Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Karl du Fresne: What's that about supporting the devil?

In a very real sense, whatever happens from now on in the John Banks-Kim Dotcom imbroglio is immaterial. The public has made up its own mind. Banks has lost where it ultimately counts most: in the court of public opinion. And he has only himself to blame, because Banks has made himself look every inch a guilty man. What has swung people against him is his extraordinarily evasive response to questions – the infantile references to cabbage boats, the pitiful “I don’t remember” mewing – which have been broadcast for all to see, and which are likely to be repeated ad nauseam until, like a maimed animal, Banks is put down.

There are now at least three counts against him. The first is that he was dishonest about the source of donations from Dotcom and SkyCity. The second is that when confronted, he was incapable of giving a straight answer. To those charges can now be added a third: that he abandoned his benefactor and former chum, Dotcom, when the German turned to him for help after his arrest. It’s distasteful enough that a sycophantic Banks should grease up to a billionaire entrepreneur as he did, but it looks almost reprehensible that he didn’t want to know Dotcom once the German was in trouble (which is presumably why the Dotcom camp turned on him by leaking the information that now has Banks writhing). No matter what people think of Dotcom, there is bound to be some public sympathy for him in the light of David Garrett’s claim on Kiwiblog that Dotcom sought assistance from Banks when he was banged up in Mt Eden (which is apparently in Banks’ electorate) but was ignored.

Perhaps Banks has learned that you can’t have it both ways: you can’t schmooze rich patrons without accepting that some sort of payback may be expected down the track. Old sayings about free lunches and supping with the devil come to mind. On the other hand, you get the feeling that Banks may be one of those men who just doesn’t learn.

Footnote: In an earlier post on this subject I wrote that a conviction for a breach of the electoral law would place Banks' Epsom seat at risk and therefore endanger the government's tenuous majority. In fact, as Duncan Garner pointed out last night on TV3, the government can count on safely retaining Epsom, but it would be left without a potentially helpful ally on its right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Both the present auckland mayor and John Banks got about $500,000 in donations, but the paperwork was handled differently. Poor John gets hounded by the Herald and lefty TV1- did the existing mayor have any idea who donasted to his campaign?- he hasnt even been asked.A blind trust does not prevent information being passed around!
Incidentally, those same two organisations were responsible for only one act member being elected. They both told the public that John Banks would not win according to their polling results, so a lot of Act voters decided not to risk their vote being wasted. Wonder how many may have voted for the so-called conservative party as a result? I have never seen this questioned.