The Dim-Post

August 17, 2014

The Rodney Hide allegations

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:51 am

Rodney Hide has a column in the New Zealand Herald today dismissing the allegation that he was blackmailed into standing down as leader of the ACT Party. He writes:

Hager never rang to ask: “Hey, I have just come across the damnedest stuff and just have to ask, were you ever blackmailed?”

To which I would reply: “No, definitely not. I would never give in to blackmail. I would go straight to the police. It’s a crime. I have no doubt the police and the courts would take a dim view of any attempt to blackmail a political leader and Government minister. It never happened.”

Let’s timeline his resignation alongside the allegations made in Dirty Politics.

Hide poured scorn on Brash’s claim of being offered the co-leader’s job. He said he had offered to pay Brash’s membership if his friend joined the Act Party.

“He wanted to be leader. I said the way you become the leader or co-leader is to join the party and work your way up.”

He said Brash was too old for the job. “We’re looking forward to the next generation of leaders and Don has had his shot with National. It’s hard to see him contesting the 2014 campaign.”

  • Sunday, 24th April 2011: Simon Lusk (allegedly) contacts Cameron Slater advising him that ‘we can fuck up Rodney. Jordan is talking to a girl that Rodney has been sending dodgy texts to.’ Lusk suggests to Slater that they tell Hide they will release the texts if Hide does not resign by Friday.

Mr Hide has said Dr Brash’s bid is a takeover attempt by a member of a different party.

Confident of keeping his leadership, he said if Dr Brash wanted to become leader, he would have to follow the process and first become a member of the party.

Rodney needs to be careful with any dodgy plays because the tipline is running so hot that it is practically on fire. This includes some information about his destruction of Heather Roy’s career that would not play out kindly for Rodney. He should remember carefully how he used me in that play.

In a continuation of the “Roy play”, Rodney is also contemplating a personal attack on Don based on his ethics. This would be a great play for Don because it would mean personal life was absolutely fair game, and I just absolutely love politicians dirty laundry being aired in public, just ask Stuart Nash and the new Mangrove Iain Lees-Galloway. Not a classical scholar, Rodney probably is unaware of William Congreve, but here are a couple of excellent quotes:

“O fie, miss, you must not kiss and tell.”

And the better known

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,”

Followed by:

Meanwhile my predictions of Rodney’s bunker pals running “Don Brash is an old man” lines has come to pass with Rodney Hide staffer Chris Diack commenting freely on Kiwiblog. Word via the tipline is that they wil keep up that line for a couple of days and then change to smears involving Don Brash’s personal life. It surprises me that Rodney Hide of all people wants to go down that path but if he plays those cards then he will reap what he sows.

But current leader Rodney Hide says he is not resigning and that he is proud of what he has done for the party.

He said he had heard rumours about his resignation but said they were not true.

When asked about Don Brash taking over the party’s leadership he said: “I believe Don Brash hasn’t even joined the Act Party yet.”

Dr Brash’s bid seemed to take a blow yesterday when deputy leader John Boscawen said through a spokesman that he backed Mr Hide as leader and would vote for him in a leadership challenge.

  • Thursday 28th April: Hide resigns

    Rodney Hide has stepped down as leader of the ACT Party, paving the way for challenger Don Brash after days of mounting pressure and speculation.

    Dr Brash will lead the party from outside Parliament, so its current MPs will keep their spots, including Mr Hide’s ministerial posts.

    Mr Hide announced his resignation at a press conference in the Auckland suburb Newmarket this afternoon, in the heart of the Epsom electorate he has represented since 2005.

In his Herald column today Hide writes:

I tracked down Jordan Williams. He had no texts. He says the claims are “utterly, utterly false … outrageous. … disgusting”. I believe him. I emailed Don Brash. No, Simon Lusk never worked for him. I believe him.

According to Dirty Politics, page 70:

Lusk wrote to Slater via Facebook: Don [Brash] has told [New Zealand Herald reporter] Derek Cheng I was not paid by him and I was not paid by ACT as far as he knew and wasn’t going to comment any further on who was involved in his coup.’  Slater wrote back, ‘Lol, bwahahaha.’

If I was Slater, Lusk or Williams, I think this is the stuff I’d be losing sleep over. I am not a lawyer, but I looked through the crimes act and asked a real lawyer about this, and if the police can establish that these messages really were sent by Lusk and Slater they are admissible as evidence whether or not they were obtained illegally, and might be used, along with Slater’s blog posts, to charge them with conspiracy to commit blackmail, irrespective of whether Hide feels that he was actually blackmailed. Maximum sentence seven years.

 

 

August 15, 2014

Dirty politics and consequences

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:52 pm

John Key did a media stand-up yesterday about Dirty Politics in which he mentioned the words ‘left-wing conspiracy theorist’ about twenty times, and insisted that everything in the book is a lie, and that the real dirty politics comes from the left.

From a communications point-of-view that’s a sensible approach. His audience is not the journalists at the stand-up, but rather the television viewers who haven’t read the book and who will see excerpts of the statement and be reassured by the PMs words.

But some of the reporters listening to the PM have read the book. And when Key insists that the real dirty politics comes from the left, I think, or hope, that they’ll reflect that no one on the left is publishing the addresses of journalists online in the hope that someone assaults or murders them in revenge for writing about tax-havens, which is what Cathy Odgers, Cameron Slater David Farrar and Matthew Hooton discuss on page 91. Also, no one on the left is going around brothels trying to find out whether journalists have visited them, so they can be blackmailed, which is what Cameron Slater, the Justice Minister’s close friend, and long-term collaborator with the Prime Minister’s office is up to. No one on the left runs smear campaigns against attempted rape victims, or publishes graphic affidavits describing their political enemies having sex. There’s no one comparable to Slater on the left of politics, or blogging. He is a phenomenon unique to the National Party.  Key can insist that this is all just a lie, just a conspiracy story, but people who read the book know that this is simply documentation from Slater’s emails and that the Prime Minister is lying to their faces. 

So I don’t think Key’s line will work, or that this story is going away. I haven’t talked to any gallery journalists since it was released but I suspect that – if nothing else – the confirmation of the long-nurtured bitter suspicion that Key’s office has been screwing them on OIA requests by forwarding them to Slater for early publication will ensure that this story runs and runs throughout the rest of the campaign.

Will it hurt National? I don’t know. I really thought the Oravida scandal at the beginning of the year would damage them, and it didn’t. Maybe nothing will. But if this is different I think it’s because it cuts against Key’s brand: the good guy who floats above it all, so much so that the media go to him, weirdly, as an impartial commentator on political events. If this pulls away the mask and reveals him as just another venal politician with an office filled with staffers digging dirt, then that will hurt the National Party.

Whatever the wider implications, the book has had a profound effect on me, personally. Something that doesn’t come across in the news coverage about Dirty Politics, and Cameron Slater, Jason Ede, Jordan Williams, Simon Lusk et al is just how fucking awful these people are. They spend their lives trying to poison and contaminate our politics. They enjoy seeing people suffer. They get excited by the idea of breaking up the marriages of their political enemies and ruining their lives. And John Key stands up and bleats about how everything they do is fine, and the people on the left are the nasty ones. Fuck him. 

I’ve been on the left for a while. I voted Labour then Green, and I’ll be voting Green again this year. But I’ve always tried to be detached and as non-partisan as possible. I didn’t always succeed, but the intention was there. I’ve never joined a political party, and I’ve been a constant critic of Labour. I spend half my time online arguing with other left-wing commentators.

But these people in National and its proxies are the fucking enemy. They literally hate most of the people in the country: Cameron Slater was delighted when the earthquake hit Christchurch, killed 185 people and destroyed thousands of houses, because those people were ‘scum’ who voted Labour. That’s the guy who is close friends with the Justice Minister and a core component of National’s media strategy.

These people shouldn’t be at the heart of our government. They’re a cancer. I’m not naive, I know that politics involves leaks; that there are dirty tricks in every government. But I like to think that if a left-wing government gets this bad, I’ll do something about it.

Because I’m going to do something about this. I’m not sure what, exactly. Join the Green Party, donate money to them and volunteer, to start with. Stop bickering with others on the left and focus on the real threat. Hopefully a lot more. Because these people are evil and they Do Not Get to Win.

DPF Hacked!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:18 am

Via Stuff

David Farrar, whose company does polling for National and who operates the National-sympathetic Kiwiblog, was also a subject of Dirty Politics.

He posted on Kiwiblog this morning that after a careful reading of the book, he realised Hager had information “that could not have come from the hacking of Cameron Slater, but could only have come from my computer, my apartment or my office”.

The two most likely scenarios were that his computer system had also been hacked, or someone had physically removed documents from his office or apartment, Farrar said.

Or, y’know, Hager could have talked to one of Farrar’s employees, who read the scripts hundreds of times, and if you look in the footnotes to Hager’s book it turns out that information about Curia is attributed to an ‘employee’. 

August 14, 2014

Two points about Cameron Slater. First: Who reads this shit?

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:41 pm

Cameron Slater is the undisputed king of the New Zealand blogosphere (disputed). Here’s a chart of the publically available NZ blog traffic stats for August 2014, provided by Open Parachute:

august14blogs

WhaleOil towers over the rest of the extremely high quality blogs in the top seven. And he has some prominent fans. The Prime Minister and Justice Minister, obviously. National Party apparatchiks Sean Plunket and Bill Ralston are huge admirers, as is the Herald’s media columnist John Drinnen. There’s a lot of love out there for the Whale.

Which is weird, because have you looked at WhaleOil recently? Jump back a few weeks to the pre-election campaign and it is a very, very weird aggregation of pet videos and other viral videos and ‘mental health breaks’, pictures of old maps, pictures of guns, proverbs, tobacco company PR (as detailed in the book), posts laughing about dead or injured children, political commentary, open threads, and cut and pasted excerpts from media stories and other bloggers. As Hager points out in his book, Slater accepts payment to smear people on his blog, which means he runs attack campaigns against random unknown individuals and tiny companies which have no interest to anyone. Who are the hundreds of thousands of people apparently reading this stuff? 

Well. One of those other bloggers Slater links to semi-regularly is me. My big traffic days are when I post a poll update and everyone links to it, or if say something mean about Labour, and both WhaleOil and Kiwiblog link to me to endorse it and someone at the Standard links to me to refute it. When someone clicks on a link at WhaleOil or Kiwiblog and ends up at the DimPost the origin shows up in my statistics. Here’s what the incoming links for the last three months look like.


dimpostquarter

DPF and Slater have both linked to me roughly the same amount of times during that period. I guess you could argue that readers of Kiwiblog and the other right-wing blogs in that graph are more likely to click on links than WhaleOil readers, for some unknown reason, or that my site is also linked to in their side-bars, maybe? But go back and look at the traffic stats for WhaleOil in the first graph. His traffic is, supposedly, immense, towering over everyone else – but the amount of actual people clicking through from his site is tiny. 

My hypothesis is that the WhaleOil stats are gamed, somehow, and that the number of real people reading WhaleOil every day is probably in the low hundreds, mostly National and ACT activists and media elites and outraged left-wingers. Which is funny, because he’s paid very handsomely by the tobacco lobby and other industry groups to publish their PR on the basis that it’s going out to hundreds of thousands of people. 

August 13, 2014

Dirty Politics Summary

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:40 pm

Hager’s basic hypothesis is that John Key’s National government uses a ‘two tier’ communications strategy; positive communications, which are focused around John Key, who is presented as ‘relaxed’ and decent, and negative/attack communications, which are conducted covertly by senior staffers in Key’s office and fed to the media mostly – but not exclusively – through Cameron Slater’s WhaleOil blog.

His evidence for all of this consists of a huge quantity of Slater’s Facebook messages many of which are to and from Jason Ede, the longest-serving press officer in the Prime Minister’s office. The primary allegations regarding Ede are:

  • He was involved in accessing the Labour Party’s computers in the lead-up to the 2011 election
  • He tips Slater off when an OIA is about to be released to an opposition party or media outlet, telling Slater to request the OIA, which he is then provided with before the original requestor. Slater then publishes the information on his blog with a pro-National spin
  • He is implicated in advising Slater to request classified SIS documents, which were then declassified and quickly released to Slater to embarrass Labour leader Phil Goff
  • Ede advised Slater on the wording of OIA requests to conduct a smear campaign against MFAT staff protesting Murray McCully’s restructuring of their department.

The book also documents the close friendship between Slater and Justice Minister Judith Collins, alleging:

  • Collins is the source of much of the material for Slater’s ‘tipline’, attacking Labour MPs and her enemies within the National Party.
  • When she was Minister of Corrections Collins appears to have had a prisoner transferred at Slater’s request, because a friend of Slater’s didn’t want her daughter visiting her imprisoned ex-partner and Slater arranged to have the man transferred to a more remote prison. The prisoner later attempted suicide. [Update: Hager has said - and the book does, actually say, that Slater accomplished this through a prison officer, not Collins.]
  • Collins discusses the illegal leaking of police evidence with Slater and publication of the evidence on Slater’s blog (at the time she was Minister of Police)

One of Slater’s primary collaborators is the political strategist Simon Lusk. Allegations:

  • Lusk and Slater charge aspiring National politicians to help them win candidate selection in National safe-seats by running attack campaigns against their opponents. The book documents an extensive smear campaign in the Rodney electorate in 2011, in which Lusk and Slater successfully elected their client Mark Mitchell, who is now the MP for Rodney.
  • Lusk and Slater, and Jordan Williams routinely game the iPredict site, spending small amounts of money to move the prices around and then blogging about the movements.
  • Lusk was hired by Brash to help replace Rodney Hide as leader of the ACT Party. Lusk – evidently without Brash’s knowledge – found out from Jordan Williams that Rodney Hide had been sending ‘dodgy texts’ to a young woman. Slater published hints about this on his blog and Lusk proposed that they approach Hide quietly and ‘tell Hide that someone had the texts and will release them if he doesn’t resign by Friday’. Hide resigned.

Much of the material published by Slater under his name is actually written by Carrick Graham, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Allegations:

  • Graham also comments extensively on WhaleOil, using pseudonyms, often under his own posts. His pseudo-anonymous comments are incredibly racist and misogynistic.
  • Graham pays Slater about $6500 a month for publishing pro tobacco, pro alcohol PR, written by Graham but published under Slater’s byline.
  • Many of the posts are vicious attacks against academics that publish scientific research that upsets Graham’s clients.

Other noteworthy allegations:

  • Slater has a friend who is a former-prostitute, who asks around brothels to find out if his political enemies have been to them. Len Brown, John Boscowan, Labour MPs, the Herald’s editors and Duncan Garner are all named as people Slater has attempted to ‘dig dirt’ on in this manner to ‘apply pressure’.
  • Jordan Williams edits the Wikipedia pages of Labour MPs and writes smears about their sex lives
  • Content on David Farrar’s Kiwiblog is written by National’s communications staffers

That’s not even close to an exhaustive list. Just the things that jumped out at me.

I think the primary focus here should be on Jason Ede. Cameron Slater, Jordan Williams and David Farrar are National Party activists, but Ede is paid a (large) salary by the taxpayer to help John Key run the country but his actual job seems to consist of activity that is highly unethical and – occasionally – almost certainly illegal.

Key has already dismissed Hager’s book (‘left-wing conspiracy theory’) so it looks like he might try to bluff this out. I really, really, really doubt that will work.

Dirty politics

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:00 pm

I will blog on it at length later, but after a speed read the big reveals are: 

1. The Prime Minister’s office hacked into Labour’s servers, obtaining information about its donors and membership, passed the information onto Cameron Slater and then lied about it. 

2. The Prime Minister’s office told Slater to OIA classified SIS documents, then had the SIS declassify them and released to Slater. 

If substantiated – and Hager’s book is based on correspondence between Cameron Slater and one of Key’s senior staffers – then the scale of the abuse of power is unprecedented, and there will need to be a transparent independent investigation into the Prime Minister’s office. 

Nicky Hager Spin Bingo

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:42 pm

Let’s see how many times the Prime Minister, Steven Joyce and National’s media mouthpieces can clock this over the next seventy-two hours. 

bingo

 

August 11, 2014

Gross

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:03 am

I think there’s a place for ‘election bribes’ in politics. If you’re looking at a bunch of policies you might campaign on because you believe in them, the smart thing to do is pick the ones that will swing a bunch of voters your way. It’s different, I think, from pork-barrel politics in which there are no values or ideas and you’re just picking a group of voters and saying, ‘Hey vote for us and we’ll give you free stuff!’ The latent libertarian in me rises up and seethes ‘That is not your wealth to just give away in exchange for votes.’

Which is what Labour’s new policy of free healthcare for Over 65s amounts to. Here’s a chart I made from a DPMC report on poverty in New Zealand:

hardshipbyage

Labour’s policy is a generous subsidy to the least needy group in the country. It’s also a very large group of people with high health-care needs and giving them ‘free’ access to healthcare is going to cause a huge increase in demand for primary health services. What’s Labour’s plan to increase the supply of GPs?

So why this policy? Because of this chart recently released by the Electoral Commission showing voter enrolment by age, which speaks for itself:

votersbyageAt least the politics behind the policy are interesting. Labour has finally realised that Winston Peters is highly likely to form a government with National after the election, and this is a direct attack on his voter base, pretty much all of whom are elderly former Labour voters. Which is an interesting thing to do: Peters is bobbing up and down around the 5% mark. The loss of a couple thousand voters could be all it takes to drop him below the threshold and see him wiped out.

It’s a variation on National’s ‘three party’ strategy. You don’t need 51% of the votes to win the election, National figured. You just need one more seat than your opponents. So if the Conservatives and New Zealand First wiped each other out National could run the country with 61 seats even though they won less than 50% of the vote.

The arrival of Internet/Mana upset that strategy for National but now I think Labour are trying something similar. It doesn’t matter how much of the overall vote they get. If lots of those votes are wasted and Labour+Greens+Internet/Mana = more seats than National then they’ve won.

 

 

August 8, 2014

Sigh

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:03 am

Via the Herald:

An Internet-Mana Party video clip of a frenzied crowd cheering on Kim Dotcom and chanting “F*** John Key” is being compared to Nazi Germany propaganda – although a political marketing expert concedes it could appeal to youth.

Auckland University political marketing specialist Jennifer Lees-Marshment said the video’s rhetoric about revolution and changing the Government looked effective, but “reminds me of propaganda, chanting-type campaigning more reminiscent of Hitler and fascism [in Nazi Germany] than New Zealand in the 21st century”.

The actual footage shows Kim Dotcom urging people to vote and promising to give them a hug, which isn’t something I remember from Triumph of the Will. I think what these commentators and marketing experts are trying to say with all this gibberish about Nazis is (a) that footage of political events showing hundreds of young people denigrating the Prime Minister is a new phenomenon in the New Zealand political experience, and it frightens them (b) they think the young people at these events are victims of ‘false consciousness’ – they don’t really dislike the Prime Minister, they’ve just been brainwashed! and (c) Kim Dotcom is a German, so hey, Hitler.

My problem with Internet/Mana has always been that it will probably scare more voters towards National than it wins from youth voters. I might be wrong. We’ll see on election day. But their ‘Fuck John Key’ ad and the horrified reaction to it is pretty much Exhibit A in my ‘scare the middle-class horses’ hypothesis. I also kind-of-doubt this ad and Laila Harre’s defense of it – that it shows ‘young people expressing themselves creatively’ – is going to appeal to very many young voters, given that it makes young voters look like bogans.

August 7, 2014

Gonna be a long six weeks

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:33 pm

Labour announced their health policy today, and the Greens launched a huge transport policy – but the big political story dominating twitter today and the current lead political story on the Herald web-site is:

Internet-Mana ‘sinking to such a low’

An Internet-Mana Party video clip of a frenzied crowd cheering on Kim Dotcom and chanting “f*** John Key” is a terrible look and an embarrassment to Internet Party leader Laila Harre, an expert in political marketing says.

The video, taken during the recent IMP Party Party series in Christchurch, shows Kim Dotcom addressing a crowd of students.

“Are you ready for a revolution? Are you ready to take down the Government? Are you ready to extradite John Key?” he asks the crowd.

They then break into loud chants of “f*** John Key”.

Yesterday was Key baiting Laila Harre by alleging that Dotcom was her ‘sugar daddy’. Tomorrow or the next day it’ll be something else . . .

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