfully describing the tirade of abuse National has sent Hager’s way as “one of the most sustained efforts by National to destroy an individual’s credibility since the party’s political witch trials of the Muldoon era.”
He describes National’s tactics well:
National’s tactic has been to keep the focus on Hager and persuade people he had hidden motives for writing the book – rather than being drawn into arguments about its damning contents.
This has worked for National to some degree – somewhat to Hager’s frustration.
Key’s damage control operation was designed to both defuse and confuse. However, the Prime Minister looked and sounded distinctly uncomfortable when questioned by reporters on Thursday afternoon.
He conceded nothing. He repeatedly answered questions by saying the book’s allegations had “nothing to do with National”.
When it was pointed out to him that National was clearly implicated, he made excuses, saying he had not been briefed on the detail.
If Key’s answers sounded glib there was good reason. The vilification of Hager by Key and Steven Joyce, National’s election campaign supremo and the one designated to front for National when there is trouble, is a charade.
Their dilemma is that they have to rubbish the book as being wrong on every score when they know much if not all of it, is accurate, simply because the contents come straight out of the mouths of Slater, Ede and other National Party figures and associates.
As much as anything, Hager has simply done a compilation job. Key’s and Joyce’s deny-everything stances are not tenable for long. But if they admit Hager is right about one thing, then they have to concede he is right about everything.
Danyl McLaughlan has posted a passionate column on the consequences of the book. It is well worth a read. I particularly enjoyed these passages:
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.
So I don’t think Key’s line will work, or that this story is going away. I haven’t talked to any gallery journalists since it was released but I suspect that – if nothing else – the confirmation of the long-nurtured bitter suspicion that Key’s office has been screwing them on OIA requests by forwarding them to Slater for early publication will ensure that this story runs and runs throughout the rest of the campaign.
Whatever the wider implications, the book has had a profound effect on me, personally. Something that doesn’t come across in the news coverage about Dirty Politics, and Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, Jordan Williams, Simon Lusk et al is just how fucking awful these people are. They spend their lives trying to poison and contaminate our politics. They enjoy seeing people suffer. They get excited by the idea of breaking up the marriages of their political enemies and ruining their lives. And John Key stands up and bleats about how everything they do is fine, and the people on the left are the nasty ones. Fuck him.
Well said Danyl. Interestingly in the comments to a few of his recent posts are suggestions from people I do not recognise that I do the same as Slater. How is this for a bet? For each post identified that I have written which engages in the same sort of character assassination and muck raking that Slater does I will give $100 to Greenpeace. Go ahead. Knock yourselves out.
But back to the subject of this post. Who, in the light of Slater’s description of a deceased West Coaster as “feral” had the most reason to try and silence him and bring him down? Who had the most to lose? Was it the left? My bet is that elements within the National Party had decided that he and Jason Ede had gone too far and had to be silenced. I have seen before how during the Len Brown scandal there was considerable kick back against Slater from parts of the National Party. Maybe this time they had decided that Slater’s malign effect on politics had to end.