Belt digs deeper

A day after it was revealed that Pete Belt, a close associate of Cameron Slater at Whale Oil, had written a review of Slaters book Dodgy Unions under the name ‘B Edwards’ at Amazon Belt has posted an explanation at Whale Oil.

The review is now deleted but this is what Belt wrote:

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

Belt gave the book a 5 star rating. The review appeared soon after the book was listed and looked obviously suspicious.

Here’s a reminder of Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

So Belt broke lame rule number 1 in CAM SLATER’S DODGY UNIONS BOOK NOW #1 BEST SELLER ON AMAZON (under a very misleading headline).

I have, of course, read the book, so I left a review on Amazon.   I didn’t create a fake account.  I put it under my own account, with my own name on it.   However, as we did that, we saw that you can have a “Screen Name” for reviews – oh what fun.   So I picked B Edwards.   B Edwards is a politically loaded name.  Brian?  Bryce?  Brent?  I knew that some people would be immediately check – is it you?  No?  How about you?

Note “as we did that, we saw that…” – Belt doesn’t explain who the ‘we’ is. He and Slater? He and Spanish Bride?

I was subsequently “busted” by some leftie sleuths who though they had ‘exposed’ me.   Oh my.  Twitter, The Blog of the Damned and other places lit up.   The outrage!    The orders!!!

It was good to see that the old Dirty Politics tricks still work. Create a bit of outrage, and the rest takes care of itself.

Odd to see Belt brag about breaking Amazon rules as “old Dirty Politics tricks’.

Yes, Belt generated publicity and probably some sales. But he also further trashed his own and Whale Oil’s reputation.

Now any positive review of anything Slater markets will be looked on with greater suspicion, now they have a proven and admitted record of deliberate deception. I’m not sure this is what Belt meant by “the rest takes care of itself”.

This increased suspicion also applies to product endorsements and enthusiastic donation comments on Whale Oil – Belt can deceive on his own blog as much as he likes, but using those same practices on sites like Amazon is not ‘Dirty Politics’, it’s ‘Very Dumb’.

In comments on Belt’s post ‘Mr Man’ asked “If your review was above board then why did you delete it?”

We didn’t want to risk sales by having a complaint lodged against it. It served its purpose.

It’s short term purpose was to deceive to sell copies of the book. It’s longer term effect isn’t so flash.

Belt explained some more in another comment:

It was in fact a real review. But I was warned that Amazon may not see it that way as I am associated with the writer (although I had nothing to do with it), so rather than give the TISOs a free stick to beat us with, thought it better removed.

The B Edwards thing was just divine inspiration. (It now says “GOTCHA!”)

So his explanation is that he was very clever.

But not clever enough to see how dumb this was. But it shouldn’t be surprising, it’s another dumb move that coincides with Belt’s involvement with and slide of Whale Oil.

An Alexa rating of Whale Oil from November 2014:

Alexa Whaleoil traffic

The dive in June July coincides with when Belt started a major purge, banning many commenters including long time loyal supporters. It bounced back up with the launch of Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ book followed by the election, but soon afterwards dived and hasn’t recovered since.

A current Alexa chart of Whale Oil:

WhaleOilAlexaOct15That sums up the Belt effect on Whale Oil, although Slater losing his mojo and his political confidants hasn’t helped.

Belt has been toxic for Whale Oil and Slater has become toxic in politics and media.

Belt’s dumb Amazon review strategy just reinforces this.

Journalist tweets a review of ‘Dodgy Unions’

Jessica Williams is radioLive political editor and has been described as (and she repeats on her Twitter profile) ‘Infuriatingly reasonable and honest’.

Last night she did a series of Tweet sized reviews of Cameron Slater’s book, ‘Dodgy Unions’.

OMG YOU GUYS LOOK WHAT I JUST GOT IN THE MAIL

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Alex makes a good point – is Cam allowed to use the coat of arms on his book that prominently?

Graeme Edgeler assured her that the use of the coat of arms was ok.

Yes he is. The Arms have not been used in a way that indicates that the book has eg the approval of the Government.

The law does not require MCH approval for all used of the arms.

Back to

I mean look at this just look at it omg you guys this is the best mail day evar

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That apparently is on the back cover. In fact there is apparently more than that:

Still promoting him self as a Dirty Politics thug, but still failing to deliver on his promise of a counter book on Hager’s ‘Dierty Politics’.

Anyway good grief i am SO looking forward to reading this. Wondering if I should take it with me to the crown accounts lockup.

Okay .. I’m going in.

It’s hard to go past the bit where Slater says Dirty Politics helped promote and expand his business. But I shall.

It’s also hard to believe that if Slater is talking about his Whale Oil business where he and Belt have been crying poor and fund raising to try and meet expenses since Dirty Politics was released last year.

Chapter 1. Cam starts by slagging off his old boss at LD Nathan. He was dirty, a thug and hated all the right things. Hm.

Cam was bullied bc he broke a strike. His work locker was vandalised! He was called a scab! Blimey

God this is all so quotable. Unionists didn’t mind being called dodgy but believe they were morally superior. WUT

“Unions, in my experience, are dodgy” (3rd mention. We are on p12).

Oh wait! Now dodgy in a different way, he says. This gon be a long night. unimpressed.

Chapter 1 ends with a plug for the tipline. Cam says he’ll raise questions the Union Movement needs to answer. Ok then.

Chapter 2. Unions get no scrutiny, Cam says. Except by members, shurely? He says unions “rape and pillage” members. Yuck.

This bit is SO GOOD I’m gonna photograph it. Discuss, show working, use extra sheet if necessary.

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“Even the Media and Parliament receive higher confidence ratings than unions”.

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I have no idea what that’s included for.

Chapter 2 ends saying union leaders don’t make vote winning politicians and “few” have taken seats from Nats

Big swig of tea and we are heading into Chapter 3 – understanding Union finances. This and the Crown accounts in one day!

So unions have lots of $, says Cam – $120m revenue – but don’t give much of it to Labour. Can’t tell if this good or bad

There are lots of figures in this bit. Lots of “left-wing commentators” pearl clutching. More tea

On to ch 4. Unions are not the same as the Labour Party, Cam says. Labour Party a poor cousin to the unions, Cam says.

Lots here about how Labour doesn’t get much $ from unions between elections. Fair. But then big rant about Lab’s bad fundraising record which seems a bit off topic to me. But hey, it’s Cam’s book and he’ll tangent if he wants to. It’s a fair point imho.

On to the unions’ role in Little’s election. (I’m stepping lightly over a v mean joke about a former MP btw. Family show).

Ok nah not that juicy. The unions had a lot of say over Little’s election. No outcry, says Cam. Funny, I remember some.

Now Cam is talking about why more unionists don’t get elected as MPs. This is a decent question. But it’s not answered.

“The best and brightest .. are either not wishing to run, or are absolutely hopeless”. See? No answer really.

WAIT I stand (sit) corrected. Unionists don’t get elected bc of “inherent lack of likability” and unpleasant campaigning.

Right. Unions and Labour agree on campaigning against Nats. Like the Corrections Assn/Davis against Serco. Take THAT.

See – I don’t see the big WTF about that. Nats work with business. Labour with unions. ‘Twas ever thus, no? ONWARDS.

Why is Labour so beholden to unions? Good question, no answer. But I BET I know who this MP is.

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Chapter 5 starts with a sledge about how the NZ political media are more willing to chase irrelevancies than do research.

Right. Now we are on to Little’s time at the EPMU. Cam explains how hard it is to find their accounts online. Hm

Cam reckons $6m went “missing” at the EPMU under Little. Ok let’s see.

And there’s just a whole heap of questions now. I *think* Cam is saying a loan was made to a body that no longer trades.

But no answers! Just questions and a spiel about democracy needing answers. It’s like Guess Who Don’t Sue.

Like – these are good questions, don’t get me wrong. But did Cam ask them of anyone? He should have, seriously.

That’s what a journalist would have done? But now he’s wearing his new ‘Author’ hat.

Ok, ch 6. Dodgy unions in Australia. “Begging the question” about whether NZ unions face the same problems (it says here).

I am a total arse I know, but “begging the question” is misused SO much and it pisses me off. Anyway. Onwards.

Ok TL;DR. Aus unions super dodgy. Are ours like this? We don’t know bc LACK OF SCRUTINY says Cam but tipline suggests so.

Chapter 7. Are we there yet? No. This is a list of questions for unions. Really.

Oh wait there are questions for the Nats! Which can be summed up as “why haven’t you crushed unions with an iron fist?!”

WAIT! Appendices!! That means the book itself is over! is bringing me a beer. Don’t worry I am still going.

Ok. Lots of figures. Specific questions for unions. Education unions get a particularly hard time.

OKAY SO if you are all still with me? I have ACTUAL RECKONS.

As many noted, the book is written in large type, double spaced. In a way that is good. Cam’s style can be, uh, intense.

I thought someone was joking when they said it was in large type, double spaced. It’s not quite double spaced but theires quite a bit of white space.

I did actually find it an interesting read. There *are* valid questions to ask about Labour and the unions and symbiosis.

And one would expect in a book about it, answers.

Problem is, the book asks questions in the hope (I guess) that someone else will answer them. The book should have.

Either that, or the Qs are there to cast a vaguely sinister light – there may be mundane reasons but we don’t know them.

I wasn’t expecting a right of reply or anything. But as a journo, Cam could put these questions himself. But he doesn’t.

This is how he frequently blogs – asks questions without finding the answers, or spinning things out so that if the answers ever appear the questioning has been forgotten.

Anyway. I do vaguely look forward to whatever Cam writes next. I just want substance, not rhetoric.

When announcing his first book (of many) Slater said it gave him the opportunity to look at issues in far more depth than on his blog.

This sounds like an extended repeat of past blog posts with more questions than answers – similar to a lot of his blogging.

As others have said it appears that once again Slater has over promised and under delivered.

He’ll find future books (if any more eventuate) a hard sell unless he substantially ups his authoring and publishing game.

If this was intended as another fund raiser I think he may be disappointed.

And the image of Slater as the big boy of Dirty Politics, the supreme shit kicker, is contradicted by the reality that looks like little more than skid marks in underpants – a bit of a smear but nothing much of substance.

Dodgy Unions – review

There is now a proper review of Cameron Slater’s book ‘Dodgy Unions’ on Amazon. John W posted a comment here:

I took the plunge purchased it, read it and reviewed it. It’s up on the Amazon page. It’s a disappointing short book, short on new info, short on analysis.

His review on Amazon:

Remarkably disappointing.
By JKastNZ on October 13, 2015
2/5 stars

Given that this book has had two reviews, one by one of the contributors of the whaleoil blog (and this review was immediately removed when its dodgy self promotion was turned into the sunlight) and now a review by someone who hasn’t yet read the book. I thought having purchased and read the book I should post a review.

Several points

– This book is very short. The description of the forthcoming print edition is 100 pages. I have 100 pages on my reader, and most of this is blank space. The formatting makes it easy to read but it has padded the page count considerably. In addition a lot of the book is self repeating. For example various unattributed quotes and messages from ‘labour party insiders’ are repeated several times adding no real value (although it does serve to extend the page count). Likewise the tables in the chapters of the book are repeated in the appendixs for no particular reason that i I can see.

– This book repeats a lot of information found at the whaleoil blog. In particular a number of comments in the book seem to be similar to what commentator wiseowl was suggesting over there about union finances (around a year ago if memory serves me correctly). The only new piece of information that I found was some comments about a $6 million dollar loan made from the EMPU to a subsidiary several years ago. If you are a whaleoil follower looking for new information this is not the book for you.

– The book is short on analysis. This is disappointing as it is billed as presenting more analysis than a blog post. Some examples – of the seven chapters, chapter 6 is entirely devoted to retelling some Union scandals in Australia. This is hardly relevant to NZ and seems like a waste of space.

There are some figures that have been pulled from the Union Accounts, and some questions (listed in question form) about these, but no detailed analysis. For example whilst pulling out the total wage bill and highlighting it from accounts has been done, there is no comparison by locating the total number of employees and then working out the average wage per employee per union, or comparing expenses to other organisations with similar turnovers.

Likewise the book makes mention of the “Equity” of unions. The author says that this he uses the word equity to refer to the “extremely large cash reserves” (Chapter 3) of the unions. This is problematic as that is not what the equity on the unions balance sheet will reflect and I’m not sure I believe the claim given the above issues that the unions looked at have cash reserves of $122 million.

There has been no consideration that the Unions may have done what my local bridge club has done and purchased a building 40 years ago (or in the union’s case several buildings) and just sat on it accumulation equity. In my experience not for profits tend to do this and wind up with a healthy dose of equity. But again this in depth analysis is missing.

– The last point I wish to make is that the book is short on attributable quotes. There are lots of unattributed stories and and comments (mostly from Labour insiders about union finances). I’m left confused as to whether this is one person, two people, more, their location in the party, etc.

In conclusion this book is short, short on new information, short on analysis, and short in actual length. It does read well (and for that it gets an additional star) but I would be hard pressed to think of a situation where I would recommend it. I’m disappointed enough to consider asking for a refund.

A response from ‘Guest’:

@John W
I read it. You were generous with your stars. Seems CS over-promised and under-delivered. Do you feel embarrassed for him?

Slater should know one of the rules of politics – under promise and over deliver. It applies to books to.

Nicky Hager promised nothing and delivered a huge blow to Slater’s club of clobberers. How many booklets will it take before Slater delivers on his promised counter punch to ‘Dirty Politics’?

Belt faked ‘Dodgy Unions’ review?

Whenever there is fund raising on Whale Oil some of the endorsements look like promotional jack ups. They can do what they like on their own blog regardless of ethics or credibility.

But faking reviews on Amazon is a different story – and it appears that the suspiciously prompt review on Cameron Slater’s book was posted by Whale Oil moderator/banner/message controller Pete Belt. This is very dodgy.

The review was under the name of B Edwards:

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

Brian Edwards, Brent Edwards and Bryce Edwards all denied it was them.

As posted at The Standard – Dodgy reviews by Natwatch – someone did a bit of simple investigating on the ‘B Edwards’. Clicking  on the profile of ‘B Edwards’ profile and then on the Public Wish List (1) link:

dodgy3

‘Keep track of Pete Belt’s Wish Lists’ is a bit of a give-away.

Deceit on Whale Oil is one thing, but deceit on Amazon is a very poor look. Apart from the deceit Amazon states in their ‘Conditions of Use’ under REVIEWS, COMMENTS, COMMUNICATIONS, AND OTHER CONTENT:

You may not use a false e-mail address, impersonate any person or entity, or otherwise mislead as to the origin of a card or other content.

Fake reviews and self promotions are a major problem on sites like Amazon (Trip Advisor has also had major problems with fake reviews). It was recently reported that Amazon was trying hard to deal with fake reviews:

Computer says no: Amazon uses AI to combat fake reviews

Amazon is using artificial intelligence to combat fake product reviews and inflated star ratings.

It is employing a new AI machine-learning system that the online retailer built in-house to boost the prominence and weight of verified customer purchase reviews, those marked as helpful by other users and newer, more up-to-date critiques on its site.

Can you trust that five-star review?

That means marketers have taken to attempting to influence star ratings, especially in the initial stages of a product going on sale on any particular site. They post fake, inflationary reviews or pay users to do so on their behalf.

The practice known as “astroturfing” – fake grassroots campaigns – is widespread across a variety of sites and services. Amazon, as one of the world’s largest online retailers, is a significant target.

Belt may have achieved what he wanted – a lot of attention to Slater’s book on Amazon.

But it appears that he is trying to cover his tracks (too late, once outed online it’s out).  Since Belt was outed the reviewer name has been changed:

DodgyUnionsGotchaChanging a fake and misleading name to ‘GOTCHA!’ is as dumb as the fake review. If he had any sense he would take down the review, but sense is obviously in short supply with him.

The user (Belt) had previously posted one review in April 2013, and another two reviews yesterday which looks like a lame attempt to cover his intent.

Now Belt has blocked access to the identifying Wish List – “This customer has chosen to hide some activity” –  but too late.

This is a sad sideshow that won’t help credibility of Slater’s first book – and any promotion or review of the book or any of his subsequent (promised) books will be looked on with suspicion.

Spanish Bride, I know you will be checking this post – taking down the review and publicly acknowledging the stupidity and apologising may repair some of the damage. Otherwise this will hover over any Whale Oil related promotion. The Internet doesn’t forget.

And a side issue – why was ‘Dodgy reviews’ posted under the occasional ‘author’ NATWATCH at The Standard? It’s fairly well known that Slater is now like a fart in a National lift.

Lastly a bit of irony – The Daily Proverb on Whale Oil today:

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.

Which B Edwards?

The first (and currently only) review of Cameron Slater’s book Dodgy Unions on Amazon:

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By B Edwards on October 11, 2015

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

This has raised some speculation on Twitter about which B Edwards.

Not moi!

Not me either.

Bryce Edwards hasn’t responded yet, but he hasn’t been on Twitter since 9th October.

UPDATE:

Bryce Edwards

Wtf! Definitely not me! It’s a conspiracy against us “B Edwards” people.

‘Dodgy Unions’ – details

The launch of Cameron Slater’s first book, Dodgy Unions, was marred by scant and sometimes misleading information about the book. Now it is available as a Kindle download from Amazon it has more details.

Dodgy Unions Kindle Edition

The Union movement has occupied a privileged position in New Zealand. It is a vastly wealthy, incredibly well resourced sector with a staggering amount of money.

The headline figures are the Union movement has combined equity of well over $120 million dollars. Unions’ revenues are over $120m per year. Unions’ wage bill is over $70m per year, meaning they have a massive and ideologically pure work force. Most unions make a significant surplus, with the Corrections Association making a surplus of almost half their annual revenue.

Unions seem to live in parallel moral universe where they can do no wrong. They escape scrutiny and live in an echo chamber. They do not realise that they are the group that New Zealand public has the least trust in. This book uses publicly available information to tell New Zealand the story of the unions financial might.

Cameron Slater is New Zealand’s most popular and most fearless political blogger. He has been blogging since 2005 and has broken numerous political stories including Mayor Andrew Williams pissing on a tree outside his offices, the Labour Party’s web site security flaw and the Len Brown Sex Scandal. In 2014 his emails were hacked and Nicky Hager wrote the book “Dirty Politics” which has helped promote and expand Cam’s political consulting and social media business.

The price is $8.79 (presumably US$).

Product details:

  • File Size: 1159 KB
  • Print Length: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Whaleoil Media; 1 edition (October 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 10, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

So at 100 pages it’s not a long read.

  • Dirty Politics is 166 pages.
  • Trinity by Leon Uris is 759 pages.
  • Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson is 270 pages (a very interesting read).

If anyone wants to read and review it I’d be happy to post here.

Dodgy book launch

Cameron Slater’s book launch occasionally appears in my Facebook feed of sponsored pages. It’s quite misleading.

Remember the photo of Nicky Hager holding up his book about me?

SlaterBooklaunchHager
Well I have my own version of that now after my book arrived from the printers.
You can order a copy from my site.

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/…/author-cam-slaters-new-book-re…/

 SlaterBooklaunchSlater

I presume he chose his own photo.

Slater had been promising to put out a book that told his side of the Dirty Politics story and it would be easy to assume that’s what this book is about from this.

But someone asked the question.

Stephen Maire
6 October at 18:53

What’s it called Cam?

Whaleoil
6 October at 18:35 

Dodgy Unions

So while it’s implicated in the promotion that it involves Hager it is not counter-attacking against him.

Also:

David Austin
6 October at 18:35

Woohoo! Already ordered my signed copy. Cannot wait!

Whaleoil
6 October at 18:59

Just wrapped your copy…will be in post tomorrow.

That was on Tuesday that books were being wrapped for dispatch, so deliveries should have been getting to their destinations yesterday or today.

I did a Google search to see whether it had been attracting much attention:

SlaterBooklaunchGoogle

I’m doing what I can to publicise it!

They don’t seem to be promoting the book any more at Whale Oil. I did a site search on “dodgy unions” and couldn’t find it.

Slater’s first book topic revealed

After putting out some teasers last week about his first book (with many more promised) Cameron Slater has revealed the title of his book which gives a bit of an idea about the subject matter.

AUTHOR CAM SLATER’S NEW BOOK REVEALED

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 7.57.14 pm

This may or may not address issues around ‘Dirty Politics’.

And that may or may not annoy people who have already ordered copies of the book.

People who have followed Whale Oil over that past few years may guess about some of the possible content as unions and their finances have been covered.

UPDATE: Slater has added this in comments:

Nicky Hager told a story about me and framed me in a certain light. That was what he wanted. It became apparent to me in researching and preparing a counter book that I couldn’t do that without first exploring what it is that drives me, how I came to be who I am and so I have and am preparing numerous books that explore those themes.

This is the first one and starts where I started…my first experiences working under unions…and how I came to distrust and dislike unions and why. This is the first time unions have had the microscope put on them…what we have found is interesting.

So Slater has linked this to his promised Dirty Politics counter revelations by saying it explores what drives him and he is “preparing numerous books that explore those themes”. It could take quite a while and quite a few books to get to the actual Dirty Politics counter story then.

I presume this isn’t aimed at being a money making venture with more instalments than Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, the box office appeal is substantially lower than  for a fantasy fight fest series.

ANOTHER THOUGHT: Commonly quote in politics – under promise and over deliver. Slater has been promising a counter to Dirty Politics for a year or more, and his first book at least seems like a major under delivery.