Farrar versus Gilbert and ‘dirty politics’

A spat between David Farrar (DPF) of Kiwiblog and Dr Jarrod Gilbert continues, with connections being made to ‘dirty politics. Gilbert posted on Wednesday:

Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my own experience of Dirty Politics

In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a lot. And I mean a lot. I couldn’t prove it at the time (I can now) but because they were so obviously nonsense I called her out and said I would eat a suitcase full of carrots if she was correct.

Carrots proved to be the least of my problems. My problem proved to be the dishonest Right Wing blogger David Farrar. I initially took Farrar’s challenge in good humour thinking it would be a healthy tussle to seek the truth. It wasn’t. As we know now, he and Cameron Slater are birds of a feather, but where Slater is dim-witted Farrar is marginally smarter and this makes him more insidious.

Farrar quickly leapt to the Minister’s Defence. He was able to gain the figures – presumably from the Minister’s office – and with them he attempted to ‘prove’ that I was wrong and discredit me. Sound familiar? It was my own little experience of Dirty Politics.

Farrar responded with an apology:

Jarrod was right

September 24th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

May have some carrots to eat.

I had an exchange with in August about the proportion of crimes caused by gang members, in reference to his disputing a statement by Anne Tolley.

I blogged:

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!

Graeme Edgeler took him to task

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

You were told that at the time. In fact, you quoted Dr Gilbert and responded as follows:

What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.

So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.

What’s changed? You agreed it was an argument of definitions then, but didn’t think it mattered.

David Fisher at NZ Herald:

Minister used wrong figures on gangs

Figures used by Police Minister Anne Tolley to justify a new law tackling gangs were wrong, police admitted last night.

The error was picked up by police shortly after Ms Tolley announced the policy in the run-up to the election but it has yet to be publicly corrected.

“Our intention is to shortly publish the relevant Cabinet Paper and clarification online,” a spokesman said last night.

Ms Tolley launched the policy as a “whole of government” approach to gangs which included drug dogs at domestic transit points – airports and ferries – and a new gang intelligence centre.

Launching the policy, she issued a press release saying 4000 gang members were responsible for a crime wave, including a quarter of murders last year.

She said that during the first three months of this year those 4000 gang members commited 34 per cent of serious drug offences, 36 per cent of kidnapping and abductions, 25 per cent of robbery offences and 26 per cent of grievous assault offences.

University of Canterbury sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who challenged the figures at the time of the policy launch, was yesterday citing proof the press release was wrong.

And Gilbert countered Farrar yesterday:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the government isn’t playing dirty.

Ten minutes or so before I posted my blog yesterday proving the Police and Corrections Minister had used dodgy gang numbers, David Farrar wrote something akin to an apology on Kiwiblog for attacking me for exposing the truth. He was getting the jump on criticism coming his way.

Was this a coincidence? Of course not. He was tipped off by the Minister’s office following an inquiry by the the Herald’s ever diligent David Fisher just an hour or so before Farrar posted. Tolley’s press secretary is a man named Gillon Carruthers. Leaked emails used in Dirty Politics show that Carruthers has been providing material to Farrar’s offside Cameron Slater since 2011. Old habits obviously die hard.

And:

When I wrote in my blog that I used somebody else to send in the Official Information request because I was concerned the fact I was doing so would be leaked to Farrar or others (to whatever end), I thought I might be seen as paranoid. To be honest, I thought I might have been too. Unfortunately it appears not.

It is already quite clear that numerous people have been attacked by Slater, Farrar, often at the behest of government ministers or those working for them. This is not a small matter, it is about how we want our democracy to operate.

After the revelations of Dirty Politics, it might have been assumed these practices were halted. It seems that they haven’t been. Cameron Slater said to me last week on Twitter ‘wait until you see Dirtier Politics’. The worst, it would seem, is yet to come.

Slater has sounded unrepentant about playing dirty in between claiming to be a victim.

Farrar has pledged to clean up Kiwiblog and be more vigilant about disclosure of sources but he’s also been taken to task about this by Edgeler:

“if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary … source, I will state so when using it.” cf.

I haven’t seen a response to this from Farrar.

Some of this has been highlighted in a post at The Standard. Anthony Robins concludes:

Business as usual then (what a surprise). Expect dirty politics, and personal attacks on critics of the government, to escalate even further over the next three years.

A bit ironic considering the levels of personal attacks on critics at The Standard but fair enough holding Kiwiblog to account.

Dirty politics and personal attacks won’t stop overnight, they are ingrained practices across the political spectrum and across blogs.

Steve R also commented at Kiwiblog:

You need to do more to make up for how poorly you treated Dr Gilbert who I note you now refer to simply as “Jarrod”.

You misrepresented his position and allowed ignorant vitriol to be published whilst at the same time you suppressed counter arguments in support of his position. For instance, I wrote the post below and then watched and waited, and waited, and waited for it to be made public and funnily enough you only released it to the public well after activity on the thread had died off. If you’re going to manage your blog with such little integrity and courage then why don’t you openly label it for what it is – a gathering place for those of the right with feeble minds that cannot cope with a dissenting opinion.

My earlier post: “The one thing that Dr Gilbert has got wrong is that you deserve a reputation for honesty. You are being quite dishonest to suggest that Dr Gilbert has conceded the point, he absolutely has not. And it is utter nonsense to suggest he is wrong by simply standing by the initial apparently flawed data.

Furthermore, your refusal to accept there is a significant difference between gang members and associates betrays nothing but sheer ignorance. Having worked with gangs as a police officer (including time undercover in their midst) I can assure you that there are numerous people who are recorded as “gang associates” that have no association with “the gang” although they might have a completely non-gang related association with an individual “gang member”.

For instance, consider the co-worker who has his name taken when he gets pulled over in the company of a gang member; the person whose cousin or brother in law is a gang member (such people include policemen, lawyers and even a Judge); the tradesman who does work for a gang member etc etc. All can be recorded as “gang associates” and in the event that they commit an offence it is recorded as having been committed by a “gang associate” notwithstanding the fact there is no “gang” connection to the offence. Thus, the definitions used do matter because if the “gang problem” is wildly overstated because of a flawed nexus between offences and “gangs” then policy decisions and resource allocations are potentially misguided.”

Holding prominent political blogs and bloggers to account has become an important aspect of New Zealand politics.

It will be interesting to see how Farrar and Kiwiblog responds to what will no doubt be ongoing pressure to clean up.
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5 Comments

  1. I detest the thought that taxes are funding dickheads such as this socialist doctor. Time these academics got the eff out of our lives and did something productive to support their own. No different to Labourites,.

    Reply
  2. Goldie

     /  26th September 2014

    Pete,
    You are riding a bit of a high horse on this.

    The Minister came out with some figures on gang numbers.
    An academic, Jarred Gilbert, went public and called her on it (though frankly it seemed a pretty trivial issue to take up a Minister on – so 4000 wasn’t actual gang members but gang members and their associates – it is still a very high number).
    Farrar disputed it.
    Jarred Gilbert turned out to be right.
    Farrar apologised.
    Jarred Gilbert now writes a post squealing about “dim-witted” “insidious” Right Wing Bloggers and Dirty Politics.
    .
    This is normal healthy political debate. If Jarred Gilbert wants to enter into political debates, then fine. But part of politics is that it is robust. At the time I read Jarred Gilbert’s piece and I thought that he had written it in a very politicised tone. And a National connected blogger hit back. So what? If you want to enter a political debate, don’t act surprised if the other side hits back. It isn’t dirty politics – it is healthy politics. In my experience, amateurs (especially academics who not the most politically wise people) need to be very careful about engaging in politic spats with the professionals. Jarred Gilbert strikes me as incredibly naive.
    And as to the notion that it is “dirty politics” that politicians talk to their supporters – and the Ministers’ offices will routinely get on the phone to journalists/bloggers/whoever – how is this remotely scandalous? News flash. Ministerial offices (and opposition offices) chat and gossip to journalists, lobbyists, bloggers, supporters… Always have done, and always will. Some people need to grow up.

    Reply
  3. On the failure of dirty politics, & their continuous BLEAT of ~corruption~

    All humans are fallible & fallen by nature; all have their human failings, personal idiosyncrasies, foibles & errors of judgement.

    Thus partial corruption is a ~given~ has been for all of time, & will remain a given for as long as humans are humans. Partial corruption is something we have lived with for all of time; like we live with constant bacterial activity in home, workplace & society; WE ARE STILL HERE so it’s hardly going to kill us.

    Absolute corruption is another matter & has to be dealt with before it destroys society, yet NZ’s transparency & Constitutional systems are pretty good at inhibiting it & preventing absolute corruption from setting up house.

    Because all humans are part-fallen goods, if we elect a right leaning government is will be partially corrupt in a particular way. If we choose a left leaning government it will be partially corrupt in a different way, a centrist government partially corrupt in yet a different way again.

    We needs note while all three are differently corrupt, all three are more or less EQUALLY CORRUPT, making partial corruption, lake sharing bacteria on public bus, something we just have to live with.

    Hagar is like the compulsive-obsessive housewife, always running around looking for specks of dust, the daughters kids left hand-marks on the wall paper, my pig of a husband just dropped food on the floor. John Key just used the toilet, call the plumber; break in behind the S bend, you will be amazed at what vile things will be ~revealed~

    Yeah right, partial corruption is a given for all humans, can the sponsors of dirty politics kindly grow up & show a little ADULT MATURITY.

    Ken Maynard…. http://communichristi.org.nz/

    Reply
  1. Latest news: Friday, 26 September | Dirty Politics

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