Do You Remember?

By Roger Childs

I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. H L Mencken

liuHonesty and the dodgy memory

Just how important is Mr Donghua Liu for New Zealand? He’s brought down a cabinet minister and has shaken the credibility of the Labour leader. Honesty and politicians, two words which may be mutually exclusive, are again in the news.

‘I can’t remember’ is becoming an all too common phrase spilling from the lips of our elected representatives.

I do not know the man. said David Cunliffe last week, but Messrs Key and English couldn’t conceal their delight when the muckrakers uncovered a letter about Mr Lui’s residency, signed by the Labour leader. However the Prime Minister and his deputy disagree on how long they’ve known about it!

Brain fade

Not remembering is a classic politicians’ ploy when confronted with questions they don’t want to answer or as a cover for dishonesty.

John Banks has recently paid the price for his stupidity by failing to admit that he knew Kim Dotcom has provided the not inconsiderable sum of $50,000 for his Auckland mayoral campaign. Earlier Judith the milkmaid Collins played fast and loose with the truth over Oravidagate and needed stress leave to recover from the understandable public outcry.

Once deception starts, it grows and politicians paint themselves into smaller and smaller corners. Emil Zola neatly summed up the ultimate danger of deception: If you shut up the truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow everything in its way.

John Key himself has often fallen back on the can’t remember line and been found out, claiming

  • he was not involved with the Exclusive Brethren during National’s 2005 election campaign
  • he hardly knew Ian Fletcher whom he headhunted by phone to be director of the Government Communications Security Bureau
  • he didn’t know if he was against the 1981 Springbok tour or opposed apartheid
  • he didn’t know about the raid on Dotcom’s mansion until long after it was planned.

Could we please focus on the policies!

David Cunliffe has suggested that we are in for a very aggressive campaign with plenty of personality attacks.  Sadly raking over the coals to find the dirt on your rivals is all too common in elections and in the USA it’s an industry. This blog about mandatory minimum sentencing in Florida showcases a lot.

New Zealand voters would like to see the election campaign based on policy and issues such as

  • child poverty
  • affordable housing
  • the age for superannuation eligibility
  • compulsory Kiwisaver
  • 1080 poison policy
  • paid parental leave
  • dealing with domestic violence
  • promoting public transport
  • closing the income gap
  • fairer taxation.

Something for politicians of all stripes to  remember.

Hi Margaret. Fair comment. I think that Cunliffe ran into an ambush. The mistake he made, in my view, was to be so dogmatic about not knowing Mr Liu before getting staff to thoroughly check past correspondence and donation lists. Unfortunately I think we will get more personality attacks than policy debate in the election campaign.

As far as Cunliffe is concerned – how many of us can remember the names of the people we replied to about 11 years ago? Even if we wrote only 20 or so letters rather than several hundred…. Ridiculous to expect anyone to remember a formular type letter that they wrote that long ago. It sounds to have been a letter that was both legal and considerate.