A detailed summary by Bryce Edwards: A year of (neverending) Dirty Politics.
This gives an extensive overview of the “Dirty Politics” campaign that tried to swing an election and failed, and dirty politics surrounding it and dominating the political year.
Edwards quotesd a wide range of bloggers but some of the best commentary comes from seasoned journalists like Rob Hosking at NBR.
In fact, wasn’t the problem with the delivery of Dirty Politics that it became too enmeshed in partisan politics? This is the argument put forward by Rob Hosking:
‘The country’s opposition partisans – and I include Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager himself in that group – have screwed this up royally. A mix of arrogance, self righteousness and incompetence have allowed important questions to go largely unanswered.
So convinced of their own righteousness and so convinced of the self-evident evil of Prime Minister John Key, they have, throughout this entire saga, opted to shout and sneer rather than seek to convince’ – see: Dirty Politics: the aftermath (paywalled).
That sums it up well. “Dirty Politics was a partisan campaign plonked into an election. This approached detracted from the much wider and very important issue of dirty politics in general.
Some in politics thinks that dirtiness is just the way things sometimes work. I don’t think we should accept this in a modern democracy. We should demand better of all parties and politicians.
Hosking says that the revelations in Dirty Politics were too important to become partisan fodder: ‘You will never get any point of principle across if you drench your point in partisan bile and personal attacks. All you will do is make it look like politics – dirty politics – as usual’.
He calls for a more principled approach on the issues: ‘It is time they were treated as matters of principle, and not just ways of achieving partisan advantage’.
There is no sign of a more principled approach in the wake of the election – and for those still campaigning with “Dirty Politics” post-election was a virtual wake, the death of their hopes of a change of government.
And Simon Wilson in Metro:
But one of the best accounts of the impact – or lack of impact – of Dirty Politics comes in the latest Metro magazine out today. Simon Wilson has a feature on John Key, which argues that the PM ‘rode the wave of discontent brilliantly. His consistent message was that New Zealanders would far rather discuss “the issues that really matter”: jobs, growth, economic and social wellbeing’.
What’s more, according to Wilson, ‘when the book came out, National quickly refocused on Hager. Their claim that he’s a conspiracy theorist not only belittled him and distracted attention from the accusations in the book, it served to smear anyone else who asked about dirty politics: were they part of the conspiracy too? By the time the last week arrived, even Hager had been sidelined’.
Wilson shows how after the election, National has actually managed to turn the tables, and ‘invoke the “dirty politics” smear’. And in contrast, a strong line is being pushed about Key being the most honest and transparent politician around.
I don’t think Key is “the most honest and transparent politician around” by a long shot, but he is far from alone in being involved in doing dirty politics.
Because “Dirty Politics” was used as a partisan election campaign it has been easy to turn it back on it’s promoters, especially as they’re playing dirty against critics or criticism of their one sided approach.
Unfortunately this all leaves the issue of confronting crap and improving political behaviour still inadequately addressed.