Editorial: Kim Dotcom is testing the public's affections

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Internet mogul Kim Dotcom. Photo / Charles Howells
Internet mogul Kim Dotcom. Photo / Charles Howells

Kim Dotcom is in danger of losing his mojo. From swaggering tycoon to Enemy of the State(s) to popular icon to political wrecking ball, our most famous German resident is edging towards the tipping point of losing public appeal.

There is no doubt he was wronged, gravely, by the New Zealand authorities in their eagerness to please the United States over allegations of copyright crimes. His subsequent legal fight has repeatedly exposed errors and abuses by the police and intelligence services. It shone welcome light on the Government Communications Security Bureau, its inattentive minister and the data-veillance state. His row with John Banks over mayoral campaign donations has already changed national politics, with Mr Banks stepping down as Act leader and from Parliament at the election. His direct case against extradition is yet to be heard but will undoubtedly be persuasively argued.

Where things seem to have unravelled for Mr Dotcom are in his hamfisted efforts to create an anti-John Key political party and in his peculiar capacity to bring reputational damage, by association, to both friend and foe.

The Internet Party has endured an aborted launch function, a leak of a strand of strategic advice and the resignation of a senior officer. This week's acknowledgment from Mr Dotcom that the party would withdraw from the election if it did not reach the 5 per cent party vote threshold and divert its support to an anti-Key party exposed the myopia of its very existence. Ostensibly for internet development and personal freedoms, the Internet Party is really about the unseating of this Prime Minister. The explicit talk of pulling out to assist the defeat of Mr Key confirms what some said from the start: the Dotcom Party would only ever benefit National, by sucking up and wasting a small percentage of non-National votes.

Mr Key remains highly popular. Taking him on mano a mano is audacious, iconoclastic and forlorn. Mr Dotcom's professional wrestling style has hit Mr Key's Administration in the political genitals for nearly two years yet the Prime Minister's approval soars on. The New Zealand voter is not easily swayed by a strategy of playing the man, especially when up to half of voters express personal regard for that man.

While Mr Dotcom is failing, so far, to hurt his political enemy he is starting to harm his friends. Confirmation of the Internet Party's withdrawal if it underperforms, coupled with questioning of the Labour and Greens leaders on their willingness to stop his extradition if in power, has been unhelpful. Greens leader Dr Russel Norman confirms two visits to the Dotcom mansion in Coatesville late last year. In the next breath he says he would move to stop an extradition if he is in government. Political observers, cheer-led by Mr Key, put two and two together and arrive at a sinister five. Add the fact that Winston Peters - he of the Owen Glenn secret shambles - joined the sad trail to Coatesville and the conspiracy deepens.

Dr Norman denies any deal trading Internet Party support of the Greens for the opposition to extradition. He should be taken at his word. The gleeful insinuations from Mr Key and some National partisans are all too contrived. But Dr Norman's willingness to stand against extradition before the court has given its verdict is distasteful and damages his own haughty claims to support the rule of law.

Mr Dotcom deserves a fair hearing before the courts. After what he has been through, that is his due.

It may be in the court of public opinion, where the jury can take only so much of the Key vendetta, the music and the silly smile on the back of buses, that he should rest his case.

- NZ Herald

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