So while I was sleeping Nicky Hager’s book was launched in Wellington today. While you were sleeping I had to write down my thoughts. I did not expect it to be a sequel to the Hollow Men but so it was. I guess the proverbial “Fool me once…” is in order. I won’t get to read this book for a long time and I expect most of the book will be traversed in detail in the next few weeks by those who do. Once thing that was very evident to me from the preface and the information that is out there is that now we know why Judith Collins was never sacked. If "the machine" was engaging in this level of unethical behavior just to win elections can you imagine the kind of dirt they have on each other? It is well known that WO and Judith Collins are close, I hate to think what they have over John Key that makes him so powerless when it comes to her. Some of the excerpts are truly frightening to me.
"the prime minister’s office used its knowledge of secret SIS documents to tip off Slater" from website.
I was working for the Labour Leader’s Office during and leading up to the 2011 election. This is extraordinary! Surely this needs independent investigation because it is a major breach. I'm not even sure that we will ever know the extent of the abuse. It is well known that political operatives in the Beehive go out of their way to make sure their actions are not OIA-able. But I don’t see how the investigation could happen while John Key is still PM. I would not have confidence in any such investigation! This alone means that he can no longer stay.
“They include persistent attacks on Labour Party politicians, attacks that consciously set out to distract, wear down or demoralise them rather than trying to debate issues or win a political argument…”
Well that tactic certainly worked during the 2011 election. I remember that very well because I worked through those days for Labour.
"how our defences as a society (news media, electoral laws and so on) are inadequate to protect the public."
This right here terrifies me the most. We misplaced our faith in the idea that New Zealand is the least corrupted country. We were fooled by the beauty and the simplicity of our small nation in the thinking that nothing bad ever happens here. Time and time again we are proven wrong but our faith in our own goodness means that people who do want to take advantage can and do take that advantage. Some practical solutions: OIA needs urgent reform, political donations need to be far more transparent, our law enforcement agencies needs to reigned in, and we need to restore civil service neutrality. Everything to me right now reeks of undue influence and abuse of power.
I’ve been referred to as a hack (because I worked for Labour). It is well established that I sit on the left of the political spectrum. Despite never been a member of any political party and despite having multiple combinations of the two ticks in the last three elections I will always be seen as Labour. An yet this book gives me no joy. No solace. I feel no glee. Hager says:
"This is a technique originally from US republican politics...."
How can anything borrowed from US Republicans be good for New Zealand? Have we as a nation not been watching the destruction of political goodwill in America precisely because of these kind of tactics? The apathy, the anger, the misinformed choices? Do we want that as a country? It is clear to me that our politicians don’t really care about good governance. They are motivated by power and wielding that power for personal gain. Finally this –
“Journalists have suspected these activities but the evidence has been hard to find.”
Well I guess it didn’t come up when John Roughan was writing that biography. It didn’t come up when they were actively spreading rumours about Labour Party donations. It didn’t come up when they had to actively denyusing Government agencies to find out how they knew how many times Winston visited Kim Dotcom. I guess none of that really required thorough investigation because if you were a journalist – would you really think a political party would go this far? In this day and age? This many years after Watergate? Spying on the opposition? Why would you risk your professional reputation wondering if such a scale of underhanded activities was occurring?
If there is anything I take away from this – it is “constant vigilance”. More to come I'm sure...