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Sunday 12 April 2015

A look at Dirty Politics

Posted in: Features
By staff - 18th August 2014

Among the many claims of murky behaviour in Dirty Politics is that a political strategist has been colluding with blogger Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater to carry out “persistent negative attacks” to get conservative, hard right and ultimately anti-gay MPs into National’s ranks.

Written by Nicky Hager, who also penned The Hollow Men, Dirty Politics is centred on communications taken from Slater by a hacker in the wake of an outcry when he described a West Coast man who died in a car accident as a "feral" who had "done the world a favour".

The emails and Facebook messages quoted are between Slater and a number of people, including a muck-raking political advisor to John Key, Jason Ede, and National cabinet minister Judith Collins.

One of the people whose emails feature heavily in the book is Simon Lusk, a political strategist who has acted for several National MPs.

One of the quotes attributed to Lusk is “I'm just motivated to cut throats. Unfortunately the biggest buzz I get is when I wreck someone, only done it three times, but I was on a massive high.”

In Dirty Politics, Hager writes that Simon Lusk wants to move National to the right, and is doing this by working with conservative National candidates to get them elected, including Sam Lotu-Iiga and Louise Upston. While there is no evidence Lusk takes clients on because of their anti-gay views in particular, that is ultimately part of the package - both of these MPs went on to vote against marriage equality.

Dirty Politics says Lusk took on Rodney hopeful Mark Mitchell as a client, as he made a bid to represent National in the safe seat left vacant by Lockwood Smith. It says Lusk colluded with Slater to attack the other candidates and the electorate chair, and influence the candidate selection process, via Slater’s blog.

“Mitchell, their selection candidate, was paying big money for this dirty campaigning, and was well aware of what he was buying,” Hager writes.

Hager points out that Mitchell did little in his first term, but did move an amendment to the marriage equality law to reassure marriage celebrants that they would not be obliged to marry same-sex couples if it was against their ‘religious or philosophical beliefs’ before voting against the law.

National has discouraged MPs from using Lusk. However, the book suggests Lusk is gathering a pool of candidates he has influence over, citing an email from Lusk saying he has “at least half a dozen people in their twenties who will be in caucus one day.”

While Slater says he's not anti-gay, his own posts and, more so, the comments section on his blogs, are riddled with homophobia and transphobia. staff - 18th August 2014

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