Title: Exclusive Brethren: Running Interference? Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 17th January 2008 - 8:36am1200512160 Article: 5477 Rights
After running an acerbic propaganda campaign against the Electoral Finance Act last year, the National Opposition is trying to rapidly distance itself from a new anti-Labour effort from the extremist Exclusive Brethren sect. Scoop broke the story on January 10th, when Deputy Leader Bill English put out a media release clarifying National's stance on 'third party' election adverts under the Electoral Finance Act- which was that National would not be endorsing any third party anti-Labour election campaigns, and that while it disagreed with the EFA, it advised anti-Labour lobby groups to stay within the law. He concluded that if National wanted to circulate something, it would do so under its own logo, as party policy, and with its own membership clearly identified. Glad to hear it, because it proves proof for one of the things I've said all along about the Electoral Finance Act, which is that it promotes transparency and accountability, and already seems to have had a positive effect on the Opposition. On the Fairfax news portal Stuff, more information emerged. It turned out that senior National MP Anne Tolley received an email from a front organisation entitled "Give New Zealand A Fair Go," which made clear that one of the individuals involved, a Stan Blanch, appeared to have linkages to the Exclusive Brethren, and named several other members of the same sect on the offending propaganda. National moved rapidly to dissociate themselves from the pamphleteering, and provided a copy of the pamphlet to the Scoop website for reproduction. On the face of it, then, one would have to commend the Opposition for its commitment to democratic accountability and transparency of information in this instance. However, one must ask, does the wider Christian Right know anything about this pamphleteering, and are they assisting in its distribution? I could find no trace of the "Give New Zealand A Fair Go" campaign online, but I did notice some interesting remarks from Cameron Slater, one of the anti-EFA "Kill the Bill" campaigners, who runs the blog "Whaleoil" which called Bill English a "wimp", andasked Stan Blanch to get in touch with him. For that matter, though, the mainstream centre-right is also getting nervous. In her last Herald column for 2007, Deborah Coddington also expressed concern about the hyperbole and extreme rhetoric emanating from some anti-EFB elements, worrying that it might boomerang on the centre-right. Certainly, the above statements cannot help their cause. However, a Stan Blanch is listed as a leading member of a national insurance industry organisation, and some allies of mine were recently sentan email, in which Blanch asks to be introduced to the Exclusive Brethren. Furthermore, he claims credit for the dumping of the previous Waitemata council and mayor, although sadly, the recipients conclude that he is an amateur. Keep your camcorders ready, folks! Recommended: "National Policy on Election Ads" Scoop: 10.01.08: "National Disowns Pamphlet Group" Stuff: 11.01.08: Craig Young - 17th January 2008    
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