Home > The Body Politic > The Boundless Arrogance of the Right

The Boundless Arrogance of the Right

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John Key - That's all folks

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As at 5pm on Friday, 13 June, John Banks resigned from Parliament.

In retrospect… As per usual, those on the Right appear unable to accept that they too must uphold the laws of the land.

Michelle Boag (Fmr National Party president)

The verdict in the John Banks trial will send a “chill up the spine” of every political candidate, says former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Boag, who was an adviser to Banks during the failed 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign, said although Banks had been found guilty, he had done just the same as “every political candidate who has put in a donation form”.

Don Brash (Fmr Reserve Bank Governor; Fmr National Party leader; Fmr ACT Party leader)

“So the court has found John Banks guilty. Three observations. First, I have known John Banks for 30 years and have not found him to be anything other than an honest man. Second, it is a huge tragedy for a man who has overcome great personal difficulties; served with distinction as a Member of Parliament, as a Minister, and as the mayor of Auckland; and helped to raise three Russian orphans.

But third, when I contrast what John Banks was found by the court to have done with what Helen Clark’s Labour Party did in 2005 – without the slightest attempt by the Police to call her to account – the offence of which he has been found guilty is utterly trivial.

In 2005, the Labour Party spent Parliamentary funding to the extent of more than three-quarters of a million dollars on explicit electioneering, despite having been warned against doing so by both the Auditor General and the Chief Electoral Officer just weeks before the election. Yes, they eventually repaid that money, but only under strong protest. And of course by that the time the election was won.

And what they could not undo, and were never held to account for, was grossly overspending the legal limit on spending in that election. The Police, in a disgracefully biased decision, decided not to prosecute, despite the Labour Party’s own auditors finding that the Party had unambiguously breached the legal spending limit if spending on their infamous “pledge card” was election spending. And did anybody who saw that “pledge card” think it was NOT part of Labour’s election campaign?

Whatever John Banks did in trying to raise money to finance his mayoral campaign in 2010 did not affect the outcome of that election. By contrast, Labour’s illegal behaviour almost certainly did affect the result of the 2005 election.”

Gerry Brownlee (Leader of the House, National Minister)

 “As I understand it he is not convicted and therefore can stay in parliament and exercise his vote.”

Found guilty – but “not convicted”. Ethics 101, according to Gerry Brownlee.

Ironically, Kim Dotcom has not been found guilty of any crime in New Zealand and yet the Nats wants him extradited to the United States. As in, potentially goneburger to a US jail.

David Farrar (Blogger, National Party apparatchik)

“…Banks was wrong to break the law, but Labour’s law breaches in 2005 were much more significant and did have an impact on the election result.”

Based on Farrar’s bizarro-world “logic”, burglars should not be prosecuted because home invasion robberies “were much more significant and did have an impact” on home-owners?!

John Key (Fmr money trader, current Prime Minister)

“It’s not for me to critique the ruling by Justice Wylie it would be quite inappropriate of me to do that…but if you ask me at a personal level whether my experience of John Banks is an honest person then the answer is yes.”

John Key (again)

“In the end, Mr Banks may appeal, I don’t know the details of that but in my experience of dealing with him over the period of time that he’s been both the leader of the Act Party and in Parliament and in my previous dealings with him, I’ve always found him to be very honest.”

So honest that he (a) was tried in a Court of law, (b) was found guilty, and (c) has resigned.

Is this what Key meant when he said on 17 November 2008;

“I expect high standards from my ministers. If they don’t meet the standards I set, then obviously I will take action if necessary.”

John Key (and again)

First Key said he was not in a position to offer any advice to Banks;

“It’s not for me to offer a view on that. In the end he is the leader of another political party.  I can’t offer him advice any more than I could offer David Cunliffe advice on whether he should resign.”

Then he decided to give advice – to David Cunliffe;

Asked about Cunliffe’s claims that the Government was being propped up by a “corrupt” politician, Key said Cunliffe should rule out working with the Internet Party.

“I’m not going to be lectured by David Cunliffe. If he was the man of principle he says he is, he’d be ruling out the Internet Party and Kim Dotcom who’s before the court and is a convicted fraudster, but he’s not going to do that. Most people will see it for what it is, which is politics.”

Point of interest; John Key appears to be out-of-the-loop and several months behind-the times. John Banks was not the  “leader of another political party“. The current leader of ACT is Jamie Whyte.

Kerre McIvor (Right-wing NZ Herald columnist)

“…Graham McCready, the convicted tax fraudster and the man who brought the private prosecution against Banks after the police declined to lay charges, is an odd creature.

The charms of Kim Dotcom have never been apparent to me and they didn’t become any more obvious in this case.”

Richard Prebble (Fmr Labour and ACT Party MP)

Act Party campaign director Richard Prebble, said the verdict was in conflict with the attitude towards campaign donations that he’d encountered during his years in parliament.

“I’ve looked at MPs’ declarations – which are only for $20,000 – and a third of MPs, under this ruling, should be out of parliament. I’ve seen declarations that are total fictions.”

Prebble said the loose approach to the rules revealed “the nonsense of the thing”. He said when he started his career in local body politics, he wasn’t required to fill in electoral donation forms, “and I’m not sure why you have to now.

“It’s just part of the political correctness of New Zealand, and all we do is catch people out with paperwork.”

Prebble said while the nominal reason for requiring electoral donation returns might be to prevent the impression of undue influence by political funders, “the real reason is to intimidate people to stop them giving money to your political opponents.

So Prebble has “seen declarations that are total fictions” – but done nothing about them?! Is this how a former ACT Leader and MP upholds the law? By turning a blind eye to it being broken? Very civic minded, I don’t think.

As for the electoral law on donation returns being “ just part of the political correctness of New Zealand, and all we do is catch people out with paperwork” – so some laws exist  merely to  inconvenience us? Perhaps quite a few others who are currently “guests of Her Majesty” thought along the same lines.

John Thompson (ACT Party president )

“We believe that he can carry on in doing his constituency work … It would be more pleasant if there was a different verdict, yes.”

Well… yes. I’m sure it would be more pleasant. So would world peace and an end to hunger, disease, pollution…

However, let’s work with what we’ve got, eh, John?

My thoughts (as a Left wing blogger)

Those on the Right of the political spectrum probably believe that Banks’ actions were minor. They  point the finger at alleged wrongdoing by Labour or other parties on the Left. They may even believe that the trial and guilty verdict was unnecessary.

Meanwhile, on the Left, the belief (unsurprisingly) is diametrically opposite;  the crime of electoral fraud is not minor; pointing to alleged wrongdoing by Left-wing parties  is a vain attempt at deflection to distract public attention; and the guilty verdict was necessary.

Everyone has missed the point.

The trial was very much necessary. (The verdict was, I submit, secondary.)

Either the law on Electoral Returns is a law to be enforced, or it should be repealed and left up to individual parties and candidates to make voluntary disclosures.  But it cannot be left to stand and be observed in a half-hearted, cavalier fashion.

Otherwise, every member of Parliament runs the risk of being prosecuted by the Police or a well-motivated member of the public, sometime in the future. In other words, this was a “wake up call” to every elected representative, whether in a local body or Parliament.

It will be a very, very foolish politician – whether from the Left or Right – who takes a punt at fudging their Electoral Return from now on.

Because, in the final analysis, no Right or Left wing party activist, supporter, voter, or blogger, wants one of their own to be dragged through the Courts, embarrassing themselves and their Party. Whether Left or Right, we want our own people to be ‘squeaky clean’.

The wake-up call has been sounded for both sides of the political spectrum.

Let’s hope it was heard..

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References

Fairfax media: F*** off, says under-pressure Banks

Facebook: Don Brash

TVNZ News: John Banks could be thrown political lifeline

Kiwiblog: Brash on Banks

ODT: Banks gets to stay in Parliament

NZ Herald: Top ministers in Key’s Cabinet focused on economy

NZ Herald: Shame sticks to both sides of this episode

Fairfax media: PM ducks Banks questions

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The John Banks guilty verdict

Other blogs

Gordon Campbell on the John Banks verdict


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2014.

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  1. Deb Kean
    22 June 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Absolutely typical of their ‘born to rule’ thinking,
    Deb

    • Priss
      25 June 2014 at 12:37 pm

      +1

      • Deb Kean
        26 June 2014 at 5:02 pm

        🙂

  2. 15 July 2014 at 2:40 am

    Amazing. I mightn’t be a Left-Wing voter, Squire, but I do know BS when I see it. John Key is a hypocrite of the highest order. I sincerely hope we never see the likes of ACT in Parliament again (considering it’s Roger Douglas’ baby).

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