‘Dirty Politics’ not defined by Hager

I’ve had a few discussions at The Standard on ‘Dirty Politics’ where like elsewhere some are keen to stricly define what dirty politics is and what should be excluded from any discussions.

Ironically and typically a lot of dirt was thrown my way, after this cartoon was linked and likened to Whale Oil.

I pointed out there was a difference between hacker and blogger the usual sort of attacks were started by ‘weka’:

Irrespective of whether Slater fits a techinical definition of ‘hacker’, he doxes people, which puts him in the ‘wreck innocent lives’ box (and yeah, he uses a double sided coin). He also is eyebrow deep in Dirty Pollitics, so ditto.

You, PG, are a dirty politics apologist. Which puts you in Slater’s camp by choice and intent.

Weka then started to try and define ‘Dirty Politics”:

Accusing me of playing dirty? Oh dear, you really are digging yourself a big hole here. You still don’t have a grasp of what DP is do you. Or maybe it’s just that it suits your agenda to muddy the waters and make DP mean something that everyone does, instead of the very specific actions that Slater, Key and co engage in. Which would be another tick on the list of why you’re in their camp.

I said that Hager doesn’t own ‘dirty politics’ and doesn’t get to dictate what applies to it and what doesn’t just because that’s what he named his book. Neither does his fan base.


Pete, there’s a whole book about it. If you don’t understand the difference, best stop talking about it eh.

Dude, Hager invented the term in the NZ context.

It doesn’t matter whether you agree with Hager or not, he did get to define what DP means. You on the other hand want to redefine it to suit your own agenda, which makes you a hypocrite as well as a DP apologist and trole.

“I’d prefer to address wider issues of dirty politics”

I don’t believe you. If you did actually want to do that, you would differentiate between DP and the wider issues of how politics is conducted in NZ. Instead you just want to mix it all up and pretend that everyone behaves badly just because they’re rude.


The right deiberately set about applying the term ‘dirty politics’ to anything they could after the election, to neutralise its meaning (another Crosby/Textor ploy?). ‘Miss, she pulled my hair’. Opinion polls suggest they got away with it.

Pete, you’re being a tool of miscreants if you undermine a specific term just like they have done. Find another one if you want to talk more broadly. Better still, create a new one.

From what I’ve seen there’s been more of a campaign to try and restrict ‘Dirty Politics’ to the hacker/Hager election campaign and to attack anyone who points out it’s a much wider issue.


many in the media also seek to redefine it or deliberately misunderstand it. they had many many years to write about it and define it but it is mainly a phrase only in the consciousness of kiwis cos of hagers book.

This is all nonsense. The term ‘dirty politics’ has been around probably about as long as politics.

Duncan Garner wrote Politics is a sleazy business – regardless of who is in power in August just after Nicky Hager launched his book.

It’s worth noting this shadowy attack-politics stuff is not new and not the sole domain of National.

The then Labour Party president Mike Williams took a well-publicised trip to Melbourne to dig dirt on Key ahead of the 2008 election. It backfired: Labour found nothing and subsequently dropped in the polls.

Helen Clark was probably the biggest gossip of them all when she led the country. She leaked and spread rumours about people and even those in her own team – I wonder how her private communications and those of her senior ministers would look splashed across a book. I bet it wouldn’t be pretty.

Her Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels was sacked for allegations ‘‘swirling’’ over allegedly having sex with someone under the age of consent decades previously – it was Clark and her team making them swirl.

Samuels, later exonerated by a police investigation, never got a fair hearing – the ninth floor of the Beehive killed him off. I was with him at his house the night he was sacked – he was devastated and blamed Clark for the dirty tricks.

The murky Left infiltrated a National Party cocktail function in 2008, secretly recorded MPs and leaked them (to me).

I was also involved in a series of stories about former Cabinet minister John Tamihere over financial irregularities at his previous job at the Waipareira Trust which saw him sacked as a minister. When I got home, my house had been broken into. Nothing was taken but all the windows and doors had been left open. TV3 hired a security firm to change the locks, watch my kids at school and investigate the break-in. The firm concluded that someone wanted to frighten me – and we left it there.

I also remember doing business with Labour’s chief of staff Matt McCarten in the 1990s, when he ran the Alliance. Matt was fun and charming – but let’s not kid ourselves, if anyone knew how to run a black ops sting it was him.

Senior Labour ministers and press secretaries rang to point me toward The Standard, a Left-wing blog, to read its vitriol on certain days. Who had written those posts? I’m told many were written under fake names by Labour staffers paid by the taxpayer.

My point is politics is dirty, no matter who is in power. Hager seems genuinely surprised at this. Frankly I’m surprised at his naivety.

Bryce Edwards wrote last year: Political roundup: Dirty politics means we all suffer

When dirt gets thrown around in politics, everyone involved emerges looking grubby.

That was about the Cameron Slater attacks on Len Brown just after the local body elections. Brown didn’t come olut looking very clean either.

In 2012 I posted Repeat of Labour’s dirty politics which amongst other things quoted Scott GN at 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.

And if you keep going back and back there is more and more dirty politics to find. The Sunday Star Times published Dirty politics and the world wide web just before the 2008 election.

ROCHELLE REES threw some cyber-mud at John Key on the internet “as a joke”. The Auckland computer programmer was astounded at the fuss she caused. Her “harmless little prank” got a lot of publicity and raised hard questions. Was this a case of dirty tricks in cyber-space? After all, wasn’t Rees a former Labour Party activist?

The trouble started when, she says, a newspaper journalist misquoted her as saying she had no party affiliations.

Actually, she had been on the executive of Young Labour for some months last year. “One simple Google search would be enough to bring up my party affiliations. It would be ridiculous to claim otherwise. I’m just not that dumb,” she says.

She can’t remember exactly when she quit her post on the executive, and says it’s possible she still held the post when she planted the bomb (now disabled). But she says it was all her idea and not Labour’s.

Wanganui mayor and former National MP Michael Laws:

Michael Laws says dirty tricks – false rumours, character assassination – have been common in New Zealand politics. “When I stood for National in 1990, anonymous faxes were sent to Hawke’s Bay newspapers [saying] that I’d had affairs – an affair in particular with a journalist, had made her pregnant and then left her. These were sent from post office faxes and were absolutely aimed at white-anting my campaign.”

When he worked as a researcher for National Party leader Jim Bolger he was sent to Wanganui to check out a rumour – spread by Labour as well as by disgruntled Nats – that the local National candidate, the late Cam Campion, was functionally illiterate. Both parties actively promoted rumours about the private lives of MPs on the other side. National had helped spread a rumour that Labour leader David Lange had had an affair with a woman television presenter. Labour had spread rumours about the sexual orientation of a senior National figure. “I was at a cocktail party where a Labour MP was promoting that rumour.”

He was sent to interview a prostitute in Hawke’s Bay who had allegedly claimed that three Labourites had used her services without paying.

A dirty trick is a covert act “that you would be embarrassed about if you were exposed”. When he was a National candidate, he was the target of malicious faxes sent anonymously to newspapers. And when he worked for the National Party research unit, he was involved in gathering dirt on Labour MPs. This was part of a system of deterrence and mutually assured destruction practised by both main parties, he says.

Dirty tricks – the spreading of false rumours, the destruction of rivals’ hoardings – will certainly be part of this election campaign. What is newer, however, is the use of cyberspace – and it is here that allegations of dirty tricks are freely aired.

So dirty politics goes way back with both National and Labour involved in various ways (Winston Peters is a long time pro at dirty politics too).

And bloggers have been involved for years.

The owner of The Standard website, Lynn Prentice, a Labour Party activist, computer programmer for a small Auckland company, and Rochelle Rees’s uncle, says his name has always been on the blog. But other names were kept secret partly to protect them from personal attacks. These attacks – familiar to him from other blogs – became very personal and even involved attacks on the person’s family.

The Standard was outraged in January this year when a photo of the house of John Minto – described on the site as a “socialist lickspittle” – was posted on Whaleoil. “Steady Eddy”, who posted the photo, had been stalking Minto, The Standard said. “People often ask us at The Standard why we don’t post under our real names. Tonight Whaleoil has provided a damn good answer to that question,” the site said.

There were no formal links with Labour, nor was it a front organisation for Labour, Prentice said. “I would say over half the writers are more Green than Labour. There’s a few that are obviously out of the unions. And I’m not really that interested in that. What we’re interested in is going off and writing stuff from a left perspective.”

It was possible some people in the Beehive sent material to the blog. Anyone with a public email address would find “people send you stuff if you can get it out”. What mattered with a blog, he says, is not the name of those who ran it but the quality of the material.

Prentice and Slater are still attacking each other, and their blogs are still attacking opposing parties and politicians.

Both left and right-wing bloggers accuse one another of hiding their real affiliations, and of malice. Slater’s Whaleoil blog specialises in attack videos against Labour and Helen Clark, with images of her manipulated to look ridiculous and with wounding soundtracks added, often with accusations of lying.

“I don’t think my videos are malicious,” he told the Sunday Star-Times. “For a start, I put my name to it, so everyone knows who I am, and I’m not lying about my affiliations… Yes, you could say they’re malicious in that I don’t pull any punches. I call them liars, but that’s my persona online, it’s in-your-face. I don’t see that as being malicious. If I catch out anybody as being a liar, they’re going to cop it.”

Slater has a big reputation of doing much maliciousness as well as building Whale Oil to being the biggest blog in New Zealand.

He and the well-known right-wing blogger David Farrar accuse The Standard of having undeclared links with the prime minister’s department, trade unions and Labour. They also attack a newish left-wing blog, No8Wire, on similar grounds. He and Farrar make no secret of their affiliations, he says.

Slater and Farrar have close connections with National. But the other lot are in on it too.

No8Wire was set up this year by a former employee of the prime minister’s department, Rob Salmond.

Salmond has more recently been blogging at Polity where he is open about his identity.

Dirty politics was not invented by Nickey Hager this year. I’ve been speaking and writing against dirty politics since I have been involved in politics.

And back at The Standard where they claim that John Key using a very limited range of tactics is the solely responsible for dirty politics this is the sort of response you get if you argue against them

You, PG, are a dirty politics apologist.

I’m going with PG as a DP apologist at the least, and probably a major contributor to the problem.

Pete, you’re being a tool of miscreants if you undermine a specific term just like they have done.

Liar. You don’t even understand what Dirty Politics is. Or you dissemble, because it suits your muddle of the road agenda to try and play both sides

Sorry, Sacha, I expect the tiresome lying sycophant will continue to disappoint until banned again.
(that’s from ‘One Anonymous Bloke’ one of the dirtiest regulars at The Standard)

The dirt-mongers don’t react well when their hypocracy and dirtiness is pointed out.

Dirt is still a common fall back position in political blogs.

And ‘Dirty Politics’ was not defined by Hager – to an extent he threw some dirt of his own into the election campaign. Some call him an investigative journalist while others think he is more inclined towards being a one sided and partisan hit man.

Leave a comment


  1. Kittycatkin

     /  31st December 2014

    Anyone who thinks that dirty politics are modern doesn’t know much about history-though none of us here are that naive, I imagine. Some of the c.18 cartoons-and writings-would never appear in print now, as no editor would risk it. Dirty politics have been around since politics have.

    • Yep. The word originates with Aristotle’s politika, which is based on the idea that the city-state is essential to the “good life”. Politics and statism are inseparable, and are in conflict with man’s natural state as it relates to the land as the source of his physical sustenance.

  2. Alan wilkinson

     /  31st December 2014

    Dirty politics == The Standard. Enough said already.

    2014: Voters 1, Journalists 0.

  3. I cannot be bothered with Hager and Slater anymore. They both have exactly the same personal agenda’s.

  4. rayinnz

     /  1st January 2015

    It never fails to amaze me how the Left forget, especially their own history, specifically the Clark years
    People sacked because they had National links and so it went
    Keep up the good work Peter, don’t allow them to grind you down with their pettiness

    • Thanks Ray.

      For some it’s deliberately trying to let things be forgotten.

      But amongst it there looks like a deliberate campaign to promote ‘Dirty Politics’ as dirty Key/National and to shut down any challenges to the meme.


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