The Dim-Post

October 30, 2008

The Trail of Slime

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:53 am
Tags: , ,

Poor old Labour. It’s worth taking a minute to imgaine the elation they must have felt for a few days there: they finally had that fucker Key dead cold. Perjury. Fraud. Victory.

Labour president Mike Williams spent several days last week reading court documents in Melbourne, backed up by Wellington-based members of the party research unit.

Last weekend, the party believed it had a smoking gun – a signature on the A$39m first H-Fee cheque bearing a striking resemblance to Mr Key’s. Senior party figures advocated making the document public immediately.

Within days, though, court documents proved that what would have been the campaign’s most explosive allegation was wrong. The January 11 cheque was actually signed by an Australian-based executive of the firm Mr Key worked for.

Colin Espiner has blogged about the origins of this non-scandal:

So where did the Herald story come from? Well as it turns out, from the president of the Labour Party, Mike Williams, who it turns out has been in Melbourne researching it from 13,000 pages of court documents. Did Williams have better things to do during an election campaign than trawl through 20-year-old court records looking for dirt on Key? Apparently not.

What’s interesting is that Labour leader Helen Clark is running a mile from this story. She is refusing to even say whether she thinks it raises questions about Key’s integrity or honesty. Her office says Williams is running this show, not Clark, and while the president may think Key has questions to answer, she’s not making any comment.

Vernon Small at the Dom-Post also has some interesting insights into how the story was propagated:

The saga began when a pile of court and other documents were dropped in a Dominion Post reporter’s letterbox wrapped in a copy of the Otago Daily Times. That was followed by an anonymous text and several drops of further documents from someone calling himself Batman. All pointed to Mr Key and the H-fee scheme.

David Farrar points out that The Standard recently featured a guest-post written by someone called Batman that discussed Keys involvement with the H-Fee, and that The Standard have recently deleted the post.

My (totally uninformed) guess is that Williams and his little helpers found their evidence on Key during the weekend and set events in motion to get the story out there as soon as possible, but the Prime Minister – who is super-cautious when it comes to stunts like this – told them to hold back until she was confident the story was sound. When it transpired that they had nothing they’d already primed the story in the media. It’s hard to walk a story back when its being spread by a guy called ‘Batman’ sending reporters anonymous text messages.

So this is all pretty embarrassing but it could have been SO much worse. Imagine if Labour had gone big with this on Monday or Tuesday night only to have National reveal that it was someone elses’s name on the cheque.

– UPDATED: IrishBill from The Standard has pointed out in the comments that contrary to DPFs claims they haven’t deleted their post by ‘Batman’, merely changed the attribution from being a web-site author to a guest post. It also occurs to me that DPFs outrage towards The Standard is a bit rich for a guy who’s travelling around the country with disturbed National Party activist Cameron Slater, who has spent the election campaign fabricating some pretty spectacular smears of his own, the general loathsomeness of which make the current allegations against Key look mild indeed.


  1. Key’s selective memory is kinda annoying, Clark’s new prepensity for selective awareness is kinda frightening.

    Comment by Neil — October 30, 2008 @ 11:06 am

  2. “Key’s selective memory is kinda annoying”

    I can’t remember which years, let alone which months & which years I started or left any job 20 years ago. (Although coincidentally, I did work for Elders Merchant Finance in the 80s, all I can remember is it was after the sharemarket crash & John Key wasn’t there.)

    Comment by llew — October 30, 2008 @ 11:35 am

  3. Danyl, the Standard did not delete the “batman” post. It is still there:

    We did change it to a guest post on the same day it went up after one of my more enthusiastic comrades decided the posts we had been anonymously emailed needed their own author and we collectively decided otherwise (we have since clarified our guest-post policy).

    We also decided not to run anymore of the information after we fact-checked it and decided it didn’t have enough substance.

    You’re a smart guy and your posts are often very funny but you should check your facts before repeating David’s smears.

    Comment by IrishBill — October 30, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  4. ahh labour, the standard, Irish Bill, Mike Williams, batman and there entourage

    “Why so Serious?

    You know who people are in their last moments.”


    Comment by The Joker — October 30, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  5. “disturbed National Party activist Cameron Slater, who has spent the election campaign fabricating some pretty spectacular smears of his own”

    Big difference: Camboy is not the President of the National Party…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 30, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

  6. Camboy is not the President of the National Party…

    I was about to write ‘Batman and the authors at The Standard aren’t the President or the Labour Party either’, but then I thought, hell – maybe one of them are.

    Comment by danylmc — October 30, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  7. Dirt 101: have somebody else to do the work for you. National have, Labour haven’t. That’s the only difference. Let’s not pretend that National don’t enjoy and encourage the Slater/Wishart slime.

    Comment by sammy — October 30, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

  8. Yeah, why did Nicky Hager not do this? Oh right, because it was a stupid idea and he’s smarter than that. Fucking labour, all they had to do was show that they were the one with morals, but they fucked it up of well. I’ve already voted, although i wish i’d gone united future now just to make him that little bit more annyoing for national

    Comment by Chris — October 30, 2008 @ 2:30 pm

  9. Hate to expose this, but the story was being discussed in the BeeHive (physical place, not ‘sphere) on Tuesday last week. 9th floor ex-employee related the story that night with a ‘watch this spece’ accent.

    Comment by shocked and stunned — October 30, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

  10. The fact that it’s been oversold for months as a “neutron bomb” doesn’t help Labour much – you should only release the truth if it’s *more* shocking than the rumours… not less.

    The mixed-metaphor headlines practically write themselves… Neutron Bomb Falls Flat, Smoking Gun Backfires, Search For Key Dope In Vain, Labour Hits Skids On Dirty Laundry, etc.

    Comment by gazzaj — October 30, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  11. someone should inform the PM that McCain is losing.

    Comment by Neil — October 31, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  12. someone should inform the PM that McCain is losing.

    Maybe its just pattern recognition kicking in, but the two campaigns DO seem weirdly similar . . .

    Comment by Danyl Mclauchlan — October 31, 2008 @ 9:53 am

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