We got a big hint today from the PM about how she’s planning to play this election campaign - and that is to play the old ‘fake news’ card.
It’s the old Donald Trump trick right? If you’re under attack from the media or the opponents, just tell the voters they can’t be trusted, none of it’s true.
So what gave us the hint today is a couple of things Labour’s done.
First, the Prime Minister made a speech at her party’s annual retreat, saying that New Zealanders deserve a factual campaign, one that is free from misinformation.
And then Labour signed up to a transparency tool on Facebook which lets us as voters see how much they’re spending on Facebook ads.
The interesting thing here is that if you think back, you realise Labour’s actually been working on this strategy for a while. That, I reckon, is why they complained to the Speaker about National’s online ads last year.
At the time, we all wondered why on earth they would make such a big song and dance about it, because all it did was draw attention to the ads. Well, now you know.
And it also explains why Labour made such a big deal about Simon Bridges taking campaign tips from Australia’s Scott Morrison after his win last year.
Grant Robertson last year said “What we’re starting to see from the national party are these sort of desperate Australian dirty politics tactics again”.
Now, to be fair, National sort of deserves this. Remember last campaign when Steven Joyce rolled out that $11 billion fiscal hole claim -how sure are you that he was right? And two of their ads have been ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority
If this gains traction, the idea that National plays fast and loose with the facts, it’ll help Labour in the election campaign because it will dilute National’s attacks.
I mean, let’s say you saw an attack ad from National saying Labour’s failed to drag kids out of poverty. All Labour will need to do is accuse National of twisting the stats and say fake news, and well, it might just make it that bit harder to trust national’s claims.
But what’s happened today also gives us, I reckon, an insight into what Labour’s worried about, which is the long list of fails that National can trot out at the election. Because there’s a long list of things labour’s promised and not delivered.
And it’s much easier to avoid getting hurt by that if you can just say ‘fake news’.