‘Fragging’ was the term used by US troops in Vietnam to describe handgrenading or shooting from the back an officer who ordered them into the field. (‘frag’ = fragmentation grenade)
The Sunday Star Times’ story on how senior Act and Business Roundtable people were cheering on the Don Brash takeover is, on the face of it, a clear and pretty nasty case of political fragging.
The story itself is a quite overheated and conspiracy-theoryish in tone and I must say I hadn’t realised Ruth Laugeson is Ian Wishart’s new nom de plume.
Of the four main bullet points early on in the story one is old news (Barry Coleman’s paying for some of Brash’s media training); and two of the others (the interest from Roundtable people) is hardly the stuff of shock- horror.
What is interesting – because of the light it throws on the SST and Laugeson’s own politics – is the underlying assumption that all Brash’s backers were principally motivated by ideology (a lot weren’t: there were some big issues around management under the old leadership); and also that there is something sinister in business groups taking an interest in the National Party. Roger Kerr takes considerably less interest in Naational’s internal politics than a number of senior union officials take in Labour’s.
The keen involvment – which went well beyond the odd supportive email – of senior Act people is a little more eyebrow-raising. There, I think, is a legitimate story, particularly as a lot of people on the National-Act side of politics are asking ‘what the hell” questions about the quality of strategic thinking around how the two parties might work together. There seems to have been an extraordinary degree of muddleheadedness about this for some time.
So the Frag-hunt is now on within National. It’s another distraction the party doesn’t need right now and that fact alone doubles the treachery of whoever leaked the information.
The two main questions are who had access to the information, and who benefits from its release? I’ve got no insight into the first question: the second is obvious – Labour, and those within National who don’t want to see a Brash-led party win.
I’d have thought that would narrow the field considerably.
If, that is, the source is within National. The story seems to point that way. However…journalists don’t just protect anonymous sources by not naming them. That’s often not enough.
You also often have to write the story in a way which points away from those sources.