Patrick Gower has slammed Metiria Turei for trying to ‘get attention’ and ‘win votes’ just ‘eight weeks out from an election’. Hayden Donnell lifts the lid on just how deep this rabbit hole goes.
Most of the people criticising Metiria Turei for committing benefit fraud have been white, middle-aged men angry at the idea of a poor person ripping off the Government. If you’re going to rip off the Government, they say, at least have the decency to be a rich man or a multinational company.
But Newshub’s formidable political editor Patrick Gower has come up a different take. In a firebreathing column, he argues Turei’s biggest sin was using her personal story to gain attention for her party’s new welfare policy and win votes during the usually sacred politics-free sanctity of an election campaign. Turei’s admission is “political fraud”, he says. “[This is] an attempt to use her benefit fraud to manipulate the media and the public eight weeks before an election [emphasis added by Hayden Donnell for thespinoff.co.nz]”.
Gower’s take is in line with his longtime position as our political journalist most viscerally disgusted at people doing politics, particularly during election years. He’s campaigned against “dirty deals”in Epsom, Ōhāriu, Northland, and New Plymouth and has often railed against politicians who sully themselves with things like “winning elections” or “trying to gain votes”.
But even he will not believe how deep this rabbit hole goes. It’s not just Metiria. It’s not even confined to the Green Party. After an extensive investigation, I’ve uncovered a crisis-level epidemic of politicians doing things with the express purpose of trying to manipulate the public and win votes in the eight weeks before a general election. The problem starts at the top. Look at this:
Notice anything unusual?
Spotlight-shirking Dipton farmer Bill English is suddenly grinning in the faces of thousands of potential voters, promising to deliver them unspecified goods or services. I don’t want to judge, but it sure looks like he’s part of some kind of calculated political move by the National Party leadership to get public attention and even win votes. But maybe someone else did the billboards? Maybe the prime minister’s supporters put them up without his permission?
ACT, a libertarian party rejected by the political marketplace and forced to rely on Government support to survive, is also getting in on the, um, game. Party leader David Seymour has written a book called “Own Your Future”, which will be released on August 6, just six weeks out from the election!
I don’t see Seymour releasing books on days not close to general elections. Let’s call this what it is: a naked attempt to get attention and indoctrinate the public with neoliberal ideas that evaporate on contact with reality.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s newest party, TOP, has engaged in a series of highly public attempts to commit the very crime Gower accuses the Greens of: using publicity to “try and get votes”. The party recently released this video of someone slowly, painstakingly sneaking up on Gareth Morgan at Mt Maunganui beach.
While at first this seems to be an innocent incident of public stalking, the fact that Morgan doesn’t scream or call the police when confronted by this camera-wielding assassin indicates that this video may be an attempt to promote TOP policy and win anywhere up to 20 votes.
The party is actually a repeat offender. It has released several other videos that appear to be obvious attempts to get attention and win support. In this one on how to address poverty, the party’s Mt Albert candidate Geoff Simmons promises to buy a beer for anyone who spots him exceeding one minute on his “Policy in a Minute” videos, almost definitely breaking Electoral Commission rules on treating (CC: investigative journalists, CC: NZ Police, CC: Julian Assange)
Meanwhile, the Māori Party’s Shane Taurima is one of the most brazen vote-pleaders. In this Facebook post, he admits signing up rangatahi to enrol to vote and to support the Māori Party.
And in this shocking video, party leader Te Ururoa Flavell wears a shark hat while Marama Fox sings This Is How We Do It.
It’s everywhere! Winston Peters is, for some reason, breezing through the brassed-off regions.
Peter Dunne has visited roughly 1000 schools in the last few weeks – extremely suspicious behaviour for anyone not named Harold the Giraffe – and is pictured here in a fire truck.
This is a cancer. A blight on our electoral system. No-one is immune from this kind of degrading vote-grubbing strategy.
Thankfully one honorable party remains. One party that has risen above. One party which will not stoop to employing tactics or strategies that might gain attention or win any votes just eight weeks out from an election.
We owe them our thanks.
Want more politics? Check out the Spinoff’s Gone By Lunchtime political podcast, hosted by Toby Manhire with Ben Thomas and Annabelle Lee. Listen to the latest episode here, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.