John Armstrong

The three biggest lies of Hager’s book

These are the three biggest lies of the Hager book.

They cannot go with out calling them out.

The first big lie is that the PM’s department “hacked” the Labour party website. This is a lie and one repeated by the NZ Herald and John Armstrong this morning.

Hager’s allegations are many and varied. They are extremely serious. But one stands out. The allegation that one of John Key’s minions hacked into the Labour Party’s database is – to put it bluntly – the modern-day equivalent of the 1972 burglary of the Democratic Party’s national committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington.

And everyone knows whose head rolled at the end of that saga.

This is a lie. The Labour party website is extremely well documented, by me at the time. The website was open to the world and anyone could access it. It was not ever hacked. Furthermore it was not the PM’s department that alerted me to the openness of the Labour party website…I had two sources, neither of which are from the PM’s department.

The second big lie is that PM and/or the PM’s office told me about Phil Goff’s briefing from the SIS. They did not.   Read more »

Armstrong on Joyce and Cunliffe

John Armstrong critiques Steven Joyce’s virtuoso performance in the house where he rinsed Cunliffe.

Joyce took the first call in Wednesday afternoon’s general debate — long a platform for Parliament’s better orators — to parody Labour’s under-the-weather David Cunliffe in a fashion that was as clever as it was cruel as it was funny.

Within the space of a five-minute speech, Joyce had revealed another weapon in his armoury — the ability to cut an opponent down by sheer wit — and thereby further enhanced his credentials as the frontrunner for National’s leadership when Key finally moves on.

There was, however, another interesting outcome from his contribution — its impact on those sitting opposite him.

Cunliffe was not in the chamber. But those Labour MPs who were initially tried to ignore what was a virtuoso performance. But their barely suppressed smiles gave the game away.

If any group of people could do with a bit of a laugh it is Cunliffe’s colleagues.They have watched in increasing despair as their leader of just 10 months has virtually self-destructed and taken the party’s support down with him from the mid-30s to the mid-20s in percentage terms. Cunliffe is now very much marooned in a malaise from which it is almost impossible for a Leader of the Opposition to drag himself or herself out.

You can do nothing right. Every opinion poll just brings even more bad news. No one takes you seriously. You become the target of every cheap joke and jibe. The media spit on what remains of your dignity. The public write you off. In short, you are deemed to be terminal. You then wait for the firing squad — the knock on the door from a delegation of your MPs who have determined your use-by date has long passed and your ability to resuscitate your party’s flagging support is seen as likely as a squadron of pigs gliding past the Beehive.

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John Armstrong is the next Herald journo to turn on Dotcom

It appears only David “Tainted” Fisher is still sticking by his master.  Whereas before the Herald appear to have been collective fans of Herr Dotcom, which then turned to a cautious silence, the accumulated public lash back has built to a crescendo where being seen to be in Kim Dotcom’s camp is no longer a career boost.

John Campbell and David Fisher are now lone voices in the face of a farce that is quickly spinning out of control.

Armstrong is over it too

The time has come for Kim Dotcom to put up or shut up, for this intelligent, canny but highly manipulative individual to front with his yet-to-be-made public disclosures which he boasts will blow John Key out of the water – and though Dotcom does not say it directly, presumably bring a rapid end to Key’s days as Prime Minister.

Dotcom must now prove far beyond any reasonable doubt that Key has lied repeatedly when challenged as to when exactly he became aware or was made aware of the former Megaupload mogul’s existence.

Time for word games are over.  Armstrong doesn’t just want to smoking gun, he wants the corpse as well as video taped footage.

Key will stand or fall on the strength of Dotcom’s case. The time has come for the country to hear it and appraise it. The time has come for Dotcom to cut the babble and prove Key is the one talking nonsense when he insists that until the eve of the police raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion he did not know of Dotcom, let alone that Dotcom was living in his Helensville electorate, or that Dotcom was the subject of a FBI investigation even though the intelligence agencies for which Key has ministerial responsibility had known for at least 15 months before the raid that was the case.

If the Prime Minister has not been telling the truth, then, as Dotcom and his supporters argue, it is a matter of paramount importance even if what they are arguing about could hardly be more trivial.

It follows that New Zealanders are surely entitled to know whether or not Key’s word is devoid of trustworthiness. And they should be told today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. And most surely not when it is most politically advantageous for the Internet Mana leadership – Dotcom, Laila Harre and Hone Harawira.

Actually, I think John is a little over dramatic.  John Key will not fall.  Assuming that sufficient hard information exists about John Key knowing about Dotcom before he has publicly stated he did, how many National voters will consider this enough of a reason to walk away from a booming economy, a don’t-rock-the-boat stewardship of our lives, and being one of the most liked people in politics?   Read more »

Armstrong on Mallard’s moa delusion

John Armstrong muses about the rationale behind Trevor Mallard’s moa media stunt.

Trevor Mallard’s mind-boggling suggestion to harness science to bring the moa back to life will likely end up being much-a-dodo about nothing.

And won’t David Cunliffe be relieved. Trying to breathe life of its own into his faltering leadership, Cunliffe had recently promised that Labour henceforth would be focusing on “the things that matter”.

Mallard may have misunderstood his leader, but it is unlikely that the “matter” Cunliffe was referring to was recovered DNA from moa egg shells.

Along with his front-bench colleagues, Cunliffe had to grin through gritted teeth as they were lampooned mercilessly by Government MPs for much of Parliament’s afternoon hour-long question-time and beyond.

Never one to look a gift moa in the mouth, National’s Steven Joyce kicked off the mass ribbing by manipulating his forearm and hand to resemble the neck and head of a moa and then waved the ensemble at arriving Labour MPs — a pantomime act so polished that Joyce must have devoted all but a few moments of his lunchtime to perfecting it.

The subsequent deluge of puns and wisecracks became progressively more lame from thereon — with one exception. When Winston Peters got to his feet, National backbencher Scott Simpson interjected: “A live moa!”.

Trevor Mallard must have done this on purpose. To cause a day of distraction for Labour, unfortunately it also distracted from anything positive that DAvid Cunliffe had to say about anything and ended up sidetracking the leader.  Read more »

Clinging to wreckage

John Armstrong wrote yesterday in the Herald about David Cunliffe’s dreadful week:

When it comes to casting aspersions, few insults are as venomous, vicious or more driven by utter contempt than accusing someone of being a “scab”.

That is particularly the case on the left of the political spectrum where the battles of old between capital and labour provided the source of the term to describe those who broke rank from the union and who were then ostracised forever.

A workforce which is now largely non-unionised has made such name-calling far more infrequent, and at times sound rather dated.

But there was nothing quaint about the leader of the Labour Party this week insinuating colleagues who did not give him their full support were scabs.

It was astonishing. It implied treachery in the extreme. What the outburst really revealed was someone looking for scapegoats for his own self-inflicted woes.

David Cunliffe actually stopped one step short of uttering the word “scab” during his appearance on Campbell Live on Wednesday evening. But he noted that in the Labour movement “there are words we use for strike breakers”. He meant one word. And you did not have to be Einstein to work out what that word was.

Likewise those MPs in Cunliffe’s sights who must be furious at being labelled in such derogatory fashion.

David Cunliffe called more than two thirds of his caucus scabs…it won’t be a surprise if they continue to white ant him right up until the election.

In fact, Cunliffe spent much of the week trying to play the victim following the embarrassing revelation that he had helped Donghua Liu with his application for New Zealand residency, having just 24 hours earlier denied any such advocacy on behalf of the controversial Chinese businessman.

Cunliffe countered that National had set him up, having known for weeks about the letter he had written back in 2003 to immigration authorities on Liu’s behalf.

It is true National was well aware of the letter, but only because it had conducted a document trawl to find out more about Liu after he proved to be of major nuisance.

John Key says he did nothing with the letter as it did not seem particularly germane to anything at the time.

That is difficult to accept. The letter would have looked like a gift from God – especially as its contents cut right across Cunliffe’s “crony capitalism” campaign.

If Cunliffe was stitched up, he compounded things with his denials of any contact with Liu.

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John Armstrong on ” a bunch of crazed, intolerant fruit-loops”

Apart from throwing Act yet another lifeline, it is also in National’s interests to ensure Peter Dunne maintains his 30-year hold on the Ohariu seat in Wellington.

United Future – Dunne’s party – is highly unlikely to register a party vote which is high enough to qualify for a second MP. In a hung Parliament, however, Dunne’s lone vote could be the difference between National clinging to power and absolute deadlock which could force another election unless an opposition party was willing to abstain on confidence votes and Budget-related measures.

One reason National is willing to help Act and United Future is that neither party poses any threat to National.

Things are more problematic when it comes to the third leg of the electoral accommodation treble – Colin Craig’s Conservative Party.

All election year, John Key has ensured there are several lengths of barge-pole between Craig and National.

Back in January when he flagged the various post-election coalition options available to National, Key referred to “policy differences” with the Conservatives, but that it was likely there would be enough common ground for the two parties to work together in government.

Indeed, that is the case on policy fundamentals like health and education. National could drive a bus through the holes in much of the Conservatives’ policies. There is certainly room for compromise. Craig has also said he will not try to re-litigate issues where Parliament has spoken strongly in favour of a measure, such as gay marriage.

Furthermore, Craig’s party will be doing extremely well to get 4 to 5 per cent of the vote. Its leverage when it comes to pressuring National will be minimal.

That is all fine and dandy. What worries Key is Craig’s and the Conservatives’ public image as a bunch of crazed, intolerant fruit-loops.

A public image that is backed up not just by denying moon landings, but by the Conservative Party’s complete political incompetence.  Running your own polling company and believing the results would be one way to come to the point of self delusion.  Taking another party leader to court for defamation would be another.   Read more »

The magic “Seven reasons” that will drive this election

Everyone is suffering a bit of a political news vacuum at the moment, as we are experiencing a little lull before the election period storm.  Many commentators are trying to pick the winners and losers, give scores our of ten, and all sorts of other pointless space fillers.  The Herald has a huge article where John Armstrong and Isaac Davidson share their own fantasies.

Here is their take on what you should be thinking

The seven crucial factors that will largely determine election result

1 John Key’s personal popularity.

National’s biggest asset. The marked lift in the economy would probably still have National well clear of Labour had Key fallen under the proverbial bus. But not at a sufficient level to win a third term in power. Key is the difference. No one else in National has the agility to cross the political divide and lure people who would normally never vote National.

2 The ‘no-change’ election.

This election is in the same class as the ones in 2002 and 1987 where Labour victory was a foregone conclusion. Antagonism towards the incumbent ruling party is arguably even more sporadic than it was in those cases. To the message of change being pushed by Opposition parties, the electorate seems to be emitting a collective yawn that says, “Why change?” The difference with those previous cakewalks is that National has effectively consumed the votes of its allies, leaving it poised between a slim victory or narrow defeat. Read more »

John Armstrong on Internet Mana, cash in politics and where it all leads

John Armstrong starts off by highlighting the prostitution of the left wing to the personal interests of a rich german crook, except for the integrity shown by Sue Bradford:

Sue Bradford may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But the veteran activist and former Green MP deserves credit for her point-blank refusal to be enticed into joining those entranced by the cult of personality otherwise known as Kim Dotcom.

As someone who has spent her adult life going into battle for the poor and the powerless, Bradford is the last person who would doff their cloth cap at someone whom she dubs as a “neo-liberal capitalist millionaire”. She does not mean that as an insult. She sees it simply a statement of fact.

Working in league with Dotcom would be pure anathema for her because he is someone totally incompatible with the ethos which drives the Mana movement.

For Hone Harawira, Mana’s leader, Dotcom is a welcome means to an end, however; namely an electoral pact with Dotcom’s Internet Party..

So Bradford has walked from Mana despite being a founding member of the three-year-old political movement.

Those that remained barely seemed to notice. Their eyes were filled with dollar signs instead.

One familiar face was soon replaced by another. Slipping with ease into her new role as the leader of the fledgling Internet Party, Laila Harre greeted Dotcom’s announcement that he was bank-rolling his political vehicle with a further $3 million as welcome change. For once, a really big cheque was being written for a party on the left, not the right.

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How did John Armstrong get it so wrong?

head-up-ass

In the Weekend Herald on Saturday John Armstrong wrote an article about how Labour was on the comeback trail.

I wrote about how wrong he was and that he’d be eating his own words come Sunday night.

He ignored the latest Roy Morgan Poll, which despite being wonky and all over the place like a mad woman’s poo is the preferred poll of the left, they have to have some hope to cling to. The left wing has ignored the results too. Why?

Because it doesn’t suit their narrative, one that David Cunliffe was blindly repeating on TV3 last night, that there is still plenty of time, that the polls will come right and there is only one poll that counts.

In that poll (Roy Morgan) the indicators were there before Armstrong wrote his article.

It showed a gain in support for National, up 3% to 45.5% support had fallen for the Opposition with the Labour Party down 0.5% to 30.5%, the Greens down 1% to 13.5%, New Zealand First on 6% (unchanged) and the Mana Party on 1%.

This showed the budget clearly had an effect, with soft middle Labour support sloughing across into National.

This was echoed too in the two main television network polls last night.    Read more »

Is John Armstrong on drugs?

I’d hate to be John Armstrong, he is going to have to write the opposite of his article today on Monday after the latest two polls come out in Sunday night.

It must surely be tempting fate to mention it, but there are definite signs that Labour has finally emerged from its long bleak winter of dysfunction, despair and inertia.

The party is starting to look like it actually wants to win September’s general election — rather than crashing to yet another Glorious Defeat. Of critical importance in avoiding that fate, Labour is at last starting to look like it is ready to govern.

With election day a mere four months away, the new urgency has arrived not a moment too soon.

It is tempting fate and we will all find out soon enough. But let’s just say poll numbers with a two in front of them do not a Prime Minister make.

The voting public probably have not yet discerned any change in Labour — but they will. And they are likely to give Labour credit for taking moderate stances rather than extreme ones because that is what they expect Labour to do.

Take immigration. Cunliffe’s mention that the last Labour government had a net target of 5000 to 15,000 incoming migrants was widely misinterpreted — including by his own housing spokesman Phil Twyford — as the target for a Cunliffe-led government.

But while Cunliffe would adjust migrant numbers downwards to take pressure off the Auckland housing market, he is not putting numbers on it. He knows you cannot talk about a modern skills-based economy in one breath and slash the skilled migrant intake the next.

For his part, Cunliffe is very much part of Labour’s current renaissance, even though he is still occasionally susceptible to being too clever by three-quarters.

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