The specifics in the Hagar book are devastating. To focus on them, the left should take Nicky Hager’s advice and avoid the politics of vilification.

Over the summer holidays I wrote a post calling on the left to repudiate the politics of vilification.

“The left should not be defined by political aggression, intolerance and bullying; it should be defined by decency, inclusion, ideas and respect for people.”

I was disappointed by the response, tediously predictable though it may have been.  “Total fucking fake!” “Chardonnay-drinking, middle-class liberal who [has] fucked the working class” and “Cringe-making airhead” are some examples. As even Greg Presland said of the comments about me;

“She has been vilified in the past in part for her partner John Pagani’s rather bizarre campaign ideas.” (Emphasis mine. I replied to his column here: )

Nicky Hager's book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with. 

How the press gallery must roll their eyes at the vapours when you see what has been written about journalists like Guyon Espiner, and John Armstrong.

This is why the greater danger for National is the specifics exposed in Nick Hagar’s book.

Judith Collins’ behaviour is awful. She has to go as a minister. The only reason she hasn’t is that National has adopted a strategy of refusing to concede an inch to Nicky Hager’s book. This can’t be sustained. What, precisely, was the purpose of emailing Simon Pleasants’ name and position in the public service to Cameron Slater, Minister?

The leaking of information by the prime minister’s office to enable Slater to write an Official Information Act request to the SIS, and the expediting of that request while news media requests were delayed, was corrupt. It demands an independent commission of inquiry. If the prime minister knew anything about it and failed to act he has betrayed his office. And yet how could he not have known?

And that’s just the first two specific issues. Forensic examination of the evidence in Hager’s book could destroy this government. The specifics are indefensible.

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.”

Comments (16)

by Lee Churchman on August 16, 2014
Lee Churchman

Splitter! ;-)

by Kat on August 16, 2014

"Forensic examination of the evidence in Hager’s book could destroy this government. The specifics are indefensible".

Ok, so there you go, Armstrong, Espiner, Ferguson, Garner, Gower, Owen, O'Sullivan, Trevett, Young, Watkins, Wood, Dann, Smalley, Henry, Hosking, Ralston, Plunket, the SIS, and the NZ Police, Josie Pagani has just issued you a very important challenge.


by Ian MacKay on August 16, 2014
Ian MacKay

I read most of your links to the criticism of some journalists and while you call it vilification, I call it deserved criticism. Those targets reap what they write and surely in a democratic society journalists should expect criticism.

You for example Josie must expect that every time you invent commentary that diminishes the efforts of the Labour party, there will be hostile responses. If you really supported Labour/Left you would not be promoting the myth about unhealthy divisions amongst the Caucus.

by Anne on August 16, 2014

There you go Josie Pagani. Using the Hagar revelations to have a crack at anyone who has dared to criticise you in the past. Maybe some of the criticisms on The Standard site and elsewhere have been a bit harsh but others were accurate and deserved. I refer in particular to your propensity to unfairly and inaccurately denigrate left leaning politicians - and others - whose politics you claim to share. You will know to whom I am referring. 

That's fine Josie. By all means criticise people who don't agree with you - or you don't like for whatever reason - but don't do it under a left-wing label, And don't claim 'victim of denigration'  status when they return the favour. I have difficulty believing you are of the political left, and I am chancing across a number of moderately minded centre-left people who have also begun to seriously question that allegiance.


by Ian MacKay on August 16, 2014
Ian MacKay

Anne. Well said. An awful lot of fairminded people would agree. Pity Josie is in denial.

by Andrew Osborn on August 17, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Lee: Splitter!

Exactly my first thought!



by Andrew Osborn on August 17, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Jose: An excellent post. Thanks

I suppose in Trotter's world view, you, Guyon Espiner and a few others are "Hard Right" but that's only because his brand of politics is so far to the Left he's on a different planet! :-)

Trust me in this - there ARE no 'hard right' media personailities in this country! If you don't beleive me, listen to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity sometime. 

Likewise, the Whaleoil blog isn't really 'right wing' as many have incorrectly said on TV & radio this week. Those that think it is, either haven't read it or have a personal political stance that is somewhere near Pol Pot's. I would describe it as 'conservative' but certainly not a National mouthpiece because he regularly has a go at them too.

Anything who has read The Standard has to accept that the Left is just as extreme as Whaleoil, maybe more so, but much more immature. So it is disingenuous for the Left to cry foul over Slater's blog.

The difference between the two is that Whaleoil is a roaring success. It is more humourous, more informative and allows contrary points of view if they're polite. It is not controlled by vindictive party hacks, as is The Standard.


by John Hurley on August 17, 2014
John Hurley

I think the public see two sides arguing and see Hagers side as one side of the story (this is born out by the recent poll?)  What if we knew the attitudes of Labour and Green politicians rather than what is packaged for the public? I suspect that if the public knew Helen Clark's views on globalisation they would have thrown rocks at her.

by Anne on August 17, 2014

Andrew Osborne:

You are indulging in the same sort of lies and deception politics as Cameron Slater and his crew of muck-raking men and women. 

As far as I know, there are only two blog-sites which represent individual political parties. One is a Green Party blogsite whose name escapes me, and the Labour Party blogsite, Red Alert which appears to have been abandoned. All other political blogsites are 'owned and operated'  by individuals and groups of individuals who are not affiliated to any political party. The Standard is a left of centre blogsite which is as hard - if not harder - on the Labour Party as it is on the National Party.

As for your final paragraph... the level of intelligent discussion on The Standard leaves Whaleoil and his nausea-inducing muck-raking  'journalism' for dead. Yes, there is some dross at TS (most of it coming from right-wing bloggers) but I doubt Whaleoil can boast of any well placed academics among HIS list of contributors. Informed, moderately minded people are not going to sully their professional reputations by contributing to Whaleoil Beef Hooked. Even the name gives him away.


by Ian MacKay on August 17, 2014
Ian MacKay

Josie. The fact that you are getting support from right leaning Andrew ironically supports our contention that you are unhelpful to the left and especially unhelpful to the Labour folk

by Andrew Osborn on August 17, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Anne: You might have a point if it weren't for the fact that Whaleoil keeps winning awards. It's massive popularity suggests that you're out of step, not Slater.


by Andrew Osborn on August 17, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Ian: I disagree with some of Josie's left of centre views but she makes a good point when she identifies the current doctrinaire approach of the Left and the personal attacks made within the Left when someone dares to step out of line.

She has shown courage in pointing out what is obvious to those of us who don't wear red scarves: There seems to be little in the way of 'critical thinking' in your camp at the moment. Don't punish the messenger!

by Anne on August 17, 2014

Andrew Osborn:

You regard the reams of well thought through police covering health, education, social welfare and child poverty, forestry, the environment, industrial reform with an empahsis on value added export products, reveiws of our security services with the aim of ensuring the protection of ordinary NZers from off-shore interference in particular, economic justice, social justice, criminal justice, fairer immigrations laws, removal of corrupt practises related to political governance, the building of 100,000 more houses over ten years to house those in most need - just to name a few of their policies - constitute a lack of "critical thinking"?  And National have announced,to put it bluntly, bugger-all. And that which they have announced has largely been part of ongoing policy platforms that had their origins with the last Labour government anyway. But apparently that - in your little blue book - constitutes critical thinking.

Btw, Slater's award was a joke. He submitted his name for the award and the judge was Deboral Hill Cone of NBR fame. Need I say more.


by Kat on August 17, 2014


by Brendon Mills on August 17, 2014
Brendon Mills

In 2007 when that lady got her power cut off and then died because her breathing machine failed, Slater pretty much got off on the whole thing. He pretty much said "good job" and then started harrasing her son and challenging them to a boxing match.


I think that disgraceful reaction of his sums him up and I dont think anyone should give him the time of day. He is a mean, horrible nasty person who is quite happy to destroy people who do not agree with him, and also promotes the financial abuse of the vulnerable. There is not a dime's difference between him and the Brownshirts of 1920's and 30's Germany and the Klansmen of 1950's Missisippi.


Put simply, the guy must be destroyed by any and all means nessesary.


Oh, and Josie, If you were around in 1935, would you have supported Labour's policies?

by Andrew Osborn on August 19, 2014
Andrew Osborn

Anne: You regard the reams of well thought through police covering .... constitute a lack of "critical thinking"?

Yes I certainly do! Without too much effort I can drive a coach and horses through most of the items you mentioned. Maybe we need a thread for each of those so I can properly disembowel them. ;-)

But getting back to Josie's point: We haven't really had the chance to seriously debate policy, have we? Instead we have a petty attacks over a minister eating a dinner in China, the size of the PMs house & racist defacing of election posters. Ultimately I don't think it won't do the Left any good.


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