Whose cracks are more problematic – Simon Bridges’ or Tova O’Brien’s?

Newshub journalist Tova O’Brien has written some scathing reports and opinions about Simon Bridges and his leadership. They have just exchanged jabs on Newshub Nation.

Bridges: “And I know that will disappoint your commentators today such as David Slack and Tova O’Brien, but I’m here to stay.”

O’Brien responded “I think it’s problematic that Simon Bridges keeps having these cracks at press gallery journalists…”

Bridges certainly has problems and challenges as National leader.

But I think it is more problematic that journalists like O’Brien use leaks to make stories out of molehills, and use polls to make baseless predictions based on nothing but a need or desire to make a dramatic story out of something relatively mundane, like a single poll taken at a fairly irrelevant time of the political year.

O’Brien broke the expenses leak story last August:  Simon Bridges’ roadshow cash splash: $113k in taxpayer money on limos and hotels

Simon Bridges is spending up large – using taxpayer funding to pay for his limousine.

Newshub has been leaked MPs’ expenses, which show the National Party leader has spent far more money on travel and accommodation than MPs usually manage to chew through.

This turned out to be a bit of a beat up. The expenses were due to be released through normal procedures a few days later anyway.

But that doesn’t come cheap.

Not due for public release until later this week, the leaked figures show Mr Bridges has been splashing cash.

Travel and accommodation topped $113,973, and most of that – $83,693 – was spent on travelling the country by road and in style.

And it was revealed recently that the leader of the Opposition is ‘charged’ far more than Ministers:

It was National leader Simon Bridges’ $83,693 in VIP transport costs in the June quarter last year were the catalyst for the breakdown between the party and MP Jami-Lee Ross after they were leaked to the media early.

Bridges’ VIP transport would have been $33,281 if he had been charged at the same rate as ministers.

As stated there the leak through O’Brien led to the Jami-Lee Ross debacle, which Newshub was very involved in (various journalists, not just O’Brien), with headlines like:

In one particularly odd report O’Brien discussed various possibilities about the leak – Tova O’Brien says ‘anyone’ could have leaked Simon Bridges’ expenses – but presumably she knows how it happened and who the leaker was, as they leaked to her.

Last month O’Brien fronted a series of stories on a Newshub/Reid Research poll, which was scathing of Bridges, and also grossly overstated to importance of a single poll.

The poll result is newsworthy. Dramatic claims about what might happen as a result of the poll is very poor journalism – it is trying to make a huge story out of just one poll. O’Brien followed up with: Tova O’Brien: Simon Bridges’ trifecta from hell

This is a trifecta from hell for Simon Bridges:

  1. National has plunged under his leadership;
  2. Voters don’t want him as Prime Minister, and;
  3. Judith Collins has overtaken him in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.

And it just gets worse…

Four weeks later, nothing much has changed. In fact, Bridges’ performance as leader has improved a bit, he has effectively applied pressure to the Government over their botched handling of the Tax Working Group report, particularly the possibilities of a Capital Gains Tax.

More recent polls suggest that the Newshub poll may have been more of a temporary drop than a sign of a trend – see UMR and other polls – Labour and National even – which highlights the overblowing of O’Brien’s and Newshub’s coverage of their poll (they also, unusually, held back the results for a week).

On Newshub Nation yesterday questions were asked about polling:

What are you going to do to turn around your poor personal polling, Simon?

I think actually, just what I’ve said to you. It’s two things. Firstly, elections are a referendum on the government. It’s governments that lose elections. At the moment, I think they’re going about that pretty well, from my perspective, with some of the things that they are doing and not doing. What I need to make sure National is doing…

People do say that Jacinda actually won the last election, though.

Well, I think Winston Peters won the last election. I think there’s quite a few that say that as well. He won it for her, and now Michael Cullen’s doing a good job to try and win it for her again – or lose it for her, perhaps. But I’ll hold the government to account. I’ll make sure that National is developing plans so people have got a real choice at the election, and they’ll make up their minds when that election comes.

At what point do you decide you need to step down for the good of the party?

I won’t be. And I know that will disappoint your commentators today such as David Slack and Tova O’Brien, but I’m here to stay. I believe in what I’m doing, I think I’m the best person for the job, and I lead a terrific team that is putting out policy, that is leading the debates. We’re going to continue doing that.

So we’ll definitely see you as leader at the next election?

You sure will.

So Bridges made a direct reference to O’Brien, who was on the panel. She responded directly:

Perhaps if he keeps talking rubbish like, um but actually there’s there’s…who’s the leader of the National Party has absolutely no bearing on me or any other journalist.

I think it’s problematic that Simon Bridges keeps having these cracks at press gallery journalists, um, for reporting the facts, for reporting on his leadership. It’s not our fault that he has abysmal poll numbers, it’s not our fault that he’s failing to resonate with voters, it’s not our fault that people in his caucus are murmuring to us on the sidelines and talking about his leadership.

I think there’s no doubt that Bridges has problems as leader of the National Party. One of these problems has been a person or people leaking information to O’Brien with an obvious intention of establishing Bridges’ leadership.

But I think more problematic are the actions of journalists like O’Brien who seem to be deliberately fomenting dysfunction and disunity to create stories and to create headlines.

Journalists should not be immune from criticism by politicians. I think that Bridges is justified in having a mild crack at O’Brien given the nature of some of her coverage, her leaker enabling, and some of her unjournalistic dramatics in some of her stories. Bridges hasn’t been her only target, but she seems to see him as fodder for fame as maker rather than a breaker of stories.

We now we see these unelected journalists for what they really are?

This is remarkable commentary from Newshub’s ‘national reporter’ Patrick Gower: Simon Bridges is finished

I don’t think that it’s his call to make. It is the business of the National caucus. And if Bridges survives through to the next election, it will be up to voters.

It’s been 62 days since Newshub Political Editor Tova O’Brien got that excellent scoop of Simon Bridges’ limousine expenses.

An excellent scoop? It was a leak of expense information that was die to be released publicly in several days time. The story was not the expenses, which were high but explainable.

The story was the attempt to undermine Bridges by an MP who, later at least, suffers from bad enough mental health problems to seek several months leave from Parliament, and to be committed into mental care with claims of a suicide attempt (that was claimed by Cameron Slater so should be viewed with caution).

Tova O’Brien was effectively aiding and abetting a political hit job – and Gower appears to be doing likewise now.

This was a sophisticated hit from the leaker, setting in motion a political train wreck that’s now at bullet-speed – full-scale political carnage.

I guess it could be called ‘sophisticated’ as the political hit job was done with the collusion of a journalist and a media organisation.

Gower seems to see glee in setting in motion a political train wreck and precipitating ‘full-scale political carnage’ – except that he is over-egging a rotten pudding.

We now we see these elected representatives for what they really are; concerns over possible mental health issues have been tossed aside in the rush to the kill or be killed.

There is no humanity.

What we actually saw was non-elected journalists tossing aside mental health concerns as they shilled for a political kill – and now Gower seems to be ecstatic over the thrill of the kill.

This is alarming from a major media organisation. Is Newshub alarmed about what they have been used for?

Meanwhile, National isn’t addressing the important issues. There are not enough teachers for our classrooms and there’s not enough money in our wallets to pay for petrol.

Actually that’s bullshit. National have been accused more of the opposite – of criticising too many things. They have certainly been trying to address teachers and petrol prices.

The only thing in Bridges’ favour here is that National is short of contenders.

More bullshit. There may be one less contender in National, but they still have 54 MPs as alternatives to Bridges. Ity’;s just that now would be a stupid time to contest the leadership, which would reward the maverick MP and activist journalists for their hit job.

But back to Simon Bridges – this is about him and how he’s not handling the job – or connecting with the public.

This was obvious enough to political observers for months. It didn’t need an attempt to force Bridges out of the leadership role to point that out.

Ironically Bridges has probably strengthened his leadership after Newshub’s collusion in trying to have him dumped.

The only chance National has to get back in power is a deal with Peters.

More bullshit. That’s not the only way for National to get back into power. Currently their coalition options look grim, but under MMP there are a range of options, including:

  • Act could make a miraculous resurgence
  • Greens could support a National led government (unlikely at this stage but it can’t be ruled out)
  • Labour and National could form a grand coalition
  • the Maori Party could return and support a National-led government
  • a new party could emerge and beat the threshold
  • National could split and get enough votes between two parties to form a government
  • National could get enough votes to form a government on their own (they have come close in the past)

Last term Gower often obsessed over National needing NZ First to stay in government. Until the Little/Ardern switch it looked very unlikely Labour would have been able to form a government, so National were in the box seat.

And the way Winston keeps burning Bridges, that will never happen.

That’s why Simon Bridges is finished.

Winston burns anyone when it suits him – and then forgets all his rants and promises and flip flops if it suits him.

It may actually be more likely that Winston will be finished after the next election. There’s certainly a bigger chance that NZ First will crash and burn than National.

It doesn’t matter how many days are left, Simon Bridges, because there is no chance National can win in 2020.

That’s a pathetic claim from someone who remarkably used to be Newshub’s political editor.

And it hardly even makes sense – he implies that National has no chance regardless of Bridges leading them or not.

This is very poor commentary from Gower.

Worse – it seems that he supports and is ecstatic about collusion between an MP with mental health problems and journalists and media in a concocted coup attempt.

Gower can be dismissed as out of touch and irrelevant, but Newshub look very poor here and have seriously diminished their credibility as politically neutral media.

Bridges and National have problems – that’s normal for any political party. But National at least are likely to survive, and are likely to eventually get back into Government, with or without Bridges.

Newshub have a bigger challenge trying to survive. While the Jami-Lee Ross headlines may have given them a temporary boost to ratings and clicks, it has seriously damaged their already struggling reputation.

Gower hasn’t helped – he has emphasised how low they have stooped on this.

 

Gayford tries to defend Ardern’s no show on Nation & Q+A

Journalists were already getting a bit snarky over Jacinda Ardern’s withdrawal from two scheduled weekend interviews, but consternation levels have risen after Clark Gayford tried to defend Ardern on Twitter.

Interviews with both Newshub Nation today and the other with Q+A tomorrow evening were de-scheduled by ardern. The reason given by the Prime Minister’s office was ‘a diary problem’, but there has been a lot of scepticism over that, especially as she cancelled both interviews, having already pulling out twice from Nation interviews this year.

Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom in Ardern’s chance to change the narrative:

The cancellation of planned media appearances with Newshub, TVNZ and Newstalk ZB, all put down to “diary issues”, will not help her; hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned.

Contrast that with a number of recent interviews with international media that have resulted in gushing profiles (a recent piece from the New York Times being aptly skewered by Mclauchlan), and the cognitive dissonance between glowing overseas coverage and the more complex reality of domestic politics could start to hit home.

This morning:

Watkins:

Hi. It was in The Nation’s diary. And presumably Q+A’s, tho I haven’t spoken to them. Even if she only found out about them on Thursday, she could still have done them. So I don’t accept ‘incorrect’. And why pull out twice earlier this year? I’ve never known a PM to do this.

And given your media experience, I’m sure you appreciate the difference between a studio interview and a stand up. But thanks for taking the time to tweet!

There have been a lot of very defensive tweet…

..but they can’t paper over what is an unprecedented intervention in the Prime Minister’s diary and media matters by their partner.

And to try to swing this to “hurting NZ greater than anything else at this time” is remarkable.

Ardern and now Gayford are hurting their relationship with media, and that may not turn out well for them.

Bridges leak saga continues

It is amazing to see how the leak a few days early of Simon Bridges’ expenses has become such a big and persistent story.

Newshub (Tova O’Brien) kicked the story off, framing it as a big scandal of overspending. But it has become more a scandal of leaks, and now of why the Speaker Trevor Mallard suddenly called of a planned inquiry, why he involved Jacinda Ardern, and why Bridges and National are being so persistent in pushing for a resolution.

Last Friday O’Brien became strangely indignant that RNZ gave the story new legs, ironically citing concern over the welfare of the leaker her provided her with the story she broke, but Newshub have now given the story another nudge (but via Jenna Lynch): Simon Bridges still unconvinced expenses leaker is a National MP

The National party will launch its own secret internal investigation into who leaked Simon Bridges travel expenses.

On Friday, Speaker Trevor Mallard ditched his inquiry, telling National it was an internal matter for them to sort out.

Even though most signs point to the leaker being a National MP, Mr Bridges still isn’t convinced.

Newshub must know who the leaker is. O’Brien must know at least. They quote Bridges:

“I will do my best and the National Party is united in doing its best to get to the bottom of who the leaker is”

The text – which was sent days earlier to Mr Bridges, Mr Mallard and Newshub – asked for the inquiry to be abandoned, citing ongoing mental health issues.

The leaker’s text provided three specific details of closed-door National Party caucus meetings, yet Mr Bridges remains stuck on the idea the leaker came from outside his party.

“It may not be a National MP or a National Party staffer,” he says.

That doesn’t sound “stuck on the idea the leaker came from outside his party”.

Ardern: “This is a matter for the National Party”.

Bridges: “Well why, on what evidence, on what basis does she say that?”

A fair question. Why does Ardern know with certainty it’s a matter for only the National Party?

Newshub: “Despite the leaker’s text providing specific details of closed door National Party caucus meetings, Bridges isn’t convinced.

Newshub displayed what looks like a mock up of the start of the text message:

That is curiously worded and vague.  Newshub do not give further details would that indicate the knowledge claimed proves they are a member of the National caucus. Jenna Lynch on National’s inquity:

“Because it will be internal, even if the Nats do find the person responsible they may choose to keep that a secret, so we may never  learn the identity of the leaker…unless of course, someone was to leak that.”

An odd closing statement. ‘We’ the public may never find out who the leaker was, but ‘we’ the Newshub (or at least O’Brien’) must know who it is.

And questions are being asked about what Mallard and Ardern know about the identity of the leaker too.

NZH: Jacinda Ardern admits speaking to Trevor Mallard about leak inquiry but says it was perfectly innocent

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed she spoke to Speaker Trevor Mallard last Friday before he announced the cancellation of the inquiry into leaked travel expenses but says their conversation was to advise her of his decision.

“It was not a dialogue,” her spokesman said. “She did not have any input into the decision.”

She did not know who the leaker was and she did not have any conversation with the Speaker about who it might be, the spokesman said.

So she must have based her statements like “This is a matter for the National Party” on what Mallard told her.

National leader Simon Bridges, who also received the text, has suggested Mallard was influenced by Ardern’s public comments when she said it was an internal matter for National and should be dealt with sensitively.

Shadow leader of the House Gerry Brownlee said today there had been no need for Mallard to advise the Prime Minister of his decision to cancel the inquiry.

“On what basis did he do that?”

Mallard had said he believed the leak came from National and the Prime Minister had said it should be dealt with sensitively, said Brownlee.

“On what basis do they make that statement? Do they know? And are they simply not telling us because of some commitments around parliamentary security and diplomatic protection security.”

Brownlee said if Mallard knew who the person was who leaked the document and sent the texts, he should tell National.

“He has made it very clear that his concerns are about the well-being of the individual concerned and we would share that concern and want to do something about it.”

“Most MPs are pretty incensed that the Speaker has gone out and effectively pointed the finger at our caucus and made a couple of pretty serious accusations – one of extreme disloyalty and another of a problematic mental illness.”

The police have been in contact with the leaker, but won’t give further details:

“We reiterate our comment from Friday that Police will not be disclosing any information about the identity of the individual for privacy reasons”.

“We also reiterate that Police assessed the information supplied [by Simon Bridges about the text] as a mental health issue requiring an immediate response.

“It is not subject to other investigative steps. We are not going to discuss any matters regarding specific steps taken regarding the welfare of the individual. “

I’m not sure it’s clear how the police found out the leaker’s identity, as it has been claimed the contact was made via an anonymous phone. Were they able to track the source to a specific office in Parliament? A specific residence in Wellington? or somewhere else?

Timeline (NZH):

August 13 – Newshub publish story based on Simon Bridges’ leaked expenses.
August 15 – Speaker Mallard agrees to hold inquiry.
August 16 – Bridges, Mallard and Newshub receive anonymous text message allegedly from National MP pleading for inquiry to be called off on mental health grounds.
August 17 – Bridges talks to mental health experts and tells police about text on advice.
August 19 – Police tell Bridges they have identified and contacted texter (won’t name them) and that the person is getting support.
August 23 – Mallard names Michael Heron QC to conduct inquiry.
August 24 – RNZ reveals texts were sent previous week to Bridges and Mallard; Ardern and others comment publicly.
August 24 – Mallard cancels inquiry.

The day the text was sent was a Thursday. Parliament wasn’t sitting so MPs may or may not have been at Parliament.

How did the police find out who the leaker was.

Were the three texts identical? Did Bridges or Mallard tell the police who it was? Or did they identify themselves only to O’Brien and she told them?

Last Friday:

But also:

O’Brien has said she was sent the same text message:

I was sent the same text message Simon Bridges and Trevor Mallard were sent last week by the leaker of Bridges’ expenses.

The leaker’s message was simple, in their words:

“There is no security breach in the parliament or problem to be fixed in the system.”

“Just say you know there is no security breach”.

They shared anecdotes from National Party caucus meetings that only National Party MPs would know in an attempt to prove that they’re an MP, and that the leak shouldn’t be dealt with at a Parliamentary level overseen by a Queen’s Counsel or High Court judge.

But Bridges and other National MPs say they are not convinced it proves it was a National MP.

Newshub chose not to report on the text message after we received it last Thursday. I held grave concerns for my source’s safety and wellbeing.

I would like to make it clear that when I was leaked Simon Bridges’ expenses I was completely unaware of my source’s history of mental health issues.

With some details of the text having been cherry picked, leaked and then discussed by Simon Bridges we have made the decision to release other elements to balance and include our source’s voice.

She refers to both “my source” and “our source”. She at least must know who it was – and as a journalist should protect the identity of her source.

But can she be sure the person who sent the text was her source? Did she verify it with them perhaps?

More importantly given the current state of this saga, does Mallard know who it is? It would appear so given his apparent confidence that it’s only an internal National Party problem now. So did he get a different text?

And why is Bridges and National so driven to keep this story alive and identify the leaker?

If there is a National MP with serious mental health issues, and/or who has said their life was at risk if the inquiry continued (effectively blackmailing Mallard), this is surely a concern of parliament and therefore of the Speaker.

The way things are now, if it is a National MP, then National have a major problem. It would mean they have an MP with serious mental health issues and/or threatened the Speaker.

And they have someone in their caucus who has leaked relatively trivial information to attack their leader. That makes things very awkward for Bridges and National, knowing that whatever caucus says could be leaked again. No wonder they want to identify the leaker.

UPDATE (Tuesday pm):

Bridges expenses leak – sow’s ear out of public purse

It’s hard to work out what the aim of the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses was, given they will be officially released soon anyway. And it’s hard to get very excited about the media overkill of the story.

It raises more questions over the motives of the leaker and the journalist than over Bridges’ expenses.

RNZ – Bridges: National caucus didn’t leak travel expenses

Opposition leader Simon Bridges is standing by his MPs, saying he doesn’t believe one of them leaked his travel expenses to media.

Mr Bridges is defending the roughly $84,000 he clocked up travelling around the country in a Crown limousine between April and June.

He said he might never get to the bottom of who leaked the information before it was due to be published but said it was not his caucus.

RNZ – Bridges’ expenses leak: Prime Minister claims Labour had no part

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she asked Ministerial Services to clarify exactly who had access to the National Party’s expenses, and it had been confirmed to her that only the National Party caucus did.

“We’ve had it confirmed that no-one in Labour ever actually had access to that information and it would be improper if we would have,” she said.

“The only groups as I understand who will have had access will be the opposition themselves and the Speaker.”

Mr Mallard denied being the source of the leak and was personally looking to ensure the information did not land in the hands of anybody it should not have.

A number of MPs have denied leaking the information, but that’s hardly news. I don’t recall any MP ever admitting leaking.

Newshub reporter Tova O’Brien has copped some flak for breaking the story, with accusations she has been a party to a political hit job.

Stuff Editorial: Simon Bridges expenses leak seems like a bit of a ‘beat-up’

Quite apart from the fact we have no firm idea who leaked National Party leader Simon Bridges’ expenses, ahead of their official release by the Parliamentary Service next week, it’s difficult to know exactly what the leaker hoped to achieve beyond a lot of shoulder-shrugging.

On Tuesday, Ardern was quick to say she could “categorically rule it out” when asked if the leak came from her party, pointing out that the only groups with access to Bridges’ expenses were National, and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, who did not attend Labour caucus meetings. That was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Service, which naturally has access to the information as the agency responsible for releasing it.

Bridges was quick to say the leak had not come from his caucus, though he conceded he did not have “perfect information on that”. Mallard said he had launched an inquiry into the source of the leak, and also cast doubt on the accuracy of the figures.

But assuming they are accurate, and Bridges, with his reported tally of $83,693, indeed spent $35,000 more on travel in a Crown limousine over the past three months than then-Opposition leader Andrew Little did in the corresponding period last year, so what?

It’s widely known he has just completed a 12-week “national town hall roadshow”, holding close to 70 meetings around the country.

As the first person chosen to lead his party in opposition after a long period in government, that seems entirely reasonable.

Which suggests that the story loaded with clickbaity phrases like “spending up large”, “splashing cash” and “travelling the country by road and in style” is a shabby way of making a sow’s ear out of the public purse.

Labour’s ‘race card’ taint remains

In a blog post 3 News political reporter Tova O’Brien sums up Labour’s Chinese Surname Saga.

Opinion: Labour’s risky race card flop

Labour is pissed off. It’s pissed off and it’s pissing people off.

That’s what happens when you play the race card.

The race card is designed to offend. You play it in the hope that there are more people that agree with you than disagree with you.

Yes, Labour have pissed a lot of people off. It has been claimed it was a deliberate and cynical strategy to try and engineer a poll bounce like National got after Brash’s Orewa speech (they jumped 17% two weeks later), but this is much different to Orewa.

After Brash’s speech the left in particular were angry about racism.
After Labour’s Chinese Surname saga the left in particular were angry about racism.

Labour may not have thought that through very well.

In this case Labour decided more people would be riled by the prospect of Chinese offshore buyers snatching Auckland houses from the clutches of New Zealanders, than there would be people angry about Labour’s perceived racism.

So it went ahead and singled out Chinese home buyers, not based on any real facts, but because their surnames sounded Chinese.

3 News did something Labour didn’t. We visited Liu’s and Zhou’s on that list. They were happy, proud new homeowners in Auckland and most we spoke to were New Zealanders or applying to be.

One woman thought it was unfair Labour had judged her based on her surname. Another was concerned – like many New Zealanders – about offshore investors.

Of course our door knocking wasn’t scientific but neither was Labour’s analysis and at least we got a better idea of the people behind the surnames.

Labour have tried to talk up a massive problem (a ‘tsunami’ of Chinese investment) but didn’t back up their claims with any evidence. All evidence I’ve seen so far has suggested Labour’s ‘guesses’ were wrong.

NBR reported recently that of the over half a million rates bills sent out by Auckland only about 5,500 go overseas, and about half of them to Australia.

See also Auckland property sales today and Who’s buying Auckland property?

National has been poor in being slow to act on Auckland property issues, but Labour has acted poorly.

National’s being tricky, trying to have it both ways:

On one hand, it’s not rolling out a comprehensive register because that would mean capitulating on its long-held stance that a register is unnecessary.

On the other, voters want a register so National needs to be able to say it’s doing ‘something’ – albeit a piddly excuse for ‘something’.

Labour could have framed its data like that: the need for a register to clear things up because there’s no real way of knowing.

That would have been a sensible argument that flies.

But Labour didn’t frame it like that. It chose to employ scare tactics and declare as fact that three quarters of Chinese home buyers don’t live in New Zealand.

Bad call.

Now, Labour has to own it.

Labour hasn’t backed down, but they haven’t remained convincing in holding their lines.

So far Andrew Little is holding the line. Phil Twyford – the architect of the release – seems less certain.

He’s not racist so you can bet that being called racist and accused of inciting racism is smarting like all hell.

Little’s not racist either but is still holding out for ‘dem gains’ from the silent majority of non-Chinese sounding Aucklanders furious by Labour’s figures.

I’m not so convinced those gains are coming. And if Labour does get a bump in the polls my guess is it will be small and short-lived.

Long-term Labour needs to ask itself will it have been worth it? Jeopardising all those Chinese New Zealand votes – not to mention anyone else offended by the analysis.

Labour has to own those losses along with any ill-gotten gains.

My feeling is that regardless of any short term poll fluctuations Labour may have caused themselves serious longer term damage. They can’t un-whistle the race card, it’s out there and will linger longer than this month’s property stories..

It’s bee a huge risk for Little to take, either promoted by him or foisted on him by Labour’s strategy team. Little has remained staunch, sort of, but he looks uncomfortable in the role.

Labour can hardly afford to go through another leadership contest. But can they afford to retain Little’s race taint?

3 News uses and abuses leaked sales data

I think this is a disgraceful use of and abuse of the leaked real estate data – 3 News had obtained the data and has been visiting the addresses of Chinese sounding people they got off the list.

Like Labour they proved little except a lack of care about privacy for a bit of cheap publicity.

Door knocking Labour’s ‘Chinese-sounding’ names

Some of the people with Chinese-sounding names used by Labour to attack offshore buyers have been visited by 3 News.

They didn’t add anything useful to the story or issues, all they did was use data that they knew had been wrongly leaked to breach people’s privacy.

If any of those people felt harassed I hope they complain.

I think this is appallingly irresponsible of 3 News.

UPDATE: Tova O’Brien has responded on Twitter:

Didn’t do it off leaked data, used B&T’s market reports. Public on their website.

I can’t find names and addresses of sales, addresses only. I’ve asked Tova for a link.

United Future’s future?

United Future held their annual conference in the weekend. There have been the usual put downs and false claims about attendance. @TovaOBrien was covering the conference for 3 News and reported:

Gearing up for the United Future conference. Head count stands at 30

Another journalist commented on Kiwiblog:

given that I am probably the only one on this thread who WAS at the United Future annual conference (albeit for a short time) I counted just over 30 in attendance – plus about 9 other journalists and camera people. And, for 30 or so people, what a lot of media coverage it got, eh.

If Peter Dunne had stuck to sensible and sensible little else would have got much attention, but he managed to get some reaction from a couple of sound bites. @TovaOBrien tweeted:

Peter Dunne talking about the political left and the ‘Green Taleban’

Greens responded on Twitter and: Green MP offended by ‘dispespectful’ Taliban comments

Peter Dunne calls Colin Craig’s Conservatives ‘untested crackpots’

Someof the Conservative ‘crackpots’ have actually tested Dunne in the past, having been United Future MPs (Larry Baldock and Gordon Copeland, the latter jumping the waka mid-term).

Dunne also virtually confirmed what has been said before, a coalition with Labour is very unlikely:

Peter Dunne’s pretty much ruled out working with Labour next election

Labour would have to ditch flagships like capital gains tax for UF to work with them – not going to happen.

It’s not certain where David Cunliffe will take Labour policies but it’s looking like a core incompatibility. So that leaves…

Steadily improving economy and PM’s mana still mean next year’s election is National’s to lose

Dunne’s political future is closely linked to National’s future, and Dunne has been promoting those links. He stands a chance of surviving and holding his Ohariu seat.

But that’s Dunne. The latest 3 News poll (taken before the conference coverage and reported last night) had United Future at 0.1%. That’s one out of a thousand, or one response in the poll.

Dunne is determined and doing what he can to promote his prospects, but his party is showing little sign of stepping up and making it’s mark. Sure, the membership got a big boost (over a thousand) after the deregistration debacle, but there is no sign of candidates emerging that will get any attention.

There is no sign of any leadership succession.

Unless something major changes Dunne will be pretty much doing it solo in the public political arena.

Dunne’s challenge will be to sell himself as relevant for what would be his third decade in Parliament.

The party’s challenge will be to be seen as relevant at all.

A @TovaOBrien tweet may have aptly summed up the conference and the party.

Dunne Dunne Dunne Dunne

(I have been a distant observer of the conference).