Repeat of Labour’s dirty politics

There are still serious questions that need answering regarding Kim Dotcom, the GCSB, and John key’s involvement. But once again this has been overshadowed by David Shearer’s inept attempt at a political hit job on Key. After earlier claiming he would not stoop to gotcha politics Shearer attacked using a tactic used by Labour repeatedly.

Labourites try to claim they are ‘holding Government to account’ but it’s obvious their main motive is to destroy political careers and if possible bring down the government by any means, fair or foul. I think this destructive politics needs to be held to account.

I’ve often heard the tactics discussed. For example:

Trevor Mallard ‏@TrevorMallard

yep “@KimDotcom: It’s not the original scandal that gets people into the biggest trouble – it’s the attempted cover-up. Be honest. Be fair.”

Except that honesty and fairness get trampled by ‘any means possible’ – they think that the cause justifies any means.

And from The Standard:


Nice try Matthew. But you’re wrong. There doesn’t have to be a video. There simply needs to be an ‘idea’ planted into the public mindset. And that has happened. Dotcom has become toxic for this government. Key’s numbers are falling all over the place and that, sir, is the name of the game.

So the ‘name of the game’ is:

  1. Raise an issue with as much attention seeking as possible, facts and evidence handy but anything that works will do.
  2. Put pressure on the target hoping they will react badly or make a damaging mistake.

Labour have been playing this ‘game’ repeatedly this year, including:

  • The Mallard and Little attack on Judith Collins ( where Collins called them on it and currently challenged by court action)
  • Cosgrove, Chauvel and Labour activists targeted Peter Dunne over his support of the MOM bill but this was  exposed as factually incorrect (possibly knowingly/dishonestly)
  • Multiple attacks on John Banks (where Banks obliged by stuffing up his responses and enabling a successful hit).
  • David Shearer’s GCSB video attack this week that at this stage appears to be a poorly executed and damaging failure.

This has all been going on under Shearer’s leadership, despite Shearer’s claim in February:

Labour leader David Shearer is poised to deliver a rolling series of speeches setting out his vision for the country – and has made it clear he won’t be pressured into changing his leadership style.

“I’m not the kind of leader who believes in rival tribes playing ‘gotcha…

Shearer appears to have drastically changed his leadership style, but it’s not known if this was under pressure or voluntary.

These all contrast with genuine holding to account, for example:

  • Phil Goff exposing Murray McCully’s restructuring fiasco at Mfat
  • Chris Hipkins probing Hekia Parata over her mishandling of Christchurch school closure proposals.

Political hit jobs aren’t confined to the Labour Party. Winston Peters is well known for his many attempts. Dirty tricks seem to be accepted by some politicians and also by journalists, for example Fran O’Sullivan in her Herald column today:

Labour leader David Shearer has forgotten – if he ever knew – Rule Number One of political scandal-mongering.

If the videos did exist, the Labour leader’s team should have made sure they had a copy locked away ready to be unveiled the moment Shearer had trapped John Key into making a denial. This is school for scandal 101.

Journalists like the juicy stories that can come out of dirty politics and seem to accept standard politics.

But attack politics, especially when blatantly dishonest tactics are used, is widely despised outside the political and media bubbles. It is probably the biggest reason why the reputation of politicians in general is so poor.

Politicians are seen as worse than kids fighting in a playground – it’s much nastier, and they are supposed to be running the country, not running everything and everyone down.

It’s not just despised on the outside. A number of MPs also express disgust at some of the individual and party antics and behaviour. I’ve had direct contact with MPs who hate the worst (and often the most prominent) of politics.

Nasty and destructive politics is similar to drunk driving and child abuse – the offenders will continue making a mockery of decent democracy unless they are confronted and held to account.

A minority of politicians and a minority of journalists are most to blame for the worst of it, but the rest of us need to speak up and stand up against deliberately destructive politics.

Political behaviour needs to be held to account.

Leave a comment


  1. robertguyton

     /  13th October 2012

    “Political behaviour needs to be held to account.”

    Key’s political behaviour is having the spotlight shone on it, Pete.

    What do you think it’s revealing?

    Has Key been honest or not?

    • Specifically or generally?

      On this he sounds plausible, saying he can’t recall mentioning Dotcom in one of his many regular speeches. Most people can identify with not remembering everything they said eight months ago.

      And it’s fair enough that he’s not buying into Shearer’s entrapment attempt which I think will appear to many people as clumsy – I know some people who have rolled their eyes at it.

      Apart from u-turning on his earlier assurances he wouldn’t resort to gotcha politics Shearer has a major problem with this sort of attack – he doesn’t seem comfortable doing it. He appears to be acting under tuition and instruction but his heart doesn’t seem in it. Goff suffered from this body language versus verbal conflicts too, although he was more practised at negative politics.

  2. Fran O'Sullivan

     /  13th October 2012

    Pete – My column is about substantiating an alleged scandal – that is not a dirty trick.

    • Fran, I didn’t intend to imply your column was a dirty trick, it makes the point that if someone is promoting a supposed scandal they should at least back it up with evidence.

      But you do talk as if you are normalising scandal making as if it’s an accepted part of politics, just part of the game. Many people outside the political bubbles are fed up with destructive politics, as are some MPs (I suspect more than those who think they must scandal make).

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  13th October 2012

      Fran – as a some-time consumer of the mainstream media, it seems to me that the instinctive reaction of the modern media is to run with the alleged scandal – plenty of sensationalism to keep the ratings up that way – and only once the fuse is well alight, to then start digging below the surface to explore whether there’s any substance to the allegations of scandal… wouldn’t it be more credible for the media to investigate before lighting the blue touch paper?

      • Very good point Joe. But I think that question would be better directed at visual media with a focus on 6 pm and 7 pm. Not that you could expect an answer.

  1. Labour tactic continued… « Your NZ

Leave a Reply to Pete George Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s