Shameless and Arrogant

August 17th, 2006 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

Today’s Dominion Post editorial on the illegal pledge card spending makes the others (which were very stern also) look like wimps. It starts by asking:


What part of shameless and arrogant does Labour not understand?

Miss Clark says that no political party sets out to break any rule established by the Parliamentary Service. Pardon? She cannot possibly have forgotten that 2-1/2 weeks before polling day, Chief Electoral Officer David Henry told the party it had breached the Electoral Act when Miss Clark’s office sent out so-called pledge cards to every household. General secretary Mike Smith initially offered to remedy matters; 18 days later, he withdrew the offer.

This comes just days after she pretended that colleague and Mangere MP Phillip Field had done nothing wrong in his immigration work on behalf of constituents, a stance she has moved from marginally since it became obvious the public was unimpressed. No wonder voters regard politicians as venal and untrustworthy.

For Miss Clark to accuse critics of Labour’s pre-election spending of defamation indicates this latest allegation of government sleaze has her rattled.

The worst part of this latest example of the Government’s absolute determination to cling to office at any cost is the Clark-Cullen suggestion that taxpayers should fund parties’ electioneering. Miss Clark seems no longer to recognise the reality: that election campaigns provide a marketplace of ideas and would-be politicians, from which voters pick to form a government. If parties cannot attract mass membership and fees because their policies are unpopular, they don’t deserve to have their influence artificially bolstered by dipping a hand into taxpayers’ wallets.

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45 Responses to “Shameless and Arrogant”

  1. sonic () says:

    “the Government’s absolute determination to cling to office at any cost”

    They are hardly “clinging to office” they won an election less that 12 months ago.

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  2. merc () says:

    Look! Look! The Queen has died!

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  3. noddy () says:

    This must be a record, that editorial has been out for several hours and only now do you blog approvingly on it. Another example of the MSM ignoring issues? What are you up to in SF, BTW, your reticence is very out of character.

    Personally, I think Cullen (and Peters) are always on a losing wicket if they try to play the media at their own game, just doesn’t work. Maybe they should take a leaf out of those Canadian friends of yours who censor ministers’ communications with the media.

    I do find it amusing when the journos of the DP and Herald accuse people of arrogance though.

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  4. phil u () says:

    for once(?) david..i am totally in agreement with you..

    except maybe your wholesale dismissal of any merits at all in the concept of (capped) state funding…(level playing fields..?..anyone..?..)

    but as for the actions of clark around overspending..and field….whoar..!

    i think i’ll celebrate this meeting of minds with a linking…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  5. Insolent Prick () says:

    Sonic,

    That was an election that they barely won, and now it’s been disclosed that they cheated and defrauded the taxpayer, spending far more than they were permitted, and are now trying to legislate their unlawful actions, and bribing minority parties with the carrot of state funding so that they don’t have to work again.

    Add that to the litany of disasters that Labour has faced in the last twelve months, and its one-seat majority, it’s a fair call that they’re just clinging to power now. It’s quite probable that at any moment, at least one Labour MP or affiliated MP will find a conscience, and decide they’ve had enough of Labour’s corruption.

    Noddy: this is the same mainstream media that ate out of Auntie Helen’s hand for the last ten years, and swallowed her spin hook, line and sinker. Shows you just how low Labour’s got if even the editorials have turned on her.

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  6. mikeybill () says:

    As a long time Labour supporter, it pains me to agree here but the Dom is right on the basic ethics behind all this. I’m not so sure that public funding of parties is bad, if it is capped and managed properly, but that means trusting politicians to set up the system properly.I won’t be voting Labour if they don’t clean this up and pay the money back.

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  7. David Farrar () says:

    Phil – there are merits to state funding. As an activist, there are huge merits for me. I just don’t think the merits outweigh the cons.

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  8. llew () says:

    The Tom Scott cartoon is pretty good too :)

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  9. Logix () says:

    The argument is facile and deceitful. It simply amounts to saying that National (which had more money left over from the 2005 campaign than the entire left had donations) should be free to buy elections as some kind of natural right of the rich and priviledged.

    1. For electoral officials to tell Labour AFTER the election campaign had begun that they intended to apply tighter interpretations to the rules was an unreasonable departure from the political neutrality demanded of their role. They must have known perfectly well that their actions would undermine only Labour and not National. Elections campaigns and their budgets are planned years in advance, and the pledge card expenditure had been done twice before….Labour had every reason to challenge these tighter rulings that late in the electoral cycle. These officials should be sacked for their balatant intent to destabilise an election. It is reminiscent of how elections are routinely perverted in the USA by election officials balatantly manipulating rules to favour one party.

    2. National failed to include the EB spending authorised on their behalf by Brash. By contrast Labour included spending by the Unions and other parties. Including that sum would have put National at least a million dollars over the limit. This is another major peversion of the system that the MSM is simply ignoring.

    3. If Labour had not used the Leader’s funding for that purpose then the right wing spend on the 2005 election would have been at least 2-3 times that of the left. Lets have no more nonsense that Labour “bought” the election…the right threw a wall of money at that election…the National campaign started at least a month earlier and continued at saturation level throughout, with at least twice the total exposure of the left.

    4. Your message amounts to little more than “fuck democracy”….you want the rules rigged so as you can buy votes at will. Now that is a REAL corruption…not this pathetic piddling pledge card expenditure. Put this in perspective….National received ONE donation of $1.2m from one lawyers trust fund….three times the $400k the pledge card expenditure.

    5. Clearly the era of mass party membership is over….therefore it a handful of very wealthy individuals are now in a position as never before to pervert our democracy. If any of you had any sincere intentions you would be discussing how this issue should be addressed…but it is always those who run around loadly croaking “corruption” who are in reality the actual perpertrators of the most profound perversions.

    6. And finally …give up on the old delusion that the MSM is somehow biased to the left….FFS these shrill editorials should kill of that canard once and for all.

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  10. Danyl Mclauchlan () says:

    Insignificant Prick:

    this is the same mainstream media that ate out of Auntie Helen’s hand for the last ten years, and swallowed her spin hook, line and sinker. Shows you just how low Labour’s got if even the editorials have turned on her.

    Yep. The MSM have followed the Labour party spin without exception – oh, except for Doonegate, Lie-In-Unison, Paintergate, Motercadegate, Ahmed Zaoui, the Tamihere interview, Benson-Pope, Peters-as-Foreign Affairs Minister, the Wananga, Dial-111-and-scream, Jonathan Hunts taxi bill, Whangamata Marina, Dysons drunk driving, Dover Samuals teenage girlfriend, Corngate, Health Funding and Taito Phillip Field.

    Did I miss any?

    Idiot.

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  11. burt () says:

    I think the MSM have decided that Labour’s approach over the whole election funding debacle should be used against them.

    IE: If they all slam Labour for it none will be punished (SEDITION charges and/or new MSM tax policy introduced) because if others are doing it, it is confusing and hard to determine who is right/wrong.

    Suck it up Labour, pay it back and fire the people who authorised it.

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  12. Ben Wilson () says:

    I can’t see any reasons why party membership should have anything at all to do with their right to use money to lobby for votes. The two issues seem utterly unconnected.

    And this constant hammering of how bad it is to overspend on pledge cards to buy an election is so totally at odds with the idea that the ability of a party to raise money should dictate how much access to advertising they get, that I can’t understand why cognitive dissonance isn’t bringing the hammerers to their knees.

    But wait, it seems the true outrage is not over buying the election (which seems to fit nicely within the capitalist democracy model) but rather that it was public funds that Labour allegedly overspent. That is the subversion of democracy they see – that a party which has less wealthy supporters could even come within cooee of the budget of it’s opposition is the actual outrage being bemoaned here.

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  13. Seamonkey Madness () says:

    Noddy said: “What are you up to in SF, BTW, your reticence is very out of character.”

    Its called a time difference you schmuck.

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  14. Murray () says:

    Don’t worry seamonkey, Helen’s going to repeal time zones next week.

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  15. disappointed () says:

    Logix. Consider your 3rd and 4th points. If as you say National spent far in excess of Labour AND that money equals votes THEN why was it that Labour won? Or if money is what matters why did the Labour party lose seats to a much poorer Maori party?

    The problem here is not with how much each party spends per se but with the fact Labour used money not voluntarily given to in breach of electoral rules as judged by those representatives of the public sector charged with keeping a check on the exercise of public power.

    You are free to try and justify this behaviour if you like but you should have the conscience to accept it for what it is.

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  16. noddy () says:

    “These officials should be sacked for their balatant intent to destabilise an election”

    Logix, that sentiment is as nutty as DPFs belief that every official that doesn’t support his particular view on an issue is corrupt. It’s a very difficult job they do and I have not seen either main party comnplain about how it was carried out – even if they disagree with the interpretation given.

    Um, Seanmonkey, the time zones mean that DPF gets to read things much earlier in the day than is, check it out. The reticence I was refering to was the fact he is not blogging on the minutiae of this particular excursion.

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  17. sonic () says:

    Ok IP, let’s have another election them, no pledge cards for Labour, no anonymous donations from religious extremists for National.

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  18. noddy () says:

    disappointed – well obviously he correlation is not linear. But to say advertising and PR does not have an affect is to do diservice to an entire industry of very talented and creative people. It also belies the amount of money National spent and continues to spend on advertising.

    ACT had practically no fundung this time round and its vote was decimated. How many MPs do they have. On the National’s share of the vote has sky-rocketed.

    The Maori party ran a good grass roots campaign, had a very strongly felt cause, got quite a bit of publicity and had an entire government funded radio station at its disposal :-)

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  19. Logix () says:

    Logix, that sentiment is as nutty as DPFs belief that every official that doesn’t support his particular view on an issue is corrupt.

    Oh I’m pleased you spotted the fine tradition of “total disregard for facts” around here that I was upholding….hehe. Sarcasm and spittle…it’s the only language they understand. Reasoned comments just don’t cut it.

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  20. another () says:

    LOL, Logix you have a Cullen mind.

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  21. David Farrar () says:

    Noddy – you tread a dangerous line by stating “DPFs belief that every official that doesn’t support his particular view on an issue is corrupt”

    That is a smear against me.

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  22. noddy () says:

    I retract and apologise.

    Anyway, you should be either:

    1. at a shonky SF bar somewhere
    2. asleep

    Bugger. (like the pics BTW)

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  23. David Farrar () says:

    Thanks Noddy. I work with many officials and have a lot of respect for them. With the exception of the Police hierarchy, do not attack them with such labels as corrupt. I do beleive there is a timidity involved when it comes to Clark’s Government, but this is somewhat understandable and I blame Clark for this.

    I mean look at how she is trying to portray the Auditor-General!

    I am now in Carmel actually. Heading out soon!

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  24. llew () says:

    Cool! Keep an eye out for America’s greatest living auteur, Clint Eastwood!

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  25. Logix () says:

    Still it is pretty obvious that if for example the Police come put with a ruling that you disagree with….you call it corrupt. By contrast the actions of David Henry so close to the actual election, well into the campaign itself and certainly after any campaign strategey had been committed to …put Labour into a very difficult position….but because it suits your agenda…you are uncritically trumpetting his rulings as the essence of probity.

    This “pledge card” had been done in both the 1999 and 2002 elections. Labour had every expectation to use the fund for the same purpose again….ruling against it just weeks prior to the 2005 election was NOT even-handed. And all the charges of “theft” and “corruption” are gross exaggerations. The idea that Labour “bought” the election, when the right outspent them in total, is simply tiresome froth.

    The time for Henry to act was right after the 2002 election…these so-called “brightline rules” needed to be in place at least a year BEFORE the election…not being fiddled with in the middle of it and with a final ruling coming AFTER the event. Henry’s timing was shonky at best. I agree that this kind of rule change (or more accurately rule interpretation) goes on all the time in govt, especially in the taxation area, and from time to time somebody gets on the wrong side of the change. When they happen the parties involved attempt to negotiate sensible compromises that everybody can live with. But the timing of elections is predictable years in advance, there was no need for this shambollocks.

    There is no strict relationship that says dollars spent = votes…but there is a connection all the same and all campaign managers know it. The question of how effectively parties are able to communicate their message is an important issue to the future of democracy in NZ. The current system is clearly a unsatisfactory all round and begs reform. The Dom’s dumbass editorial is frankly anti-democratic:

    If parties cannot attract mass membership and fees because their policies are unpopular, they don’t deserve to have their influence artificially bolstered by dipping a hand into taxpayers’ wallets.

    Whoever wrote this drivel is an idiot…mass membership does not equal funding. One wealthy donor can readily out-donate the rest of a party’s “grass-roots” combined. We have reached the point of needing to have a sane debate about State funding of political parties. It is a commonplace overseas; even the Australians do it.

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  26. tim barclay () says:

    The Labour Party would know all about wealthy donors having greedily accepted 500K from one obscure aussie bilionare. But they went further and put their hands into the tax payers pocket. How come I ask that the Auditor General applying the SAME rules comes up with the National Party 10k in the “red” but those same rules had the Labour Party 800K!!!! in the “red”. Just who do the Labour Party think they are.

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  27. Logix () says:

    How come I ask that the Auditor General applying the SAME rules comes up with the National Party 10k in the “red” but those same rules had the Labour Party 800K!!!! in the “red”. Just who do the Labour Party think they are.

    Selective bullshit Tim. National “greedily” accepted $1.2m from some anomynous lawyers trust. National had more fricken cash leftover from the election than Labour got in total donations. As is so often the case Ben Wilson nails it:

    “But wait, it seems the true outrage is not over buying the election (which seems to fit nicely within the capitalist democracy model) but rather that it was public funds that Labour allegedly overspent. That is the subversion of democracy they see – that a party which has less wealthy supporters could even come within cooee of the budget of it’s opposition is the actual outrage being bemoaned here.”

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  28. Seamonkey Madness () says:

    Noddy said: “Um, Seamonkey, the time zones mean that DPF gets to read things much earlier in the day than is, check it out. The reticence I was refering to was the fact he is not blogging on the minutiae of this particular excursion.

    What utter nonsensical bollocks you are spouting my good man. Think – then type.

    And have you recently discovered a thesaurus? “Reticence”?? “Minutiae”?? Whats next? – antidisestablishmentarianism? Gadzooks!!

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  29. Spirit Of 76 () says:

    Aren’t some of you people getting sick and tired of having to defend this grubby Labour party by now?

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  30. burt () says:

    Oh yes Ben Wilson nails it alright;

    If you are a socialist party then it’s OK to use tax payer funds to make sure non socialist parties don’t have more funds than you !

    What’s in it for me Ben wins again.

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  31. Thomas Moore () says:

    Guilt is tireless in it’s own defence.

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  32. Jim D () says:

    “2. National failed to include the EB spending authorised on their behalf by Brash. By contrast Labour included spending by the Unions and other parties.

    This has already been investigated and National was not found liable for the EB spending. How do we know Labour included *all* the union spending? The latest Investigate magazine raises some serious questions about whether all the SFWU spending was included in Labour’s return. I’m sure there is plenty of other Union spending that went undisclosed.

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  33. B whitehead () says:

    I agree with ‘spirit of 76′ , this is the same old indefensible stuff on yet another thread

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  34. Ben Wilson () says:

    Actually burt, I don’t vote Labour, am a capitalist myself, and I don’t think it’s OK to use taxpayer funds *if no one else was allowed*. But I think the simple answer to all this election funding bullshit, so complicated and boring, would be that all parties got equal funding. I’m not outraged that public funds might be spent informing the public about what the policies of our potential leadership are, in fact I think it would be the best solution, the most democratic. I don’t think how much money people raise at sausage sizzles or get donated by corporates with agendas has any real place in our democracy *at all*.

    I’m not trying to exonerate Labour *if* they broke the law (which doesn’t seem clear or certain despite National spin), I’m just commenting on the stupid misplaced outrage about the fact that it was public funds.

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  35. McPhee () says:

    All parties broke the law in the spending of public money , ‘as it is now defined’ !
    National, of course broke the law in the spending of public money for broadcasting ‘ as it has allways been defined’.
    One candidate, Clarkson, who was taken to court over his election expenditure, barely sqeaked by in his election spending, aided by the Judges dislike of Peters, judges who came up with some very novel interpretations of spending , again after the fact. By normal standards Clarkson should be back to promoting himself via his company.

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  36. burt () says:

    Ben, McPhee,

    Yes we have been told various stories about how much each party had. The spin and rhetoric about is indeed getting boring. The blatant whitewashing about it is getting boring. Watching the police do nothing about it has become boring, are you not concerned about this at all ?

    Is it OK that one/some/all parties blatantly broke the rules, with prior knowledge – deliberately, and now the party with the most to loose, who also broke the rules by hundreds of thousands of dollars more than any other party wants to change the law to give it’s self a ‘get off free’ card ?

    The title of this thread is “Shameless and Arrogant”, not “Puff up the funding model change smoke screen and move on.”.

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  37. burt () says:

    Ben,

    Equal funding you say, I would like that, I would whip out to the local pub and sign up 500 financial party members to join me on a multi million dollar party promoting the soon to be registered “Not a shit show” party.

    Our advertising would be done on the back of a specially constructed semi trailer with spa pools and a bar. I reckon we would last a few weeks of touring the country on the budget.

    Great idea, throw all parties the approx $2.5m a major party would use and let them all entertain us.

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  38. Ben Wilson () says:

    burt, no it’s not OK *if* the parties blatantly broke the rules. But if the rules were not especially clear, and all parties indulged in sharp practice, then pretty much the only thing that can be done about it is fix the rules. And yeah, they’re boring rules, it’s a highly technical and boring debate, worthy of accountants and hacks, and it’s really time to move on.

    Nothing to do with a smoke screen, just an acknowledgement of what a non-issue this whole political angle is. Especially when the most vocal of the hacks simultaneously try to talk down how effective political advertising really is. I think they’re full of shit, but that doesn’t stop me realizing their position is inconsistent hackyness. Surely the opposition actually has something they’d like to sell to the people other than ‘the other guys are crooks’. But then I wonder….

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  39. peter mck () says:

    And What about the Labour Party hidden slush fund via unions. How about the breaking story that the $237,000 siphoned off from the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) (ie people paying union dues that are probably amoung the lowest paid workers. This was a union that had budgeted to spend $70,000 on the election campaign. But this is also far higher than the $20,000 Labour declared to the electoral commission.

    coruption corruption and corruption –

    Yet the SFWU own accounts demonstrate the union spent nearly $240,000 trying to get Labour re-elected. $100,000 printing flyers and other promotional material.

    Surely more than $20,000 should have been declared and / or noted as an election advertising expense.

    So all you lickspittal socialists – how about a little consistancy if you want to go on about the EB why not first take the thorn out of your own eye – and note this is just one union – what about all the other unions who no doubt also spent considerably more to ensure the union gravy train continues.

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  40. Seanj () says:

    yeah but where was the Dom. when this was going down during the election, not to mention the money laundering through the unions… another Brethren commentary I assume? – great stuff but it’s too late

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  41. Seanj () says:

    yeah but where was the Dom. when this was going down during the election, not to mention the money laundering through the unions… another Brethren commentary I assume? – great stuff but it’s too late

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  42. noddy () says:

    You dolts. Where the Unions advertised for the party that spending was declared as part of Labour’s returns. Where they were talking about policy, which they do all the time, it was not included. This is *not* news. Nor is Union support for and involvement in the Labour party is *not a fucking secret*. Actually, what is news is that Labour did include Union spending in their returns, something that is hardly reported in your blessed MSM.

    If you don’t like Unions, that is a reason not to vote for Labour. Understand. I now know that if I don’t like the Ex Botherers that I probably shouldn’t vote National. Transperency, I can see why Brash and DPF are afraid of it.

    All those bank and business “leaders” campaigning for tax cuts or employment reform did not have to include their spend on National’s behalf.

    Unlike most businesses the Union members get to elect their representatives and have to be extremely transparent about what they do. Ian Wishart is simply staying “on message” for his political masters. Nothing more.

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  43. Lance () says:

    But..
    The religious extremists ARE the unions :-)

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  44. tim barclay () says:

    What we are on the subject of corruption. How come state sector employees get paid a “bonus” to belong to the PSA and then that money for the bonus get laundered back to the Labour Party as a donation. What do you call THAT. So what if the National PArty had money left over, it shows they kept to the rules. But the Labour Party still outspent National – some it from money obtained illegally. As for the Clarkson case the idiot that wrote about that (above) has not read the judgment nor listened to the evidence. Peters had a built in advantage because of his high profile. Clarkson would have had to spend millions to overcome that advantage. He did not, the most he did was give himself free hoarding space on one or two buildings he owed. All candidates routinely get free hoarding space in all elections and so does Peters.

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  45. GeniusNZ () says:

    Noddy,

    if you hate the Ex Bretheren with such passion as to not vote for anyone they are associated with then one really has to wonder about you.

    If someone was to say that sort of thing about muslims or jews or the Ratina (sp) they might reasonably be considered prejudiced.

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