Fomenting Happy Mischief

Editorial: Labour is looking tired and campaign hasn’t started yet – 02 Mar 2008 – Politics: New Zealand Political News, Analysis and Comment including 2008 election coverage – NZ Herald

The Herald on Sunday continues with the theme of “fomenting happy mischief” with two massive assaults against Labour and New Zealand First.

The editorial is scathing;

A sure sign that a politician is losing the plot is when he or she starts blaming the media for a slump in the polls. Winston Peters’ default position throughout his political life has been that the media prevents the truth about his political genius from reaching the eyes and ears of the nation.

That is Winston slapped down, now for Labour’s turn.

Facing opinion polls that put Labour as much as 20 points behind National – which could, on the numbers, easily govern alone – Clark launched an extraordinary attack on the New Zealand Herald, accusing it of being “a Tory paper” that had “shown no charity to Labour in the party’s 91 years of existence”. She singled out for special mention the newspaper’s long-serving cartoonist Minhinnick for “flaying” Labour Governments.

The argument that Minhinnick’s political leanings were conservative is not a difficult one to sustain, but the PM deserves all the ink a cartoonist might throw at her if she seeks to blame Min for her troubles. He retired in 1976 – five years before Helen Elizabeth Clark was elected MP for Mt Albert – although he did contribute cartoons sporadically over the next decade. Sir Gordon, as he was when he died in 1992, would doubtless be gratified to hear that a 21st-century prime minister was blaming him for her government’s woes after eight years in power, but he would be unlikely to accept the credit for such an abiding influence.

The editor goes on to examine in detail Clark’s attack and whether it holds any validity;

Labour’s problems are of a very different provenance and a much more recent vintage – and the Herald’s well-reasoned opposition to the Electoral Finance Act (in which it was scarcely a lone voice) has nothing to do with it. In an online poll at on the day of the PM’s outburst, 80 per cent of 3000 respondents believed Labour was to blame for its own polling troubles and four per cent blamed National. Unpalatable though Clark may find the fact, the “blame the media” approach is not going to cut much ice on polling day.

In any case, the explanation has to work both ways. If Clark is to lay the blame for her personal popularity – in the last One News-Colmar Brunton poll she polled 27 to John Key’s 36 as preferred prime minister – at the feet of the media, she must allow that the fortunes of her opponents (the demise of Don Brash, for example) were similarly creations of the media and not the result of her political savvy.

Heh! Happy Mischief indeed. The HoS exposes Clark as a political quack, devoid of any nous and savvy.