Posts Tagged ‘Spin Doctor’

David Farrar stirs the bullshit pot

19 February 2013 9 comments


Wait come back - you forgot your bullshit


Reported today (19 Feb) in the NZ Herald,

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is facing criticism for hiring a sixth “spin doctor” six months out from the official start of the local body elections.


Blogger David Farrar has questioned whether ratepayers are funding Mr Brown’s re-election campaign.

In a post on his Kiwiblog site titled “Len’s gaggle of spin doctors”, Mr Farrar said Mr Brown’s hiring of Dan Lambert took his tally of spin doctors to six – more than the entire parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour has five parliamentary press secretaries and a part-time speech writer for 34 MPs. Prime Minister John Key has four press secretaries and one media assistant.

See: Mayor heavy on ‘spin doctors

The Herald story, written by Bernard Orsman, seemed so unlikely that I searched out Kiwiblog to see if Farrar’s comments were accurately reported.

Indeed they were.

Len’s gaggle of spin doctors

February 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Len Brown has just hired his sixth spin doctor. That’s six spin doctors, all funded by the ratepayer, working in Len’s private office. That isn’t six spin doctors for the entire Auckland Council. That is six spin doctors just for Len.

Started this month is Dan Lambert as Len’s propaganda manager. He comes from the United Kingdom.

Dan joins Glyn Jones who was the chief spin doctor, and who is now called Media Communications Manager.

Len also has a senior press secretary, a communications advisor, former Clark spin doctor David Lewis as a media consultant and a speech writer on top of that.

Len has more spin doctors than the entire Parliamentary Labour Party (they have five). The previous Mayor of Auckland had just one – Cameron Brewer.

Should Auckland ratepayers be funding Len’s reelection campaign?

Talking of the election, isn’t it time also for C&R and their friends in Auckland to get their shit together and select a Mayoral candidate. Otherwise Len and his six spin doctors will have too easy a time of it.


Now, despite the fact that Farrar is a National Party supporter/member and has worked for successive National governments – one might still expect him to report such issues with perhaps a measure of balance.

Because the way he tells it, leaves a whole lot out of the picture.

Especially when Cameron Brewer in the same NZ Herald article said “nobody would be able to match Mr Brown’s army of spin doctors, advisers and consultants“.

Mr Brewer has also worked as a former spin doctor to ex-Auckland City Mayor John Banks, ex-Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, and very ex-Act leader Rodney Hide.

Farrar mis-represented the issue by omission.

Brewer mis-represented the issue with an outright lie.

If citizens really want to look at where their tax-dollars are going to, I would refer the reader’s attention to an article written by  NBR’s Matt Nippert, in August 2010,  about the Prime Minister’s Office. (This article is now behind a paywall, but an excerpt can be found on Bryce Edward’s “Liberation” blog.)

Entitled ‘Panic station: policy quashing on the ninth floor of the Beehive’, Matt Nippert wrote,

“…the ninth floor of the Beehive contains the most spinners and advisers in New Zealand history. Whereas Helen Clark employed six communications staff in her office, currently seven staff in the PMO are listed as having communications roles.  And whereas Miss Clark’s chief of staff Heather Simpson managed two political advisers, Mr Eagleson has five reporting to him along with Mr de Joux as a deputy.”

Secondary Source: National’s ‘panic pants’ spin-doctors

In September 2010, Bryce Edwards, political lecturer at University of Otago, wrote,

The PMO has about 25 highly-professional staff working in it. Under Helen Clark’s rule, Heather Simpson (pictured on the right) was of course the head of the unit, and thus the second in command of the Labour Government. Simpson’s replacement is Wayne Eagleson, who like Heather Simpson is highly aversive to both media scrutiny and political risk.

In his unit of about 25, he has people working for him such as Kevin Taylor (Chief Press Secretary), Phil de Joux (Deputy Chief of Staff, former head of the National Party research unit), Sarah Boyle (Senior Adviser; apparently a “guru of the Official Information Act”), Stephen Woodhouse (Senior Private Secretary), Grant Johnston (Chief Policy Adviser; former Treasury policy wonk and partner of columnist Joanne Black), Jason Ede (Senior Adviser), Nicola Willis (Senior Advisor), Lesley Hamilton (Press Secretary), and Paula Oliver (Press Secretary). Some of these ‘shadowy people’ we already know something of, but generally their immense power is unexamined.

Source: IBID

Currently, according to the Prime Minister’s own website, just one group numbered over a dozen,

Policy Advisory Group

The Policy Advisory Group was formally established in 1990 within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). Prior to that time, policy advisory services were provided through the forerunners of DPMC.

The Group consists of a director and 13 policy advisors, with a range of skills and experience including legal, business, economic and social policy.  The mix of skills changes from time to time, with changes in staff.

The role of the Policy Advisory Group is to support the Prime Minister as leader of the Government…

… From time to time Advisors lead policy projects specially commissioned by the Prime Minister to “cut through” on issues of significance.


And there’s more here about the Department of Prime Minister’s Office: About DPMC.

But of course, none of this merit’s Mr Farrar’s attention. The Prime Minister may have 25 (or more, by now) spin-doctors – but the owner of Kiwiblog prefers instead to focus on the mayor of Auckland with his supposed six advisors.

This was not always the case.  Once upon a time, Mr Farrar was very concerned about the numbers of communication staff working for the government and it’s various Departments,


kiwiblog - $47 million a year on Govt “spin doctors”



But that was under a Labour government.



= fs =


“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 21 comments



In politics, there are several ways to discredit your  opponant or critic;

  • Humour

David Lange was the past-master of the one-liner riposte. His classic, “I can smell the uranium on your breath”, is now firmly ingrained in our culture.

  • Attack Reputations

A favourite of Robert Muldoon, who had little reservation in undermining, or even destroying, a person’s reputation if they crossed him.

  • Buy them off

Our best and most experienced journalists gave up their professions to join the Dark Side of politics, and become Press Secretaries and spin doctors for politicians, government departments, SOEs, and corporations.

Some of the most well-known media names from the  ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s now work for employers who do not want the public truthfully informed on certain matters.

  • Deride & Dismiss

If you can successfully paint your critic or political opponant as a “loony”, incompetant, naive, or possessing some  other faulty character-trait, then you may persuade the public not to listen to them.

The  Right deride the Greens as “tree hugging socialists” – and other epithets – when attacking their policies. Even when said policies are clearly delineated and sheer common sense – the derision and dismissive retorts are by now an automatic kneejerk from the Right. No thought required.

  • Off to the Gulag!

Very popular with the old USSR, and still in heavy usage in the last remaining Stalinist regime in North Korea. The Chinese have their own Labour Camps (prisons) for their political prisoners. And even the United States – the Land of the Free – has their own dirty little ‘secret’ at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Probably not feasible for dear little New Zealand… yet.




National’s tax-payer funded  spin doctors have been working overtime this year on new angles for their Ministerial Masters to use to  dismiss the growing clamour of criticism against their policies, and more increasingly, criticism of John Key’s style of leadership.

With National dropping in the polls and Key’s popularity  not what it once was,  it is fairly obvious that critics are starting to hit home – and the Tory hierarchy is worried.

One response has been the Deride & Dismiss tactic.

Increasingly,  Dear Leader and his ministers have taken to referring to critics and political opponants as “conspiracy theorists” – a jibe designed to make someone appear to be on the fringe of politics; slightly unstable; not thinking rationally; and espousing ideas unsupported by facts.

It’s like suggesting that your opponant or critics believes in fairy tales. And it’s becoming more and more common,


Mr Key is rejecting all their allegations.

“It went through the normal tendering process, Sky City was the only bidder prepared to look at a deal that didn’t involve government resources. They can run around as much as they like looking for conspiracies but they’re never going to find one”. ” – John Key, MSN News, 19 April, 2012


But despite the paper, he denied there was any connection between him calling off the business case and SkyCity indicating it was considering extending its centre. “Not despite your wildest conspiracies, no,” he said. ” – Dominion Post, 24 April 2012


But I would say it’s a really positive thing to do. You can make a difference. And it’s like the convention centre. People want to chase their tails in conspiracies. There is no conspiracy. The conspiracy is we haven’t had a convention centre for decades. We will get 160,000 visitor-nights. They will spend roughly twice as much as everybody else. The Government has got no money to pour into it.” – John Key, The Listener, 23 June 2012


There is no conspiracy here. There’s a failure by an individual, there’s a cock-up, but there’s not a conspiracy.” [re, GCSB] – John Key, TV3, 29 September 2012


Yeah the conspiracy theorists won’t like it they’ll be on TV tonight saying ‘yeah you know Dotcom’ and all this sort of carry on but they live in fantasy land.” – John Key, TV3, 1 October 2012

There’ll always be conspiracy theorists out there but I’m interested in jobs, not people who live in Fantasyland and want to make things up.” – John Key,  Fairfax media, 2 October 2012

Meanwhile Mr Key is writing off the concerns around Dotcom as “conspiracy theories”.

“I’d caution New Zealanders not to buy into conspiracy theories too much,” he says. ” – John Key, TV3, 4 October 2012


Even Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald columnist and bearer of the Honorary Captain Key De-Coder Ring, joined in to support National’s spin-dictoring.

The conspiracy allegations against Key are over-egged.” – Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald, 3 October 2011

As these quotes show, Key has been using the “conspiracy” pejorative as often as he can get away with it.

Without indulging in conspiracy theories, one could almost come to the conclusion that “Conspiracy” and “conspiracy theorists” are the magic words in 2012 – as determined by National’s back-room spin doctors. These guys have been racking up serious over-time to create the right things for Key and other National ministers to say.

Anyone criticising Dear Leader is engaging in “conspiracies” and accusations against National are “conspiracy theories”.

Got that?


Otherwise it’s off to the Gulag for you!

Meanwhile, here is one example of pre-scripted spin being delivered incompetantly, by an incompetant Minister. Listen and weep, for our taxes are paying for this woman’s salary,


[click on image to link to TV3 video]



= fs =

The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done



The beginning of May contained bad news for National: unemployment was up again to 160,000 people – 6.7% of the workforce.

With the recession “officially over”, unemployment is supposed to be tracking down – not up. This is not in accordance with neo-liberal economic theory.

John Key’s response, four days later was this incredible statement,

The number of people looking for work or in work is virtually a record in New Zealand, the second highest rate ever. What that shows you is that New Zealanders are more confident the economy is coming right and actually bothering to look for work. I know it sounds crazy.”

See:  Key: Europe shows zero Budget wisdom

Key’s statement beggars belief; “ What that shows you is that New Zealanders are more confident the economy is coming right and actually bothering to look for work “, and adds ” I know it sounds crazy “.

Key is right – it is crazy.

His statement is the product of National’s  spin doctors – highly skilled experts at media manipulation; deflection; and bending the truth until it crosses the line into outright lies.

The simple truth is that National, and it ‘smiling and waving  Dear Leader, have been blind-sided by the realities of their own neo-liberal doctrine.

Despite everything promised by National and it’s devotion to free market economics, their  results have been damning.

Outcome: nil.

Verdict: fail.

On 16 July 2010, John Key stated that the 90 Day Trail Employment scheme had  been successful,

The results of that have been stunning, it has ensured that a lot more New Zealanders have the opportunity to engage in work.”

See: Govt to extend 90-day dismissal law

In June 2010, unemployment was at 6.8% in the household labourforce survey. Since the introduction of the 90 Day Trial Employment scheme, unemployment has remained stubbornly high.

See: Employment and Unemployment – June 2010 Quarter

Outcome: nil.

Verdict: fail.

* In October last year, John Key announced National’s “Starting Out” wage-scheme  set  at 80%  of the $13 an hour adult minimum wage. It would apply to;

  • 16 and 17 year olds in their first six months with a new employer
  • 18 and 19 year olds entering the workforce after being on a designated benefit and
  • 16-19 year olds training in a recognised industry course worth at least 40 credits a year

Key stated that,

The starting out wage will give some of our youngest and most inexperienced workers a much-needed foot in the door.”

Key added that “the changes to industrial law were aimed at giving businesses the confidence they needed to invest, grow and create higher-paying jobs”.

See:  Nats ‘starting out’ youth wage plan

In August last year, youth (15 – 24) unemployment was at 58,000.

See: TV3 -Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park

This year, it has climbed to a staggering 87,000 unemployed – a massive increase of 29,000.

See:  Scoop – Youth unemployment needs to be a priority

Interestingly, this was predicted as far back as June last year, when trade unionist James Sleep said,

Research from the Treasury, Motu and the Department of Labour clearly states there is no link between the abolition of youth rates and the loss of jobs. When youth rates were abolished for 18-20 year olds, employment increased, not decreased. If the Government do consider this as a way to solve youth unemployment, they have chosen to ignore the informed advice of their officials and that’s bad policy making

The Government’s cavalier approach to solving youth unemployment is going to leave behind a lost generation. Youth unemployment for the 15-19 age group has gone from 17% to 27.5% under National. This is a social disaster and a ticking time bomb that is going to come back to bite.”

See:   Scoop – Youth rates will not solve youth unemployment

Mr Sleep was 100% on the nail – National’s quasi-youth rate scheme not only failed to reduce youth unemployment, but actually increased it.

Outcome: nil.

Verdict: fail.

* Throughout National’s programme of tax cuts, both John Key and Bill English have steadfastly maintained that the tax cuts; rise in GST; and other policies have been   “fiscally neutral”. In March last year, Bill English said,

A number of property and other tax changes will encourage sound investment decisions, make the tax system fairer and ensure the overall tax package is broadly fiscally neutral.”

See:  April 1 tax changes will mean govt’s 2010 tax package will be fiscally negative for 2 more years as it struggles with quake costs

Even as National’s budget deficit was ballooning, despite massive cuts in spending, as late as last month,  John Key was almost religiously adamant in his beliefs,

The tax reforms we are introducing have been designed to be broadly fiscally neutral.

See:  Impact of tax switch in 2010 yet to be realised

And yet, revenue was dropping and the government deficit was growing – threatening to “crash” the budget, as Greens co-leader Russell Norman stated,

It is wrong for the Government to cut important public services and support for people to get an education at the same time it is borrowing $800 million a year for tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Dr Norman.

“Two years ago, National told us it could afford these so-called ‘fiscally neutral’ tax cuts.

“Now, it is crying poverty and telling New Zealanders they will have to pay with cuts to services and student loans.

“National has manufactured a crisis by committing itself to an arbitrary goal of eliminating the deficit in 2014/15 while cutting revenue needed to get there.

“Did National not realise its unaffordable tax cuts for the rich would crash the budget, or did it cynically reduce government revenue to give it an excuse to cuts services in the future?

“Neither option can give New Zealanders confidence in the economic management of their government.”

See: Scoop –  National’s Tax Cuts At Heart Of Budget ‘Crisis’

The government’s looming budget deficit is due to lower  tax revenue for the last nine months. The drop in tax revenue  was $1.58 billion (almost 4%)  less than previously forecast, by Treasury.

See: Govt tax take below forecast

So much for tax cuts in April 2009 and October 2010 being “fiscally neutral. Clearly, that claim is utter bollocks and is no longer credible.

Outcome: nil.

Verdict: fail.

Other indicators of a failed economic policy that take no account of realities,

Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

* Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000

* $12 billion student debt a national liability

* Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators – Numbers reveal National disgrace

And adding insult to injury, Australian businesses are coming to New Zealand to set up shop, to exploit our lower wages,

* Aussie firms sending business across ditch

How does it feel, I wonder, when New Zealanders realise that corporations are viewing New Zealand as another Third World country, with cheap labour?

Little wonder that our best and brightest are leaving this country as fast as they can pack a suitcase and board the first available flight out of here.

Unless the reader happens to be a National Party groupie who worships the ground that Dear Leader walks on, it is fairly plain to see that National’s policies in job creation and sustainable fiscal policies have been a miserable failure. National has paid more attention to nutty neo-liberal economic doctrine rather than common sense.

It is reaping the consequences of blindly pursuing economic policies that have been failing since the early 1980s.

John Key and his ministers have no answer to the failings of their policies. Which is when highly paid (from our taxes) Spin Doctors take a miserable failure such as the rise in unemployment, and re-write it as a bizarre “positive,


“The number of people looking for work or in work is virtually a record in New Zealand, the second highest rate ever. What that shows you is that New Zealanders are more confident the economy is coming right and actually bothering to look for work. I know it sounds crazy.”


The Dark Art of political spin; avoiding acceptance of the truth at all costs, and spinning a yarn that – hopefully – the punters will accept with a shrug.

Yeah, it sounds crazy.



= fs =