The Dim-Post

November 17, 2011

Jedi tactics

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:44 pm

The PM gets weirder by the hour:

National Party leader John Key, who was in Whangarei on Thursday, said any police action following the complaint he laid was out of his hands, as the police act independently.

When asked whether his complaint was a good use of police time, Mr Key said National had lowered the crime rate across the country so police had a little bit of spare time.

At first I thought National’s decision to make a big deal out of the ‘teapot tapes’ was clever politics – part of their small target strategy, that it would focus the national debate on media ethics, and not the policy issues of the campaign.

Which shows you what a terrible political strategist I’d make. The fact that the transcript hasn’t been released meant that National’s political opponents – ie Winston Peters – could make whatever claims they liked about its contents. This shifted the focus from the ethics of the taping to the contents.

The Nats are putting it about that this is all playing well with the public, that their focus groups support the PM, etc. And maybe that’s true. But so what? The National Party and the PM are popular with the public, sure – but National’s margins for success in this election are pretty narrow. They don’t want to be reliant on the Maori Party votes to pass their budgets through the House. And any ‘tactic’ in which they risk losing votes from National to New Zealand First, and further place the existence of the ACT Party at risk is a really terrible strategy, no matter whether the bulk of the public is on their side or not.

40 Comments »

  1. Yes, I think you’re right Danyl. I’m surprised at the incompetence shown. Until he went to the police he could easily pick his time and place to divulge the contents that are highly unlikely to be anything unsuspected at large. Now, he’s the plaything of systems he can’t control, the media and police.

    I can’t explain the stupidity, although I can speculate that it’s the hubris popular people sometimes get into, not realizing how fickle popularity really is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

  2. There goes that theory; Peters is releasing the transcript at 2pm at a public meeting in Invercargill

    Comment by Inventory2 — November 17, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  3. Yeah, Winston will clear everything up!

    Comment by danylmc — November 17, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  4. “Which shows you what a terrible political strategist I’d make….”

    Doesn’t this admission rather undermine your later analysis? I think you need to be more self-confident. You’re a GREAT political strategist (in matters of hindsight).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 17, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  5. Winston is going to have SO MUCH fun today.

    Comment by Amy — November 17, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  6. Radio NZ is milking the “police had a bit of spare time” comment for all it’s worth, bless them. If you can bring yourself to wade through the bile in the comments on Stuff’s stories you’ll find that today the usual wall-to-wall invective from rabid Key supporters has been diluted a little with some anti-Key rants. Groundswell reversing?

    Comment by Phil — November 17, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  7. Key is doing a bit of a Dick Dastardly. He could have won easily and outright, but instead he’s gone for unnecessary and diabolical schemes in Epsom that are backfiring and might result in him having a minority government again.

    Comment by NN — November 17, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  8. I doubt very much that the National strategy is as considered as you think it might be, Danyl. And the consequences of what is happening are unpredictable. A boost to Winston – from the mid 2s to the mid 4s – may simply maximise the lost votes on the centre left. The margins are fine for all the players but they are particularly tight for the centre left if they are to have a chance of forming a government or having an impact on how decisively National are able to lead another government. The media just adore being the story, it confirms our sense of importance,but the occasions in which the public see us as their proxy are strictly limited. The TV3 naughty boys (Garner and Gower) waggling their baboon butts on national TV and the prim bluestockings of RNZ seeking desperately to be offended may not be personae that inspire a nation. I think one can only hope so whatever one’s political inclinations

    Comment by Tinakori — November 17, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  9. John Key is learning (too late) that what is reasonable and possibly appropriate action for 2.5 years of a three-year cycle is an entirely different beast in the months leading up to an election. At this time of year parties need to close down gossip and muck-raking by opening up all information and, if necessary, apologising – even if it’s galling to do so. Key gave the minor parties a wonderful gift when he refused to talk, and the media cause for glee when he involved the police.

    Comment by Ataahua — November 17, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  10. “You’re a GREAT political strategist (in matters of hindsight).”

    Dude. Ouch.

    Comment by Hugh — November 17, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  11. To be fair, Hugh … I’m a GREAT lawyer, when commenting on cases other people are involved in.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 17, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  12. “The National Party and the PM are popular with the public, sure – but National’s margins for success in this election are pretty narrow.”

    Only because their expectations are so high. What’s the worst case scenario? OK, so they’re dependent on the Maori Party to pass budgets… in the same way Labour was ‘dependent’ on NZ First to pass budgets between 2005 and 2008. Surprisingly, Winston didn’t run roughshod over them, and his relationship with Labour was far worse than National’s relationship with the Maori Party.

    I mean, obviously National would prefer to be able to govern without needing the Maori Party’s support and just have them as adornments to signal at Maori people that they take the treaty seriously. But even their worst case scenario still results in them governing for another three years. I think it’s possible to overestimate how high the stakes are for National. Unfortunately, the public loves a “horse race” scenario…

    Comment by Hugh — November 17, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  13. Have to have a quiet snigger at the media now refusing to give the police their evidence, presumable on the rather frail legal grounds of not revealing their sources
    Is this is the same crew who have been braying at the PM to give it up in the “public interest” all week

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — November 17, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  14. >Unfortunately, the public loves a “horse race” scenario…

    Yes, although I think given that this gamble by Key may pay off, the public might find that riding a horse with “unbridled power” might turn out to be a wild and unpleasant ride indeed.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 17, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  15. presumably on the rather frail legal grounds of not revealing their sources

    Buy yourself an early Christmas present, Raymond. “The History of Journalism”, authored by pretty much anybody. It is seriously scary how many people think like you.

    Meanwhile this picture of paradise is going around the world, on the AP wire …

    New Zealand police plan to execute search warrants on media outlets as they investigate a claim from Prime Minister John Key that he was illegally recorded.

    Great.

    Comment by sammy — November 17, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  16. police have so much time on their hands?

    oh, the police are gonna love that

    Comment by Cnr Joe — November 17, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  17. This is getting a bit weird now. Who at the police is deciding to execute search warrants on media outlets? Really this is the most pressing case they have going?

    This is the same police force that point blank refused to enforce tresspass notices in Dunedin?

    Comment by swan — November 17, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  18. National’s margins for success in this election are pretty narrow.
    Yes, although the risks of those margins being entirely eroded in all the necessary ways to actually put govenrnning at risk are even narrower – those basically being a loss for ACT with serious enough vote “wastage” and last-minute poll shifting that National hit 56 seats, almost all the balance going to NZ First such that they make Parliament and all the minor parties then refuse to form Govt with National who will be given first shot.

    But given that they have created Super-Booster-Overhanger National 2 (formerly known as ACT) I also get the feeling that they believe success is governing “alone” (even if their former leader and Cabinet Minister have a different letterhead).

    Comment by garethw — November 17, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  19. Actually I heard that the contents of the tapes contain suggestions of a secret aganda-
    to impose a fat tax on steak and cheese pies, and that is why Duncan Garner is so upset.

    Comment by gn — November 17, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  20. I think the Police have sent a message to Key that if he wants and investigation, he is going to get one and its going to be ugly and messy with search warrants on RNZ, TV3. They are pissed off, and Key telling them that they are lazy cause they have plenty of spare time won’t help. They will not wear the stupid accusations as with the Hollow men “stolen” emails. Pissing off the media when your about to possibly win an election is not going to help, Espiner is retiring. Who is leader of the pack? Garner. Who is leading the charge, Garner.

    Might be an uncomfortable 18 months till Key retires to Hawaii.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — November 17, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  21. ‘unbridled power’

    Comment by Cnr Joe — November 17, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  22. It could be a very uncomfortable 3 years if you worked at RNZ (owned by the state), TVNZ (owned by the state), TV3 (broadcasting license underwritten by the state). Talk about dumbass media.

    Comment by will — November 17, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  23. Nope you’re all wrong. You’ve got a private conversation illegally and/or unethically recorded and the media trying to blackmail Key into responding to it. By refusing to bow to that pressure and putting it into the hands of the Police Key has left the media in a nasty narcissistic little circle jerk and having to rely on Winston to lecture us on ethics… you couldn’t make this shit up!

    Where do they go from here? There’s nothing of significance in the tapes and Key’s just going to sit back and watch the “story” implode.

    The media are despised even more than politicians and they’ll be the ones left looking like arseholes. Nobody deserves it more.

    Comment by carborundum — November 17, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  24. Will @ #22. Yup. And Duncy aint gonna be John Key’s future press secretary either. He fucked up. Heard morning tv in Sydney’s good though.- beats being Paul Holmes.

    Actually thats the great thing about Danyl’s blog, the comments don’t get immediately moderated, you can swear, fuck. See, cool.

    Just so you knew that.

    Comment by gn — November 17, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  25. “It could be a very uncomfortable 3 years if you worked at RNZ (owned by the state), TVNZ (owned by the state), TV3 (broadcasting license underwritten by the state). Talk about dumbass media.”

    Said with such eloquence and relish, will. Of course you are right (and rightly so). In every functioning democracy the government of the day gets to control what the media do and say and can effectively silence them whenever it gets irritated. It’s one of the perks of office. Why are the media so dumbass as to not appreciate this do you think? Dummy dumbasses.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — November 17, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  26. “There’s nothing of significance in the tapes…”

    Danyl, you’ve had a visit from John Banks! Or at least someone who’s borrowed extensively from his talking points…

    Comment by Guy Smiley — November 17, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  27. d’guy sez “In every functioning democracy the government of the day gets to control what the media do and say”

    Agree, when the media carry out covert surveillance on the Head of Government and pretend it was all just a terrible misunderstanding. Sounds like a Tui ad dunnit geezeer.

    Comment by will — November 17, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  28. @27 __Head of Government__

    You say that as if they deserve some deference due to their position. Why? In a democracy, it is they who should be watched most closely, surely?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — November 17, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

  29. “Sounds like a Tui ad dunnit geezeer.”

    Yeah, right. Because it has never, ever happened anywhere ever before.

    Except here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8649012.stm
    And here: http://abcnews.go.com/International/sarkozy-obama-netanyahu-liar-israel/story?id=14903750
    Or, generally, here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1138908.stm

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 17, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  30. We’ve got a pretty sneaky media if they can lull the PM into a false sense of confidence simply by hiding on the other side of a window…

    Comment by Nick — November 17, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

  31. “Yeah, right. Because it has never, ever happened anywhere ever before.”

    Except those guys knew they were wearing microphones while the tea-gate case the surveillance was covert.

    Comment by will — November 18, 2011 @ 7:11 am

  32. Yeah will, a tape recorder was left “covertly” on the table after a media scrum organised by the head of government so the public could see (but not hear) him sprinkle a racist nutcase with some magic fairy dust. A purge of the anit-democratic media is seriously in order. That is unarguable.

    Covert surveillance is the sole preserve of the state in any event.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — November 18, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  33. What matters isn’t whether it was intentional, but whether Key/Banks can prove it was intentional. Onus of proof is on them, and they don’t appear to have any supporting evidence.

    Comment by danylmc — November 18, 2011 @ 7:50 am

  34. Danyl, so as the law stands now, are you saying that if I “accidentally” record a private conversation you’re having (and am later so mortified by that fact I immediately transcribe it, give copies to my professional peers and gloat about it on my Facebook page), I’m sweet?

    Comment by Adze — November 18, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  35. Adze,

    Yes. In a legal sense. Ethically? Well, that’s for your peers and readers/watchers to judge … plus you’d have a hard time getting access to any public figures in the future.

    Also, the circumstances in which you may “accidentally” record Danyl are likely to be very different from that which applies to Key/Banks. Is Danyl in the habit of inviting the nation’s media to watch him having a cup of tea in a Cuba Street dive? Well … I know he is … but could he expect anyone to actually turn up? So the quote marks around accidentally are justified in Danyl’s case. In Key/Bank’s one? Not so much.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 18, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  36. Actually, when I said “In a legal sense”, I should have said “In a criminal law sense” … Danyl could have civil law remedies (which are unlikely to be available to Key/Banks, due to public interest defences).

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 18, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  37. Just saw the cops wandering around in Urban Cafe (of tea fame). Not sure if its related.

    Comment by swan — November 18, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  38. Presumably Danyl would have to prove some kind of palpable damage to him either financially or in terms of reputation, though, right?

    Comment by Hugh — November 18, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

  39. Hugh; for a civil case I think that would be the case.

    AG – the burden of proof is lower in civil, right? Balance of probability vs. beyond reasonable doubt (or something like that?)

    Comment by Gregor W — November 19, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  40. @ Gregor … yes, in a civil case (for instance, the tort of breach of confidence or invasion of privacy) the burden of proof is balance of probabilities. But you wouldn’t need to show any intent in such actions – just that private/confidential information has been recorded and released.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — November 19, 2011 @ 2:53 pm


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