Why Gotcha Politics Matters

Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. An old truism and one that is only partially true. Governments lose them, but they lose them when they are considered incompetent and unethical, and an oppositions job is to make them look incompetent an unethical.

David Shearer’s silly statements on gotcha politics show how naïve he is. He has hamstrung himself, removing the option of making National look unethical and incompetent. Worse, if he now engages in gotcha politics he stands accused of hypocrisy.

This naivety is really on show this week when National lost a cabinet minister. They look unethical and incompetent, and that will win Shearer a lot more votes than any policy announcement or stirring speech or rabbiting on about Finland.

The inept Phil Goff regime was not great at gotcha politics, though they did get Ministers Worth & Wong, and nearly got Heatley. They missed massive opportunities to put the heat on National when a senior party figure had domestic violence allegations covered up.

Since then they have missed a simple play to make John Key look bad over information in the public domain. A company associated with a senior party figure has run into trouble with the United States over pollution in their waters, and of running slave labour ships. All this is in the public domain, and a competent opposition would start digging, start asking questions and see where it all unravels. On top of that this senior party figure maintains close personal ties with Michelle Boag.

None of these issues are dead, and a good opposition would go after them hard to make the PM look unethical. Then he can be attacked for not living up to his promises and putting his cronies ahead of his principles.

Unfortunately David Shearer doesn’t have the bottle and the rest of the Labour party are inept and will botch any effort to make such an attempt at gotcha politics.

Of course the PM isn’t a stupid person, neither are some of his advisors…this is wet and messy work and so some people are going to need to be called into the formerly smoke filled rooms and have a few come to Jesus meetings. Some of those meetings are probably occurring right now.

There is going to be more fall out from the whole Nick Smith debacle, it is just a matter of who gets busy first on who wins the spin battle.

Gotcha politics matter and it is so much fun to watch as well.


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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.

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