But first, the Maxim Institute. As Russell Brown points out on today's Hard News, there is a lot more to The Hollow Men than the Exclusive Brethren and that bunch who wanted a fair tax for racehorses. If you really want to find some hollow men, look no further than 49 Cape Horn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland.
After I had exposed his crony Bruce Logan as a plagiarist, that noisome little prick Greg Fleming said I was obsessed with the Maxim Institute. He said this on National Radio and he went on to accuse me of plagiarism, a defamation which he may still regret. At times, I may have seemed somewhat focused on Mr Fleming and his mates; but then I knew that Mr Logan was not the only fraud at Maxim. I knew the entire organisation was bogus. I couldn't prove it, at least not without betraying a source of information.
Nicky Hager has now shown what many others long suspected: that Maxim is nothing more than a large, stinking pile of horse manure. It not just the cod social science that Maxim spouted in its pompous submissions to Parliament and its endless 'reports' and 'studies; it is not just the fake awards that Maxim always crows about; it is not just the pretensions of erudition and learning. As Mr Hager has shown, Maxim perpetrated a massive fraud on the people of New Zealand.
For the benefit of those who may not have reading at the time, Maxim set up a website called NZ Votes before last year's general election. Surprisingly, it is still there. As the introductory blurb says:
nzvotes.org is a community service provided by Maxim Institute to help make it easier for New Zealanders to be well-informed when they cast their votes.
The site is non-profit, and non-partisan. All political content on this site is the view of the parties, candidates, and guest columnists, in their own words.
As Mr Hager has now shown, this was all a load of bollocks. I opined at the time that NZVotes was designed to bring home the Fundy vote to National, to stop the God-fearing from thinking about voting for Christian Heritage, Destiny or United Future and give their votes to Don. Christian Heritage's then leader Ewan McQueen (a man for whom I have some sympathy) later complained that his party's votes were taken away by Maxim. What Mr Hager demonstrates, with the benefit of emails, is that National were in on the joke all along.
Of course, NZ Votes was not just a website; it was more a way of life. Maxim commissioned a bunch of fundies to produce a DVD which was circulated to churches; its thinly-veiled message was that, under MMP, a vote for a Christian party is a wasted vote, because those parties would be unlikely to get past the five percent threshold. Meanwhile, glamourous single mother Sandra Paterson (whatever happened to her?) was giving the same message to readers of the NZ Herald. At the same time, Amanda McGrail, Maxim's resident faux-redhead, was organising a network of contacts in the churches "to keep your congregations and constituents up to date on the social/political issues in a timely and relevant way."
Maxim went on the road as well, with a series of "political forums," where candidates were asked the "burning questions." The questions were almost guaranteed to be about burning homosexualists and loose women, because Maxim had decided that the election issues were to be 'moral' ones. The NZ Votes website was slewed towards demanding answers from candidates about conscience issues and apparently the political forums were managed in much the same way. Some friends of mine attended one in South Auckland that began with a prayer, before lurching into questions about gays. Apparently, candidates had to pay Maxim for the privilege of this onslaught.
Maxim did not want just the fundies for National; it yearned for the ex-pat votes as well. Hager mentions some advice given to National by Maxim that their research showed ex-pats be more than likely to be conservative. National made the mistake of believing research from Maxim: no doubt one of the pin-striped sexless dweebs who work at Cape Horn Road had heard that ex-pats in London all go to Church on Sunday.
Anyway, I could go on; and I will later. But for the mean time, I will mention just two matters arising from Hager's revealations. First, the people who really got fooled again are the ones in the pews: Maxim manipulated their hopes and fears to grab their votes, just as the neo-cons did in America. Second, as I have said many times before, this work was done with our money: the Maxim Institute is a charity and so benefits from generous tax breaks. Of course, Maxim will continue to claim that it is "an independent research and public policy think tank" but we all know now what it is really about.