The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


So who else was riveted to the spot, listening to Mary Wilson on Checkpoint this arvo interviewing first Nicky Hager and second Don Brash, about Hager's injucted new book, modestly titled The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception.

Ye gads.

I even began to warble my special Toast song, usually reserved for the walk to the staff room from my office every morning to turn my Vogels bread into toast with jam for breakfast. Somehow melodically singing "toasty toasty toasty, toast toasty toast toast toast" seemed appropriate to the occasion, not just for Brash but also for John Key.* Oh I do so like toast.

Hager's claims seem to be, from what I've read and heard so far:

- Brash, Key and Steven Joyce (National's campaign manager for the 2005 election) had medium-term associations with the Exclusive Brethren, with regular contact from at least May of 2005, not August as Brash has previously claimed (and indeed continued to claim tonight on Checkpoint). All three were "explictly and totally" aware of the EB's pamphlet campaign, is what Hager said on the wireless tonight.

- That the policy intentions of the National leadership differed significantly from the published and promoted policy of party

- Widespread Exclusive Brethren donations directly to individual MPs, as part of the association with the EB that National leadership were aware of

- National's strong links to neo-conservatives in the USA, including input to their 2005 campaign from both American and Australian soucres

- Dodgy dealings in terms of industry lobby groups and National's big donors

Now some of this stuff is by no means illegal (and nor should it be). But the bigger issue will be how National portrayed themselves publicly and how they responded to specific questions about these issues. Brash has already been caught over the Exclusive Brethren once before. How he can possibly continue to say to the media, and I heard him say it to Mary Wilson today, that he has never misled the NZ public is completely beyond me. (And I'm a little frustrated he doesn't get called on it more often by journalists, but anyway.)

It's important to note that Hager didn't seem to be saying that this book is based solely, or even wholly on the stolen emails. What I understood from listening to the interview was that some of the research involved emails, given to Hager by National sources, and for this reason he is concerned that the book breaches the injunction. Hager made it clear that he's been researching this book since after Brash's first Orewa speech, which significantly predates the stolen email saga, and that he has done a great deal of research apart from reading and analysing emails, such as looking at other internal correspondence and conducting interviews with National party sources. Hager's clear message was that it had come from National insiders, and that all source material had been returned to the person providing it already.

This is all fitting rather too well with Jordan's past point about Brash believing in a "moral obligation to lie." Idiot/Savant has pointed out umpteen examples of this and has written about this new development twice already today, on both the hypocrisy of Brash's action in seeking the injuction when National uses leaks frequently (lots of great links in the comments), and Brash's defence that publishing the emails will invade the privacy of others. Bomber over at Tumeke has Marilyn Waring's forward to The Hollow Men, as well as linking to the Herald article covering Hager's situation which clearly states "the majority of the book was based on documents other than Dr Brash's emails."

DPF has already posted once with the announcement that Hagar has a book "based primarily on the Brash emails" (which doesn't seem to be the case) and posted again using Russell Brown quotes about Hagar, in relation to Corngate, to try to discredit him.** Spin spin spin. Jeremy, who describes Hagar as "a low-grade sensationalist writer" speculates a little on what may be in these emails that is so damaging.

Well it will be interesting to see what happens next. As Brash got his interim injunction in a John and Jane Doe order the judge was not able to consider arguments against the injunction. But now that Hagar is on the case, it will be interesting to see how the interim injunction holds up, especially as Hagar claims the book doesn't cover Brash's private life.

Update, 8.02am 22nd Nov: David Slack has some other books possibly caught by the injunction. My favourite is Tze Ming's.

* Rumour within the Beltway has said for some time that Key was strongly implicated in the EB scandal last year, and that there was email proof in the stolen emails. I bet Bill English is smiling on the inside right about now.
** Good luck with that - Corngate reminds us all that Hager is hardly a Labour hack, and RB has commented on No Right Turn already as follows:
"I was critical of the way Nicky Hager sprang his Corngate documents. I didn't think the possibility of an injunction was real enough to justify the way he acted. I think Don Brash has now vindicated that action, and I'll be saying so in the blog tomorrow."


Gooner said...

Oh dear, oh dear.

Politics is a very interesting, but very dangerous, game.

Sanctuary said...

"toasty toasty toasty, toast toasty toast toast toast" :D:D:D

backin15 said...

Gak, now I've got your toast song stuck in my head - I'd only just managed to get the Wiggles out...

Pablo said...

Backin15, which Wiggles song?

I am particularly taken with the rhythmic structure of "Quack, quack, quack, quack, cock-a-doodle-doo"....

Span said...

Hmmm well I'm glad my toast song is so popular, particularly given you haven't even heard the melody! :-)