Mike Williams

Play or get off the field

As Labour lurches towards utter destruction with David Cunliffe at sixes and sevens there are some out there with good advice.

Lew at Kiwipolitico had this to say about National’s excellence at data-driven campaigns:

I have been criticising Labour, in particular, since at least 2007 on their unwillingness or inability to bring modern data-driven campaign and media strategy to bear in their campaigns — effectively, to embrace The Game and play it to win, rather than regarding it as a regrettable impediment to some pure and glorious ideological victory. Mostly the responses I get from the faithful fall under one or more of the following:

  • National has inherent advantages because the evil old MSM is biased
  • the polls are biased because landlines or something
  • the inherent nature of modern neoliberal society is biased
  • people have a cognitive bias towards the right’s messaging because Maslow
  • it inevitably leads to populist pandering and the death of principle
  • The Game itself devours the immortal soul of anyone who plays ( which forms a handy way to demonise anyone who does play)

But data is not a Ring of Power that puts its users in thrall to the Dark Lord. And, unlike the One Ring, it can’t be thrown into a volcano and the world saved from its pernicious influence. Evidence and strategy are here to stay. Use them, or you’re going to get used. The techniques available to David Farrar and the National party are not magic. They are available to anyone. Whether Labour has poor data or whether they use it poorly I do not know. It looks similar from the outside, and I have heard both from people who ought to know. But it doesn’t really matter. Data is only as good as what you do with it. Whatever they’re doing with it isn’t good enough.

The best example from this campaign isn’t Labour, however — it’s Kim Dotcom. He said on election night that it was only in the past two weeks that he realised how tainted his brand was. He threw $4.5 million at the Internet MANA campaign and it polled less than the Māori Party, who had the same number of incumbent candidates and a tiny fraction of the money and expertise. Had he thought to spend $30,000 on market research* asking questions like those asked by Curia about what New Zealanders think of Kim Dotcom, he could have saved himself the rest of the money, and saved Hone Harawira his seat, Laila Harré her political credibility, and the wider left a severe beating.

That is effective use of data: not asking questions to tell you what you want to hear, but to tell you what you need to know. This electoral bloodletting is an opportunity for the NZ political left to become reality-adjacent, and we can only hope they take it. Because if they don’t, reality is just going to keep winning.

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Labour’s Expensive Leadership Election

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The Labour Party is broke because Tim Barnett and Moira Coatsworth were dead set useless at fundraising.

As Mike “Fat Tony” Williams, New Zealand’s best shakedown artist, explains, if you don’t ask you don’t get.

It is a pretty simple proposition but Tim and Moira wouldn’t ask so they didn’t get.   Read more »

There can be only one…

Lindsay Mitchell comments on the debate last night…and the mention of dirty politics.

On dirty politics: Key reminds people how Mike Williams went looking for dirt on him in Australia. Searching through his tax records. Then he asks Cunliffe directly about bloggers in his own office… “And I will name them if you want me too…” Cunliffe rejoinders there is no equivalent on the Left like Whale Oil. (No. None have anywhere near his readership.)

No left winger will ever overtake me, they would have to work non-union hours.  Read more »

“These are some of the most serious allegations I’ve seen”

Really?

That is what David Cunliffe has claimed.

Peter Cresswell at Not PC explains why this is a ridiculous statement from David Cunliffe.

“These are some of the most serious allegations I’ve seen,” said David Cunliffe this morning about allegations that bloggers Whale Oil and Cactus Kate wrote “attack blogs” at the behest of a paying client and a justice minister “gunning for” a minion.

This both overstates and understates the power of blogs – and downplays some of the most serious scandals of recent years. (Is he blind? Did Mr Cunliffe not see Helen Clark buying an election with her taxpayer-funded pledge card, then retrospectively legislating to make it all legal?  Or Don Brash dealing secretively with a small but well-funded religious cult?)

So a blogger wrote “attack blogs” about a bureaucrat.  How hurtful. How harmful. I’m amazed the poor fellow wasn’t hospitalised.  Just imagine, being attacked by a blogger!    Read more »

And here was me thinking Hager would just bug me

David Farrar and I started a little personal meme when we toured the country in 2008 in the Blogmobile.

We would tell outrageous jokes and then finished them by saying “Sh*t, I hope that doesn’t come out in Nicky Hager’s next book, surely he is bugging us”.

Don;t believe me, go ask David. It is a joke we have continued to this day whenever we meet, or go out for dinner or  are in groups of like minded individuals.

It was always considered a joke…that is until this latest book.

Who would have ever thought that NZ politics would be dragged into a nasty political conspiracy based off of News of the World hacking tactics of a private citizen?

Who would have thought that Nicky Hager would condemn legal and warranted spying by the state but write a book off of the result of illegal spying against a private citizen, and claim strangely that this was all justified?

And who would have thought the left wing would stoop so low as to break the law to achieve a political goal? It should really be no surprise though since most of the complaints to Police about breaches of electoral law are about the left , and to date not a single prosecution has arisen from those complaints.

What we are witnessing though is a concerted political conspiracy to defeat a government, not through better policy, or even election bribes, rather through criminal acts.

The framing of the releases, the manipulation of the media, the gloating and fore-warning by the political left of new hits to come all points to a politically inspired attack the likes of that never seen before.

Mike Williams said yesterday that this was like Watergate, it is an accusation the left have tried to stand up since this began, but it is an accusation that fails until you look at the real scandal here.

There is no doubt now that this is a political hit job. The selective releases, the one-sided narrative, all about things that were neither illegal nor wrong.

There are no releases of emails from disgruntled Labour MPs, or Facebook messages, or files. There are no releases of details of my charity work, donations of time and money to causes such as ADRA or YES. No releases of my disucssions regarding the campaign over Marriage Equality, where I worked with a cross party team to ensure that the legislation passed. No releases of my discussions with Green or NZ First MPs.

It has all been about trying to silence my friends and trying to destroy the government.   Read more »

The Big Questions for the Labour Conference

Labour go to their conference over the weekend with piss poor poll numbers and a leader that is unable connect with the New Zealand public.

The big questions for the Labour conference should be around winning. Labour are supposed to be the natural party of government under MMP, yet they have only been in power for 9 out of the 18 years of MMP so far, and look like staying out of power again after the election.

The first and most important question is why is Labour broke? Sources inside Fraser House say that there are repeated acrimonious discussions about Labour’s lack of money, and the dead set useless pair of Coatsworth and Barnett hiding from their responsibilities. Political parties cannot survive without good fundraising, and if Coatsworth and Barnett can’t bring the cash in they need to resign.

The next most important question is who can raise money, and who will replace Coatsworth and Barnett? Mike “Fat Tony” Williams was a brilliant shakedown artist, and keep the Labour Party well funded for a long, long time. Will Labour be smart enough to bring Fat Tony back, or find a new Fat Tony? Whatever happens Coatsworth and Barnett have proven they can’t raise the money and this has consigned Labour to another election loss.   Read more »

Garner knifes Cunliffe

Duncan Garner in the Dominion Post yesterday slit Cunliffe from scrotum to sternum:

Labour ditched former leader David Shearer because he struggled to string two sentences together on a good day. So surely it couldn’t have got any worse, right? Wrong.

It’s a train wreck under David Cunliffe and Labour’s MPs are grumpy, nervous and wondering what they may be doing for a crust after September 20. The prospect of losing your job and the $150,000 salary always focuses the mind.

This week Labour slumped to 23 per cent in Fairfax’s stuff/Ipsos poll – under Shearer it was in the low 30s when he was dumped.

Cunliffe has taken the party backwards when he promised to take it forward. Could Labour be on track to record its worst-ever election defeat? Yes.

When Cunliffe utters a word or two these days the collective intake of breath among his MPs is simply frightening.

Listening to David Cunliffe this week was very enlightening, he gave away all his tells, and was dreadful under pressure. And this was hardly a big test…but the issues are there, every policy has been destroyed hours after release and then he and Labour are back pedalling.

He’s had a host of gaffes this year – and the best he’s looked was when he shut up and stood in the background while his wife, Karen Price, talked about the birds (chickens) and the bees in an interview at their home.

Cunliffe was parachuted into the job of leader, not because his MPs really wanted him – most dislike him – but because Labour Party members and union affiliates were desperate for someone to articulate their values.

To say he’s been a disappointment is an understatement. After this week’s horrors he looks unelectable as the next prime minister. He’s genuinely gone from bad to worse.

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10,000 letters? Constituent? Pro forma letter? Really?

I see David Cunliffe is going to appear on The Nation talking about “that letter”.

I wonder if anyone is going to tell Lisa Owen that Donghua Liu was never a constituent of David Cunliffe’s, never lived in the electorate (then again neither has David Cunliffe) and that the letter was far from being a pro forma letter because it contained rather detailed plans of Donghua Liu’s  business dealings?

It is far from normal for people to put their signatures to letters that state categorically that someone approached them when they did not. Someone is telling fibs and I don’t think it is Donghua Liu.

When will David Cunliffe acknowledge that he did actually meet Donghua Liu, with a long time Labour party bag man?

Now regarding the nonsense over the 10,000 plus letters this guys has supposed written or worked on…he has been in parliament for 14 years…that is more around 3 letters a day. I doubt his office has been that busy just on immigration matters.

More to the point Donghua Liu was applying under the investor category…where you need substantial cash to even apply…David Cunliffe must have known that when he applied and the applications under the investor category are such a small number it beggars belief that he could possibly have forgotten dealing with Donghua Liu and his bagman mate who was once a disgraced candidate.   Read more »

Comments of the Day

From Matthew Hooton to the whingers of the left:

What the left calls “the neoliberal experiment” the right believes is the most progressive set of policies ever to have been implemented in the history of the world, that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in China, South East Asia and (more slowly) India, as opposed to the alternative approach that has caused misery in much of South America and Europe.
We believe that everyone in New Zealand has gained from the post-1984 consensus and that a shift to what Cunliffe proposes would harm everyone in New Zealand.
We may of course be wrong.
But we believe this quite passionately.
So why would anyone surprised that people on the right are prepared to fight hard to stay in power?
Just like Helen Clark sent Mike Williams to Australia to find dirt on John Key (for the same motives).
To quote Michael Cullen, this is about power in NZ.
To quote Tana Umaga, it’s not tiddlywinks.
Is National meant to find evidence that Cunliffe is at best a hypocrite or at worst a liar and say “oh well, jolly good, let’s more on”?
Get into the real world.
Even if the most sinister explanations for this letter becoming public are true, its all fair enough in war, love and politics.
And it will get worse for Labour when the rumoured $300k issue emerges.

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Stephen Franks on Labour’s Liu Legal problems

Stephen Franks has highlighted Labour’s little legal problems with the Donghua Liu revelations.

Since the link between Donghua Liu and David Cunliffe surfaced early this week there has been widespread speculation that Labour breached the law in failing to declare two campaign donations made by Mr Liu in 2007.

Though Labour maintains it has no records, the Herald has reported that in 2007 Mr Liu contributed $15,000 for a book signed by Helen Clark, and an unknown amount of money for a bottle of wine.

Under the current law, a candidate donation can include:

“where goods or services are provided by a candidate under a contract or arrangement at a value that is more than their reasonable market value, the amount of the difference between that value and the reasonable market value of those goods or services.”

Corresponding terms govern party donations. Assuming the second donation was for more than $1500, they would capture both of Mr Liu’s transactions. The candidate or responsible party agent who knowingly failed to report them could face up to two years imprisonment (section 207I of the Electoral Act 1993).

But until 19 December 2007 the law governing donations was different. Until then the Electoral Act 1993 defined ‘donation’ to include goods or services provided to the party at an undervalue, but did not expressly capture a sale at an overvalue.

This loophole was partly closed by the Electoral Finance Act 2007 but untl then it was arguably legal not to report the alleged Liu donations if they were provided by way of auction price.

The fact that the law was changed to capture the second transaction increases the strength of the case that parliament realised there was a legal loophole under the old provision.

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