Today’s SST report about Crosby/Textor’s role in the National camp is deeply disturbing, whatever spin the Tories try to put on it. The notorious Australian practitioners of the darkest political arts are still with us, doing their utmost to pervert the democratic process and sell us a false Bill of Goods, courtesy of John Key.
Despite attempts by Key and his team to keep their role secret, we find that C/T have been employed these last two years to shape Key’s image and advise on National’s messages and tactics.
The Nats’ will ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, true, it’s not illegal to employ spin doctors, and just about every political organisation that can afford to, does. The problem is with the tactics that are used and how far you go in spreading lies and deceipt, and hiding what you have on offer from the voters.
C/T are the ugliest, most ruthless, dirtiest-fighting political mongrels this side of Karl Rove. Of course it’s wrong. Otherwise, why would Key & co go to such lengths to hide their association with these people?
We’re not talking about air-brushing the leader’s picture here. It’s about appealing to basest prejudice, about constructing completely misleading images of opponents and clients… stuff like Textor’s push-polling. In 1995, for example, Canberra voters were asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for her knowing she had publicly stated she supported the right to abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Which she hadn’t.
Or spreading false rumours about London mayor Ken Livingstone having three “secret” children and the hiring an Islamic extremist to his staff.
This is the sort of thing that National would have you believe is “business as usual” and acceptable. It’s not. And that’s why this revelation has the potential to damage “Brand Key”.
In terms that C/T would use, it opens up the doubt in many ordinary voters’ minds that Key isn’t the decent, aw-shucks (albeit mega-wealthy) bloke they thought they knew. Rather, he’s devious and unprincipled, the sort of man who stoops to hire liars and racists when he should be telling them to fuck off.
[There's a good debate on this on the Standard. Also, Russell Brown at Hard News on the "sulphurous presence".]