Early in 2014, Nicky Hager was leaked a large number of email and online conversations from Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog. Many of these were between Slater and his personal allies on the hard right, revealing an ugly and destructive style of politics. But there were also many communications with the prime minister’s office and other Cabinet ministers in the National Government. They show us a side of Prime Minister John Key and his government of which most New Zealanders are completely unaware.
Key has constructed an easy-going and relaxed public image, declaring to the public that ‘there’s no room for negative campaigning in New Zealand’. The reality is very different. His government has worked hand in hand with Slater and his collaborators in a sustained campaign of personal attacks against their political enemies, a deliberate but hidden stragegy to avoid being held responsible for negative campaigning.
Dirty Politics continues the story that began in Hager’s best-selling book The Hollow Men, investigating the way that underhand and deceptive politics poisons the political environment for everyone. If you care about integrity and ethics in politics, then this book will be disturbing but essential reading.