Personality politics poor tool

24/09/2008

The ODT is not impressed  by Labour’s approach to the election:

Labour is using the politics of personality as its principal tool.

Predictably, its leaders, all former academics, also argue in favour of their political management experience over the past nine years, emphasising the considerable political inexperience of National Party leader and retired millionaire money trader, John Key.

But Labour has so far provided no policies to speak of to assist voters considering choices for the next three years, whereas National’s strategy has been to look ahead, emphasise future prospects and needs, and to generally give an optimistic flavour to its policies, although they lack much useful detail.

What has been the exceptional feature is Labour’s personal attacks on National’s leader, led right from the top.

The purpose of the attacks has been to try to destroy Mr Key’s credibility by linking him with global events, a tactic reminiscent of the smear politics of the worst years of Muldoonism.

The tactic is intended to arouse fear in individuals who are vulnerable to such suggestions or who do not follow politics or history closely. . .

. . . Labour is anxious to destroy any expectation voters have that National might get enough votes to govern alone.

It is a faint hope, despite what the opinion polls might be saying, but it does exist. . .

. . . And the latest smear from Dr Cullen attempting to suggest Mr Key had used his privileged position to benefit from share trading in Tranz Rail in 2003 is part of the strategy to cultivate an air of doubt and uncertainty.

The word “trust” still resonates with meaning for the age group which regards with suspicion younger risk-takers who make their millions from the mysterious manipulation of currencies.

That age group is also most fearful about the immediate future, be it health needs, pension income, personal security, and the cost of living, and is being targeted precisely because antagonistic campaigning strikes a positive response with the sector.

The emphasis on the negative rather than on providing a design for the future health and security of the nation is not a promising beginning to the campaign.


Media manipulation

23/09/2008

Goodness me, how surprising that on the day the privileges committee report into Winston Peters and the donations debacle is announced there is a major announcement on progress towards free trade with the USA and a make-muck revelation about John Key’s family trust shareholding in Tranz Rail.

Colin Espiner exposes the not so subtle hand of Labour behind it all:

What an amazing coincidence that three big stories would all break on the same day. Wasn’t it?

Um well no, not really. Because it turns out that Labour fed the story about Key’s share trades to TVNZ late on Sunday night for use on Monday, knowing that the privileges committee report was about to blast Winston Peters to smithereens. And Trade Minister Phil Goff leaked details of the FTA announcement to selected media – TVNZ, TV3 and Radio New Zealand – five days ago, on the condition they kept it quiet until yesterday.

Espiner gives credit where it’s due:

Labour’s tactics are not dirty or underhand. They are smart, vicious, and calculated. It’s how you win election campaigns. But it’s still worth pointing out that there was nothing coincidental about yesterday’s yarns.

It wasn’t coincidental, but did the media have to swallow the lines they were fed?

All of the stories were newsworthy so there was nothing untoward about the media running them, nor about the timing, because they wouldn’t have wanted to delay and let their competitors beat them.

Poneke asks if there was anything untoward behind the Dom Post’s decision to put the FTA and share stories on the front page and relegate the Peters report to page three. I tend to go for incompetence rather than conspiracy when people raise questions of media bias here, especially given, as comments on Poneke’s blog pointed out, the Peters story might have been considered stale and the other two were fresh.

That said, had it not been for Espiner’s blog, we might have guessed but would almost certainly not had it confirmed, exactly how Labour manipulated the media.

Roarprawn acknowledges that by offering him a bottle of wine. Keeping Stock  said this exposes Helen Clark as a liar again and No Minister is searching for the quote that will prove that.


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