Then there was the establishment of a blog called The Standard. The Labour Party ran a weekly newspaper from 1934 to 1959 that published political material. It was subject to the normal journalistic standards of the time. But the new blog version made no pretence at following even the reduced journalistic standards of modern times. Registered to an address in Helen Clark’s electorate, and operating out of the Beehive under ministerial supervision, it gave an airing to innuendo and false stories that ministers hoped might get picked up by the mainstream media. They often did. Indeed, several gullible reporters happily took their leads from the Beehive’s dirty tricks brigade. I saw an email sent by Ruth Dyson that had clearly been prepared by her apparatchiks. It denounced me, and urged her mailing list to protest to a newspaper that was running my columns. I’m told that the apparatchiks watched the news, made it their business to pick up material, true or false, and fed lines to people like Brian Rudman of the Herald. The same dirty tricksters fabricated a story about John Key that had Mike Williams rushing to Melbourne to check records, only to return empty handed, and red-faced, just before the election.
Reference to our friends at The Standard attracted our attention of course. We're all familiar with their denials that they are anything to do with the Labour Party, but there has been plenty to suggest otherwise. Bassett details the modus operandi that The Standard's authors used pre-election, especially Clinton "Steve Pierson" Smith, who ran an ongoing campaign of smears and innuendo about John Key. And he tells us where the money came from:
The significance of all this is that New Zealand’s Labour dirty tricksters were all on the public payroll. They operated mostly from the Prime Minister’s Office where Helen Clark appeared to operate a kind of training school for younger versions of herself: people with degrees and absolutely no experience of life. Graduates of student politics, they regarded possession of the reins of power as some form of divine right. Mostly in their 20s, they were designated “advisers to the Prime Minister”. Since they had little general knowledge, and consequently nothing to advise with, they were paid good money, and put to work on dirty tricks. Several are now on Labour’s backbenches, where they are still being supported by the taxpayer. The Standard still exists, but it has been hollowed out by the end of the Beehive’s funding. It would be interesting to know whether, in its current withered state, it is being funded from Phil Goff’s office.
So that leaves two alternatives. Either The Standard WAS directed by the parliamentary Labour Party (and we would love to know which Minister called the shots) and funded by you and us, the taxpayer, or Michael Bassett is telling porkies. Which takes us back to the title of this post - why would Michael Bassett lie?
Well, we don't think he has. We rather choose to believe that all those self-righteous denials from the various authors at The Standard were hollow, and that they are the real Hollow Men.