Hard News by Russell Brown

How Bizarre

Are you ready for the OMC revival? Alan Jansson and Havindar Singh are launching a record label called Newco, whose first signing is OMC, ie: Alan Jansson and Pauly Fuemana. They'll look to re-connect with some of the four million people who bought OMC records. They're also working on a Proud-style compilation of female vocalists.

That's one bit of information I can actually remember from the APRA Silver Scrolls last night. I may possibly have received other important information that became lost in the merriment that traditionally accompanies this annual gathering of the creative clans. I'm sure I'm not the only one with a wee bit of a hangover.

So congratulations to Don McGlashan for winning the Silver Scroll for 'Bathe in the River'. His well-deserved award was presented by the Prime Minister. I said hello to her as she left.

"Interesting week in politics," I said.

"There's more to come," she said.

I don't doubt it.

Clark's commentary this week has been part spin and part genuine fury over the whispering campaign against her husband. The spin is part of a consciously hard-assed response to a line of attack from National that Labour was finding irksome and damaging. Labour couldn't afford to cower on the ropes any longer: the decision was made to come out swinging.

In some respects, it's fair enough. As even Rodney Hide says in Keith's fascinating chat interview:

It was a big call for National to label Helen Clark and her ministers corrupt. Not in a throwaway line but consistently. Politicians don't like being called corrupt ...

The AG's report doesn't show corruption. If it did National would be corrupt too. They were found to have misspent 10k. They would be corrupt too – just not as successful! I could see it was going to get ugly once the Nats went down the tactic of consistently labeling Labour corrupt. I also saw it as diminishing Don Brash's image of being above politics and talking about the real issues that confront the nation.

The problem with charging out and throwing haymakers is that haymakers tend to miss sometimes. Clark said Trevor Mallard's Parliamentary barracking of Brash on his personal life "wasn't part of our script" and "wasn't part of our strategy," which may well be true, but her own description of Brash yesterday as "corrosive and cancerous" was ill-advised.

She might want to attack the political culture around Brash, or the people around him, but calling someone personally "cancerous" shows poor judgement. Apart from anything else, it limits Clark's ability to take the high ground over the things she complained about on Morning Report today: to wit, the stupid and insulting stuff about her personally (and her appearance in particular) that appears on the Young Nationals website. The lame "I am your lesbian father" mock-up of Clark that earned scathing comment on the Greens' FrogBlog during last year's election campaign is still there (weirdly) on the Young Nats' "about us" page. (Update: Brash has ordered the image, which has been there at least a year, be removed.)

She's had to endure a lot of this sort of bollocks over the years, along with the likes of Judith Collins' shitty little dig at her lack of children (if there was an emoticon for a nasty smirk, it would fit well into that press release).

So Clark has a grievance. But her allegations on Monday about being tailed by a private detective haven't been supported by the police, who say there was someone following her and her husband, but it was someone from a media organisation. The anonymous sources backing up her claims about National spreading the slime on her husband are wearing a bit thin too, although I strongly suspect her comments about the circles in which said gossip fermented are accurate.

So what's she up to? Bomber reckons that attacking Brash
a plot of machiavellian genius aimed at forcing his caucus to assemble behind him. Or … maybe she's struggling to control her own potty-mouth.

I don't have a lot of time for the sanctimony washing around parts of the local blogosphere though. Basically, the nastier side of that blogosphere has seeped over into real-world politics in the past 18 months, and the blogosphere has got nastier to match. The comments threads on Kiwiblog in the past week have been pointless and poisonous in a way I don't think I've seen before. I popped in there to register a correction to yesterday's Hard News (see below), but I won't be bothering to post anything else. What's going on there at the moment isn't really debate.

Anyway, I get the feeling that there's at least one major plot twist to come - Clark hinted about something with respect to the Brethren on Morning Report - and I'm really not sure who'll be holding the moral high ground afterwards. I'm over it for now.

Meanwhile, Fran O'Sullivan was in touch on the issue of the supposed rumour of an MP having sex with goats: she made it up for her column, and it was a joke, or more precisely, "a rhetorical device designed to ensure readers get the point [that] I put the 'offshore pederasty' and other such nasties in the 'fanciful' category."

Which was how I took it until I heard Bob Jones discussing it with Graeme Hill on Radio Live the next day, and assumed it was a genuinely live, if very silly, rumour.

Fran says she and her Herald colleagues "debated it at some length" as to whether it was an appropriate device "but [I] didn't for one moment expect Jones et al would buy into this." Understandably so. It seems you've got to be careful even as to what you joke about at the moment …

NB: For a couple of hours until I fixed it, yesterday's post said that Ian Wishart had written last year that the company that prints Investigate was owned by the Exclusive Brethren. This was wrong. I passed on something from a reader that I didn't directly verify, and it was garbled. What Wishart actually wrote last year was that his printer also produced one of the EB pamphlets and that he was surprised no one had made an issue of it. So, apologies all round.