Who dun it?

There is a great deal of interest in the person who made the secret tape recordings. They claim to be not a member of a political party, but they are obviously an extremely dedicated anti- activist to have done the following:

  1. Trespassed at a private function
  2. Lied about being a party member to MPs (he claimed he had joined Young Nationals)
  3. Lied about his beliefs (claimed to support nuclear ships etc)
  4. Asked leading questions to MPs with the deliberate intention of getting them to say something he could use against them
  5. Used the fact he was pretending to be a party member to try and entrap MPs, knowing they will give more sympathetic responses to a viewpoint from someone who is a volunteer for a party, than if they were a random member of the public
  6. Had wired himself up with a hidden tape recorder
  7. Knew enough about the media to then know who best to give them to

They incidentially am almost certainly a reader of this blog, because in the transcript with Bill talking about WFF, he refers to Lockwood’s spreadsheets. Now I recently blogged about how five years ago or so I worked with Lockwood on some tax and benefit modelling, and that is the only mention in recent times of those – so they are obviously an avid reader who remembers such minor details.

As I said, I am not entirely surprised that someone would do this one day – in fact had been predicting this. Somewhat sad though. I have had many candid conversations with MPs, Greens MP, other activists over the years and could cause all sorts of nastiness if I was the sort to tape them. I do hope this does not start a trend.

Garth George pulls no punches:

Politics in New Zealand, despicable as it has been for decades, has reached a new low with the secret taping of private conversations at last weekend’s National Party conference.

And what I want to know is what sort of scumbag would do such a thing, then spill his or her guts to the media.

The Herald editorial also weighs in:

Whoever has released recorded conversations with unwitting National MPs at the cocktail function at their party’s annual conference last weekend probably believes the ruse serves a public interest. The country now knows, if it did not before, that National has compromised some of its policy desires for the sake of its electoral prospects.

Oh yes this is a well kept secret – known only to three million people. Never before has a political party compromised on policy desires. I mean we didn’t see a Labour Cabinet pass a resolution to steal over a million dollars a year from the taxpayer in state funding of their party operations, and then weeks later rescind it as it looked to damage their electoral prospects.

As revelations go, these are rather less remarkable than the method by which they were obtained. Discreet recording is done but not commonly published by ethical news organisations for two reasons.

First, it is not fair to release a reporter’s tape or transcript unless the subject denies something plainly said or the recording could serve a public interest somewhat more compelling than partisan politics. Second, the publication would damage the gathering of further information. Once bitten, a public figure is twice shy.

Nothing revealed from National’s conference sneak so far offers insights to its intentions that could not have been obtained by a journalist trusted to use a private conversation responsibly.

When you consider the nature of the setup – an imposter pretending to be a right wing party member trying to get National MPs to agree with him, it is remarkable nothing more damaging was said. MPs get bombarded at conferences with policy ideas from members, and often say stuff like “Yeah that is not a bad idea, and we can look at that one day, but not immediately”. You don’t tend to tell someone you think is a hard working volunteer for your party that their ideas are whacko and they should eff off.

If National’s conference mole was working for the Labour Party, as National supposes, it is a new dimension to desperate politics in this country, and readily copied. All parties will know how easily opponents could plant an observer in their conferences capable of circulating at the tea break and engaging leading figures in candid discussion of sensitive issues.

I am sure Helen Clark did not tell anyone to go out and do this. That is ludicrous of course. But whoever did it, was motivated by a desire to help Labour retain power, and it will be very interestign if the identity emerges to see what links are there.

The Labour Party appears convinced Mr Key has more drastic economic policies in mind than he will admit before the election. Would that it were so. The more safely Mr Key is playing the game at present, the more genuine his caution seems. And Mr English is even less daring. He led National back to centrist conservatism after the defeat of the Shipley Government and he would keep it there for the time being.

Anyone who thinks a Key/English leadership is going to suddenly in office sell everything in sight, is basically barking. As the Herald notes, some of us do wish they would be a bit bolder in some areas!

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