NZ First proxy voting for Jami-lee Ross

Winston peters has announced that NZ First will proxy vote for Jami-lee Ross in Parliament in his absence – the vote will be the same as the national party vote. Peters has claimed it is for democratic integrity and ensuring Ross’ electorate gets a vote in Parliament, but that sounds bogus. The vote will make no difference to anything.

Peters said that NZ First whips were asked ‘weeks ago’ by Ross and have just agreed to vote on his behalf, despite Peters saying that Ross should resign.

It does nothing to give Botany voters representation in Parliament – only Ross can do that, or better, by resigning someone with a mandate could do that.

Peters may think this is getting one over National but it just makes him and NZ First look stupid.

Peters sounded grouchy when interviewed on Checkpoint trying to explain this.

 

National rejects proxy vote offered by Jami-Lee Ross

Now-independent MP Jami-Lee Ross offered his proxy vote to National on Wednesday:

…but this has been rejected by National.

Stuff:  National rejects proxy vote offer from MP Jami-Lee Ross

In a statement, a spokesman said: “The National Party will not be casting Jami-Lee Ross’s proxy vote.

“Mr Ross is no longer a National MP, having been expelled from the Caucus on 16 October and resigning his membership of the National Party on the same day.

“The Party’s decision not to accept his vote is unrelated to the waka jumping legislation. No decision has been made on that.”

Sources close to Ross say he received the letter Thursday but was not intending to take any immediate action.

The letter arrived while Ross is on mental health leave, after earlier suffering a breakdown over allegations about his treatment of women.

Ross was later expelled from the caucus after leader Simon Bridges accused him of leaking details of his travel expenses.

The letter from party whip Barbara Kuriger informed Ross that he must confirm with the Speaker that he was no longer a member of the National caucus.

National don’t need his vote as they are a few short of causing any problems for the Government (they have 55 of the 120 seats after ejecting Ross from their caucus).

I think it is understandable that they don’t feel inclined to vote on behalf of Ross after he created chaos in the party and openly and extensively attacked party leader Simon Bridges.

Will Ross offer his proxy vote to ACT? I don’t know what other options he has. He may be left entirely on his own in Parliament. He may also have trouble finding willing staff.

Marama Davidson claims to have ‘outed’ anonymous donations

Green co-leader Marama Davidson has received support (and some criticism) after she claimed to have outed anonymous donations made to the National Party. These are donations that were disclosed by National by April in accordance with electoral law.

Davidson:

I’ve called for ALL parties to bring public confidence back to our system and step up to tighter rules. The vast majority of our donations were less than $100 (over 85%) and the ave amount was 48 bucks.

I don’t know that the public cares much about party donations.

Greens get a lot of small donations – they regularly ask for small donations from supporters. But I’m not sure why they feel that larger donations should be more strictly controlled.

There is a chance that large donors expect something in return from the parties they donate to. I’m sure that unions who make large donations to Labour hope for union friendly legislation from a Labour led government.

Greens focus on small donations – but they also use their donor and support base to lobby, via petitions, via bulk submissions. What is the difference apart from their method? Greens may in fact be using donors directly in their lobbying more than some big business donors.

Yesterday Davidson followed up, claiming to have ‘outed’ National:

Davidson has claimed to have ‘outed’ donation information that was filed by April this year with the Electoral Commission, and is easy to see here:

https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/bulk-upload/documents/national_party_-_annual_return_2017.pdf

A Green Party media release from Davidson: $3.5 million in anonymous donations to National in 2017, it needs to be fixed

Over $3.5 million in anonymous donations to the National Party in 2017 shows why we urgently need donations reform in Aotearoa New Zealand, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today.

“$3.5 million in anonymous donations is a huge sum of money, it is unlikely this is made up of coins or small notes dropped in a bucket of given at a bake sale.

“This spells out powerful vested interests tipping huge amounts of money into the coffers of the National Party, hiding behind anonymity.

“With this scale of funding comes influence, and at the moment we don’t truly know who these powerful vested interests are that are influencing our politicians. Our Parliament is ripe for influence by big corporations, and potentially corruption.

“It needs to end. After this past few weeks it is clearer than ever that New Zealanders want big money out of politics. It is time for our Parliament to be returned to the community.

“The Green Party are calling for anonymity to only be maintained for donations under $1000. This means that small donations at local fundraisers aren’t mired with red tape, but also means politicians will find it much harder to hide donations from powerful vested interests”.

In other words, she wants to protect the Green way of fundraising but wants to restrict the way other parties fundraise. Given that this would impact on Labour and NZ First as well as National I doubt that she will get much support.

It seems to be more ‘Green way or the highway’ anti-big business rhetoric.

Whale Oil at further risk over JLR fallout

Whale Oil is risking a further slide from influence and credibility in the fallout over the Jami-Lee Ross saga, with Cameron Slater threatening to run an attack campaign against Simon Bridges and national MPs and party officials. This is a continuation of a bitter war Slater has waged since he was ostracised and isolated from the party.

Whale Oil has slumped in influence, and it has also been sliding in support. This latest hissy fit is likely to drive more people away from the blog, at a time that Slater is trying to raise donations and revenue to pay for what be large and growing legal bills as a result of past campaigns of attack that have resulted in defamation actions against Slater.

Whale Oil grew to be the biggest political blogging and social media presence in New Zealand, peaking in 2014 before two major changes – first due the purges of commenters through the middle of the year to try to impose control and threats over messaging, and then the publishing of Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ in August.

WO has stumbled and fallen since then.

Most of the time now Slater seems barely interested or involved, posting a couple of token cut and paste moans a day. Most of the blog is now dominated with click bait filler, apart from the fund raising advertisements.

It is hard to know what WO site statistics are doing but they must be waning. A slump in the number of comments is noticeable, which suggests the support base is dwindling.

As well as being a shadow of his former blogging status Slater has kept annoying his base. He raised eyebrows and ire with his campaign against National through last year’s election campaign.

Slater was frequently questioned and criticised for his support of Winston Peters in what must be one of the most remarkable switches in support in New Zealand politics. Prior to this Peters had been a frequent target of Slater.

It seemed that Slater saw a rise in NZ First as the best way of dumping on National. It also coincided with Slater being represented in his defamation trial versus Colin Craig by Winton’s lawyer.

Since last year’s election Whale Oil has been reinvented as a multi author magazine style site with a bare minimum input from Slater. Numbers that matter seemed to be down but it chugged away with some remaining community support.

But last week on the bck of the Ross saga Slater re-emergence as a bitter opponent of Bridges, Paula Bennett, John Key, Bill English and just about everything National. He tried to distance himself from what Ross was doing, but has given contradictory signs of how closely he has been involved there.

In the weekend when he threatened to revive his war against National this week there was noticeable opposition in comments (there was some support but some of that at least looked like manufactured sock puppet support).

A slump in comment numbers suggests that WO support has taken another hit.

This isn’t good timing for attempts to boost site revenue that appears to be required to foot the growing legal bills. The Craig v Slater judgment is still not out (but lawyers tend to want their bills paid). Slater was back in court early this month after he ran out of delaying efforts in the defamation case Matthew Blomfield took against him.

Indications are that this didn’t go well for Slater and his company (Social Media Consultants are co-defendants). Slater has been publicly quiet about the outcome, which is a sign that things didn’t go well. The pre-trial confidence of ‘Bill Brown’ has dissipated. The trial was set down for 4-6 weeks, but it appears to have been over in about a week. These are all signs that the legal stress has ramped up.

So annoying remaining supporters is going to make things tougher, especially as more of them wake up to the bullshit and lies Slater has been spinning.

On Kiwiblog yesterday David Farrar suggested the opposite to Slater in Maybe time for media to pause also but more telling were some of the comments that would not be allowed on WO:

“However, Cam Slater has promised that there will be more action this week. I hope this is just his usual empty bluster.”

“I hope they pause today and realise nothing good comes of what is now looking like Slater’s personal vendetta against National with JLR as his and Lusk’s mouthpiece.”

“Yes, WhaleOil seems determined to bring down Simon Bridges. My opinion of Slater has sunk further after this sorry saga.

“As has mine and also that of his wife, who I used to think of as the sensible one in the marriage. After her weekends efforts on Twitter I see she is just as bad.”

“As an avid supporter of WO for a long time, I will not be contributing, or reading it again either.”

“I used to be a regular WhaleOil reader and considered Slater to be trustworthy and politically astute. I came very close to donating money to him. However, various things slowly turned me off. The final straws were the insane UN Resolution 2334 campaign and the NZ First endorsement.”

“When key left and Collins was not nominated as leader he just went into meltdown for no other reason that English was in the party when his father was kicked out, it has moved from an actual right wing political site to a more left wing site of ‘lets show the bastards I’m not to be ignored’ anti national site. And the site commentators dare not tell him him he is wrong or they will be banned. His site is quickly slipping into irrelevance.”

“WO must have got up this morning and sucked on half a dozen lemons because hes back at it this morning slagging off the National Party.”

“I for one will no longer give his rants my eyeballs and thus the clicks he so desperately desires.”

“Blinded by Utu – regardless of whether there was proximate cause several years ago is still blinded.

Slater has lost my respect – and I am someone who funded his court case and put a couple of hundy his way to help the blog a year or so back.

Maybe I am a slow learner and he was always a vicious nutter, but I thought he was a refreshing antidote to the PC bollox on the MSM.

Maybe he will be again one day, but this third rate attempt to create an Iago to take down National is just cretinous.”

“Yes and their Leader blubber is trying to turn it into a cult with his lies and innuendo, you only have to read the dozen or so posts on backchat by this idiot to see how most of the deluded followers jump in behind and praise his demented agenda. How the NZ Media can take comments from a person like this just show how immoral corrupt they are.”

Most of the media now ignore Slater, but he may have got some utu support from RNZ – see Slater threatened retribution for JLR, RNZ delivers.

But this is likely to help drive WO into irrelevance.

Yesterday Slater posted another anti-National moan: Of course they won’t use the waka jumping law, they’d confirm what a bunch of hypocrites they really are

Typically ironic Slater says in comments:

Amazing how quickly one can sell out their principles isn’t it?

Another commenter:

I don’t think journalists will be digging up much in the forseeable future. There’s total silence in the msm while Mr Ross focuses on his recovery. And it would be inappropriate for National to take any action while Mr Ross is resolving his own issues.

That’s ironic given Slater’s promise to dig and dish dirt. Another commenter:

Why would anyone want to do a`deal` with a person who has the propensity to wake up one morning and throw all the toys out of the cot, destroy his family due to his weaknesses and show neither trust or integrity in both personal and professional life? You sure as hell would not want someone like that standing behind you in the trenches.

Slater responded:

You really don’t know what you are talking about. You are only going on information that was fed tot eh media, designed to push people like you into a place where you only believe what you have read, Why don’t you pause and work out why it is that someone would have gone nuclear. Perhaps they had no more choices, they knew they were being lined up and did whatever it took. Think about that for a minute.

Trying to claim Ross is a victim with no choice but to lash out. But Slater has a long record of claiming the opposite of truth and reality.

The numbers say quite a bit. That looks like Slater’s main post on JLR yesterday. 42 comments.

The Kiwiblog JLR post had 171 comments.

Uncharted Waters at The Standard, 174 comments.

Even on this little blog Jami-Lee Ross ‘improving’, uncertainty over future has 78 comments.

In inverse proportion to the level of Slater whining Whale Oil was already waning. They may survive, at least until a defamation judgment hits them financially, but the Whale is sliding into further irrelevance as they annoy even those supporters who held on for years.

Slater on Whale Oil had already largely become Wail Oil, but now seems more like Whimper Toil.

Colmar Brunton poll – October 2018

Colmar Brunton were polling for 1 News as the Jami-Lee Ross mess unfolded last week, so it is  snapshot of support that won’t give anything like a clear indication of ongoing effects on party support.

But it is what it is, at a volatile time.

  • Labour 45% (up from 42%)
  • National 43% (down from 45%)
  • Greens 7% (up from 6%)
  • NZ First 5% ( no change)
  • ACT 0% (down from 1%)
  • Maori Party 1% (no change)

This looks remarkably not bad for National considering the week from hell they have just been through – but it may be too soon to measure the full effect of all of this.

The poll was conducted from Monday to Friday (15-19 October 2018).

The last poll was taken from 28 July to 1 August 2018.

Since the election up until this poll Colmar Brunton had:

  • National 46%, 43%, 44%, 45%, 45%
  • Labour 39%, 48%, 43%, 43%, 42%
  • Greens 7%, 5%, 6%, 5%, 6%
  • NZ First 5%, 2.6%, 5%, 4.2%, 5%

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 42%
  • Simon Bridges 7%
  • Judith Collins 5%
  • Winston Peters 4%

Last poll details and polling history since the election.

Slater threatens to continue Ross attacks on National

A hope that Cameroon Slater gets a chance to step back and reflect on what has been a tumultuous week for Jami-Lee Ross, whose attacks on Simon Bridges and National led to him being sectioned into mental health care.

In the heat of the moment yesterday Slater threatened to continue attacks on National this week. This could put his own situation under further stress.

Slater:

Not after developments today, where it will come out that he ignored medical advice and hounded a man to make an attempt on his life. He’s done, and I will make sure he never leads anything ever again,Paula Bennett is toast too.

Stop being heartless. It is very serious, i have been working on this since the early hours of the morning. I am rather humourless after finding out what I have found out about how National ignored medical warnings. So by all means joke about mental health but you won’t stay long.

They are. They are callous. They will do whatever it takes to stop him revealing all their rooting

It was never ‘rooting’ that was the problem. It was alleged harassment.

That disgusted me utterly knowing a few more details than what they are letting on.

Bridges and Bennett were well aware of the issues and implications and yet both decided to throw Ross under the bus. Moreover they lied about what they knew when and in fact orchestrated the Newsroom story with at least on of the first four being inveigled by Bennett more than a week before the hit job ran.

They very nearly had blood on their hands.

Watch what comes out over coming days.

It got very ugly when Ross was under extreme pressure. Slater could continue that ugliness in attempted retribution.

The part he has played in the attacks on Bridges, Bennett, Goodfellow and National is unknown, but now he has shown he is closely involved with Ross in the weekend at least there is a risk he will replicate the self destruction.

People who have been supporters and associates of Slater in the past appear aghast at what unfolded over the last week. Slater could isolate himself even more.

Slater has made it clear since ‘Dirty Politics’ broke in 2014 that he holds a major grudge against National, against John Key, Bill English, Paula Bennett and since he became leader, Simon Bridges.

He has given indications over the last few days that he wants them and National trashed. He risks further trashing what reputation he may have remaining, and potentially, like Ross, his own health.

I hope Slater is getting good support, and also good advice. Whether he can heed good advice is another matter.


Update: in a new post this morning Slater has confirmed what I think he had denied – that he has been working “to help Jami-Lee Ross” – National’s hit job puts JLR into care

Yesterday was a rather stressful day for me. I and a good friend have been working constantly over the last few days to help Jami-Lee Ross, who was to us clearly in distress. On Saturday night things took a turn for the worse and we received a text message at 0400 that indicated he was in care and not by choice.

National has zero concerns, they were told what might happen and they went ahead anyway. They had the hit locked and loaded.

The truth will come out. There are too many moving parts for it not to come out and people are going to be appalled. Not all those stories are true, they just used the #MeToo smearbook to get Jami-Lee Ross.

Slater then makes some allegations and insinuations.

That doesn’t pass the sniff test. What we have witnessed here is a continuation of the nasty way in which National rinses someone that is a risk to the leadership. It goes back years.

Right now I am more concerned about my friend who is hurting.

Other media are following the trail of destruction that the leadership of the National party has overseen. Let’s hope that sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant. I’m just picking up the information from what they are saying and asking me. It seems they are asking the right questions.

Answers from Slater have proven to be unreliable in the past. He has clear destructive motives when it comes to National – much like Ross.

Slater in comments:

I’m also not blaming National for Jami-Lee Ross’s actions. He has to own those. But I do blame National and their leadership for creating the monster. Someone had to reward him for his work, promote him for his work and enable him. Those people were the senior National party leadership from John Key, to Bill English, to Paula Bennett, to Steve Joyce, to Simon Bridges.

He didn’t get to where is is today without enablers.

And:

Nice sentiment, but he didn’t learn his behaviour all by himself. Yes he is responsible for his own actions but his enablers over the years need to also be held to account.

You realise you’ve fallen into the position National want you to. JLR is scum because he did these awful things…nothing to see here…JLR is scum.

They want you to believe this so they can continue sailing on wrecking peoples lives.

This seems highly hypocritical given that Slater and Simon Lusk enabled Ross to win selection for a safe National seat.  And it’s unlikely that’s where their ‘enabling’ ended.

And given both Slater and Lusk being on record as saying they enjoy the thrill of wrecking people’s lives.

Again:

You know not which you speak of. Just wait and watch what happens this week.

Slater seems intent on continue the Ross train wrecking attempt of National.

I wonder how much of Slater’s emotion is due to the failure of the Ross (and possibly Lusk) plan to set bridges up and oust him.

 

What sort of truce could National and Ross have?

There have been some calls for some sort of a truce between National and Jami-Lee Ross. After what has happened this week what sort of a truce would be possible? Could Ross be trusted anyway?

And some scepticism is warranted given who is calling for a truce. Ross has little if anything to negotiate with, and national would be taking a huge risk if they gave anything to Ross now.

Cameron Slater: Farrar follows my lead and calls for a truce, pity is the party appears to want to destroy itself

The other day I suggested a truce, or the intervention of a third party to sort out the mess inside National.

National would be wise to get someone to broker a peace treaty with him before they lose most of their front bench.

Now David Farrar has suggested the same thing:

National has no good options in dealing with JLR. The question is which is the least bad option.

Of course the best way out would be a truce. If somehow JLR and National can find a way forward that would be a good thing. But the problem is that JLR has so damaged himself I’m genuinely not sure what National can do to reverse the harm he caused himself. But if he has a proposal, then it should be considered.

Sadly, it appears that National wants to burn itself to the ground.

It seems to be Ross who is the one lighting fires and pouring petrol on them.

Paula Bennett, it seems, is behind the spreading of the lurid smears to Newsroom.

Actually it seems to be Slater who is trying to spread lurid smears, including about Bennett, someone he has been trying to discredit and smear since she became deputy leader and longer.

Newsroom have made it clear their year long investigation into Jami-Lee Ross was independent – and if Ross hadn’t gone ‘rogue’ their revelations when they published them would have put a lot of pressure and responsibility on National and Bennett,

Wise heads in National need to prevail. They should take up David Farrar’s suggestion and my suggestion and start talking to each other instead of past each other.

But Ross has backed himself into a very tight corner. He would presumably want something from a truce, but what could National offer? It would be extremely damaging to the party if they did anything but act strongly against what Ross has been doing and says he will continue to do.

If Bridges compromises now in his approach to Ross I think his leadership will become untenable. Perhaps that’s what Slater is trying to manipulate.

Slater wanted Bridges to fail in his leadership bid, and he has tried to discredit and smear Bridges since he became leader.

He is as trustworthy as Ross.

Proposing a truce between Ross and National should be viewed with a lot of suspicion. If it is a genuine attempt to broker a deal it suggests that Ross has few other options but to try to negotiate a truce, or keep digging the bloody great hole he has dug for himself.

But National would be taking a huge risk if they are seen to be doing anything to help Ross.


There’s quite discussion on this at WO. A number of comments point out the obvious risks to National of any compromise with Ross.

2eyesee:

I feel that JLR is such damaged goods that any form of truce would be even more damaging to National. Such a truce would publicly legitimise JRL as part of the National Party, and I don’t think National can afford that association.

If they can’t cut JRL loose, the next best option is for him to remain a pariah. Each new conversation release is attracting less and less interest, and he’ll become largely ignored before long.

spanishbride/Slater’sBride:

Really? Every single unfaithful politician and journalist is sweating bullets right now. They broke a long standing rule of politics which was to NEVER report on affairs. Forget the political revelations, if they do not make peace with him he can return the favour and do to them all what they did to him.

2eyesee:

Extramarital affairs between consenting adults is not the issue here – it’s JRL’s abuse of power and bullying behaviour. If National came to a truce with JRL it would be legitimising that behaviour, which would be very damaging for National.

spanishbride/Slater’sBride:

A truce does not mean taking him back. It means a quiet behind the scenes exit

And trust Ross, who has already shown he is willing to record ‘quiet behind the scenes’ conversations and use them to threaten and make false claims?

I think that spanishbride may have been sucked in by someone here into promoting a truce that is likely to be an attempt to compromise bridges even more than he is now. If any secret scheme to try to silence Ross came out Bridges would be right where Slater wants him, out of the leadership.

Problems for National as J-LR fallout continues

National have a number of problems in the Jami-Lee Ross aftermath (or ongoing attack), so I’ll put some in one thread.

A move by Judith Collins?

‘Cash-for-candidates’ claims and party funding

The Jami-Lee Ross saga has raised to issue of whether candidates can influence candidate selections with donations.

I think that Colin Craig’s and Gareth Morgan’s money may have influenced their candidacy, but they are extreme examples.

It is difficult separating financial interests from political interests these days. Prospective candidates wanting to stand especially for National or Labour and especially for an electorate need to be in a position job-wise and financially to spend months campaigning, likely for more than one election.

It seems common for both the large parties to give first time candidates a go at a hopeless (for the party) electorate before earning their right to stand in a winnable electorate .

NZ Herald: National Party denies cash-for-candidates policy

The taped conversation between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross is opening the National Party to accusations of a cash-for-candidates policy, prompting the Green Party to call for sweeping changes to political donations.

Despite Ross’ comments on the recording, Bridges said this morning that he did not believe they discussed candidacy at the dinner.

“This was a very convivial dinner and we did not discuss that.”

He denied National Party list places were for sale.

“We have incredibly robust processes to become a Member of Parliament. It involves selection processes and competition … and what that’s about is the best man or woman winning the job on their merits.”

They do have contested selections, but that doesn’t rule out influence for a variety of reasons. And it doesn’t rule money (costs) being involved. Some National MPs have paid Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater to enhance their selection prospects, or probably more accurately, paid to fuck over opponents.

His comments were supported by National MP Melissa Lee, who said: “I did not pay to actually get here, and I don’t think anyone else has either.”

But it will have cost them money and probably also lost earnings opportunities, that’s the reality of modern democracy.

I think the Greens have always been opposed to big business donations.

But Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said the recording suggested that National list positions could be bought.

She said the current law allowed too much room for anonymous donations, and New Zealanders deserved to know who was trying to buy influence.

“It could be oil and gas. It could be tobacco lobbying. The Greens have an ethics committee to approve all donations over $5000. We will not accept – and have refused in the past – any donations that don’t sit with our charter.

I don’t think any party will want to be seen to have accepted unethical donations.

“It’s very clear that at the moment we are a bit ripe for corruption, and this is why the Greens are calling for powerful vested interests and big money to get out of influencing political parties.”

Large donations for The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand include:

  • Philip Mills $65,000 (November 2016)
  • James Jenkins $30,080 (April 2015)
  • Spoon Limited $48,295.40 (August 2014)

Should it be assumed that they are not trying to buy influence? If so, should it be assumed that any large donation is not designed to buy interest unless proven otherwise?

Another donation to the Greens:

  • Estate of Elizabeth Beresford Riddoch $283,835.99 (August 2016)

It would be safe to assume that a dead person couldn’t demand influence, wouldn’t it?

NZH:  Greens say big donation a mystery

The Green Party has received its largest ever donation, and says it knows nothing about the donor.

The party declared a donation of $283,835 last week from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Did they do a full ethics check first?

Helm said most of the Green Party’s fundraising was based on small, regular payments.

“We do have a quite comprehensive fundraising programme but a large bequest like this is extremely unusual for us.

“We tend to get a lot of small and medium-sized donations from people who perhaps have some disposable income but aren’t the very wealthy in society.”

So there could be some self interest involved trying to curb large donations when their own donations are mostly small and medium sized. As all the Green economy companies grow and thrive what if they offer to donate to the Green Party? Would that be seen as unethical?

Davidson called for sweeping changes, including removing anonymity for donations over $1000, capping individual donations at $35,000, banning overseas donations and increasing public money for campaigning.

They want state funded political parties. There’s a real danger that would favour parties already in Parliament, like the advertising funds dished out for election campaigns.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters disagreed.

“I don’t believe the taxpayer should be funding political parties to the degree that the Green Party says. The reality is, if you’ve got a consumer demand politically, people out there will back you.”

He said New Zealand First had never taken money in exchange for political influence, but the recording told a different story for National.

“It’s clear from those tapes that the National Party has a cash-for-candidates policy.”

It wasn’t clear.

What is clear is how brazen Peters is claiming “New Zealand First had never taken money in exchange for political influence”. It is unlikely to be a pure coincidence that fishing and racing donors to NZF happen to be pleased about the policies that Peters coincidentally gets pushed through as a priority in their coalition arrangements.

Party donations will always be contentious. And cast aspersions of influence will always be a weapon used by opponent parties.

Attack on Bridges, attack on National part of a bigger strategy?

Are we witnessing a planned strategy to get Simon Bridges dumped, disrupt and split National, Trash National’s healthy polling, drive a wedge between National and Chinese and Asian voters to open the way for a Jami-Lee Ross win in the Botany by-election (an electorate with a lot of Asian constituents)?

After two days of all out attack on Bridges and the National Party by Jami-Lee Ross (and, it seems, shadowy political mercenary Simon Lusk) I felt that if this is how dirty politics gets I didn’t want to be a part of it, even from my remote interest. I wondered whether i should just pack up and walk away from political discussion.

Bridges was always struggling as leader, and this attack may destroy his chances of becoming Prime Minister. On it’s own forcing him out and forcing National’s hand on getting a new leader may do National a favour , except that Ross/Lusk are also waging a war on National.

Ross and Lusk are attacking democracy – I think that most people will deplore this sort of attack politics, and it is likely to turn even more people away from having an interest in politics and from voting.

But I’m going to keep at it, because I suspect this is a part of the Ross/Lusk plan (I don’t know how involved Lusk is but to me this has his modus operandi and goals written all over it), and I think that needs to be confronted.

It looks like current onslaught may have been planned for some time. It may have began months ago after Plan A, for Ross to be rewarded with helping Bridges win the leadership with extraordinary power, as suggested by Richard Harman at Politik:

POLITIK is independent; no ads, no sponsors and no corporate owners. Instead it relies on subscriptions. That’s why it is a breach of copyright to copy an article. You may, however, share it through email, Facebook or Twitter.

A failed near megalomaniac grab for power appears to be the real reason that Jami Lee Ross fell out with National Leader Simon Bridges.

POLITIK has learned that Ross sought big rewards for his support for Bridges during the National Party leadership contest in February.

POLITIK is independent; no ads, no sponsors and no corporate owners. Instead it relies on subscriptions. That’s why it is a breach of copyright to copy an article. You may, however, share it through email, Facebook or Twitter.

(from http://politik.co.nz/en/content/politics/1452/How-ambition-brought-down-Jami-Lee-Ross-Jami-Lee-Ross-Simon-Bridges-National-Party-National-Party-caucus-suspension.htm)

So when Bridges won, he moved to claim his reward.

POLITIK has learned from multiple party and caucus sources that Ross wanted to be Shadow Leader of the House; Chief Whip and to sit on the front bench.

Along with those posts he also also wanted to be on the party board and to be in charge of party polling. In effect, he would have been a quasi-deputy leader with as much power as the leader himself.

Bridges said no and thus appears to have provoked Ross’s campaign against him.

That was in February. We now know that Ross was recording private conversations with Bridges in May. The recording that Ross has already released has hints of being a set up with the intention of using it later against Bridges.

Ross’ involvement in obtaining and dealing with donations in association with Bridges could feasibly also have been a part of the set up.

Then there was the leak of bridges expenses on August 13. The motive at the time was puzzling as the expenses were due to be released publicly on August 15 anyway. It seemed most likely to be a deliberate attempt to undermine Bridges – not by revealing information that would be made public anyway, but through the act of leaking to demonstrate instability in the National caucus and lack of confidence in Bridges’ leadership.

Following that were the multiple leak inquiries began, and on August 16 a text sent to Bridges, the Speaker and Newshub reporter Tova O’Brien on August 16, in which the anonymous sender (claiming to be a National MP) confessed to the leak and asked for the inquiry to be called off because they said they were at risk due to mental health issues.

This really stirred up speculation and motives, and put a lot of pressure on Bridges who pledged to continue his own inquiry into the leak after the Speaker dropped his inquiry.

Was Ross advising or encouraging Bridges on what to do at this stage? This festered on, until 2 October when Ross and bridges announced that Ross would take leave from Parliament for several months on medical grounds. From Ross’ statement:

Recently I have been dealing with some personal health issues.

There are times in life where you have to put your own health and family first. As a husband and a father I need to do that at this time.

That is why I have asked to have some time off on medical leave for a few months.

He asked for leave ‘for a few months’ to put his ‘own health and family first’. That ended up being two weeks – a remarkably quick recovery.

Parliament resumed from a recess this week. The PWC inquiry organised by Bridges was made public after Bridges and Paula Bennett showed it to Ross. Ross seemed to be remarkably well prepared for what unfolded over the last two days.

The National caucus met too consider Ross’ future in the National Party on Tuesday, but Ross set up a media conference to pre-empt them dumping him by resigning from the Party and from Parliament. He said he would stand for re-election in the by-election as an Independent. He seemed remarkably well prepared.

Ross also made serious allegations against Bridges (and National), and promised revelations.

Yesterday he made sure that media were aware of when he would arrive at a police station to make complaints about Bridges, claiming electoral law corruption.

Ross had promised to release a recording that would prove corrupt practice by Bridges, and he did that after talking to media at length after his visit to then police. It turned was regarded as not a ‘smoking gun’ as promised, and Ross was criticised for over-promising and under-delivering.

But the way things have unfolded this may have been deliberate. It had attracted media attention, and it looks to have been designed to cause disruption and division in the National caucus, and also may have been designed to drive a wedge between National and Chines and Asian supporters, donors and voters.

This could be a strategy to try to win the Botany by-election, where there are a lot of Chinese and Asian voters.

(Ross’ comments in the recording about Chinese and Indians may not have been good for getting their support though).

So this all could be a planned strategy to trash Bridges, trash National support, drive a wedge between National and Chinese financial and electoral support, and to win Botany as an independent.

But is that all? Remember that Lusk seems to be involved.

Back in 2013 from Stuff: Seriously happy to upset the status quo

Mr Lusk refers to himself as a “general strategist”. He is a National Party member, and “sometime volunteer”.

He says he prefers to work for individuals – and only those on the Centre-Right.

However, he saves his most scathing criticism for National: “They are only interested in preserving power for their existing MPs, and do not care about the future beyond this administration.”

He accuses the party of substituting “tenure for talent”.

That could mean talent that Lusk approves of.

“When the National Party came whispering to me that being associated with Cam was bad for my career I told them that Cam’s tenure meant he was too important to drop as a career,” Mr Lusk says.

That talent is somewhat discredited – notably Slater seems to have been largely left out of the loop on the current play.

Mr Lusk is dismissive of the current leadership. “I act for individuals, not the party, which gives me the latitude to do what is best for them and the values we share, not what is best for the current party hierarchy . . . I am far more interested in advancing pragmatic, moderate, Centre-Right policy over the next three decades than I am helping any government cling to power.”

Slater did campaign last year to try to discredit National and have them dumped by voters. He promoted Winston Peters. Slater has largely been a tool of others so may have been encouraged there.

In 2014 (Newshub):  Labour MP Nash wanted own party

3 News has obtained an email showing MP Stuart Nash wanted to set up a rival party with help from a key figure in Nicky Hager’s book.

The email links Mr Nash to Simon Lusk, a notorious right-wing political operative, who usually works with National, is a close ally of Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and a key figure in Mr Hager’s book, Dirty Politics.

Nash was in Opposition then. Ross is in Opposition now.

So what is the aim of Ross and Lusk now?

Cripple National? Looks a likely aim. Drive a wedge between National and Chinese and Asian supporters. A possible aim.

Win Chinese and Asian support in Botany? Win Botany is a stated aim.

What then? Is this the beginnings of a plan to get a new party set up? No party has succeeded in getting into Parliament without a current or recent MP. Winning a by-election is an obvious toe on the door. It wouldn’t be difficult to build on that over the next two years ready for the 2020 election.

They might try to lure some National MPs across, so there may be more attempts at division there.

Such a party would be the right of National. Lusk has no doubt been studying the resurgence of right wing parties around the world.

I think there is obviously much more than a campaign of utu against Bridges going on.