Snapper or GCSB – Manhire explains

The left wing continues to unhinge themselves over the GCSB, thinking wrongly that this is of major concern to Kiwi voters. It isn’t.

Smarter lefty commentators are starting to realise this too late. Toby Manhire explains in simple words for those struggling with understanding that John Campbell is wrong.

The alchemists in the National Party were at it again over the weekend, turning a slap in the face with a snapper into a brave stand for ordinary, hard-fishing New Zealanders.

The news that recreational fishers might have bag limits slashed to three went down like a seafood milkshake. But, somehow, that uncharacteristic cock-up was turned into a rhetorical tactic, defence into attack.

The Government out of touch? On the contrary: they had heard snapper-catchers’ concerns. They knew it mattered. Mattered, unlike, say, that GCSB sideshow. The revision of the role of the Government Communications Security Bureau was of interest to pointy-heads and “beltway” nerds alone.

The exuberant twenty-something National MP Jami-Lee Ross summed up the pivot neatly. “Liberal elite shouldn’t get so outraged,” he said. “I have 20 times more emails about snapper than I do about GCSB. That’s what NZers actually care about.”

Real people care about snapper. And if you cared about the redefining of GCSB powers you were a tedious liberal elitist who couldn’t tell a rig from a jig. 

Real people do care about snapper…Jami-lee Ross was right…the GCSB concerns only the liberal elite and beltway political tragics.

Key’s strategists have decided there’s no use being bothered by those whose votes are unwinnable. Key’s answer to one dissenting view in his two-hour Newstalk ZB session a week ago was “Well, you’re probably never going to vote for us, so.” The unspoken end of the sentence: “What’s the point in talking to you?”

That is mirrored in the media strategy. Why bother with the tiresome interrogations of National Radio and Campbell Live when, the calculation goes, such a large portion of their audience is uncharmable. The revelations about al-Qaeda in New Zealand and the Yemen connection, remember, were made on the More FM breakfast show.

Yep save your breathe speaking to people willing to listen.

Maybe his advisers felt the spy bill issue was starting to get some traction in Middle New Zealand. Maybe they sensed that dismissing the bill’s opponents as peddlers of “misinformation” rung hollow as long as there was so little informing. Probably they detected that he had begun to look dangerously derisive, sneering and unleaderly in the earlier exchange with Campbell Live reporter Rebecca Wright, in which he deployed the dead-eye stare along with the snapper gambit, dismissing a series of questions on the spy bill with the advice that “more people will watch” if the programme would “switch to snapper”. The calculation, it seems, was that it could do him damage among those who might actually vote for him.

So the Prime Minister braved the Campbell Live studio. And he was formidable. There were some evasions, some elisions, and too many soothing assurances that have not in fact been inked into the legislation. But as far as the chess was concerned, Key was masterful, pushing John Campbell on to the defensive, grabbing the initiative, dwelling on issues that suited him because, after all, wasn’t this about explaining things properly?

It was a striking reminder of John Key’s ability as a political performer. He understands his audience – no, his audiences – as well as any politician in recent times. For a prime minister halfway through the second term, his command is astonishing. Even Campbell, who’s seen a few, said it: “You’re a brilliant politician.”

The leftwing continue to run the meme that John Key is shonky, sneaky, double dealing and yes…if you can believe it stupid. The smarter ones realised that when he spanked their hero John Campbell that they have dreadfully misunderstood our Prime Minister.

Thankfully there are precious few smart left wingers.

In the meantime, the Labour party has good reason to worry about how they can match him in campaign mode come 2014. Under the old electoral system another landslide would be just about guaranteed.

David Shearer had to resort to the shinky attack this morning in talking about SkyCity…he sounds sooooo believable delivering Grant’s lines.


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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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