Feathers have been ruffled over the last week following the release of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. While the National Party should be spending their time kissing babies, visiting factories and posing for selfies on the campaign trail, they instead have to deal with the book's allegations, some of which lead to the resignation of Justice Minister, Judith Collins.
In this book Nicky Hager claims, essentially, that there is dirty politics going down in New Zealand.
What are dirty politics?
When a politician or party (in this case National and the Prime Minister’s office) are pissed off with what someone has said, they want to fight back. However, being in the public eye means these politicians cannot verbally attack their opponents in a nasty way; what would we, the public, think? Instead, the politicians present themselves as friendly and relaxed while they take the back door and feed their attack through another medium. In this case it was through the Whale Oil blog, headed by the notorious Cameron Slater. The back-door serves two purposes: the politician comes out looking squeaky clean and usually untraceable, while their opposition suffers credibility attacks from an online source (spreading like wildfire), making them less likely to speak out again.
The reporting of the book has covered some specific details, especially with regard to Judith Collins. It seems as though Slater, Judith Collins and John Key are all BFFs.
So what’s been the effect of this book on National? Well, they have gone down in ratings - but so has Labour. Seems as though the smaller parties are winners here, as the Greens, NZ First and Conservatives all climbing up the ladder.
And for a quick rundown on the Judith Collins saga: It is alleged that in 2011, Ms Collins talked to Cameron Slater about trying to bring down the head of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley, while he was investigating Mark Hotchin, the former boss of Hanover Finance. At the time, Collins was the minister in charge of the SFO. It has also been revealed that there is some sort of link between Hotchin and right-wing bloggers (including Slater), where it seems that Hotchin was funding the smear campaign undertaken by the bloggers which undermined Feeley. Collins resigned as Justice Minister so that an investigation can take place where she can clear her name.
Don’t go thinking Hager is just a left-wing fanatic just trying to take a stick at the National party – his book ‘Seeds of Distrust’ nearly brought down the Labour government prior to the 2002 elections.
The question still remains, if National engages in dirty politics, what other parties do the same?
Remember how I reported on Gaza and Israel about a month ago? At that point the attacks between the two sides had only just begun. However, after 50 days of fighting, a long-term ceasefire was agreed upon, late Tuesday night.
With the help of Egypt, the two parties have agreed upon an open-ended, ‘permanent’ truce. Indirect talks between Israel and Gaza are scheduled to take place in a month’s time in Cairo. Props to Egypt for getting these two together seeing as they have their own problems going on at the moment.
There is no clear victor in this war, with claims that the two sides agreed to the ceasefire out of sheer exhaustion.
Palestinians have been celebrating in the streets of Gaza, where a quarter of all civilians have fled over the last 50 days. Hamas (Gaza’s rulers) are celebrating their resistance, however, Israel claims that Hamas have not ‘won’ and that Israel did not give in to anything that they asked for.
Rocket fire has caused massive destruction in both the Gaza Strip and Israel, meaning there is a long rebuild ahead. Luckily, border crossings into Gaza from Israel and Egypt have opened back up, allowing aid and resources to get through. This is a real necessity considering the United Nations estimates that if these restrictions were to remain in place it would take about 15 years to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.
This barrage of attacks came at a huge cost: a total of 2,142 Palestinians (most of them civilians), including more than 490 children have been killed, alongside 69 Israelis, most of them soldiers.