Lest anyone think I am saying that only Labour attacks MPs from other parties, on non parliamentary issues, let me be clear that of course most parties do this from time to time.
But a significant difference with what happened last week, is the lack of any “aggrieved parties”. I’ll explain what I mean.
Take David Benson-Pope and tennis balls. Neither National nor ACT got their staff to trawl through DBP’s background, interview former students and try and actively dig up dirt on him. What happened is a couple of his former students approached MPs after they thought he was being hypocritical on bullying. Sure the MPs then raised the issue in Parliament, but it was after being approached. And then the real reason it became such a huge issue was DBP denied it all and literally a dozen people came forward to contradict what he said.
Or take the case of David Parker. Parker incidentally resigned before there was even a single question time on his actions. Investigate ran their story – and it was based on there being a very aggrieved party who came forward.
Dover Samuels was sacked from Cabinet when a relative alleged inappropriate behaviour in the past. His corridor urinating antics also became an issue because the guy he pissed on, told people and it made the media.
So in all these cases the issues originated with a disgruntled person who felt the MP had behaved inappropriately. Certainly MPs made decisions as to whether or not they would follow the issue up, and ask questions on it (and that judgement has not always been sound) but these were scandals that came to MPs, rather than the MPs went out digging dirt, trying specifically to invent a scandal.
The attacks on Key have been missing this previously obligatory factor. There is no leaky home owner saying they hold Key responsible for their leaky home. There is no former Equiticorp employee alleging Key devised the H Fee and left him to take the blame for it. The only person writing letters about where Key lived in 2002 is Labour President Mike Williams.
What we apparently have is the Labour Party Cabinet actively going out there and trying to dig up dirt on John Key. They are no passive recipients of allegations from members of the public. They are the manufacturers, the wholesalers and the retailers in this supply chain.
Now that is something we have not had before. It is quite unprecedented.
So when Richard Long writes in the Dom Post:
This desperation for any scrap of information, any document that can be flourished against him, seems to put into context the burglary of Mr Key’s home while he was on a well-publicised overseas holiday, and the mysterious raids on his home garbage bins, detected by neighbours on several occasions. These were not homeless people, looking for discarded Parnell food portions. They were well-dressed operatives who took off swiftly when their activities were detected.
It does make you wonder. Now Long himself goes on to say he thinks Clark would have nothing to do with this, but certainly Labour would not refuse to use the fruits of such activities as they did with the Brash e-mails. And again you wonder how exactly is Labour trying to dig up dirt, now it has obviously decided to do so. It it merely doing Google searches? I suspect not.