Trotter contradicts himself

Chris Trotter has written a post ostensibly about Josie Pagani, but mainly against the “Whatever it takes” attitude saying that leads inextricably down the road to corruption:

“ALL POWER CORRUPTS”, wrote Lord Acton, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But the risk of political degeneracy exists not only in the proximity of power, but is also present in its absence. If winning is the politician’s sole objective, then seeing victory slip through her fingers over and over again surely renders her equally vulnerable to corrupt counsels?

The most persuasive of these siren songs is the one that begins: “One day in Government is worth a thousand years in Opposition.” Meaning: genuine political achievement is available only to those with access to the levers of power. Once this precept is accepted, the idea that serious politicians must be willing to do “whatever it takes” to win office becomes dangerously easy to sell.

And the moment it is purchased, the politician is lost. The means we adopt inevitably shape and determine the ends we arrive at. Being prepared to do “whatever it takes” means being willing to enlist evil in the cause of right; and in that encounter it is not evil which is changed.

Like all stories peddled by the corrupt, the notion that political achievement is restricted to those with access to the levers of power is a lie. The greatest movers of human events are ideas and the moral force they generate. And a person does not need to be in government – or even in Parliament – to advance an idea or exert moral force.

…To abandon Labour’s new position, as a gesture of appeasement to the ill-informed prejudices of working-class National voters – because that is what it takes – would signal a willingness to march into office over the backs of impoverished families.

It’s hard to conceive of a Labour victory more corrupting – or less worth winning.

It is not that hard to conceive of a Labour victory more corrupting. Chris Trotter himself once suggested that Labour’s $840,000 rort for their pledge card and the subsequent Electoral Finance Bill that the furore spawned was “acceptable corruption“.

There was often an implied trade-off: that shutting down those with money was a necessary restriction on freedom of expression. It reeked of political commentator Chris Trotter’s disgraceful conclusion a year ago that the unlawful spending on Labour’s pledge card had been acceptable corruption.

So it seems that some level of corruption is acceptable to Chris Trotter…in achieving victory just not the corruption that Josie Pagani is suggesting.

UPDATE: Chris has posted the full article in the comments. He is pointing out that I have misquoted him and so I have. He never did say the words “acceptable corruption”, what he in fact said was INHO much worse:

Which is why, with all due deference of the Auditor, Solicitor and every other “General” with an interest in upholding the letter of the law, I am glad that, for once, Labour erred on the side of – “Let’s f**k these bastards!”

Had Helen Clark, Heather Simpson, Mike Williams and Mike Smith not decided that social democracy was worth a decent scrap, New Zealand would now been in a whole world of woe.

Social peace for a paltry half-million dollars? Strikes me as the most courageous – and forgivable – kind of corruption.

Just so there is proper context. What Chris thinks is a “courageous – and forgivable- kind of corruption” was the stealing of $840,000 of taxpayers money, and then when getting caught retrospectively validating it and at the same time creating the Electoral Finance Act to attempt to silence anyone who dared speak against the Labour party.

Chris later blamed the Electoral Finance Act partly for the demise of the Labour party in the 2008 election. But as the old saying goes, he was for it before he was agin it. Or as Chris says “it’s the little things that get you”.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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