The Dim-Post

May 29, 2010

Back and to the left

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:06 am

Tracey Watkins has a good summary of the blind trust story. There might still be something there in amidst all the wild accusations: Key may have visibility into his trust meaning he failed to disclose conflicts of interest. But Labour have wandered off into some weird conspiracy theory in which Key is collaborating with co-investors (that he has apparently never met) to prevent an excise tax increase on liquor. What’s their proof? There is none – it just might have happened. Why does Labour get so crazy when it comes to Key? They had a valid point to make but they buried it under implausible accusations. Watkins writes:

Why so determined to drag him down? It is not personal. Labour just want to chip away at the fairytale. Mr Key’s rags-to-riches tale of a state-house boy made good is a huge political asset. Understandably, Labour sees a huge upside in denting that and its goal is to taint the fairytale with the usual big money associations. But it hasn’t done that so far with these latest allegations. Nor with the prevous attempts – which, in the case of the H bomb, came at a heavy cost. And the wounds from that had only recently healed.

Part of it is Rovian politics: you attack your enemies strength and Key is certainly that. But I think there’s also the sense that Labour thinks that Key is a terrible Prime Minister and they’re frustrated by his enduring popularity: why does the public like him? HIM? They’ve been tricked – duped by Crosby/Textor – so all they have to do is pull away the curtain and reveal Key for what he REALLY is. But they always reveal more about Labour and their inability to conduct even a simple old smear campaign without pissing all over themselves like rats in a nest.

(I’m reluctant to ask this question but here goes anyway: does the fact that Whitechapel owns Key’s assets mean that they pay tax at the company rate rather than the trust rate?)

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32 Comments »

  1. Mmm, I would say pissing all over themselves like meths swilling tramps but that’s my personal impression of events.

    Comment by Funny nose — May 29, 2010 @ 10:14 am

  2. “does the fact that Whitechapel owns Key’s assets mean that they pay tax at the company rate rather than the trust rate”
    Probably Trust rate if the company is truly a trustee. As with high income individuals (like, one presumes, Keys solicitors) acting as trustees, the tax is the trust rate, not the trustees own marginal rate of, say, 38%.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 29, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  3. But Labour have wandered off into some weird conspiracy theory in which Key is collaborating with co-investors (that he has apparently never met) to prevent an excise tax increase on liquor.

    Someone remind them that he made $50 mil before getting into politics.

    Comment by Stephen — May 29, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

  4. i think the conspiracy theory was exactly what they were pushing – the trust stuff was just a pretext.

    It’s the Key as rich prick doing the bidding of the wealthy meme they want to push. It goes along with the “many not not the few”.

    At some point in their last term Labour went into angry paranoid mode and they haven’t come out of it. And without Clark and Cullen giving them, for the most part, an image of intelligent dignity we’re left with an unpleasant mix of stupidity and bullying.

    Comment by Neil — May 29, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  5. Clark and Cullen took them into the bunker and then escaped, locking the door behind them.

    Comment by Funny nose — May 29, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  6. And Labour ignores that half of their MPs (ok I don’t actually have the number but lets be honest most people on big incomes use trusts and likely have commercial/rental properties) and thus they Labour did nothing about the use of trusts etc to pay less tax and did absolutely nothing while they celebrated how great the economy was doing as house inflation went through the roof and more and more Labour voters had to rent and couldn’t buy houses anymore. Meaning anyone in Labour who used Trusts and any Labour MP that held commercial and/or rental properties benefitted from obvious conflicts of interest.

    That is why Labour and the left going on and on about bullshit conflicts of interest in regards to this wine business is frankly appalling. Tracey is right. Labour are so stuck on John Key they’re basically allowing National to be the government. If only they focused on policy where National often suck at it.

    Comment by gingercrush — May 29, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  7. It’s a company, but with the purpose of a trusteeship, that is, an entity which controls Aldgate’s investments. Whitechapel wouldn’t be making any profits as such, because it administers assets for Aldgate. Whitechapel owns the assets in a legal sense of control, but it does so in law for the benefit of Aldgate, so it’ll be taxed at the trust rate.

    I don’t think John Key’s so popular. I think it’s just that Phil Goff is decidedly unpopular. It’s a form of selection bias. Labour don’t seem to be run by anyone at the moment, hence Hodgson being the central figure. I don’t think he has explicit executive support for what he’s doing because I don’t think that anyone in Labour higher-ups thinks this will really work, but at the same time they think it can’t hurt.

    Clearly, it can hurt. It can hurt the party image, because it’s not Hodgson that appears first in the headlines, it’s Labour.

    Comment by dontsurf — May 29, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  8. Maybe, the only way for them to drag themselves out of the sewer is for somebody on the left to form a whole new, younger, brighter, relevant political party which takes aim squarely at the 2014 election?

    These bozos ain’t donna do any good.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — May 29, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  9. yup, this “attack Key at every opportunity for being a rich prick” tactic smacks of a letter left in the drawer when clark and cullen left.

    a hangover from the “slippery Key” days. or that ludicrous rush to Sydney to dig dirt.

    they can’t seem to decide on anything more useful than shooting potato guns at him, and it’s getting a little embarrassing.

    Comment by Che Tibby — May 29, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  10. Labour must see it as their job to provide opportunities for another bout of gloating by DPF and for The Standard to lurch Birther-like from crazy rational to delusional parallel inverse.

    Comment by Neil — May 29, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

  11. uninverse

    Comment by Neil — May 29, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

  12. You get more Tory by the day Danyl.

    Is Key’s trust blind? No. That’s what matters.

    There’s been no suggestion of a conspiracy with wine sellers and there doesn’t need to be one. A conflict of interest exists without actual corruption.

    You’re making up facts and running Tory lines.

    Comment by Danyl's factchecker — May 29, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

  13. “fact”-checkin’

    ’cause that’s what we do at a well known left wing attack blog.

    Comment by Funny nose — May 29, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  14. You get more Tory by the day Danyl

    How is this a bad thing? :-)

    Is Key’s trust blind? No. That’s what matters

    Key has no access to the contents of his trust, any more than a shareholder in Telecom can access Telecom’s bank account records. It is therefore “blind” to him, but still belongs to him.
    And a conflict of interest has to be real. Your conflict of interest is like the conflict of interest in MPs reducing taxes and therefore giving themselves more money – it is illusory.

    Comment by macdoctor01 — May 29, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

  15. Danyl’s factchecker:

    Ah, yes… are you, perchance, related related to the bridge trolls over at Kiwibog who are convinced the only reason the stupid proles don’t realise that Helen Clark is an evil fascist-dyke of Satanic malevolence is because of a vast left-wing conspiracy of silence?

    Danyl:

    I’ve got to disagree with Watkin on this score — I think it is every bit as personal as the frankly insane hatred some on the right had for Helen Clark. I’d also suggest, if certain Labour activists of my acquaintance are any indication, that there’s plenty on the left who just can’t accept that they lost the last general election. The Tories must have cheated, they brought it, the media were biased against them, it’s everyone and everything else’s fault. Which brings back rather sad memories of where National was a decade before — drowning in the river Denial…

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — May 29, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  16. Key has no access to the contents of his trust, any more than a shareholder in Telecom can access Telecom’s bank account records. It is therefore “blind” to him, but still belongs to him.
    Well the argument has been that he HAS been able to see the contents of that “bank account” because he can see everything Whitechapel owns at any point.

    But in this case, so long as Whitechapel IS acting as trustee for multiple trusts then Key doesn’t have visibility of which of those assets that he personally benefits from so there’s the blindness.

    Comment by garethw — May 29, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  17. [yawn]

    Wake me up when the scandal lands?

    Comment by Thomas Beagle — May 29, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  18. “Key has no access to the contents of his trust, any more than a shareholder in Telecom can access Telecom’s bank account records. It is therefore “blind” to him, but still belongs to him.”

    Key does have access to the contents of his trust. So do you. Because of Whitechapel you can see whatever the trust owns.

    Comment by Danyl's factchecker — May 29, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  19. …so long as Whitechapel IS acting as trustee for multiple trusts then Key doesn’t have visibility of which of those assets that he personally benefits from…

    In which case, his lawyers would presumably have issued a straightforward refutation of the idea that Whitechapel gives Key a view of his trust’s contents, rather than the carefully worded neither-confirm-nor-deny that they actually issued.

    Looks to me like for once Labour have actually caught him out, but they have no idea what to do with it as it’s too abstract to make a useful news story.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — May 29, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

  20. I think it is every bit as personal as the frankly insane hatred some on the right had for Helen Clark.

    it is remarable how the more unpleasant segments of both the left and right act in exactly the same manner while all the time maintaining they are so rational and reasonable.

    But it seems to me it took about 2 terms before kiwiblog threads really went pathological over Clark. The Standard have bettered that by a few years.

    Comment by Neil — May 29, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  21. i don’t read the standard for this exact reason: my first few reads strayed into the realm of a bit nutty…

    Comment by Che Tibby — May 29, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  22. The Standard was a good counter to the right wing sites (ok Kiwiblog) when I started reading blogs (‘wow look, a place that dumps on righties too!’), but the posts just got crazier before National were even elected. Sigh. Well Danyl’s site is leftish, if a little less dedicated to pushing The Leftist Agenda.

    Comment by Stephen — May 29, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  23. It’s quite simple really. NZ has (for good reasons) a public company register. Anyone can look up who owns what, so Key can easily access details of all the NZ companies his trust owns. We only have his word that he doesn’t peek.

    In addition, it’s hard to just sell shares in private businesses like vineyards. It isn’t like calling a broker and switching out of Telecom, there’s a limited market and often rules about how and when shareholders can sell. It’s a reasonable assumption that if Key had shares in a vineyard or whatever two years ago, he still does, and that he’d find out “informally” if the trust had sold up.

    So there’s basically no such thing as a blind trust for NZ politicians assets. Best practice for them would really be to stick to substantial collective investments where there is a limited potential for conflict of interest, and to declare when they *do* have a conflict.

    Of course, Key has a general interest in advancing the gains of very rich people, like himself and a limited community of interest with most New Zealanders. That’s what you get when you elect a multi-millionaire banker as PM.

    Comment by Rich — May 29, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  24. Of course, Key has a general interest in advancing the gains of very rich people, like himself and a limited community of interest with most New Zealanders

    How does it necessarily follow that because he was a banker and he’s incredibly rich, he has an interest in advancing the gains of very rich people?

    Comment by Stephen — May 29, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  25. Of course, Key has a general interest in advancing the gains of very rich people, like himself and a limited community of interest with most New Zealanders. That’s what you get when you elect a multi-millionaire banker as PM.

    Of course, you’re right Rich. Just like childless old opera-going academic Dorklander Helen has a “limited community of interest” with most New Zealanders right? You want to get into political analysis on the level of a half-cut first year psych major, so be it. It’s not really the level of discourse that adds anything worthwhile to New Zealand politics.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — May 29, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  26. Maybe Crosby/Textor are advising both Labour and National.

    That way Hodgson gets set up for this nonsense.

    C/T collect their money for (yet) another job well done.

    Sigh!

    Comment by peterlepaysan — May 29, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

  27. “How does it necessarily follow that because he was a banker and he’s incredibly rich, he has an interest in advancing the gains of very rich people?”

    usually, yes. it’s not too big a leap to assume he has the interests of his peers in mind. if you’re a labour voter, how many friends do you have who vote national or… ACT?

    pretty normal to restrict your circle of friends to like-minded individuals, hence only thinking in their frame of mind.

    brash is a classic example. if hollow men does nothing else it’s a study in cognitive dissonance. rich or poor, they’re all the same.

    Comment by Che Tibby — May 30, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  28. if you’re a labour voter, how many friends do you have who vote national or… ACT?

    Well, I’d like to think I know one or two dozen Labour voters who’d say exactly that — and a good proportion of them are actually have bigger “rich pricks” than I do. Then again, my sample might be biased because I’d cross the road to avoid the kind of political bore who refuses to consort with “the enemy”.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — May 30, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  29. It’s quite simple really
    No, it’s not how you’ve painted it. You CAN have a blind trust by having the trustee company running more than one trust, this is what Key’s lawyers have said “may or may not” be happening with Whitechapel.
    That’s the core of the issue but given that nobody (Labour, media or everyman) has bought it up shows how abstract they’re finding it as PM said…

    Comment by garethw — May 30, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  30. “to avoid the kind of political bore who refuses to consort with “the enemy””

    my example might not be the best, but in general it holds. ‘birds of a feather’ is a cliché for a reason.

    Comment by Che Tibby — May 30, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  31. My friends cross the spectrum. What we share is a mutual enjoyment of _discussion_, quite separate from our particular political stands, and a mutual respect of separate views. That is in principle what intelligent people do.

    I gather from some things elsewhere that for example MPs from different parties do indeed become friends. They agree to disagree on some crucial aspects, but in general appreciate the other person’s honesty, say, and their work ethic, their appreciation of fine wine, fine whiskey, whatever.

    Imagine having only friends who do what you do and think what you think. You get such a skewed view of what the world is like.

    Comment by David in Chch — May 30, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  32. If I can add my three cents worth to what Craig R and David from Christchurch have been saying…

    Not just a “skewed view” of the world but an awfully boring and narrow one.

    Personally I think a sure sign of the sort of person I *don’t* want to spend too much time with is someone whose friends are only of the same political ilk.

    Even if I agreed with that person on politics, the awful boring narrowness and pettiness which such a world view entails is something I find repellant.

    There is something about such an attitude which rejects the rich variety of humanity.

    It also elevates agreement on politics above all else, which just seems warped. I’ve got friends whose views range from unreconstructed Marxism across a kind of socialist anarchism to broad public sector leftie-ism and across my own brand of conservative liberalism or liberal conservatism and way out to my right.

    What they share is a broadmindedness about life and a general agreement that politics is important enough to argue about, especially after a few drinks, and even on occasion important enough to throw things.

    But when all’s said and done, Politics is one of life’s necessities. Friendship is one of life’s joys.

    Comment by rob Hosking — May 30, 2010 @ 6:41 pm


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