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.”