Evil, or just wrong?

Yesterday on the way home I saw one of those attempts to win the election by making the other side look bad.  It was a poster with a photo of John Key and speech quotes saying “we would love to see wages drop”.

This has been one of Labour’s favourite attack lines for quite a while now, but I really wish they would get over it. Aside from the fact that I’d prefer they invested at least some energy into talking about how they want to make New Zealand better, I also think the implication behind the accusation is silly.

Most politicians I have met, from across the spectrum, genuinely want to do good things for the country.  Yet the repeated repetition of this line implies two things.  One: that John Key actually wants wages to drop.  He is evil and wants to see people put into poverty. And two: that he is so naïve and foolish as to say this out aloud. He’s meant to be kind of like the villain in a James Bond movie that takes too long explaining his dastardly plan while Bond prepares his escape.

Here’s what I think.  John Key is lacking in political experience and nous, but not that badly.  Most politicians don’t need too much tutoring to know revealing their secret plan to impoverish people is not likely to win votes.  They teach that one on the first day of politician school.  Secondly I don’t think John Key has a secret, evil agenda to deliberately make people poor.  Like most other National MPs he wants to do good.  The fact that his employment relations policies will make people poor is neither here nor there in terms of the implied accusation that he is evil. What matters is whether he believes they will make wages drop or not.

So let’s clean things up a bit, stop trying to charge Key with the crime of being evil and just focus on the lesser charge of being wrong. Goodness Labour, we could even talk about our own policies and vision if we wanted to be really brave.

9 thoughts on “Evil, or just wrong?

  1. I’m not Labour and I think the quote is a very interesting and largely accurate one. You have to look at the context in which it was said – to a business lobbyist complaining about high labour costs. The reporter took the quote down verbatim off the tape and stands by it.

    To me it looks more like Key saying one thing to one audience and the opposite to another. He tells workers he wants to lift wages, and employers he wants to see them drop.

    As to the truth, who can know? I prefer to look at National’s record and its policies. Both support the belief that a future National government will cut wages.

  2. Good post. Labour’s smear campaign is disgusting and inaccurate, it is good to see the other parties not sinking into similar tactics, yet anyway.

    But mud sticks. The Selwyn Times interviewed a few people on the street earlier in the week asking who they would vote for, one woman said she’d vote for Labour because she couldn’t trust John Key. Now considering Clark is dishonest enough to even sign a painting that wasn’t her own, this is ridiculous, there is no real basis for thinking this if you weigh up the facts on either side. I’m no Key supporter but I would still trust him more than Clark.

    But some people just listen to the smears and don’t look into the facts for themselves at all. Unfortunately the election result will be decided by these uninformed voters. Good luck stealing as many “principled left-wing” votes from Labour as you can this election, provided you still don’t have enough seats to form a left-wing government I’ll be happy :). It would be nice to see Labour suffer the disastrous defeat they deserve.

  3. Thanks for the feedback Tane. I should clarify that I wasn’t meaning to suggest you or The Standard was Labour. I know that’s a false accusation you lumber under too often. I just linked to your site because that was where i found the picture of the poster.

    I think political blogs have more of a role to play critiquing other parties than politicians themselves do. Labour’s ‘slippery john’ campaign looks too much like negative US style politics to me to be healthy for our democracy. I agree that we should be looking, as you say, at “National’s record and its policies. Both support the belief that a future National government will cut wages.” But I’m not convinced the “we would love to see wages drop” line really meets that test.

  4. Mr Dennis – you’re a well known smearer yourself (like me to quote your words back to you?) You are ever ready to sail out and demean other parties (the Greens have featured in your dippy rants and now Labour) Why not stay at party hq and try to sort out your own pretzled logic and twisted policies? Hmm…

  5. Mr Dennis – consider it forgotten.
    “So be kind to your web-footed friends, for that duck could be somebody’s mother and be kind to your friends in the swamp where the weather is very, very damp. Well you might think that this is the end and it is.” 🙂

  6. Pingback: Will wages drop under National? « g.blog

  7. stevdore. Key said he would love to see wages drop – the pople deserve to know that before they vote. The MSM won’t touch it, the journo who reported it has been intimidated into silence. And, you know what? Labour doesn’t really mention it either.

    That’s why I produced and authorised that leaflet in my own name.

    And i don’t think John Key wants good things for this country, he wants good things for the weathly, which he naively or arrogantly things is the same thing.

    The poster and leaflets on The Standard’s campaign hub page cannot explicitly endorse a party without having to be counted for that party’s spending cap – hence the materials are issues focussed, and are either anti-natioanl or comapre and contrast type.

  8. Tane, Steve- I honestly think that while the quote is revealing, nobody “outside the beltway”, so to speak, is going to get the context on it, and putting it on posters out of context just makes you look like smear-mongers. Like it or not, the quote has been retracted by the source. Sure, explaining that is an interesting tale- but you have nothing left to give credibility to it, so it’s only going to convince people who already believe Key isn’t trustworthy.

    Personally speaking, while I agree Key behaved in an extremely dodgy manner in regards to the incident in question, I don’t think either the Greens or Labour even need this kind of… “strong” campaigning to get ahead in the election. We can easily point out that Key has commited too much money to not borrow for his tax cuts. We can easily point out that he seems to think we shouldn’t pump up the economy with government spending during a recession, when that is precisely the time that the economy needs the most stimulus. We can rip to shreds his policies that Kiwisaver is unegalitarian because it discriminates against those who… choose not to save? We can show him supporting the repeal of §59, despite trying to backpedal now. We can show him doing all kinds of things that are devoid of the consistency, principle, and justification that people want in their PM’s actions.

    That’s all the negative campaigning we need. Let’s not descend into beating the story into our own shape like the Right sometimes like to do, hmmm?

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