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Will the real National Party please stand up

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 pm, August 18th, 2014 - 52 comments
Categories: john key, national - Tags:

I think it’s likely that the emails leaked to Nicky Hager  for “Dirty Politics” have everything to do with the National Party. Nicky Hager identified the main source for his previous book “The Hollow Men” as six people from the National Party. He thanks “the National party staffer who first suggested he work on this subject” in the preface to “Dirty Politics.” It may well be that the both leaks come from the same source, and for the same reason. There will be many people in the National Party who will be disgusted at what is now being done under their name.

In the preface to the earlier book, Hager describes how after the 2005 campaign nearly brought Don Brash to the Beehive in a ‘successful” campaign, “some people in the National Party were profoundly unhappy with how some of this ‘success’ had been achieved. They believed that some of this ‘good’ campaigning had been so unprincipled and even unlawful that the country was lucky they had lost the election.” The preface concludes:

While reading (these) chapters, be aware of how rare it is to see the way politicians behave when they confidently believe that they are acting in secret. The public is usually fed an unnutritious diet of scripted media statements, clever advertisements and practised denials. This is a chance, thanks to National Party sources, to see and judge for yourself some of what really goes on.

We’ve certainly had a blizzard of practised, if unconvincing,  denials from John Key and Judith Collins in the last few days as earlier posts on this site show all too clearly. But the way the group of political actors in Hager’s Dirty Politics behave “when they confidently believe they are acting in secret” goes beyond unprincipled and unlawful to decadent and disgusting. That is why I believe it is likely that it is those with integrity in the National Party – and there are many there – are the ones who have called time and blown the whistle.

In the eponymous chapter in the “Hollow Men,” Hager talks about how the 2005 campaign’s focus on political correctness and the nanny state

helps National to avoid confronting a deep and fundamental rift within its own ranks. For most of its history, the party was a combination of conservative and interest group politics..Since the 1980s National has had two very different and incompatible policies at work: conservative and radical free market right.. This fundamental conflict has never been resolved.

Don Brash was definitely from the radical right. So is John Key, as the “Hollow Men” shows, with the addition of “detoxification” of the right-wing brand. But what Key has added and allowed is a worse form of toxicity, a slimy poison infecting the underparts of the National Party. Its focus is not only external but also internal, as detailed in Slater’s tactics to solicit money to affect National Party candidate selections by negative tactics in favour of an extreme right wing faction led by Judith Collins.

So it should be no surprise that those underhand and bullying tactics may now have been brought to light in my view by National Party conservatives, who represent an altogether more decent form of politics. Those I know will be disgusted by this type of behaviour. It’s also testimony to a massive split inside the party. The paper over the cracks has now been torn apart.

Also, John Key trying to paint Nicky Hager as an “extreme left-winger” is absurd – this comes from the “Hollow Men” Epilogue:

For the National Party, the underlying problem has been the lack of a clear vision and philosophy to offer the public. Without these, the party is disorganised and ineffectual, and susceptible to being taken over by cliques and outside interests. Until new leaders find a genuinely conservative vision of their own, ..the party will keep sliding back into the same two ruts in the road – a more or less free market agenda that must be pursued by stealth and deception.

For that to happen it may well be appropriate that the TeamKey government should end, and “not with a bang but a whimper.”




52 comments on “Will the real National Party please stand up ”

  1. Not a PS Staffer 1

    Thanks Mike

    The behaviour of the current National Party insiders that you describe perfectly when you say it “goes beyond unprincipled and unlawful to decadent and disgusting” started with the shafting of Jim Bolger by Jenny Shipley & Co.

    The current smart-set in National have air-brushed Jim Bolger from their history. There are some remaining with decent values and hopefully they will assert themselves soon. I’ll never agree with the values of a Tory party and will always fight them: however New Zealand needs a healthy political landscape and a healthy, even if Tory, opposition.

  2. Pete 2

    I know plenty of decent men and women who are tribal National. If you get out into the smaller towns and rural communities, there are plenty there. Some of their MPs don’t deserve the vilification this scandal tars them with. The problem are the flash, urban, quick-buck set who seem to have all sense of empathy removed. I know I’ll get a little flack for saying this, but I still have some respect for Bill English, particularly after he spoke about how we have too many in prison. But he’s had his chance as leader. I wonder what his private thoughts are of Key.

    I really want there to be a progressive government in place on 21 September, but I want the government after that one to be less cruel and less vindictive. For that to happen, National needs to take a long hard look at itself and reconsider the position of people like Collins, Joyce, Brownlee and Bridges.

    • Harry Holland 2.2

      When the member for double Dipton was leader he seemed like a half-decent bloke I thought, for a politician and a tory that is.

      And this 2012 Washington speech summary from Bolger is interesting http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10884963

      “He used the occasion to vent about the perils of deregulation leading to the global financial crisis in 2008, on multinationals making billions and paying little tax, and the responsibility of free traders to be focused on people.”

      “Mr Bolger brought them back to reality talking about the 1027 deaths in a Bangladeshi factory through a building collapse. My question is whether such tragedies move large corporates to demand proper standards, proper conditions for workers to get a lousy 58c a shirt for their work.”

      About as good as it gets from a tory politician. The speech also contained the usual hypocrisy and hubris, but all the same I can’t imagine Key giving a speech like that.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      I know I’ll get a little flack for saying this, but I still have some respect for Bill English,

      The Double Dipper from Dipton?

    • Enough is Enough 2.4

      I think National will do more than have a good hard look at itself. I think this is the end of the road for the party. They cannot and will not survive this, at least not as a mainstream party.

      Key will go within 24 hours of the election. An almighty war will then erupt between the Collins and Joyce factions. English, and Brownlee will resign and the public will desert them.

      They will break up meaning there will be new hard core right party and a centre party, both struggling for relevance and 5% by 2017.

      Key will be remembered as the man that destroyed the National Party

      • Thinker 2.4.1

        A bit Shakesperian tragedy, I think, to dramatise this as the end of National. The Democrats survived Watergate, and National will survive this… eventually.

        That’s probably a good thing, long term, because we need two major parties of almost-equal strength, to stop this current kind of politics permeating either side of the house. Look what happened to Labour, when National became unelectable, in 1984.

        I think what’s brought this on can be traced back past Shipley, and to the door of the ‘new right agenda’ which, if you look at who’s who today, wasn’t really started by the Labour movement, but by a right-leaning faction inside Labour, part of which became the ACT party of today.

        I think it was a combination of three things: Rich, powerful people. Self-absorbed, powerful people, and a declining interest in politics by mainstream New Zealand that allowed the first two groups to capture parties on both sides of the fence, resulting in minimal real choice for voters. Like Ford’s Model T, you can have any politics, as long as it is neoliberal.

        To be true, both National and Labour need fixing.

        To fix National, well, that would be stating the obvious, after the past few days.

        But, for many years, Labour has allowed itself to be a watered-down-version of National, which has been a big part of getting us to where we are today. That’s what I admire most about Cunliffe – his acknowledgement of that fact, and his determination to do something about it. Winning the election is only the beginning for Labour, if it is to return to being a hand-on-heart egalatarian party.

        Rogernomics challenged the then-Establishment and, thus, became the Establishment. A generation later, we are seeing nothing less than a similar kind of challenge to Rogernomics. Anyone who’s read Animal Farm will recall that the pendulum swung far right, before it swung back to the middle. Hager’s book is probably only the match that sparked the fire, rather than the fire itself. Simply, the time is right for a generational transformation.

        With Labour back to being a party for the masses, National would have to offer more than it has been offering to mainstream voters, and return to thinking about more than just the top few percent, if it wanted to get back to power. Muldoon had his faults but, hard as he was, I doubt he would have approved of a government for just the top few percent, the way National has become of late. Other commentators have pointed out, there is probably a core of a better class of politicians inside National, waiting to come out after the dust has settled.

    • Stuart Munro 2.5

      I’d have more respect for him if he resigned. If you can’t run an economy for toffee you shouldn’t stay in the job.

    • Colonial Viper 2.6

      Yeah I have time for Bill English as well. And he has done sorta OK with the economy, given the constraints that his party and financial neoliberalism apply.

      Notice though how they are replacing a lot of middle of the road Tory MPs with younger hungry corporate types. Not a good sign for the future.

      • Pete 2.6.1

        And one of those corporate types is Todd Barclay, who was gifted Clutha-Southland. I guess one of the things about safe National seats is that they seem to go to the kind of person who would appear to take their responsibilities for granted. A sinecure rather than an obligation.

  3. Sable 3

    Yes and I know I belabor this point but lets not forget the slimy turds in the mainstream media who enabled this character. I suspect Keys would be out of office by now were it not for their on going campaign of stoogery, flattery and misinformation. If National needs to be reformed the MSM in this country does as well and with equal urgency…

    • tc 3.1

      A public broadcaster derived from the trainwreck that is tvnz currently would be the best option. Better be quick though before the nats park it inside the casino.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      I’d say that the MSM needs to be reformed with more urgency. Blip’s list of National Party lies and distraction shows that. If the MSM had done their job National would never have got a second term. Hell, they probably wouldn’t have got a first term.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    Better wingnuts apply within.

  5. lebleaux 5

    I too want a progressive government in place after September, but where are we gonna get one of those if its not lead by National … Hone, Laila, Winston, Wussell all leading David by the nose, bouncing from one apology to another … with Metiria dancing in the chorus. Say it can’t be so. Actually, have not seen or heard from David for a while now, is he still participating. Kelvin Davis for leader, that’s what I say.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Oh look, a Slater. Can I step on it or does someone want to pull its legs off first?

      • lebleaux 5.1.1

        Don’t dismiss Kelvin Davis so quickly – I just spent the weekend in the North, Kelvin is both liked and respected by a broad section of the community, a real asset. He could work really well with Shane Jones ….. oops ….. I mean he could work really well with Hone, Laila, Winston, Wussell all leading David by the nose, bouncing from one apology to another … with Metiria dancing in the chorus …. oh darn ….. no he couldn’t

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Yes, and you’re associated with the lowest scum New Zealand has ever seen, and they live on the ninth floor of the Beehive. I’d vote for gang members before the National Party. At least they have the guts to stab people in the front.

        • tricledrown

          lowblow scum flots to the top slaters take on key

      • tricledrown 5.1.2

        Low blow for the lowbrow lurker OAB

    • You_Fool 5.2

      “Actually, have not seen or heard from David for a while now”

      Would that be David Cunliffe who has been all over the news for weeks now, just about all in a positive light despite the MSM’s best efforts?

      I don’t think I have heard from Dear Leader much, except to offer the latest denial

      • lebleaux 5.2.1

        As I said I have been in the North all weekend – Silent ‘T’s face was not to be found anywhere – not like that lovely man Kelvin Davis – he was everywhere. Looked to me like there was plenty of room on the billboard for Davey baby – but no show

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Yes, your partisan ad hominem attacks confirm Nicky Hager’s findings. How is the view down there in the oil?

          That’s a rhetorical question 😀

  6. philj 6

    NATRAD and TVNZ needs a complete reconditioning. As does the MSM. It’s called democracy and a worthy 4th estate. Not the corporatocracy we have presently.

  7. Murray Rosser 7

    Mike, I think you are onto possibly the most concerning story in Dirty Politics – the chapter on Simon Lusk. Just who is now running the National Party – not the elected party officials and not the party leader either it appears when it comes to candidate selection. Of course candidate selection, especially of those in safe seats, is the key to the direction of the party. Has Key become so relaxed about selection that he is ‘quite comfortable’ seeing the future of the party handed over to hard right MP’s who’s selection has been engineered by Lusk and Slater?

    Or is this Key’s real agenda – continuing along where Brash and his Hollow Men left off but with a smile on his face and a relaxed attitude. Maybe style is the only real difference between Key and Brash? Certainly they both subscribe to the zombie economics refined by both National and Labour to a near perfect level in what was once our country but. increasingly, is just like New Zealand Insurance – ours in name only.


  8. Saarbo 8

    Tonight on Native Affairs, Patrick Gower reckoned that Labour during the Clark years would have had some similarly dirty e-mails, somehow I doubt it. They may have been underhand and cunning, but not disgustingly ugly, hateful and filthy like the Slater/Lusk/Williams et al group.

    But, like National, Labour has a split. A split between a “free market right” and a group with a desire for more intervention, a group that has seen the damage that pure free markets have had on parts of our country and want to see a strong and effective government that can govern for all. This split is clearly the most damaging thing for Labour, unfortunately it seems, that we have this in common with National.

  9. Lloyd 9

    Isn’t it good that the Greens don’t have this problem?

  10. Ad 10

    Nice nostalgic idea Mike but the National Party aren’t like Labour’s. The National caucus are in Key’s image – both now and completely so in the next parliament after his root and branch renewal.

    You are really hoping that there’s a cohort of older National supporter who will shear away in disgust. They will exist, but they too are few and literally dying out. Most of them I believe will be more disgusted at Hagar for daring to attack the honour and therefore station of the Prime Minister.

    Nicky is merely holding a small mirror to New Zealand society on the morality of the Washington Consensus. By and large New Zealand voters chose this over several decades with their Faustian eyes wide open.

  11. North 11

    Mike Williams got it right on RNZ Nine To Noon yesterday when repeatedly he expressed that whatever went before in our politics this is different – these are “repulsive” people – “disgusting” people – when he cited the very tone and the very words seen in the emails.

    • tricledrown 11.1

      Repulsive behaviour North what I like about the Standard is generally we hold ourselves to a higher standard !
      lets keep it that way while we are pissed off and angry if we are going to criticise the Govt over sewer style politics we can’ t go their!

      • lurgee 11.1.1

        The comments here can get pretty nasty at times. Not Whaleoil nasty, but when you’ve got posters describing David Shearer as ‘mumblefuck’ and so on, we’re a few steps down the road. And posters calling Colin Craig a knob are another. Not as bad, but not good either.

        • tricledrown

          Time for all of us to grow up and not feed National a way out me included

        • Olwyn

          Expressions of fury and the mockery of opponents, are not on a par with revelations intended to do damage, in some cases serious damage.

        • vto

          What is it with Judith Collins forehead and eyebrows? She looks like some sort of fucking mutant alien ….

          the mutant alien

        • TeWhareWhero

          That’s the problem with the blogosphere – people like Slater don’t so much as raise the bar on what is acceptable as remove it completely. Yes, there are some people who post here who allow their anger to get the better of their political judgement – especially when they get into personalised exchanges with RW posters who are winding things up – but I have never seen the adrenaline charged spite that erupts regularly on Slater’s blog. More importantly than the occasional outburst of vitriol, what you get on blogs like this are thoughtful, principled – and sometimes downright brilliant – analyses of current political issues.

  12. tricledrown 12

    National need to take personal and collective responsibility for this mess!
    Shonkey John Key needs to take personal responsibility for this complete corruption of politics in New Zealand!
    John Key needs to fly to Israel to beside his Close Mate and help him out anyway he can I am serious about this Mr Key you can be a man and take responsibility for your loyal mate!
    Revelations that Cameron Slater knew what was in the book 2 weeks ahead of publication have brought this whole sorry saga out in the open.
    John Key and Co Williams Collins all should fess up resign from politics go and help Cameron Slater you lot are responsible for encouraging Cameron down this path so now is time to all of you to take
    Responsibility for the damage you have created!
    we on the left need to be very careful and understanding criticising the behaviour at not lowering our selves to the same level of behaviour!
    John Kirwan explains what Cameron Slater is going through right now.

  13. philj 13

    What does Slater have on JK? Why is JK so closely associated with Slater? Why does Key not distance himself? Why can’t Key see the smell? Any ideas folks?

    • Key can see the smell. He just doesn’t care. People like him* hire “the little people” to do the dirty jobs no matter if they can’t stand them.

      (* If any tabloid bloggers are watching, I mean “neoliberal rich pricks”, not his ethnicity.)

    • tricledrown 13.2

      Depression philj Slater has been battling depression and is in a dark place right now Key and Collins egging Slaters Manic attacks is a very low dirty and dispicable.
      Now they are distancing themselves from Cameron as well Lusk is abandoning Slater as well.
      Hence Cameron calling lusk gutless shows how low Lusk is!

  14. Chooky 14

    The old National Party is DEAD…( the one that my farmer grandparents voted for)

    The old National Party died when John Key became leader.

    The old respectable National Party transmorphed into a NACT Party

    The NACT Party is run by PR merchants and black ops personnel and John Key is its Chief Executive

    The NACT Party is a rogue privatised party

    (Winston Peters is the true heir to the old National Party)

    RIP old National Party

  15. fambo 15

    Jim Bolger was almost talking like an anarchist just before he was rolled – promoting the idea of devolving power down to lower levels of government such as councils

    • RJL 15.1

      Perhaps, but don’t be too quick to canonise Bolger.

      What he probably envisaged, in practice, was central government devolving itself of responsibility for social issues without really enabling local government to effectively do much.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        Bolger did fine. A National PM who helped push through proportional representation for us. For that alone the man deserves a knighthood.

  16. Lanthanide 16

    He thanks “the National party staffer who first suggested he work on this subject” in the preface to “Dirty Politics.” It may well be that the both leaks come from the same source, and for the same reason. There will be many people in the National Party who will be disgusted at what is now being done under their name.

    Hager talked about this in his interview on Sunday with Wallace Chapman.

    Apparently it was a staffer who spoke to him a couple of years ago, and mentioned various names of people (probably like Ede?) who Hager hadn’t heard of at the time, but turn out to be all through Cameron’s emails.

    IIRC he said that the staffer said it was pretty open knowledge all this stuff was going on within National. Seems unlikely Key would have been in the dark about all of it, like he’s claiming.

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