Friday, September 22, 2006

Very dirty pool III

So, it's been confirmed: National's allies the Exclusive Brethren hired private investigators to stalk the Prime Minister and her husband, as well as various other Labour cabinet ministers. And in another twist, the private investigator identified so far, Wayne Idour, claims that Labour has done the same to National MPs including Don Brash and John Key [video].

These are disgusting, Nixonian tactics, and I expect all parties to condemn them. I also expect National to rein in their proxies, publicly disassociate themselves from these efforts, and make it absolutely clear that they will not be doing any political favours for or accepting any help from a group which engages in such behaviour. As for Labour, if this is confirmed, then I expect the person involved to resign. This sort of vicious behaviour has no place in our political system - and neither does any politician who thinks it does.


I'm sorry. Are you saying that National is responsible for the exclusive bretheren spying on Labour? How do you justify that claim?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 08:24:00 PM

As I said in my last post on this matter, its National's leg the Brethren are so urgently rubbing themselves against, and so its National's job to tell them to stop. And National would be demanding no less of Labour if a union was "independently" targetting National MPs.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/22/2006 08:39:00 PM

Crikey. That seems like a low standard of proof to link somebody to such disgusting behavior. Not that I can complain too much in the current political environment. Where will it all end?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 09:32:00 PM

'...and so its National's job to tell them to stop.'

I can see the conversation now:

Brash: "Stop that EB".
EB: "No. We won't".
Brash: "Oh".

And then what do the Nats do?

Posted by Gooner : 9/22/2006 09:44:00 PM

And then what do the Nats do?

Say "that's not ours, we disown it."

You're right, National can't make them stop. National would win major brownie points for going ooh yuk though.

Posted by stephen : 9/22/2006 09:51:00 PM

I would imagine a number of leading Nat MP's will be considering a statement very soon. telling the EB lot to bugger off. That is assuming they have half a brain between them.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 10:36:00 PM

Oh my God this is explosive - have done a post on this at - the investigator said if he told what he knew about the Labour party it would be a by-election the next day - this is dirty, dirty play and with Don Brash losing John Keys support at the exact same time - total disarray in both political parties

Posted by Bomber : 9/22/2006 11:07:00 PM

The PI is an interesting character. How much credibility does he have - I mean he has already been caught out lying. The only verifiable truth he has spoken is the EB connection [verified on tape - and who did that tape come about?]
The rest of it - well, let's see what comes out. He didn't look too comfortable in that interview, the body langauge was pretty telling..

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 11:39:00 PM

The critical part is Idour's accusations of serious criminal wrongdoing on the part of Pope, Parker, Cullen, Davis and Clark.

He stated that he has the evidence.

If it all comes out in public this weekend we will see the whole govt thrown from power, the Liarbore party excluded from politics in this country forever. National will resume it's rightful place as the natural rulers of the serfs forever.

And Campbell get's his final revenge for the "little creep remark".

Posted by Anonymous : 9/22/2006 11:43:00 PM

Take a step back I/S. If National knew that investigations were taking place they should be condemned. But what we appear to have are private citizens paying someone to make inquiries. How is that morally different from investigations you have done on any number of issues. And I am not for a moment questioning the excellent work you are doing to uphold democratic processes.

The allegation that a political party is engaging in investigations for material with which to smear their opposition is a serious one. Unfortunately we already have proof of Labours guilt in that regards. Using MFAT notes to nail Dr Brash in parliament over his US meetings.

Dr Brash has already condemned such investigations.

What you seem to be suggesting is guilt by association.
That hardly fits with your normally fair minded approach. I would liken the EB to those such as Tim Barclay and co. They appear to be on the same side but the reality is simply that they do more damage than good.

Posted by sagenz : 9/22/2006 11:50:00 PM

Sage: How is that morally different from investigations you have done on any number of issues.

Well, for a start, I investigate exactly that - issues. As opposed to people. There's your moral difference right there. I don't stalk people, and I don't hire people to stalk people. Unlike the Exclusive Brethren (and possibly the Labour Party).

As for "guilt by association", last election Don Brash made a deal with the devil and crawled into bed with the Exclusive Brethren. He accepted electoral support and $1.2 million in advertising from them, plus push polls and volunteers. In the process, he marked them as his allies (and vice versa). He made that bed, and now he gets to lie in it - it is now clear that these are not the sort of people any decent person would ally themselves with, or accept support from.

Brash has an easy out. He can, as Stephen suggested, say "that's not ours, we disown it, we deplore these tactics and those who use them, and we will not accept help from such people". It would be taking a stand for decency and against the toxic sort of politics it is now clear the Brethren represent. And I suspect that if Brash doesn't do it, his MPs will do it for him.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/23/2006 12:43:00 AM

The nats just have to tell the EB that they are doing more harm than good, and surely they have to start listening. I don't buy the PI's comments about the labour hiring a detective at all (labour is no more likely to do something like that than national, and both parties must know it could really come back to bite them). My feeling is that he has been TOLD by the EB (his employers) to say that to try and minimize harm to the nats now that he has been found out (I'm not saying that the nats were directly involved, but surely even the EB have to realise that these revelations might hurt the nats).

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 12:46:00 AM

Gerry Brownlee at least understands. Here's what he said to the Herald:

National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee tonight denied his party had anything to do with the Brethren's actions.

"It's absolutely deplorable. There is no place for this in New Zealand politics," he said.

He said New Zealand politicians lived in small communities where everyone was linked in some way, meaning it was difficult to conceal secrets even without the involvement of private detectives.

Such activities were an invasion into MPs' family lives.

"I cannot condemn this more strongly. This has been a most unsavoury turn in New Zealand politics."

But will we hear it from Brash? Or will he continue to be willing to "accept help from the devil himself" to topple the government?

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/23/2006 12:48:00 AM

I/S wrote:
As I said in my last post on this matter, its National's leg the Brethren are so urgently rubbing themselves against, and so its National's job to tell them to stop. And National would be demanding no less of Labour if a union was "independently" targetting National MPs.

No, Idiot/Savant. It is the job of every citizen to make it perfectly clear to every third party organisation that if they want to engage in politics, this kind of shit is going to backfire like Satan after a baked bean dinner.

I'm just hoping that tomorrow morning won't see Helen Clark and Don Brash trying to pimp some partisan advantage out of this. This smears everyone, and a dialogue like this is not going to help.

Clark: "Call off your ankle-humping attack dogs, Brash."

Brash: "Get your stalkers out of my rubbish bins, Clark."

I'm sure copy to this effect is being filed as we speak...

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 12:49:00 AM

Craig: It is the job of every citizen to make it perfectly clear to every third party organisation that if they want to engage in politics, this kind of shit is going to backfire like Satan after a baked bean dinner.

Unfortunately, its the political parties that it will backfire on; its not as if we can punish the Brethren (or any other third party) at the ballot box. All we can do is punish the people they hope to benefit or who would advance their interests. And that alone should be a good reason for Brash to condemn it.

As for Labour - Clark denies Idour's claims in the story linked above, but she'd better be damn sure of that denial, because its yet another thing that would seem to be relatively easy to verify (and people will be looking now). And if she's lying to us, and Labour have done this, then I think she's pretty much fucked unless the people involved are ceremonially hung out to dry. This is toxic, absolutely toxic, and any politician who has anything to do with it, or accepts help from groups who have anything to do with it, should be treated as if they were radioactive.

Unfortunately, I'm a pessimist, so I suspect we'll see exactly the sort of response you suggest...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/23/2006 01:20:00 AM

...machevallian version, somebody completely unconnected with the Labour Party, e.g. an EB member, hires another PI and tells him they are from the Labour Party. Even if the hack comes up with nothing, make up some allegations. Throw them in oblique a fashion as possible to avoid legal action.
Result: some mud will stick.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 05:30:00 AM

Labour has not hired private detectives. If had the money to afford private detectives it certainly wouldn't be spent on that. MPs get volunteered enough dirt without having to hire private detectives.

The problem for National of course is they know very well that more and more info will come out linking the EB to National. Because during the election campaign when we found out what the EB were up to Labour started documenting all the EB who were helping MPs...

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 08:34:00 AM

Don Brash is aquitting himself fairly well on Agenda this morning. He's also cast doubt on one aspect of Wayne Idour's story, denying that he had been warned he was being followed by a detective.

He's also admitted to meeting with muslims 'who might possibly be terrorists'. Possibly not a smart thing to say.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 09:01:00 AM


Um, you ring his secretary and make an appointment or walk up to him at a public meeting like everyone else? I'll have more than a few words - most of them obscene - if I'm asked my religion when seeking an appointment with any public official.

Tony Milne:

Look, we've had weeks of allusions in the House about 'dirt' and 'secret e-mails' that would be drip-fed. Despite the rather disingenuous letter from Brian Edwards in today's Herald, do you think it was unfair of John Campbell to ask Wayne Idour if he knew of Labour or persons connected with the Labour Party playing the same game? Even the stuff about John Key surprising a man going through his rubbish bins in the early morning was widely reported during the election campaign.

You are a member of the Labour Council, do you want to give an absolute, on the record assurance to the readers of this blog that nobody connected with Labour hired private detectives to 'dig the dirt' on John Key, Don Brash or any other member of the National Party? That no information gathered in this Nixonian manner has ever been accepted, let alone used, by any member of the Labour caucus? Or even to tail senior members of the Exclsuive Brethren, as has also been alleged?

A simple yes or no will do; and if you say yes, you better hope that nothing comes out to make a liar of you. I think many of us on all sides of the political spectrum think the allegations Wayne Idour made last night - all of them - are far too serious to have any party hack trying to put the best partisan spin possible on it. Sadly, it seems I was right and that's the game being played.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 09:48:00 AM

BTW, Tony, could you clarify exactly what you mean by 'Labour started documenting all the EB who were helping MPs'? I ask this because senior members of the Exclusive Brethren have claimed they in turn have been followed by private detectives, had their houses and businesses bugged, rubbish bins tossed etc. Now, I'd treat such claims with due scepticism, but the door has been opened to taking a much closer look at these allegations and (again) I hope the Labour Party hands are whiter than white if they turn out to have substance.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 09:58:00 AM

If yu want to stop someone doing somthign then you give them a carrot or a stick.
So if you want p[eopel not to investigate politicians privbate lives and you think it is repugnant then make it illegal. We could pass a law like they have in thailand about the king.

If you dont want to make it illegal you apparently don't find it all that repugnant.

> All we can do is punish the people they hope to benefit.

That is a poor tool because if we rely on it ALONE then it opens up a political game we REALLY dont want to be playing - where people like the EB might hire investigators and say they are representing the labour party...

> He's also admitted to meeting with muslims 'who might possibly be terrorists'. Possibly not a smart thing to say.

you would have thought before this that saying the same thing about brethern wouldnt be a smart thing either - but apparently it is.

Posted by Genius : 9/23/2006 10:21:00 AM

Perhaps everyone ought to read Dr. Brian Edwards letter on this matter in this mornings Herald.

Posted by Sanctuary : 9/23/2006 10:39:00 AM

" ring his secretary and make an appointment or walk up to him at a public meeting like everyone else? I'll have more than a few words - most of them obscene - if I'm asked my religion when seeking an appointment with any public official"

Interesting though that in this case the EB must identify themselves e.g. Brash says 'there are one or two EB at election events' - does he know them by prior association, or do they come up to him and say 'hi Don, we are EB'? same thing Don says about meeting them in the streets - how does he know they are EB - prior association, or introduction? and if it is by introducing themselves, why do they actually make their religion known to Brash? pretty palsy whatever way it is.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 10:45:00 AM


I did, and my use of the word 'disingenuous' errs on the side of generosity. It seems Dr. Edwards is firmly in the camp where he believe Wayne Idour when it's politically convenient to do so, and then he's a congenital liar when it's not.

Sorry, Brian, you can't have it all your own way - though he does get 10/10 for being a good loyalist to his party and his close friends and clients of his media consultancy. And am I the only one who has a warm glow of nostalgia for the days when Brian Edwards was the subject rather than the author of letters complaining about "blatantly unbalanced journalism" from little creeps with political agendas of their own?

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 10:51:00 AM

"do they actually make their religion known to Brash?"

The EBs - and their confidantes - recognise one another by the way they hold their cocks when urinating. A bit like Freemasons and the alumni of certain secondary schools.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 01:04:00 PM

Craig, the slew of unsubstantiated allegations against Labour that were coached out of Mr. Idour has got everything to do with TV3 being gazumped in the ratings by TVNZ's Exclusive Bretheren scoop and nothing to do with any facts.

The claims of Mr. Idour as they currently stand have as much credibilty as the rumours about Peter Davis - in other words, a vicious story dreamed up by someone with an axe to grind.

Its seems that TV3, like the SST over Peter Davis, will sell its journalistic credibility like a cheap whore when it suits it.

Posted by Sanctuary : 9/23/2006 01:14:00 PM

For all those, including the editors of the DomPost, who keep telling us that the EBs are "yesterdays news", "a distraction" and "simply carrying out their democratic rights"...can I please hear a lound and clear re-evaluation. Time to wake up.

For all those still looking to excuse Don Brash in all this I would say, remember the numerous meetings, forgotten statements, admissions of misleading the public. Watch this space, I am sure there is more to come.

Strangely enough, I don't blame the National Party for this mess, yet. Brash has, it seems, worked very much alone or with a cabal that is mainly outside the normal party structures. His and Brownlee's positions have been very different over the last few days.

However, if National continue to tolerate the man and his anti-democratic tendencies this position will change.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 01:45:00 PM


You've proved my point - like Dr. Edwards, you seems quite happy to believe someone you've branded a pathological and habitual liar when it's politically convenient, and I just don't think you can have it all your own way.

As for who scooped who on Friday, I don't resile from my comments on Kiwiblog that (IMO) TVNZ rushed to air on Thursday night with a very weak story. Not out of any deep dark political agenda but because - as Geoff Robertson said on Morning Report - they knew Three was chasing the same story, believed the opposition was going to air the same night (which wasn't the case, as it turned out). Journalism is highly competitive, and there's always the temptation to get a hot button story out there right now over getting it right.

As I've said, I'll keep treating everyting Wayne Idour said on Campbell Live with extreme scepticism, until it's indepdently confirmed with rock solid evidence. Why don't you try doing the same? On the whole, I'm with I/S - the allegations made by Idour are far too serious (and should be totally beyond the pale to everyone with a molecule of decency in their bodies) to be either dismissed out of hand or swallowed uncritically. They should be investigated, and anyone implicated involved directly with any political party should be exposed and shown the door.

They certainly shouldn't be cherry picked by partisans looking for an advantageous spin to soundbite on the six o'clock news.

Dr. Edwards might just want to (as the Prime Minister likes to say) "wait and see". If Labour's Parliamentary and organisational wings, members and supporters have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from Mr. Idour's allegations being rigourously investigated should they?

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 02:01:00 PM

Noddy wrote:
Watch this space, I am sure there is more to come.

Wow, in this context, I really think the nudge-nudge, wink-wink, but wait there's more! Ian Wishart impersonation (with a liberal dash of Suzanne Paul infomercial) are in very bad taste. Still, I think you're nicely echoed the strategy Pete Hodgson laid out on Agenda this morning. Worse luck - but I guess I was very naive to even hope this would play out differently.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 02:07:00 PM

Craig. I feel very confident in saying that the Labour Party did not hire a private investigator to do any of the things you suggest.

Re documentation, I simply meant that when we found out about the EB push polling and the leaflet that the party asked candidates to report in any knowledge of EB activity in their area.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/23/2006 03:35:00 PM


Well, I'll take you at your word - and I assume they were all chosen deliberately and with care, becuase it would be rather unfair to expect you to give a catergorical assurance on behalf of every member and supporter of the Labour Party wouldn't it? And, of course, you're not privy to the sources of information Helen Clark and her caucus choose to make political use of.

I sincerely take you at your word, and believe you wouldn't encourage, make use of or be complicit in the kind of behaviour alleged by Wayne Idour last night. I just hope that nobody associated with either of our parties thought differently, and that serious inquiries will put a lot more flesh on the bones of that interview if there's any to uncover.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/23/2006 04:10:00 PM

You've proved my point - like Dr. Edwards, you seems quite happy to believe someone you've branded a pathological and habitual liar when it's politically convenient, and I just don't think you can have it all your own way.

This is rather disingenuous. Idour's initial answer to the question of whether he'd been retained by the EB was indeed a pack of lies.

He didn't change his story until One News had independent confirmation from an EB leader, on tape. ie: evidence that directly contradicted his story. So it's hardly a matter of choosing to believe one part of his uncorroborated story and not another.

He remains a pretty strange character (and, apparently, one given to conspiracy theories) and I see no reason to believe the allegations he's throwing out now that his first story has fallen to bits.

BTW: This weekend *must* be the final straw for Brash. He's admitted he had at least one meeting with the EB this year, without telling his caucus, and is now left debating the meaning of "recently" and claiming not to remember anything said at the meeting. To say that his judgement sucks hardly seems strong enough.


Posted by Russell Brown : 9/24/2006 10:11:00 AM

Perhaps Brash's biggest blunder was demoting Katherine Rich. She seems better tuned in to the New Zealand voting public and understood that using the support of the EBs would be damaging for National. From the SST today:

“My gut feeling is that their all-male line-up, in that famous Brethren press conference, made many women voters wonder just what their conservative vision for New Zealand was, and tipped the scales in favour of Labour."

Brash’s strategy was too closely modelled on the successful US Republican campaign to mobilise the votes of the religious right. It didn’t work because in New Zealand, Christian conservatives are a much smaller proportion of the population. While they poured huge resources into their campaign to oust Labour, through the Maxim Institute and the EBs leaflet campaign, they don’t actually have the numbers to swing elections the way they did in the 1970s under FPP.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/24/2006 11:00:00 AM


With all due respect, I trust my gut to tell me when I'm hungry and leave it at that. Of course, it wasn't helpful but I think Rich is being... well, a wee bit self-serving about an election pretty much every pundit and pollster got wrong. At the risk of being unkind, I don't think Rich (or proxies) trying to relitigate a policy debate through the media *ahem* entirely inspired confidence in the public. Nor were the days of poorly-judged mixed messages she was sending to the media. As I said at the time, Rich didn't come across as principled but a loser in a very public game of chicken with the leader.

That's you view, and you're perfectly entitled to it - but you've set up a very interesting new standard for 'good judgement'.

And just for my information, do you actually believe Idour's statement that he wasn't hired directly by the EB, and the person he was subcontracted by didn't inform him who their client was? As far as I'm aware, there's no taped evidence directly contradicting that but am happy to be put right if there is.

That seems to be a not so fine distinction missing from most media reports, but I guess it spoils the meta-narrative a bit.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/24/2006 12:20:00 PM

Craig, leaving aside the hopelessly speculative rumours (choose which ever of the many you'd like), why are you so active in your defence of Brash?

It's pretty obvious that many of his colleagues want nothing to do with the EBs and are publicly declaring their distance and disdain but not Brash - his position is politically unsustainable (right or wrong) and I'd have thought National supporters would either be quiet or actively spruiking an alternative (i.e. Rich and Brownlee's comments) not working the defence through the blogs...

Posted by backin15 : 9/24/2006 12:39:00 PM

If we don't like the EB's behavior we should make it illegal.

If we really don’t like the EB themselves - we should probably declare them illegal and in due course put them in jail or whatever.

If we are NOT going to do either of those two things - then we should stop talking about making them second class citizens who aren't allowed to talk to their elected representatives as punishment for them being "weird".

Posted by Genius : 9/24/2006 01:25:00 PM