For the last six years the National and their allies honed their skills at whispering campaigns; the question now is whether Labour will stoop to their level.
We all heard the whispers; the stories of sex, money and corruption. Largely personal they also targeted the partners and children of politicians.Â
Of all the things National and its allies have done it the last few years the whispering campaigns sickened me most.
- The dishonesty. John Key never actually called Helen Clark a “heartless childless lesbian bitch”, instead he arranged for enough other people to say it so that he only needed to nod slightly and the attack was made but his hands remained clean.
- Personal attacks are just plain wrong. We saw them during the Muldoon administration, and we condemn him for them, so why was it ok for the Brash and Key National parties?
- Even if politicians could be argued to open themselves up to this, what about their partners, children and extended families? Many of the people smeared were not political actors and were hurt solely to damage others.
- The orchestrated whispering campaigns exposed and reinforced an undercurrent on bigotry. If being called a lesbian is a political attack what does that mean for women who actually are lesbians?
I am hoping desperately that Labour will step away from this tactic. They’ve had a few shameful moments of going there, but not to the extent of National. The question for them now is whether they will follow National’s lead and go for opposition gutter politics, or whether they will step back and fight a clean fight over policy.