It was the Greens

I blogged yesterday regarding the vandalism by stickers of National’s billboards that it was almost inevitably done by people involved in a political party. I was right, and the Greens have fessed up today. Stuff reports:

The Greens have revealed a party member and the partner of one of its staff members were behind the vandalism of 700 National Party billboards.

Co-leader Russel Norman said Jolyon White, who is the partner of his executive assistant, co-ordinated the defacing of the billboards.

First some history, about this. Whale first blogged about the plan for the stickers on 14 October, when he heard about the call for quotes for the stickers. Despite this publicity, the arrogant Greens involved decided to proceed.

Then Whale got sent photos of two motorcycles used in the stickering. From this point it was just a matter of time until those involved were exposed. I should point out that Whale is getting more page views than me at the moment – deservedly so.

So the co-ordinator is Jolyon White, who is the Social Justice Enabler for Anglican Church. Surely the church can not condone one of its staff doing this vandalism?

He is such an arrogant idiot, that he even went on radio boasting about what he did, and it seems some recognised his voice.

But it is the Greens who have the most questions to answer, based on this report:

Norman said his executive assistant had known about her partner’s plans for about two months and he was disappointed with her for not mentioning it.

It was an employment issue but the party had not spoken to Parliamentary services about the matter.

Okay imagine that say Labour party billboards were vandalised all around New Zealand. And it turned out the person who co-ordinated it was the husband of the Prime Minister’s executive assistant, and that the PM’s executive assistant had known about it for two months. Would Labour (or any political party) accept that the Prime Minister knew nothing at all about it? There would be calls for resignations, and for an official inquiry.

If the executive assistant knew about it for two months, and did not tell Dr Norman then it must be a sackable offence. She has failed in her most basic duty of care to her employer. How can the Greens possibly say they are disappointed over this, if they take no action?

I have worked for four parliamentary leaders. If my partner who is a party member did something like that, and I knew about it for two months and didn’t tell anyone in my office, I would absolutely expect to leave the office the day it came out, and not return.

But what the Greens have avoided saying, is who did know. Dr Norman says he did not know, and I take him at his word unless there is evidence to contradict that. But did other staff members in the Greens parliamentary office know? Did any Green MPs know?

And also, who were the 50 activists involved, and how many of then are Green party members or activists? My guess is the vast majority.

A related question is who paid for the commercial printing, and who paid for the distribution of them?

The Greens complained bitterly about the Exclusive Brethren pamphlets in 2005. But at least the Execlusive Brethren complied with the law, and put a name and address on the pamphlets as required.

Green party member Jolyon White has broken at least two laws I would say. The stickers are a form of election advertisement designed to discourage people from voting National. Not only were they not authorised, they were put up in the middle of the night. It is as flagrant a breach of the Electoral Act rules around transparency as you can get. I have no doubt the Electoral Commission will refer the matter to the Police, and hopefully the Police will ascertain how many other people were involved and what roles they hold in the Greens.

There is also the secondary issue of damage and vandalism.

Some will try and claim this was not the Greens, just an isolated party member. But the fact remains that the co-leader’s own executive assistant knew about these plans (and presumably endorsed them), and did nothing to stop them, despite the fact it was obvious if the co-ordinator was identified it would reflect on the Greens. I find it very hard to believe that no one else in the Greens office knew about this.

Remember there is form here. The secret taping of National MPs last election was done by a green (lower g) activist who was living with a Green Party staffer, and Green staff knew he had done it before his identity was made public.

UPDATE: While it is good Russel Norman has said the Greens do not condone vandalism, this press release from 1999 reminds us that they do condone “direct action”, saying it is a right and responsibility.

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