Disappointing debate, pointless polls

I was disappointed with the leaders debates. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, but I didn’t see anything that I thought wouold make difference.

Cunliffe held his own so won’t have been harmed by it. He interrupted too much and too many preachy wee speeches. Pros and cons on points made.

Key looked strained but probably won’t have harmed his chances, Some pros and cons as well, nothing remarkable.

Hosking allowed too much talking over each other, sometimes all three were trying to compete. Often seemed messy.

I doubt many minds would be changed.

The online and text polling and online metering were a farce, totally meaningless. There is no way of knowing who was voting or measuring responses so no way of knowing how biased the participants were.

The National minions seem to have been busier on TV1’s text poll and Labour’s on Newstalk ZB’s online poll. Or something. Tells us nothing useful.

They were worse than pointless, they add useless noise to commentary on the debate.

 

Goff blatantly lies about ‘dirty politics’

Phil Goff blatantly lied on Campbell Live last night when asked if he ever got involved in dirty politics. Goff said “No, no, not at all”.

Goff has a history of misleading and leaking and accusing others of lying. He has been involved in:

  • Leaking and misleading over the Don Brash ‘gone by lunchtime’ statement in 2004.
  • His office leaks from MFAT in 2012 which led to a fight through the courts to hide the identity of the Labour associated leaker.
  • A Goff office leak led to the forced resignation of National MP Richard Worth in 2009.
  • Goff “appears to have broken the law by releasing pages from a suppressed Court of Inquiry report into the death of a Kiwi soldier in Afghanistan” in 2013.
  • Accused SIS director Warren Tucker of lying about briefing him in 2011.

Yesterday morning Phil Goff claimed John Key was lying about not having been briefed by the SIS prior to an OIA release to Cameron Slater. During the day Key’s version was supported by ex-Director of the SIS Warren Tucker and Ombudsman Beverly Wakem – see Goff versus Key, Tucker and Wakem.

Last night Goff was interviewed by John Campbell. The prelude on Campbell Live did not give all the details this. It began:

Campbell: Phil Goff, who was at the centre of all this because these SIS documents were about you and they were really embarrassing for you and they were a big judder bar in your campaign in 2011 weren’t they.

Goff: Let me come back to what the Prime Minister said because it’s fascinating. This is somehow a smear campaign from the left. No, this is a campaign against smears and dirty tricks of which there is abundant evidence shown in the emails leaked from Cameron Slater. So that’s the critical point John

In the morning Goff said “It’s important because John Key is not being truthful in saying that he wasn’t told”. He seems to have moved on from that accusation.

Campbell: I couldn’t agree more that there is abundant evidence that Cameron Slater smears and is thoroughly unpleasant…

Goff: …and gets information from the Prime Minister’s office.

Campbell: Absolutely. Where does that lead back to the Prime Minister because I stood in that media conference as he answered question after question after question and he was emphatic he didn’t know?

Goff again ignores this and moves the story onto to something else.

Goff: What do we know about this for certain. We know that material was leaked from Security Intelligence to Cameron Slater. There were two possible sources. One is the SIS itself, and the second is the Prime Minister’s office. 

Now I’m not so conspiratorial that I would think that the SIS would leak that material. The Prime Minister’s office had the motive to do it and the close links with Cameron Slater. Any reasonable person will come to the conclusion that that leak came from the Prime Minister’s office. 

But Tucker the SIS were highly annoyed with accusations Goff had made about them so also had motive – in fact the SIS suggested that journalists make an OIA request after Goff had said effectively accused Tucker of lying – “I never read that document. Warren Tucker is wrong”.

Campbell: Can I ask you a question? You were a leader of the Labour Party, up against and extraordinarily popular Prime Minister John Key.

Did you ever seek to do what you’re accusing him of doing, or use your office to do it, which is to get really dirty behind the scenes, arms length?

Goff: No no not at all…

Campbell: Never, not once?

Goff: No, no, because fundamentally to me the integrity of our political system is important.

That’s an emphatic denial from Goff. It is brazen lie.

Goff was prominent in an MFAT leak in 2012.- this had similarities to the current issue because it involved someone closely linked to the Labour Party.

Documents leaked to Labour foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff showed a reworked plan for the ministry would cut 146 jobs, down from 304.

He had also been leaked documents from trade negotiation staff which showed the restructuring had dented staff confidence.

There was la lengthy legal battle to keep the identity of Goff’s leaker secret. David Farrar in Opposition parties may look silly over Police complaints:

Yet in this case Labour have spent months arguing the leak should not be pursued, and that a leak inquiry is a waste of money. Flagrant hypocrisy. And I hope one day, we will be publicly able to publish why Labour is so frightened about the leaker’s identity being revealed, and any links back to them.

Someone with strong Labour Party links leaked to Goff.

Goff misled with his “gone by lunchtime” leak that was damaging to Don Brash. TVNZ in 2004:

Goff said Brash told the US delegation New Zealand’s current ban on allowing nuclear powered or nuclear armed ships into its ports would be lifted  “by lunchtime” if the National Party were voted in to power.

The comments were noted down by a Foreign Affairs Ministry official present at the January meeting, according to Goff.

Goff said of Brash’s comments: “That is deceit that is dishonesty and the public would expect that to be revealed.

“…either he was not telling the truth to the delegation or subsequently he was not telling the truth to the New Zealand public.”

More accusations of lies from Goff – and it turns out he was not being truthful again himself, as Fran O’Sullivan wrote:

Goff’s problem is that he is embarrassed by the WikiLeaks revelation.

He had no compunction using notes of a private meeting between former National leader Don Brash and a visiting United States delegation to claim New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy “would be gone by lunchtime” under a National government.

The WikiLeaks documents have something to say on this score too.

Former United States ambassador Bill McCormick wrote in November 2006 that Goff had “misquoted” an Mfat staffer’s notes from the meeting to claim that Brash had promised the nuclear ban would be “gone by lunchtime”.

“Brash denied he intended to get rid of the ban without a referendum, but was unable to respond credibly when Labour said that must mean he was planning to scrap the legislation, which many Kiwis view as an iconic part of the country’s identity,” McCormick said.

It’s notable that Goff refused the Herald’s request under the Official Information Act to release the full notes of the meeting that Brash had with the six visiting Republican senators.

Goff’s office leaked a rumour that led to the resignation of Richard Worth in 2009. NZ Herald:

It is obvious that Goff’s office first leaked the rumour to the Press Gallery that Labour had already warned Key of allegations of sexual harassment by Worth of another woman, who we now know is Neelam Choudary.

No one has come out of this business with their reputation enhanced by what now must be seen as a Labour Party dirty trick.

Goff has ducked for cover, after a couple of weeks of drip-feeding juicy tidbits to the media and taking the moral high ground. That can only be seen as an admission he was wrong.

Common elements – leaks from Goff’s office, moral high ground, dirty tricks, Goff.

In 2013: Goff leaks secret army death report:

Labour MP Phil Goff appears to have broken the law by releasing pages from a suppressed Court of Inquiry report into the death of a Kiwi soldier in Afghanistan.

Mr Goff has released part of the report into the death of Corporal Doug Hughes which he says reveals “critical deficiencies in the training and deployment of Kiwi troops”.

Phil Goff’s hands are dirty. It is dishonest of him to deny being involved in dirty politics.

It’s perhaps not surprising he is laying all the leak blame on Key’s office – Goff has a history of leaking from his own office.

No wonder much of the public dismiss all this with “they are all as bad as each other”. Goff and his staff and Labour friendly leakers look to be as bad as anyone.

Goff’s lying while reminding of Labour dirty tricks is not helping Labour’s Vote Positive campaign. Has he gone rogue or is he pushing this to keep a separation between dirty politics and David Cunliffe?

 

Bribe and jibe season

Labour and New Zealand First campaign launches included voter bribes – offering more ‘free’ stuff, but of course taxpayers (other voters) will pay for the policies if they succeed.

Along with the bribes are the jibes – political jibes, racist jibes, anything to get some media attention and coverage to pander to the greedy, needy and the prejudiced.

NZ Herald reports in Winston’s digs come with jokes:

A Chinese name joke, a dig at this country’s “Mr Spray and Walk Away” Prime Minister, and a promise of $1000 and a KiwiSaver account for every newborn baby – all featured in the New Zealand First campaign launch yesterday.

“It’s so they can get out of university without a large albatross around their neck.

Taxpayers eventually have to wear the albatross.

And more jibes:

He repeated his intention to crack down on foreign ownership, saying National’s claim that Labour had done it as well was not vindication.

“Just because your predecessor did it too does not make your actions sensible. As they say in Beijing, two Wongs don’t make a right.”

Peters and some of the NZ First MPs tried to defend that joke but were unconvincing.

Vernon Small at Stuff comments on Labour’s biggest and best shot:

David Cunliffe has fired Labour’s biggest and best shot with his $280m health spending promise, taking aim squarely at the vote-rich elderly – Winston Peters’ happy hunting ground.

It leaves Cunliffe and finance spokesman David Parker with just under $200m of their election war chest left to spend…

“Their election war chest” is taxpayer money, not their lollies to scramble voters with.

More from Stuff in Labour’s health plan cost queried.

A battle has erupted over the affordability of taxpayers funding GP care for the elderly after Labour pledged to make their doctors visits free.

With the over 65s paying on average $31 a visit, Labour is hoping to match the huge success of the existing scheme for children by extending it to the over 65s.

The elderly and the very young were the big winners – with Labour making a grab for the pensioner vote with its promise to roll out free doctors visits and prescriptions to over 65s.

Whether you call them election promises or bribes this is a bad way to dump spending policy on the public in a mass of election rhetoric. Voters get to choose who they prefer in Government but they don’t get to debate the pros and cons of each promise of increasing spending of their money.

In closing hsi launch speech David Cunliffe said:

If you want an end to politics as usual and to build a New Zealand that works for everyone.

Mr Cunliffe, if you were serious about ending politics as usual you wouldn’t be resorting to bribes and policy that looks driven by election desperation. It’s your political future but it’s our money.

Cone of silence on Central Otago meeting

A cone of silence remains over a meeting in Queenstown last month between Labour leader David Cunliffe and high profile Central Otago man, ex All Black and ex National MP Grahame Thorne.

This was a controversial meeting leading into an election campaign, with rumours swirling about the motives for the meeting including possible links to donations.

It was also odd to see Cunliffe having a photo in public accepting a bottle of wine from Thorne considering recent controversy with Labour and wine auctions for fundraising. Is that what the gift of wine was for – more fundraising?

That this issue isn’t being examined by media is perplexing. There appears to be an indecent cone of silence with deliberate suppression of information of public and political interest.

See Cunliffe and a gift of wine.

Davis assures he’s contesting Te Tai Tokerau

After claims and speculation that Labour were not trying to contest Te Tai Tokerau – see Cunliffe lying about electorate deals? – Kelvin Davis has emphatically assured he is still out to win the electorate off Hone Harawira.

of course I’m going out to win it, as I’ve told you a dozen times already. No one has approached me to do any shonky deal.

Davis will be keen on winning the electorate as his chances via the Labour list look precarious.

Yesterday 3 News reported  Annette Sykes chasing Waiariki deal:

Internet Mana candidate Annette Sykes says Labour’s done a secret Epsom-style electorate deal with Hone Harawira.

She’s also calling on Labour to do a deal for her – in the Maori seat of Waiariki.

Internet Mana is…Parliament-bound on Mr Harawira’s coattails.

His lieutenant, Ms Sykes, says Labour’s done a deal which will help ensure he wins Te Tai Tokerau.

“I think it’s already happening there,” says Ms Sykes.”It’s been informally signalled.”

That contradicts what Davis has said.

Labour is denying the claim however, saying all seat deals are off.

“We are campaigning hard in all seven Maori seats and that includes Waiariki – I can’t be any plainer than that,” says Labour leader David Cunliffe.

That would include Te Tai Tokerau. Cunliffe has backtracked on other things but he looks like remaining staunch on this.

But Tova O’Brien at 3 News is not convinced.

Labour’s taken the higher moral ground over coat-tailing, despite not ruling out working with Internet Mana – the masters of coat-tailing – after the election.

So if it does a deal in either of those Maori seats – and it’s hard to tell if it will or not – they’ll be informal deals, done on the ground and on the quiet.

The proof will be in how the campaigns in the Maori electorates play out. If Labour have done or do any electorate deals on the quiet it should be obvious in how the campaign unfolds.

With Labour looking an unlikely winner in the election shoring up any electorate they can and winning as many as possible makes some sense. It will help put them in a better position to rebuild next term – something they have so far failed to do.

 

Cunliffe lying about electorate deals?

While David Cunliffe criticises National for doing electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu, and insists Labour will not do any electorate deals, there are reports from Te Tai Tokerau that Labour have effectively thrown the electorate, leaving it to Internet Mana..

Is this a case of Labour doing something different to what they claim, and doing what they criticise National for doing? If so this is deceitful.

In NZ Herald Cunliffe denies double standards over deals:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has denied he has double standards for refusing to rule out relying on the Internet Mana party to form a government despite deriding National for its coat tailing deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

Mr Cunliffe has accused National of manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions to try to boost its support partners’ chances through electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

However, he will not rule out calling on the Internet Mana Party if needed to form a Government.

There appears to be double standards and deceit there.

Mr Cunliffe said he had made it clear it was “extremely unlikely” any Internet Mana Party MPs would get ministerial positions, or even lower level associate or undersecretary roles in a Labour-led Government.

But he would not rule out policy concessions in return for their votes, saying that was a matter to discuss after the election. “We will talk to whoever the voters serve up.”

But there are claims that Labour are ‘manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions’ to try to boost Hone Harawira’s chances  in Te Tai Tokerau.

Mr Cunliffe denied it was a double standard.

“Because I’m not trying to tell New Zealanders who to vote for. I’m being absolutely plain that they should vote Labour with two ticks.”

That doesn’t appear to be what’s happening in Te Tai Tokerau, despite Labour’s candidate Kelvin Davis previously saying he would vigorously contest the electorate.

A resident of the Far North commented on Kiwiblog:

A couple of earlier commenters mentioned Davies winning TTT. Forget it. He is invisible, no signage in the North. None. Labour have hung him out to dry again. A vote for labour is a vote for the Harawira crime family and Kim Dotcom.

And a similar story at No Minister:

NEWSFLASH … LABOUR CONCEDES TE TAI TOKERAU TO HONE

So much for the hypocritical beating from Labour about National doing ‘deals’ in Epsom and Ohariru (leaving aside the fact that MMP is all about doing deals).   It is now clear the Cunliffe and Labour, have done exactly that and conceded Te Tai Tokerau to Hone in a deal that should let the Mana/Internet Party come in with three MPs (based on their current pollling).

What’s the evidence for that?     Well, the Vet and Mrs Vet took a trip up to Kaitaia on Saturday for a meeting of the Far North Vietnam veterans.    On the way up we encountered numerous National Party signs; a sad looking half sign promoting Labour’s Northand candidate; two signs from a weird mob called Focus New Zealand ; a heap of signs from Hone, but from Kelvin Davis, the Te Tai Tokerau Labour candidate, zip zero nothing, nothing at all.

And I am told suma suma in the southern part of the electorate.

…now it’s clear that Cunliffe and Labour have pulled the rug from Davis as a serious player…

It may be that Kelvin Davis and Labour are yet to launch a candidate campaign in Te Tai Tokerau. I’m trying to check that out with him.

But at this stage of the campaign it looks like David Cunliffe may not be being truthful about Labour’s electorate intent.

UPDATE: Cunliffe has just spoken on Firstline repeating that Labour would contest electorates “up and down the country” and wouldn’t support coat tailing.

UPDATE 2: Kelvin Davis has responded this morning “That is a pure beat up. Im out to win the seat.” But he hasn’t replied yet when I asked when he was putting hoardings up.

Rodney Hide, David Cunliffe and a “sexual predator”

Rodney Hide has continued his series of columns about a sexual offender with name suppression in Predator hiding in clear sight. Hide states that he believes David Cunliffe did not know the person was an offender when he met what Hide refers to as a “sex predator”.

I was wrong when I claimed that leading politicians knew the name of the “prominent” New Zealander hiding behind name suppression. David Cunliffe did not.

The Labour leader has met the sex predator. “If I had known of the suggestion [that the man was a sex predator hiding behind name suppression], no such meeting would have taken place.” I am sure that’s true.

Hide may be right. But there is doubt over that The above quote is from the Herald last Monday, but on Tuesday Cunliffe spoke on this in a standup Interview. Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB):

Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

Whichever of those explanations is accurate (if either of them are) we now have a problem. This is an important issue leading into an election campaign and because of the name suppression of the offender media are very reluctant to investigate this as they normally would be sure to do.

If Cunliffe did not know of the person’s offending or his reputation (which Hide has previously said was well known in Parliament) before meeting him then it would have just been an unfortunate embarrassment for Cunliffe, especially having just made a strong statement to a Rape Crisis group.

But Cunliffe is unable to clarify if this is this case.

And unfortunately for Cunliffe the alternative and more embarrassing scenario that Soper reported on, which is unclear and potentially contradictory of Cunliffe’s earlier claim, is getting some coverage. And the media seem reluctant to explore this because of the name suppression.

With an election looming the voters should know what the true version is on this story.

Name suppression protecting a “prominent person” is preventing this from being clarified.

And worse, it means that people are not warned about this man’s apparently recidivist predatory sexual behaviour. Hide is right when he concludes:

The sex predator’s prominence is such that Cunliffe was attracted to meet him. Knowing the sex pest’s background and history it’s easy to see why. We are all attracted to and flattered by the attention of “prominent” men.

We have a sex offender in our midst. He has not been shamed. He has no remorse. His prominence makes him attractive for women to pass time with. Name suppression means they don’t know to be wary. His “prominence” means women drop their guard.

Does anyone other than the offender have a responsibility should he offend again? The judge who felt the poor man had suffered “a bit of a cross” by being prosecuted? Our MPs for their silence and name suppression laws?

What would we say to his victim if he attacks again? And, ask yourself, what’s the culture in New Zealand that your answers imply?

The offender is sort of protected from embarrassment.

But women of New Zealand, especially women of Queenstown in this instance, may not be aware of the potential danger that this man may pose to them if they don’t know who he is and what he has done.

Note: if the offender in the case at the centre of this issue is unfairly being labelled a “sexual predator” that can’t even be publicly explored.

Cunliffe and a gift of wine

David Cunliffe should be wary of bottles of wine by now, but he has received one as a gift, from an ex National MP and ex All Black, Grahame Thorne.

And there’s proof that this one is for real as this was posted on Facebook.

 

Cunliffe Thorne

This was apparently a recent meeting. It”s obviously out in the open, very public, so there was no secret about it. On a day Cunliffe has specifically said he was working. That was then.

What was this meeting about? Old friends or acquaintances catching up? Why the gift?

It’s a curious name for wine, it’s from a local vineyard which Thorne obviously has an association  with.

Dogs do Roam: A Dogs Tale

In Nineteen sixty something the first generation of the Thorne family made the trek south to Central Otago for the summer. During this traditional Kiwi holiday Norman Stuart Thorne has his first encounter with the “fruit bowl of the south”.

Norm would struggle through neighboring paddocks with a large basket of freshly picked fruit in each hand with the neighbors two springer spaniel dogs bouncing through the tussocks in his wake. He would arrive back to the bach (holiday home) as the sun was setting.

As the sun rose the following morning Norm would still be in his workshop putting the finishing touches on his first batch of Central Otago fruit wine.

Thus began the tradition of returning the following summer to find his wine ready to drink after the fermenting process.

As the story goes Norm S Thorne returned to Central the following year and upon arrival headed straight to his workshop. Turning the key to the shed in eager anticipation, he could smell the sweet Vino seeping out the cracks in the wood, the creaking door opened slowly when all of sudden the neighbors dogs raced through the gap knocking over his barrels spilling wine all over the floor. Turning to his wife Norm chuckled “well Dogs do Roam”…and thus “Dogs do Roam” was born.

The Dogs –  Norm S Thornes first escapades in Central not only started a love affair with the area but also began a life long adoration of Springer Spaniels. A love passed down to his son Grahame and in turn to Grahames children. On DDR vineyard live three Springers and their mate Milo the Chocolate Lab!

An interesting tale.

Labour have sharpened their knitting needles

Earlier this week David Cunliffe acknowledged that he had made mistakes but would be starting a fight-back and focus on the things that mattered.

Stuff reported: Cunliffe: The fightback begins now

“I am sure that the caucus will be as determined as I am that we stick to our knitting and to our core messages about jobs, homes and families, and avoid distractions,” Cunliffe said.

“We have got past anger a long time ago, we are focused on what a campaign needs – a positive contribution by everybody and focused on the issues that matter.”

Labour’s campaign slogan is VotePositive.

The big thing being discussed today was sparked by another Stuff article:  Labour claims Hosking’s biased.

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

A Labour source said that, despite protestations, the party was unlikely to pull out of the two scheduled TVNZ debates. “When we heard it was Hosking the initial reaction was ‘Are you f…ing joking?’ But we are trying to get it changed. We are not making a hullabaloo about nothing, we’d rather they get someone else.”

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson said he was not part of the negotiations, but joked: “If it’s true, we’d rather have Jeremy Wells as Mike Hosking, than Mike Hosking.”

Cunliffe said he was not involved in the negotiations. Chief of staff Matt McCarten is understood to be overseeing the arrangements.

It’s all over Twitter. And Labour blogs are full of it:

Rob Salmond at Polity:  Mike Hosking and this has been re-posted at The Standard: Polity: Mike Hosking

Is this Labour sticking to it’s knotting?

They have sharpened their needles and are taking stabs at the media.

It almost looks like Labour has conceded defeat already and are making excuses in advance. “Poor us” laments and blaming the media are only going to increase the electoral damage.

It’s a very difficult situation for them but they have to do something to not contradict their ‘VotePositive” slogan.

 

Cunliffe cheerleader chumped by change of tune

David Cunliffe’s chief cheerleader at The Standard, Greg Presland, has been chumped by Cunliffe’s change of tune on whether he knew anything about the sexual offender before meeting in Queenstown.

Presland posted in Herald says weird things about Cunliffe and Labour Clutha Southland candidate:

The Herald said:

… the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

You have to wonder why the meeting was mentioned and why it was thought that it would cause a distraction to Cunliffe.  

No doubt the intent is to continue with the bad news narrative that the right have been pushing but what was Cunliffe to do?  Have a Police vette conducted of all people that he may meet?  Even this would not have helped because the person involved received a discharge without conviction and had all details suppressed.  

And Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald he had no idea of the background until yesterday.

Presland is presumed to be close to Cunliffe in his electorate and he’s the lawyer who organised the donations trust. He’s been a dogged and loyal supporter.

But now Cunliffe has changed his tune in “Sometimes tough times make you tougher” – Cunliffe.

 Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

It must be tough  being a Labour cheerleader at the moment when Cunliffe keeps saying weird things.

There’s not much cheerfulness at The Standard these days.

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