My article on Crosby Texter being increasingly involved in NZ politics got a very interesting reception from many people and many people responded.
I received information from a number of people on the team who are actually running the National Party “hit-em” campaign. Crosby Texter has been joined by Sean Topham and Ben Guerin. They run an agency called Topham Guerin.
These guys were young Nats. They are digital natives. They are the Cambridge Analytics of the South Pacific. They were the brains behind the Liberal Party campaign in Australia this year. They have just been engaged by the Conservative Party of the UK to run their next campaign. They should not be ignored. They are running the National Party “slam” team and introducing a style of politics which needs to be highlighted and called out for what it is; highly manipulative.
I might be seen as a political old fart but we have just witnessed a Local Government campaign where a slogan “zero rates” was chanted. It was complete nonsense. Topham Guerin are slogan drivers. They will chant slogans to manipulate our thinking. They will hijack our democracy. We must be able to make an independent assessment of who we want to vote for ourselves. I don’t care which party people vote for. That’s our individual rights. What we must resist is the manipulation of our minds through social media. Do we want New Zealand to become the same as Trump’s America?
Here’s what these guys offer on their web site:
- Review your digital platforms and performance
- Develop a plan to help you reach your objectives
- Understanding your target audiences
- Monitor and analyse competitors and trendsB
- Build capability with onsite workshops and seminars
- Manage or peer review your digital projects
- Provide briefings for C-suite and management
It all seems pretty innocuous doesn’t it? Well, we would be naïve individuals if we didn’t keep a close watch on their activities. I will publish what I think is the latest part of their style of campaign. Last week it was “weak on gangs”. Simon Bridges used this phrase 12 times in a speech recently. We must resist glib, stylised politics whenever we can. I don’t care who it comes from, Labour, National, Greens, NZ First. This does not allow real political debate to take place.
I welcome feedback from people when you observe slogans which are attempting to manipulate our public policy in this country.
I had some really interesting responses to the comments I made in the last email. Here are several:
This one from a senior journalist:
I, too, have been bothered about this. I am worried that the media require heads on stakes (viz Gabs Makhlouf) and are relishing the Crosby/Texter National party titbits dribbled out. It will be a very dirty campaign next year….
The media tried and convicted the (anonymously) accused, without a presumption of innocence until proved guilty, without a fair trial and without an impartial judge. This is not to say the accused is innocent – I cannot know – but I am worried that we are in danger of landing up in Salem…
This one from a woman who has been involved at both Central Government and Local Government levels:
I wanted to write to you about the ‘Labour sex scandal’ because I had the gut feeling that it didn’t really add up. Mentioned to a friend that it was not sitting right with me and she agreed but went further and said she thought they were National ‘plants. I’m so pleased to read your account. I do find politics scary and disgraceful at the moment. It seems to be so negative and attack ads were not meant for this country. Very sad.
I had so many responses that I have given you a small sample. Here’s another which was put up on the Tuesday Club Facebook page:
Crosby Textor previously advised John Key when he first joined the National party, and I think when he became PM. But I believe it may be a NZ company that is doing the work now – Topham Guerin. I suspect they may have been behind the leaked budget documents (but am only surmising). Topham Guerin have had huge success with their association with Crosby Textor. I read an extremely interesting article a while ago in the Guardian about the work they had done on Brexit for the Leave campaign. There is this article in Newsroom that gives a good idea of exactly what they’ve been up to. At the time of the budget leaks, the Nats said they had a young and talented team working for them who found the weakness in Treasury’s IT systems and had managed to exploit it and find the current documents.
Here’s a couple of articles about how Crosby Texter and Topham Guerin work:
The interesting part of this article is this bit, which shows these guys are just hired guns who will work for anybody for money, and should be treated as such:
Documents seen by the Guardian suggest Topham Guerin was also involved in running online pro-coal campaigns on behalf of mining giant Glencore to encourage the construction of coal-fired power stations, in addition to working in India and Malaysia.