Newsletter 27

17 August 2014

Dirty politics

Dirty Politics has been the media discourse this week. Initially we thought Nicky Hager’s release was a bit of a fizzer – like a well publicised civic fireworks display that gets rained off. But, those looking to create sensation have managed to give it a life greater than the single day headline it deserved.

Releasing the private correspondence of politicians is always going to attract interest, if only because people want to know what they say behind their media facade. The presumably orchestrated timing of the release ensured opposition politicians could gain maximum mileage by exaggerating the implications and prolonging the attention; all the while assisting Hagar in the promotion of this book (probably not what Adam Smith had in mind when he came up with the invisible hand of self-interest!).

In essence Nicky Hager’s claim is that “elements of the National Party have turned to ‘attack blogs’ to manipulate public opinion and demonise political opponents”. That is hardly a revelation. Politics is dirty business; always has been. The fact is that ALL politicians try to manipulate public opinion and discredit their competitors – as do the advertisers of any product or service albeit generally with less of a personal dimension.

It’s also fair to say that every politician favours certain media, to some degree. What point would there be, for example, for an ACT politician sending a press release to a Labour Party blogger? They would simply not be on the distribution list and certainly not on redial. The fact that some National Party MPs are communicating with a right wing blogger is hardly surprising and it would be irrational to assume otherwise.

There are a number of concerning points with respect to the Hager files:

1. The emails that form the basis of the book were stolen. We find it incredible that there appears to be an acceptance in the media that that’s OK. It’s not OK to steal and then profit from the publication of what are private communications.

2. He is justifying his publication of the private emails on moral grounds by saying, “…exposing dirty politics is an essential step in allowing reasonable people to understand and to choose other approaches. There is no need to follow those who are least principled down into the pit.” It’s stretching credibility to assume Hager’s intentions are motivated by anything other than doing election damage to National. It’s not the first time he has done so, the other being the hatchet job on Don Brash when he was the leader of the National Party – also using stolen emails.

In essence, the problem with Hager’s conclusions are that they are predicated on the same logic as that represented in the book The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, which concluded that the answer to the question of what is the meaning of life was the number ‘42’ – had Hagar concluded that, at least the absurdity of his claims would have been humorous!

Celebrity Greens

It’s been a busy week for the Greens too. Not only have they been trooping off to the Police, Parliamentary Services, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and the Privacy Commissioner, to report all sorts of alleged transgressions “revealed” in Hager’s book, they have been rolling out the celebrities.

Kiwi Oscar winner Anna Paquin took time out her busy schedule to pose for photos in front of a Green Party election hoarding. Apparently she is such a dedicated follower that she offered to help put some up herself. Now that truly does show commitment! (She also happens to be the sister of co-leader Russel Norman’s partner.)

Funny how celebrities are keen to associate with such grandiose causes like saving the planet but less inclined to offer their image for real causes like saving the economy and jobs.

Epsom cliff hanger

A Colmar Brunton poll taken in the Epsom shows just how close the result could be and how critical it will be to determine the next government. The poll puts:

  • National’s party vote at 60% (64% on election night 2011)
  • Greens 16% (14%)
  • Labour 14% (15%)
  • NZ First 3.3% (2.6%)
  • ACT 2.7% (2.5%)
  • Conservative 2.1% (1.1%)
  • Internet Mana 1.5% (0%)
  • Maori 0.6% (0.5%)

Only 6% did not know how they were going to vote.

The interesting points are:

  • The Greens have overtaken Labour into second place for the party vote, confirming the view that they are making inroads into Labour’s support nationwide.
  • ACT’s vote has remained largely unchanged, despite its makeover and change of personnel. If it can’t muster more than 2.7% of the party vote in what should be its best seat, then it is unlikely to gain much more than the 1.1% it achieved in 2011. On that basis David Seymour would be its only MP.
  • Internet Mana has more support than the Maori Party, and is likely to succeed in becoming the main representative of radical Maori.

On the electorate vote in 2011 ACT’s John Banks won by 2261 votes ahead of National’s Paul Goldsmith. The Green and Labour candidates received 2160 and 3751 votes respectively.

That thin margin shows how tenuous ACT’s hold on the electorate really is. Their election night majority would disappear should Christine Rankin from the Conservative Party take just 3.1% of the electorate vote from the ACT candidate. ACT and National cannot take an ACT victory in Epsom for granted.

Tuhoi apology

The Police have apologised for the Tuhoi raids even though terrorist-style training activities had been in operation and convictions were made. Police Commissioner, Mike Bush, said: “There were a number of things especially in respect of searches… also in the way we treated people with disrespect particularly the innocent, the tamariki, the mokopuna that were involved they should have been treated with absolute respect.” He added, “I have apologised to those whanau who experienced unnecessary stress during that time and felt a loss of credibility and mana.”

It’s a shame they were not so forthcoming and apologetic over the planting of evidence to convict Arthur Allan Thomas.

5pm Polls

Last week we asked: Do you think ALL party leaders should refuse to enter into post-election deal with the Internet-Mana Party?

On this readers were clear:  93% said YES, 7% said NO.

Comments included:

No more deals. Let them self-destruct. Mitch

Dotcom is scoundrel. I wish someone would have the guts to send him on his way. Parties need to unite in battling his behaviour not just with words but with actions. Same for his cronies who side with him and approve of his actions. Ido

This is important cant these politicians see it or realize the mess this madman can cause. Lance

I certainly hope no party leaders do deals with the Internet Mana Party. Dotcom is a dangerous character, and the quicker he’s thrown out of the country the better. Laila Harre is showing her true form by being paid to act as his stooge. Hugh

What utter rubbish! John Key is the one to blame for people being utterly fed up! Lee

This week we ask: Do you think the publication of the emails by Nicky Hager will damage National’s party vote?

To vote, please visit and look on the RH sidebar.

The 5PM Facebook Page

The hundreds of poll comments from last week can be seen on the 5PM Facebook page HERE.


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Frank and Muriel Newman

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