Ansell confirms secret agenda

Remember John Ansell? Yes, the man who designed the 2005 National Party billboards. Well, after a falling out with National (and then with ACT), Ansell has become a blogger.

He has an interesting theory that National’s 2008 billboards are deliberately bland.

Far better instead to be inoffensive and keep all sensible policies invisible. It’s called sleepwalking to victory, and the Nats are rather good at it.

Did I read that right John: “…keep all sensible policies invisible” !!!

Now, Ansell is no ordinary blogger – he has worked closely with senior National Party MPs and strategists, he knows how the National Party works. He’s an inside man, and here he is, confirming the secret agenda many of us suspected from the Bill English do what it takes tape and the earlier recordings of English (sell Kiwibank, “eventually”) and Lockwood Smith (do things in government “that may not be policy right now”).

Incidentally, Ansell has nothing but praise for the Green billboards:

Six words. Bang. That’s impact.

As I once told Dr Brian Edwards on radio in defence of the Iwi/Kiwi billboard, a billboard is not an essay.

Your market is hurtling towards your medium at 100k. (Or 180k in some cases, Brian.) You’ve got about three seconds to woo them and win them.

And the Greens do that. They stand for something. Loudly and proudly. Their ads are big and bold and brave.

But he is far from complimentary about some of National’s efforts:

You see, I don’t know about you, but to me these signs, when arranged so neatly in rows, do not look like pluses.

They look like crosses.

Grave mistake

A field of uniform white crosses arranged neatly in rows does not equal something positive in my experience. It equals only one thing.


23 thoughts on “Ansell confirms secret agenda

  1. Yeah National do that because too many NZers are too retarded to understand sensible policies, they just want the handouts, so in order to get into power National have to pretend to suck up to them. ACT on the other hand aren’t too pussy to set out their policies in full public viewing. What’s your point?

  2. (I mean you make it sound like a big whooping discovery, everyone knows the Nats are too pussy to offend the public and stand up for principle).

  3. Reb, I will give ACT credit for that. Like the Greens, and the Maori Party, they stand up for what they believe in, and make it very public. Good on ACT for that.

    I disagree with a lot of their economic position, but agree with their stand re civil liberties. I would never vote ACT, but since Prebble’s retirement they have become far more a principled party, even though I disagree with most of their principles.

    Labour and National, in contrast, try to be everything to everyone. And when either of them leads a government, they end up pissing lots of people off.

    I have to say I would rather deal with the Maori Party and ACT – at least we know where they are coming from. Labour and National are a moveable feast.

  4. David Farrar at Kiwiblog picked up on John Ansell’s blog comments about the same time I did.

    So I posted this on Kiwiblog:

    Interesting that Ansell confirms that National has a secret agenda! As an “inside man” until recently, he would know.

    That was around mid-day. Funnily enough, only one comment on that Kiwiblog thread in the 8 hours since. The Nattyboys still purport to be preoccupied with Winston Peters.

    Did it hit a raw spot, I wonder? Why are the regular punters on the Kiwiblog comments thread avoiding this topic, I wonder?

  5. toad,
    as reb has said it is bleedingly obvious what National WANT to do is different to what they WILL do for pragmatic reasons.

    The Nats are going for “softly softly” approach to their first term back in office. No slash and burn privatisation plans in the first three years (and probably not after either if polls are against them). It will be to establish trust with the populous and show:

    (a) After 9 years away from power, they can run the country and have the people to do it.

    (b) Their economic policies (less tax, more efficient less wasteful spending) will give a taste that they know better than Labour how to run the country.

    I expect if the polls are positive after 3 years in office (will be hard for them with the current economic climate and future forecast – in this area Labour has had a dream run), then and only then, will they unveil plans to do more of what they want (but still likely to be only going as far as is politically possible to reduce government spending in wasteful areas.

    So tell us toad, how are the Greens going to PAY for their spend policies without burdening the taxpayer excessively? Have they done their sums? What is the GREEN TAX BILL?

  6. I should add, that in reverse Labour did the same thing in 1999. They had to show that they could be good economic stewards and business friendly, whilst showing they “cared” more about health, education, and welfare than National did. Minimise peoples fears, maximise their believed strengths in the eyes of the people.

    Taxation increases were done by stealth over time by allowing more and more people to move into the high taxation brackets as the thresholds were fixed and didnt account for inflation. Thus people sleepwalked into paying more tax.

    This allowed Labour to do what they wanted to just before the election – SPEND!

    National’s strategy is just the same but in reverse.
    -Appear friendly to social spending (“we care”).
    -Show they are better economic stewards by lowering taxes and revising the deficit forecast (actually with the current economic conditions I think all bets are off).
    Again minimising peoples fears (no privatisation in the first term), whilst maximising their believed strengths (economic management).

    quite simple really. I dont see any “secret agenda” in reality. If you must use it, it must equally be applied to Labour in hindsight.

    my 2c

  7. Adsell’s comments on the desire of National not to have attention grabbing billboards is the most interesting point. Hard to lampoon, those bland, bland, John Key boards.

  8. Um, here, wasn’t it John?

    Far better instead to be inoffensive and keep all sensible policies invisible.

    I have always associated the “repeated lie” syndrome with the anthropogenic global warming deniers – just ignore the science and repeat ad infinitum the ideology that cannot accept the science!

  9. BTW John, credit where credit is due. Your “Iwi/Kiwi”billboard (and th Tax/Cut one that followed it)was abolutely brilliant from a marketing point of view.

    But “Iwi/Kiwi” was based on a lie too, because it was Labour who actually nationalised the foreshore and seabed, against the wishes of those of us in the Green Party, and those who were to form the Maori Party who supported claims to property rights (something I thought was dear to the National Party, but which they crapped out badly on in this instance) being determined by the courts..

    Funnily enough, the Greens were the defenders of property rights here, not National who try to stake out thet territory.

  10. I suppose you’ll say I’m splitting hairs, but a satirical commentary is a very different thing from an official confirmation.

    The latter suggests I’m an insider leaking information.

    To be fair, I can see why you’d think (or at least pretend for marketing purposes) why I might be in a position to make such a confirmation.

    But the sad truth, toad, is that I wasn’t close enough to the centre of the Key administration to know what the agenda was.

    And if I was, I’d be bound by confidentiality not to say.

  11. John, I’m a policy wonk, and have no claim to merketing expertise – I’ve actually just got off a lengthy phone call with the Green Party marketimg gurus where we’ve been discussing (with some vigour) the messaging for the rest of the Greens campaign.

    But I didn’t think you were coming from a satirical perspective in either your Sunday Star-Times column or your blog. It seemed to be a dead *white crosses and all” serious marketing analysis from where I come from.

    While having little expretise in marketing myself, I work with those who do on a day by day basis, so I think my analysis of your column and blog is valid.

    Pity you are a rightie, because you would be a real asset on the Green team from a marketing perspective – “Iwi / Kiwi” was brilliant, even though it sold a lie, which we in the Greens won’t do.

  12. So voting Green will benefit our kids? I don’t see it that way, toad.

    Having said that, I really just want to know the truth, and am far more open-minded than you may think.

    I’ve worked for parties of the left, right and centre – and even a Green candidate, Olivia Mitchell, in the Porirua Council elections a few years ago.

    (One of our billboards, I recall, was ‘Vote for your kids’ – the second time I’ve used it for elections.)

    Anyway, I’ve tried to get clarity on the man-made climate change issue and have not just swallowed the party line.

    Far from it, I tried to change Don Brash’s mind when he expressed reservations about man’s effects on climate change, but his investigations were ahead of mine.

    My starting point was the Gore film, which I was mightily impressed with from a marketing point of view. I also had no reason to doubt the accuracy of its content, and at first took a dim view of Gore’s detractors.

    Then I went to a talk by an Australian climate scientist, Ray (I think) Evans.

    He was of the view that the Gore film was a lot of hot air and that global warming was part of the regular planetary cycle, as evidenced by the fact that Greenland was once just that.

    He said there was more correlation between warming and sunspots than anything man was doing – and in any case, man’s contribution to the total CO2 in the environment was minuscule.

    Stuff like that.

    I went up to him afterwards and said that was all very well, but I couldn’t get out of my head Gore’s hockey stick graph, which I found both brilliant and alarmingly persuasive.

    He then pointed out that the hockey stick graph had been discredited and that even Gore accepted it was wrong.

    Since that was the part of the film that I remembered after all else had melted from my memory (except for the belching black smokestacks which purported to be carbon dioxide, when carbon dioxide is, of course, colourless), I began to have serious concerns about the Truth part of The Inconvenient Truth.

    I know I’m a mere layman, but can you see why I might think that?

    My enquiries proceeded from there and I went on to watch The Great Global Warming Swindle for balance.

    In this film, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore and other seemingly credible types put forward a reasonable case that the science is far from settled, but that to say so invites mockery and scorn.

    I discovered that hundreds of climate scientists have spoken out against the findings of the IPCC, but their objections have been swept under the carpet and effectively mocked and discredited in a way that seems reminiscent of the persecution of religious heretics.

    As a result of my layman’s enquiries, I formed the view that man-made global warming has been hyped way beyond the ability of the evidence to sustain the argument.

    What’s more sinister is that it is being promoted as a religion for political reasons by communists masquerading as Greens.

    If so, this is highly dishonest, but consistent with the Greens promoting the legalisation of marijuana in the same breath as banning unhealthy foods.

    The religion has snowballed to such a degree than it’s become too hard for all but the most honest politicians to argue against it.

    That’s why populists like John Key and presumably Kevin Rudd have decided to go with the flow. Privately they both probably strongly suspect it’s a hoax, but the focus groups tell them they’d better toe the popular line and not ask too many questions.

    Rodney Hide, parliament’s most qualified environmental scientist, who’s been worried about the environment since he was 15, is about the only MP in our parliament prepared to tell the truth.

    It seems to me that there are two issues here, and they’ve become so intertwined that they now seem one and the same to most people.

    This amounts to a Convenient Lie.

    The two issues are:

    1. That pollution of the environment by man is causing the earth to warm to levels that threaten our survival.

    This requires the urgent and heavy taxing of anything that emits carbon.

    This will have dire consequences for commerce and the day-to-day life of anyone who eats food, since its cost will go through the roof as many of the crops used to produce it are used to produce biofuels.

    Millions in Africa will starve to death as a result.

    2. That pollution of the environment by man has caused the planet to become dirty.

    This requires us to recycle as much waste as we can and adopt clean air and water policies.

    This will require some sacrifices, but is quite affordable. Shoppers may not get plastic bags, but no one will die.

    The cost of these two remedies, if I’ve got this right, would appear to be very different.

    One could bankrupt some, and is already killing others (the afore-mentioned Africans).

    The other is a minor inconvenience.

    You can see how the two issues have become intertwined.

    My wife comes from Taipei, where 2 is certainly true. The air is filthy and rubbish is dumped by the side of roads.

    Iris is therefore easily persuaded by the climate change brigade to remedy not only 2 (dirt) but also 1 (carbon), thinking it’s all part of the same problem.

    But is it?

    Remedying 1 (man-made warming) requires trillions of dollars of people’s money to be diverted from other uses, such as medicines and schools, into carbon reduction.

    No one seems to be being very open about how huge this cost will be. So it’s easier to get agreement as the cause seems such a win/win.

    I see these huge costs creating a heavy burden on our children. And for what? A religion which has been successfully sold, but far from proven (rather like Christianity).

    This has taken a while to spell out, and I’m by no means certain I’ve got it right.

    I’m not the least set in my ways, and if you can show me the error of them, I’ll gladly change my mind and suggest others do the same.

    We need to debate the issues with integrity, and to the extent that I’ve fallen into the abuse trap, I apologise.

    Now, enlighten me!

  13. And toad, you’re right: that article wasn’t satirical, but I did have my tongue in my cheek in certain parts of it. That’s what I should have said, not satirical.

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