Deciphering election talk

The election campaign is just weeks away - and with it comes posturing, political-double speak and downright dishonesty.

Here's a guide to cut through the spin. (Please note: a separate translation is required for Education Minister Hekia's Parata's bafflegab.)

"I'm focused on the issues that really matter to New Zealanders."

This has two possible interpretations: "These questions are getting a bit sticky, I'm going for the moral high-ground." Or, if a political rival is in trouble: "There's no way I'm going to get caught out criticising political donations."

"This is a distraction from the real issues . . . ‘'

More of the same. Except when it's happening to an opponent. Then it's holding them to account.

"This is a Beltway issue."

I know everyone is talking about this, but I'm going to annoy journalists by suggesting they are out of touch with ordinary folk.

"I'm relatively relaxed about this . . ."

Because my chief of staff is working like billy-o to find an official we can pin the blame on.

"Listen up, the facts are . . . "

. . . absolutely nothing close to what I'm about to say in the next few moments.

"I have been very clear."

Beep beep beep, look out voters - I'm backing into a U-turn.

"The really important thing to remember is X."

Y is the really important thing. X is the straw-man my spin-doctors came up with.

"The real question here . . . "

I don't like your question, so I'll waffle on about something I do want to talk about.

"What I'm hearing from hard-working Kiwis as I travel up and down the country . . ."

Actually, it's what the data from our extensive polling and focus groups says.

"We underwent thorough public consultation on this matter."

We let the little people have a good old moan and then carried on with our plans as intended.

"That's a matter for the party. That's an operational matter."

I might be in charge but someone else can take the fall for this mess.

"The numbers have increased/fallen since 2008."

The numbers have been measured in a completely different way since 2008 and are going in the opposite direction.

"Talking about rising levels of immigration is not racist."

But I'm happy for all the racists to vote for me.

"We will honour our commitment . . . "

. . . until officials find me a loophole.

"We have diverted resources to those most in need."

We sacked a heap of people and cut the budget.

"I take climate change seriously . . ."

. . . when reporters ask me. Most of the rest time I couldn't give a monkey's uncle.

"After a hard day campaigning there's nothing I like more than a cold beer/fish and chips with the family."

Until the cameras are off and I can crack open that $175 bottle of Central Otago pinot noir.

"I'm here to talk about our new policy."

Please stop asking me questions about whether I have the support of my party.

"There are questions the Government must answer/We are calling for an independent inquiry."

We can't quite prove what we are insinuating but it looks dodgy and we needed to put out a press release.

"My caucus is united . . ."

. . . By the fact they'd rather have someone else in charge.

"The only poll that matters is on September 20."

We're screwed.

"No comment."

Game over. I'll read a short statement once I hand over the resignation letter the party wrote for me.

Sunday Star Times