Cunliffe: grubbiest election campaign yet

Last updated 15:40 26/08/2014
Fairfax NZ
DAVID CUNLIFFE: Labour leader.

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Dirty Politics smear campaigns, burning effigies, foul-mouthed abuse from a media adviser and now a musical death threat. Is this New Zealand's nastiest election campaign?

Labour leader David Cunliffe believes so - and he's blaming his National rivals.

Cunliffe was today asked to respond to newly released hip-hop lyrics which appear to threaten to kill National leader John Key, and have sex with his daughter. 

He said: "I'm condemning it right here."

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The song by an Auckland-based crew is the latest in a disturbing string of events as the country gears up for next month's election.

A book by investigative journalist Nicky Hager detailed a campaign of online "hits" by blogger Cameron Slater, some of which were orchestrated from Key's Beehive office.

Effigies were burnt, bill-boards defaced, and at the weekend Internet Party press secretary Pam Corkery had an angry meltdown at media.

Cunliffe, who was first elected to Parliament in 1999, says it's the grubbiest campaign he can remember.

"It's probably shaping up to be one of the dirtiest that I have ever been involved in," he said. "I can think back to Rob Muldoon, but it's probably been the roughest since then."

Labour's own campaign depends on voter turnout, which has steadily declined, and it's promoting a Vote Positive message. Cunliffe says there is real risk of apathy if politicians can't keep it clean.

"The fact is this: if people don't get out and vote they get more of the same. And it is the current Government - John Key's team - who have been responsible for the dirty politics that's been exhibited in the Hager book. So if people want more dirty politics, stay at home and re-elect Mr Key."

However, he accepted much of the negativity also comes from the Left. "That's a fair comment. There is clearly an underbelly of public anger about the Government, I think, being out of touch."

Key has this week tried to move on from the allegations raised by the Hager book. Since Sunday, he has refused to answer questions on the claims, saying voters don't care.

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