“It's not the lying that bothers me, it's the fact that
people think I'm stupid enough to believe them that does.”
How do you know a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.
But was Cunliffe lying when he replied “no,” “definitely not” and “never” to questions whether he’d known, met or helped party donor Donghua Liu? Probably not.
The petard on which he’s being justifiably hung however is of his own making, and doubly so:
First, Cunliffe wants to make the election an issue of trust (don’t politicians always say that?), yet for reasons either of duplicity or shambling incompetence in his New Lynn office, we now know that when he says “no,” “definitely not” and “never” he very possibly means “maybe,” “perhaps” and “probably yes.”
So not reliable. And maybe untrustworthy. And since every election in the MMP era is virtually the granting of an open cheque book to whoever gets to visit the Governor General first, unreliable and untrustworthy are not things you want exposed on your CV.
Second, if he wants to pillory National MPs for their own meddling on behalf of party donors then he should take it like a man, or at least like a politician, when he’s rightly pilloried for doing the same thing. (Mind you, at least Wimpianson was meddling on behalf of a constituent, whereas Cunliffe’s letter appears a little more free-range. There’s a story there to be told, I’m sure.)
Mind you, the Nats can’t have it both ways either. They’ve been claiming all along that the mini-scandals around Wimpianson and Collins are “beltway” issues. Well, if they are, then so is this.
Perhaps the bigger issue here is to note that, sans DotCon, all the mini-scandals recently erupting around politicians involve Chinese donors, Chinese dinner parties, and backdoor negotiations with officials over Chinese patrons. This is the way business is done in China, and since this country which prides itself on its non-corruption is going to be doing increasing mounts of business with one priding itself on the opposite, we are going to see more and more of this unless local politicians either sort themselves out some guidelines, or remove from legislation things over which they have so much influence and discretion – or get used to seeing themselves in the papers for representations and donations that don’t smell so good in the general light of day.