Monday, September 1, 2014

Scandal within and the politics of Jesus - Monday 1 September 2014

If the week before last was a long time in politics, last week was even longer, at least for John Key and co who had work to do all weekend, including (effectively) sacking a minister, Judith Collins for being found to be too close to the bete noir of this campaign, Cameron Slater. (Yeah, ok, in shades of black, Nicky "I make profits from stolen goods" Hager is just a little bit less black).

We now have a 'scandal within' the government, albeit with many claims unproven, and the key (pun intended) question of the remaining 19 days to the election is not, dear reader, going to be how much tax we pay or how our younger generations access housing, but whether the scandal blow torches more than Judith Collins.

I admit to being shocked by some aspects of the unfolding drama. Not shocked that some skulduggery goes on behind the scenes in politics. Not shocked that some people use unguarded language in private emails. But shocked at the lack of transparency from media pundits who imply they are interested in transparency as they 'expose' stories and challenge partial truths while, it appears, being in the pay of masters they do not disclose.

Thus yesterday we had a story about Slater and a fellow blogger 'Cactus Kate' (real name Cathy Odgers) being in the pay of Mark Hotchin, a failed financier, in order to pursue a smear campaign against an official appointed to a government office requiring probity and integrity. Slater on his blog Whaleoil (you will need to google that, I refuse to link to it) comes across as high-minded in the pursuit of truth, justice and the Kiwi way [he does have some interesting posts on hunting!]. But it appears not. It is not just the Hotchin story but also the possibility that some campaign posts against plain paper packaging have been paid for by the tobacco industry. [I am a tolerant and liberal man, as you all know (!), but never get me started on the evils of: smoking, drug taking ... once you are in the employ of those industries you are working for the devil. I know that is intolerant, but there you go].

However beyond that shock I have been amazed, shocked to discover, thanks to a (worth reading) post from the left - on The Daily Blog  - some things about Cactus Kate herself (via links in a comment to the post).

Cactus Kate, in a twist in the weekend's plot, almost certainly the person who supplied the email which led to the final downfall of Judith Collins, is someone who has in the past when blogging seemed on the moral high ground of promoting pure capitalism. But it now seems there may be a connection to some of the murkiest racketeering of our times. This Naked Capitalism post is not necessarily for the financially faint-hearted (re details, details and more details) but opens up a can of worms. If the pursuit of capitalism equals making a virtue of Russian money laundering then, give me back communism any old day of the week.

What would Jesus say? This, of course:

'If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness' (Matthew 6:22-23) 
'... for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known' (Matthew 10:26).

If there is good which comes from the mire National is now in, it is this: future governments will realise that emails, all emails, private/personal as well as official need to be as able to be inspected by the public like any other ministerial documents, that contact with media, any media, needs to be able to held up to the light of investigation, and that ministerial office cannot be used to influence secretly the course of events otherwise in the hands of the public service.

The great problem with scandal of this kind is that it obscures important issues at stake every time the public renews the social contract via election.

Matters of child poverty, housing, education and the like are no longer covered by media slavering over the latest crumbs of murky deeds falling from the political masters' table.

It is not just that we do not discuss the issues properly via public discourse, it is also that we are liable to assume that because the present government has mishandled some aspects of political life, suddenly the alternative government is transformed into paragons of political virtue, without examination of whether that proposition is true. The previous Labour government had its problems on the virtue front ... at the heart of the current imbroglio re an OIA request re the SIS is the almost forgotten question whether a past leader of the Labour Party lied or not ... a Labour led government after 20 September could involve support from the Internet MANA Party (which wants marijuana legalised, which is backed by a moneyman who enjoys collecting Hitler memorabilia ...) ... to say nothing of the role Winston Talk About the Pot Calling the Kettle Black Peters could play ... and we still do not know who funded David Cunliffe's leadership campaign last year!

I must finish. In conclusion, for some thinking about the real issues in this election, I commend consideration of a recent essay by our Archbishops. I do not agree with everything they say, but they make some great points and offer food for thought.

PS This handy chart may help readers unravel the connections opened up in the last few days ... sourced from NZ Herald.

PPS For what it is worth, I think the left and the media should take care about overplaying 'dirty politics' allegations if they want to win the election (as the media wants to ... there is more mileage to 'National loses' than 'National wins again, boring'!). My impression is that not many are convinced that the left has no dirty linen, few supporters on the centre-right and right think that Judith Collins has been treated fairly by the 'lynch mob' feel to the public discourse of the last few weeks, and the chances are high that any disaffected National supporters will fall into the arms of the Conservatives or NZ First.

PPPS The other great scandal in this election is how Dotcon has bought himself a party whose real agenda and policy is at his beck and call, all in the name of revenge. You don't believe me? How about listening to what one of his - now obviously rogue - candidates says about the Dotcon/Internet/Mana brand, here.      


Andrei said...

Breaking News - human beings are fallen creatures, given to corruption and self serving behaviour.

"Put not your trust in princes...."

Nor what you read in the paper

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
My great disappointment has been that I thought blogs might help me get behind the papers and my hermeneutic of suspicion about them ... now I cannot trust blogs either :)

Andrei said...

In the scheme of things Peter this election means less than nothing

For a few people, you've probably never heard of the way we tick our party vote boxes will determine whether or not they get a three year, well paid sinecure gracing the green seats of the debating chamber....

What's the bet that we don't have "voluntary" euthanasia before we vote again in 2017?

Or legalized marijuana before 2020?

We live in a potemkin democracy

Jean said...

Have to admit Judith Collins was off my birthday card list long ago after her somewhat scathing, I am ashamed to be an Anglican comments, after Bishop Justin Duckworth made an effor in highlighting issues around our criminal justice system.

As for dirty laundry, I prefer to hear about what there ideas are about upcoming fashions...

Peter Carrell said...

I had forgotten she had made that comment, Jean.

Father Ron Smith said...

It seems to me that the two wild cards in this election are Dot-Com and Nicky Hager. Both are taking advantage of the public's thirst for scandal - and are looking to reap personal benefits from their open accommodation to this lust for salacious gossip.