“Right-wing Corin” and media bias

Corin Dann, TVNZ’s political editor, has been called on the resign “as his bias is a national disgrace” and an anti-GCSB protester now wants David Cunliffe to use the GCSB to spy on use the GCSB to track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann.

Without any apparent awareness of irony Dann’s interview of Cunliffe has been labelled “a nasty Tory disgrace”.

It’s common for people passionate about politics to lash out at news items and interviews that they don’t like. This is similar to what frequently happens in social media, if something or someone is deemed to be negative to a cause they are labelled as extreme opposites.

There is a good example of this on Labour’s Facebook page where they posted:

This morning the next Prime Minister, David Cunliffe, was on Q+A talking housing, a strong economy, and our cooperative relationship with the Greens.

We’d love to hear your feedback.

Link to interview: Cunliffe: Scrap National’s State Housing Policy (8:23)

Here is one response, from John McCartney:

Right-wing Corin, up to his usual nasty Tory line of questioning and tricks. How much is he being paid to spout the right-wing’s patsy questions? This is as bad, if not worse, than Shane Taurima’s apparent Left-wing bias. At least Shane did the honourable thing and resigned.

Corin should resign as his bias is a national disgrace. His blue tie, blue undies, blue “I love National badge” were all showing and it’s a disgrace to journalism.

About time for an inquiry into MSM media bias. When David is elected PM, he should use the GCSB to track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann.

It’s a nasty Tory disgrace.

Seeking responses in social media can be a double edged sword for parties. The aim is to encourage praise to to show how well supported they are, but it can also attract bizarre and extreme comments that don’t look good for the party.

Interviewers are supposed to challenge and press politicians of all leanings. They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

I’ve often seen Corin Dann described as being soft on the left (and in much more critical language). That’s the nature of political commentary, disagreeing invokes extreme opposite abuse.

It’s preposterous to suggest that a Labour (or any) Government would use the GCSB to do anything like “track payments to MSM stooges like Corin Dann”.

Even more so when you see what John McCartney has posted criticising the GCSB and spying (he was active on a Facebook page Revoke the GCSB Bill).

Election year should sort it. End of story and end of GCSB.

OMG John Campbell – there are enemies of the state in New Zealand. Quick, urge politicians to give GCSB more power to catch the powder senders!!!! Hurry up and get them do it under urgency – we need to be safe from these spies and enemies that are sending powder to innocent people.


A comment on a blog post The GCSB Act – some history…

It was 92 people illegally spied on by GCSB (or other agencies) and Peter Dunne himself was one of them, Andrea Vance was the other, the Cuppagate journalist and the Cuppagate journailist’s lawyer were the others….

Grow some cochones Dunne and veto this abhorrent GCSB Bill.

McCartney was the twentieth of 203 people to pledge on #stoptheGCSBbill

John McCartney has pledged on 1 project.

And a comment on TVNZ Shane Jones unapologetic for targeting PM’s ‘sensitive spot’

John McCartney · The University of Auckland

Hmm…. bit colourful Jonesy. But we have had had a Prime Minister and his band of merry men and wonen who have rammed thruogh GCSB Laws, masterminded a Sky City CONvention Centre, paid a bribe to Tiwai Aluminium to stay in NZ..better to have the comments in public, than John Key being forwarded the comments by the GCSB. It’s ok for JK to talk about his vasectomy, but when the microscope goes on his sensitive parts by somebody else he blushes.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

McCartney is protesting a bit much about Dann’s interview with Cunliffe.  And his proposal to spy on journalists using the GCSB he has actively campaigned against is hypocritical and absurd.

Media will always appear to be biased to people like McCartney – except when media gives favourable coverage to their favourite politicians.

Jami-Lee Ross, David Cunliffe and rudeness

Jami-Lee Ross criticised David Cunliffe yesterday on Twitter, saying he “walked out on 100 delegates at the NZ Indian Central Assn conference” in Auckland, and said it “just looked pretty rude”. Ross is the first term National MP for Botany.

Wow… Cunliffe just walked out on 100 delegates at the NZ Indian Central Assn conference even though he was supposed to speak.

Judith Collins joined the criticism…

That is amazingly rude. Is he losing it?

…and Ross was queried:

Why did he walk out?

Don’t know for sure, more than one excuse was given – apparently something else to goto, but also apparently sick.

Cunliffe hit back.

Total rubbish . When you apologise to organisers, explain no-show from senior Nats.

Hey, if you’re ok with turning up to speak, sitting writing notes, then walking out, that’s fine. Just looked pretty rude.

Cunliffe was later defended by Labour list MP Rajen Prasad:

DC paid his respect and as arranged prior had to be elsewhere.

Jamie should be careful not to impugn motives for a prearranged early departure

And Ross defended his criticisms despite explanations that Cunliffe’s exit was planned.

Raj, I haven’t seen you this worked up since we cheered you in Parliament. Was just pointing out what I saw.

But Ross pointed out more than what he saw, he qualified it with “walked out on”, #rude and “just looked pretty rude”.

It looks pretty rude of Ross not to accept he might have got things wrong and gave an unfair impression of what happened. An apology would repair some of the damage, but despite one being suggested there’s no sign of anything yet.

Cannabis law reform alive overseas, dead as a cold turkey here

Cannabis law changes are happening around the world, including in some US states. But the chances of anything happening on it here in the foreseeable future look slim.

The use and abuse of cannabis and the associated legal and criminal issues surrounding cannabis in New Zealand are substantial, but politicians don’t want to go there.

National are not likely to consider let alone allow any relaxing of the laws related to cultivation and use of cannabis.

David Cunliffe has said Labour are not interested in doing anything.

“They can put on the table what they want to put on the table, but Labour’s policy is not to decriminalise cannabis,” says Mr Cunliffe.

‘They’ is the Greens but they don’t seem very interested. From Labour, Greens crack over cannabis views:

If the Green Party had its way it would immediately allow for medicinal marijuana and legal action for violent offences would be prioritised over possession.

The next step is decriminalisation with a legal age limit of 18.

For one party it’s the only issue, and before joining the Greens Ms Turei was a member of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

“It won’t be one of our major priorities, but it is our policy and we’re not ashamed of that,” she says.

And when interviewed on The Nation last week Russel Norman also sounded less than enthusiastic.

And that could include carrying on fracking, now decriminalisation of cannabis. We had Colin Craig on here, he spoke to Simon a few weeks ago – we asked him this, have you ever smoked a joint? Have you ever smoked a joint?

Yeah, yeah, of course I’ve smoked a joint.

Yeah, so decriminalisation of cannabis, that’s a Green party policy, it’s been a Green party policy down the ages. Will you pursue that in a Labour/Green government?

It’s still part of our policy and so whether it’s part of the priorities – so what we do is before each election is we announce our ten point priority list, right? And we did it last time and we’ll do it again this time and so in any post-election negotiations, you’ll know the what are the key areas we’re going to prioritise. So, I doubt –

So where will that be?

Yeah, yes. So I doubt – we haven’t decided it, right? But I doubt that decriminalisation will be one of the top ten. But, that’s up to the party to decide, but I doubt that will be.

Sure, ok. So, decriminalisation, you’re not into it really. But the TPP -

Well, no Paddy. You can paraphrase it like that, but it doesn’t mean that we -

But let’s move on…

Not a priority and Norman virtually ruled it out of any coalition negotiations where Greens would have most chance of making something happen.

With none of the three largest parties interested in initiating anything on cannabis law reform, and no sign of any small parties being interested, the chances if anything happening look as alive as a cold turkey.


Jones – Labour needs to pull finger

Labour list MP Shane Jones has acknowledged that Labour as a team needs to pull finger “or face a bleak future”.

Jones has just been interviewed on The Nation. He was asked what he thought of David Cunliffe’s performance.

While he understandably sidestepped that question he spoke with far more candour than most MPs would on the current state of Labour support.

He said it wasn’t just a problem with Cunliffe, he laid the responsibility on the whole Labour caucus, and all of them needed to do far better.

He acknowledged that 29% in a poll was not good, and that all the Labour MPs needed to work hard to lift their popularity. He believed that they would rise in the polls as we get closer to the election.

Jones said:

Unless we pull finger we’re looking at a bleak future.

He needs some of his colleagues to acknowledge the reality of their paltry polling. Blaming opponents, blaming bad polling and blaming media unfairness is hiding from the stark truth.

Labour are down and they have to accept and address their faults and problems, they need to take responsibility.

The need to stop pointing finger and as Jones says, pull finger.

Labour’s fraudulent claim

Labour are attacking National on welfare fraud and tax dodging. This image is being promoted on Facebook and Twitter, labeled “National priorities”:

Tax dodging


Leader David Cunliffe has joined in:

Welfare fraud, $23 million = National obsession. Tax dodging, $6 BILLION = National doing nothing.

National has not done nothing on tax dodging. The current (and previous) Government put a lot of resources into trying to reduce tax avoidance and the prevent tax evasion and identify evasion and take action against those who break the law.

From the IRD Annual report 2013:

Improving Compliance

  • The Court of Appeal unanimously held that the Optional Convertible Notes (OCN) arrangement entered into by Alesco and 12 other taxpayers, involved tax avoidance. The total amount at issue in all OCN cases is over $300 million.
  • We released Inland Revenue’s Interpretation Statement on tax avoidance which gives greater certainty to our customers.
  • This year, we collected tax revenue of $53.8 billion and $1.2 billion of other revenue. This is a 10.0% increase from the previous year.
  • Our information sharing has enabled the Ministry of Social Development to cancel more than 3,000 benefits being paid to people who were not entitled to them.
  • This year, total overdue debt increased by 1% compared to an increase of 7% in each of the previous two years.
  • We had a 3.5% decrease in the number of outstanding returns. This is the first time we have seen a year-on-year
  • reduction in ten years.

On avoidance:

Avoidance is where taxpayers seek to reduce or even eliminate their obligation to pay tax. This often involves structures with complex financial arrangements between companies, trusts, or charities, sometimes with international links. Our approach to countering avoidance has been to:

  •  gather intelligence and conduct research on inappropriate use of these structures
  •  assist and educate taxpayers if they are unsure of their obligations
  •  investigate their tax affairs and take legal action where there is deliberate non-compliance.

Recent judgments have generally upheld our position on avoidance and we have a firm legal basis that supports our view.

Tax avoidance interpretation statement

On 1 July 2013, we issued Inland Revenue’s interpretation statement about tax avoidance following a public consultation period which opened in December 2011. The statement now gives both Inland Revenue and the tax community greater certainty on the principles that Inland Revenue will apply in reaching a view on whether an arrangement is tax avoidance or not.

The report details a number of cases and business categories where they are addressing avoidance issues.

A large proportion of the core outstanding debt is not from ‘dodging’ or avoidance, it is from penalties and interest:

IRD core debt

It could legitimately be argued whether National puts too much emphasis on welfare fraud, or too little effort into tax ‘dodging’ .

But claiming the total overdue debt of $6 billion is all due to tax dodging and claiming that National is ‘doing nothing’ could amount to political fraud.

Overstating things and making false claims detracts from the point Labour is trying to make – and it’s dishonest.

Update: Chester Borrows (Minister for Courts, Associate Minister of Justice) has tweeted:

Welfare fraud budget flat after 40% up under Lab, tax fraud budget up 40% under Nats. Actions speak louder than words mate.

Labour’s listening?

Yesterday David Cunliffe promoted a trip to Kawerau on social media. One was of him speaking…

Cunliffe Kawerau 1

…but his support team don’t appear to be listening.


Cunliffe Kawerau 2

…in this one Cunliffe appears to be listening (and he may be) but the ear muffs have been pointed out.

These photos were published on Cunliffe’s Twitter feed and his Facebook page.

Little things can make a big difference with political perceptions. When a leader is struggling they are susceptible to even more than normal scrutiny and criticism.

Shooting and feet have been mentioned a lot. Cunliffe’s media team have to be careful to avoid dishing out ammunition.

Popular Prime Ministers

There’s been some interesting charts published of Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition poll popularity.

Dim-Post On popularity:

Helen Clark was a widely respected Prime Minister who won three elections and led Government for nine years. John Key has ranked high in the popularity stakes since becoming Prime Minister.

Clark and Key have tracked very similar paths over their second terms.

Leader’s of the Opposition struggle to get recognition in polls. David Farrar at charts this at Kiwiblog in Opposition Leader in the Preferred PM poll:

Clark languished as low as 2% for her first three years as Labour leader and then shot up, presumably around the time of the 1996 election which Labour came close with 34.68% to Bolger’s National’s 35.05% to be thwarted by NZ First siding with National in coalition.

Key started much higher and kept rising until and after National won in 2008.

Phil Goff started much lower until a late climb for the 2011 election but withdrew from leadership soon after.

David Shearer had modest ups and downs before pulling the plug on a position he never looked comfortable in.

David Cunliffe picked up from there but has slid since. He’s got time to recover and challenge Key in September – but not much time.

One of the 800,000?

Labour is targeting the 800,000 people who didn’t vote in the last election (sometimes referred to as the ‘missing million’).

Cunliffe searches for his missing voters

David Cunliffe is trying to reach 800,000 voters, and if he does Labour will win the next election.

They’re the ones who didn’t vote in 2011. They’re in low or middle income electorates and it’s likely most of them would have ticked Labour – if they’d made it to the ballot box.

“At the 2011 election, Labour failed to persuade enough New Zealanders that it was a credible alternative,” Cunliffe posted on the party’s website.
“When National was telling them they would cut them off at the knees, they don’t want to hear from Labour that it would too – just a little nearer to the ankles.”

This is what Labour’s new leader has set about fixing, and it’s why he told the CTU conference this week: “We will be a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one.”

He’s making the difference between Labour and National very clear, and he’s pitching the message at those missing voters.

Was it one of these non-voters who found Cunliffe yesterday?

Irate man

Angry tirade cuts Cunliffe’s briefing short

A media standup by Labour leader David Cunliffe had to be cut short this afternoon after a man in a car stopped and shouted a tirade of abuse at Mr Cunliffe and the assembled media about unemployment.

The man pulled his car alongside the press pack on the side of the road outside Mr Cunliffe’s electorate office while beeping his horn. “F*** you, f*** Labour, f**** unemployment,” he shouted.

As a member of the media asked another question, the man continued to shout, saying “f*** you man, there’s no future, New Zealand’s dreaming and you’re a dreamer.” He added that National was no better.

“We may as well have a coalition of the f***wits. F*** you all.” He went on to say that the unions were dead “and you destroyed them. Unemployment is not working.”

Video here.

Only 799,999 to go.


Cunliffe versus Government on whaling decision

David Cunliffe has criticised the Government for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ over whaling in a Newstalk ZB interview:

TIM FOOKES:  Exactly. So the earlier the better, and I will get to one of your calls in just a moment, but just a quick comment on the issue that came out late last night over the court ruling on , I think this is a significant victory New Zealand and Australia.

DAVID CUNLIFFE: It’s fantastic. Well, it’s a significant victory for Australia. Where the hell was the New Zealand Government? I mean, we had New Zealanders testifying, but once again, the National Government’s asleep at the wheel. Kiwis hate whaling. We hate whaling and previous governments had a really strong record against it. Why did we leave it to the Aussies to take the thing to the International Court?

David Farrar at Kiwiblog disagrees in Talking down NZ’s contribution:

Let’s look at the official court ruling from the International Court of Justice:


New Zealand was represented by no less than the Attorney-General, the Deputy Solicitor-General, an Ambassador, five MFAT staff and one of the Attorney-General’s staff. Not exactly asleep at the wheel.

NZ is mentioned 53 times in the judgement.

And ‘queenstfarmer’ points back to 2008 in a comment:

Clark drops legal action plan

Prime Minister Helen Clark will push for a diplomatic end to whaling after the Government dropped plans for legal action against Japan.

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said legal action had been examined with “great care”, but difficulties had been identified. She would not disclose what the difficulties were.

Miss Clark said “fantastic” legal advice – from New Zealand whaling commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer – suggested it would be difficult to mount a successful case at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

If this is accurate it’s another own goal by Cunliffe and his research team.

Half cocked negative politics can be a double whammy when it isn’t even accurate.

A sickness within politics

There’s a pervasive sickness that runs through New Zealand politics from top to bottom, from Prime Minister to grass roots. There’s an entrenched culture of nastiness and abusive behaviour that wouldn’t be acceptable in most parts of a decent society, but it’s practiced and aided and abetted by politicians, parties, activists, supporters, traditional media and social media.

Some in politics protest but that’s usually futile – in fact it commonly attracts even more abuse.

The public generally hate it and show their displeasure through the ballot box, with increasing numbers being turned off any participation in politics.

The major parties have long seen nasty attack politics as an essential tool in their arsenals, so there’s often more of a focus on negative, nasty and dishonest tactics than promoting their strengths. Even the normally principled Greens have been drawn into mild forms of it.

Traditional media aid and abet the worst of politics, following their wider ‘if it bleeds it leads’ approach. The media sharks swarm at any hint of political blood. They promote dishonest or speculatory accusations and praise the attackers as effective politicians.

Attempts to demean and discredit are common, aiming to provoke character and career destroying momentum.

It goes far beyond robust debate and holding to account.

Social media has long been touted as a more inclusive way of doing politics but it has taken on the worst of toxic politics, largely because of the involvement of old school party activists.

In an interview on The Nation last October leading political blogger Cameron Slater said:

Well Auckland politics is the same as where any politics is, in that it’s a dirty disgusting despicable game, and it involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels. And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.

Slater has long been involved in dirty politics and has pushed boundaries with his attacking abusive style. Prime Minister John Key demonstrated an acceptance of this when he said recently that he often talks to Slater. Ironically Slater has made an attempt recently to clean up the comments section of his Whale Oil blog.

Another leading blogger David Farrar doesn’t do personal abuse the same but he is often involved in attack politics. He also enables and allows a toxic environment at his Kiwiblog where stalking and abuse are common.

Both Slater and Farrar have close links to National but it isn’t confined to the political right. Personal attacks are common at The Standard and Dim-Post and to a lesser extent at the heavily moderated/censored The Daily Blog.

Lynn Prentice calls the shots at The Standard and often brags about how nasty he can be. This sets the standard. Another Standard author Greg Presland has close links to David Cunliffe. Presland attacks far less now than in the past but he still allows abuse to go unchecked.

In one thread at The Standard yesterday here is some of the abuse that was allowed as normal – it was done by a small number of commenters but this sort of behaviour is rarely questioned (I’ve seen similar degrees of abuse at Kiwiblog). Ironically this was on thread of a blog post complaining about the use of blogs for political smears.

You are a walking smear campaign, a gossiping whispering nasty little insect. Every single comment you make oozes dishonesty like pus from a sore.

Oh look, here’s some weasel slime pretending butter won’t melt in his mouth. What an asshole.

What a passive aggressive, boring, dishonest asshole.

You, Mr George, are really quite a horrible person.

The MSM are a product of human discourse, not the sum of it. Political revolution was possible with a printing press and analogue distribution methods, so it is possible with memes and social media.

Rock-Snot as i said yesterday is a fungal organism that attaches itself to any mode of transport from gumboots to twigs to enable it to enter an untainted waterway from there multiplying to pollute the whole expanse,

Such is Pete George…

You sound like right-wing scum,(now have a whine about abuse why don’t you)…

Your right SSLands, i agree with you that John Drinnan,(why does that name make me think of drain cleaner), should lay off the abuse, and, quite frankly i did not think you had the intellectual where-with-all to have noticed the convoluted writing style of Mr Drain Cleaner,(have you got your Mummy reading the comments and providing you an interpretation tonight),

No, wait…this just in: you’re an asshole Pete.

SSLands, read my comment below at 8.30pm, its al the answer you either deserve or are going to get other than to be told to fiuck off back to ‘wail-oink’ and share your syphillated drivel with the inmates of that particular zoo…

Several blog moderators were active through that thread, at times directly supporting abusive comments. This is just a small symptom of a much wider and deeper problem.

People who would regard themselves as intelligent and reasonable passively and actively allow this and often climb on the bash wagon.

Some see blogs and other social media as a grand opportunity to give ordinary people more of a voice in politics. By becoming infected the sickest and saddest of political behaviour they add to the problem rather than provide a solution.

The language is different to MPs in Parliament, due to anonymity and to a social disconnect.

Presumably most of this abuse would not happen face to face. The more intelligent would not think of allowing and participating in this manner in person, the others wouldn’t have the guts.

The aim is the same as MPs and parties – character assassination of perceived political enemies, although some may just use it as an excujse to be abusive. There’s nothing logical, democratic, decent or positive about it.

If this social and political sickness is allowed to continue then we will continue to have trouble attracting quality candidates and we will have diminishing voting percentages as more and more voters are turned off by the rot.

Unless it is dealt with from the top down – the top of parties and the top of blogs – the sickness will continue to vomit over our political discourse.

Confronting it simply invites more abuse. If I posted this at Kiwiblog or The Standard it is likely it would increase rather than decrease abuse levels.

I believe many MPs don’t like the standard of political and Parliamentary behaviour but they are drowned out and shat on by an entrenched minority of old school politicians who see and use dirt is their strongest weapon.

But this is a major weakness in our politics. It needs leadership to address it but our leaders are a part of the problem. David Shearer promised a better standard of politics when he became Labour leader but it became one of a number of failings for him.

If John Key really wants a laudable legacy he could lead a clean-up of caucus and party behaviour. It would do far more good for our democracy and our country than painting over the cracks of our flag.

Our democracy is flagging badly. Key has proven successful as a political manager but not yet as a leader. He could try leading by example.


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