So hold the phone … Paula Bennett is accusing the Prime Minister of refusing to face up to the issue around photos of a former NZF functionary meeting with a journalist turning up on Not-WhaleOil, claiming also that Winston’s statements in relation to this make him unfit to continue serving as Deputy PM.
Without wanting to endorse something of a Yakov Smirnoff approach to politics and the media [“In capitalist ordinaria, media photographs politicians … in Soviet NZ First-istan, politicians photograph YOU”, has a certain ring to it], not least because the whole thing seems to have been a dumb idea to brag about from a tactical perspective, and looks little more than lashing out due to a lack of actual power otherwise …
… I find Bennett’s remarks extraordinary. If this is to be her defining ethical test for office-holding, then I think we can fairly ask at what point it was that the National Party suddenly decided that passing material to WhaleOil [Not-WhaleOil or otherwise] was the sort of high crime and misdemeanour for which a Cabinet member could and must be impeached.
Presumably, it was at some juncture *well* after then-Prime Minister John Key’s office was snapped sending information – including material obtained via the SIS – to WhaleOil in order to attack political rivals such as then-Leader of the Opposition, Phil Goff.
Bennett served as part of that administration; I do not recall her having such ethical scruples then?
Particularly given her defining series of acts during that trajectory of her career – at least, the ones not built out of attempting to coat-tail on Outrageous Fortune – included her own disclosure of confidential information from her ministerial area of responsibility about critics, in order to try and shut them up.
You can’t call that “leaking” information, to be fair – because it was really more going outside with a waterblaster and daring anybody who spoke up within shooting range to see if they fancied feeling lucky, punk. As I recall, Bennett basically bragged about doing all of this at the time.
(Some of Bennett’s much more recent actions in relation to a certain Jamie-Lee Ross are also of direct relevancy here; and shows that the stench of hypocrisy about her is not so much “rank” as “first rank fire, second rank fire” – that is to say, “weaponized” and well-drilled into the bargain)
I also don’t seem to recall Bennett being especially critical of Judith Collins when the latter’s reaction to being caught out repeatedly engaged in some grubby business … was to not just threaten to, but *actually go ahead with* the disclosure of confidential information held in her ministerial capacity and pertaining to the family of the Parliamentary Press Gallery journalist who’d then drawn her ire through honest reporting.
Followed by threatening to do so more and repeatedly, til the hostile (honest) reporting stopped.
Collins, to be sure, did eventually apologize – although I suspect rather strongly that this was more driven by realizing that attempting to take on the *entire Parliamentary press corps* in the midst of a should-have-proven-fatal thirty-scandal pileup, was probably not a smart survival move, rather than much in the way of genuine principled remorse. It was certainly in accordance with some of the ‘rules’ for venomous political conduct she shared with Cameron Slater, which we found out about thanks to Dirty Politics.
Now, again. I’m not meaning to sanction nor support what whomever “we” is has done with regard to photographing a former functionary meeting with a prominent journalist in a cafe, and then sending the photo etc. to Not-WhaleOil.
I think it was a questionable move that would likely garner little-to-no actual benefit for the Party; while instead making the organization and its cohorts look rather more Mafia-like and shifty than an array of undecided voters presumably already think that they are.
If you were the sort of person to be swayed by a photo and captioning like that, to believe that the whole thing was a massive and conspiratorial beat-up on NZ First … then you probably already believed that before any such photograph was produced.
And if you weren’t, then you probably weren’t the sort of person thinking all that much nor all that hard about this donations quagmire [which, I might add, has currently produced 4 National-linked arrests, to 0 NZF] anyway … meaning the net impact of this mini-scandal-within-a-scandal is to put it back in the forefront of your political viewscreen for another week running.
Although whether rightly or wrongly, one of the things that *most* annoys me about this recent development is how it’s somehow enabled Bennett to seek out a most unseemly pulpit from which to protest *well* too much, from the top of some pile of skulls and political corpses conveniently disguised as “The High Ground”.