You know you’ve clearly won something when your opponents resort to personal attacks. This is a well documented and seasoned pattern in politics. If you’re losing desperately on the policy front, it’s best to note that your opponent has wonky airs, or that his/her eyes are too close together, their mouth gasps open, their noses look like big fat turnips or that their hair is as well styled as Mike Hosking’s.
No surprises then that National Party faithful on social media are desperately hurling observations of Cunliffe’s facial features.
Make no mistake, it is the National Party faithful and said faithful only who seem to have profound difficulty with the issues that are facing the nation; namely, Cunliffe’s eyes.
Many on social media were unable to call him out on any piece of policy of genuine errors. It was no clean slate from the Labour leader, unable to talk the details of his party’s KiwiBuild plan and excessively interrupting the Prime Minister. But, quite simply, the National Party is unable to grasp the technique of genuine debate, showing the Cameron Slater inside every single one of them with bizarre attacks on Cunliffe from his eyes, to his advisors, his supplying of notes, his multi-million dollar home among many other unimportant points. Not at all helped by the throwing excess use of the word ‘moron’ and ‘muppet’, which seem to be the only two distinct insults on New Zealand social media, talkback and mainstream media.
The study of such personal attacks to do with party leader’s facial expressions, mannerisms or distinct features is well-documented. Perhaps most well known is that of the 1993 Canadian federal election, in which a desperately unpopular Progressive Conservative (PC) Party government ran attack ads on Liberal Party leader Jean Chretien. Chretien’s birth defect, which more specifically was a disability in which he was unable to move one side of his jaw, was put on show in an ad funded by campaign donations of the Progressive Conservatives. The gloomy voiceover in the video saying; “Does this look like a Prime Minister?”.
As the government were about to find out, Chretien certainly looked like a Prime Minister to them.
The public retaliated to this unfair, dirty politics fiasco, by treating the Progressive Conservative government to a world-record breaking defeat in which they lost 154 seats and were left with just two. The Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, who later condemned the video, lost her seat. Chretien went on to serve the Canadian people for ten years till his resignation in 2003.
In the modern day, attack ads are simply not needed. As exposed in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics, National, and more specifically the Prime Minister’s office, can talk directly to attack bloggers such as Cameron Slater, in which the two sides can collaborate a sour and dehumanising attack on their opposition.
My argument is, Cameron Slater producing offensive imagery of Labour Party politicians and sharing it with a gentleman inside John Key’s office, is (in a modern context) no different from producing televised attack adverts.
Clearly, this dirty politics tendency has caught on with National’s constituency.
Cunliffe, the clear winner according to commentators, was not helped by an ‘accidental’ app-crash.