Is Labour trying to regulate party bloggers?

December 7th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

IrishBill at blogs:

Word is that a senior MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the . It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.

Ironic, as for a couple of years the Labour blog that did the most damage to Labour was the caucus Red Alert blog :-)

To be fair, in the last year they seem to have sorted their stuff out, and Red Alert has been mainly SMOG free.

A cynic might feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of such a policy. Especially when John Tamihere has compared the party to the head-hunters on national TV and then had the party leader intervene to get his membership approved. Double especially when Shane Jones gets to attack the Green Party on matters he holds no portfolio for and yet faces no censure. And that’s not even talking about the way caucus members themselves have brought the party into disrepute with their online antics.

Don’t forget the attack on the Mad Butcher.

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32 Responses to “Is Labour trying to regulate party bloggers?”

  1. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    It could be more than regulating, it could also involve using private information to harrass party members.

    Red Alert is mainly SMOG free because it’s now mainly comment free – and apart from the blocking and banning there could be a more incidious reason why.

    There are claims that Red Alert operators (and MPs may be involved) have been compromising private information and using it to harrass Labour Party members.

    Something sinister going on within Labour

    Red Alert compromising anonymity?

    This obviously has major implications for Labour, but wider than that, it threatens the (tenuous) credibility of the political blogosphere.

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  2. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    I think the issue is not so much the freedom of speech as their desire to engage in damage control. The Standard for example was probably the most significant decider for me not to vote Labour in the last one. Because the nasty, visceral and censorship of opposing opinions was most marked. I thought, if this is the kind of personality represented as the ‘core’ beliefs of Labour activists, they are better off being kept in their boxes with that lid firmly shut.

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  3. graham (2,215 comments) says:

    “Don’t forget the Mad Butcher”.

    Exactly. Maybe Labour should regulate their own MPs. There is no way I will ever vote for someone so bloody nasty as Darien Fenton, when she attacks someone for the mortal sin of saying someone is a nice bloke. Not only verbally attacks him, calling him a sycophant, but says she’s never going near him again and threatens to boycott his shops and encourages others to.

    “I choose not buy stuff from those who support Tories”. F*ck me, the LAST thing on my mind when I go into a shop is the shop-owner’s politics.

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  4. s.russell (1,563 comments) says:

    I think all parties have rules that require members not to bring the party into disrepute (or similar). I think it is fair enough to expel someone for doing that on a blog same as issuing a press statement. Just like sacking an employee for publically bagging the company they work for. But there is a fine line between punishing backstabbers and suppressing debate. Also, expelling a member would not stop them criticising the party on blogs, it might just encourage them.

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  5. RF (1,271 comments) says:

    graham..12.29pm. Fenton portrays the true Labour clone. A nasty evil individual. Shearer is a weak leader and fails to bring her to heel. This will be his loss.

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  6. chris (565 comments) says:

    Ironic that The Standard doesn’t like the idea of what would effectively be censorship. They seem to have no such issue censoring comments on their blog.

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  7. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    Many ironies in this Chris, Clare Curran told me she banned me from Red Alert because she didn’t trust me. Seems like the lack of trust should have been much closer to home.

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  8. RRM (9,453 comments) says:

    To be fair, in the last year they seem to have sorted their stuff out, and Red Alert has been mainly SMOG free.

    You mean, other than the fact that it remains an echo chamber full of sycophantic toadys who cheer louder the further the MPs’ thoughts drift towards the hard left… and Labour Party policy seems to be penned according to how much the nuts on Red Alert support it?

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  9. Positan (383 comments) says:

    What’s the surprise? Labour and the entire Left have never acted any different at any time. Their adherents are, in the main, weak and insecure people who can never get past the fact that others do better than them and can enjoy the fruits of achievement. Labour’s politically inbred spawn believe they should be entitled to the same returns and privileges, all the social-welfare/Treaty-”claim”-settling impositions that have been thrust upon this country testimony to the short-sighted nonsense of Labour perspectives.

    Labour supporters can’t debate without heaping vitriol on those who disagree with them – personal attacks rendered where reasoned argument would have transpired had reasoning people been involved. They can’t help it, insecurity dictates their behavior and drives all their moves; hence their intolerance, even to their own, which precludes any chance of their lot being improved via the acceptance of helpfully directed criticism.

    Paranoid they are, and their paranoia is the only way such losers can accommodate existence. Despite their protestations, they can’t really see themselves as an alternative government – which is why they get so mad when anyone, especially their members or supporters, does anything that undermines or shows up the absurdity of what they desperately want to believe.

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  10. Reid (15,947 comments) says:

    Once again Liarbore desperately tilts at yet another windmill in an attempt to explain why people don’t like them anymore, all the while utterly failing to comprehend the sad, miserable truth: it’s your policies, dummy.

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  11. lastmanstanding (1,204 comments) says:

    Well said Positan Sums up the Socialist SCUM very well

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  12. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Socialism is a lie. Helens Marriage Obama’s birth certificate….. and failed Europe

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  13. Stamper (32 comments) says:

    Lets hope they stay the execution of the Strandard;
    it is a National Party asset watching them self-flagellate.

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  14. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    The next thing will be the (unnamed) senior Labour MP peddling the line that they should be allowed to regulate how members vote in the leadership challenge post-Feb.

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  15. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    Of course the only impact of such a rule from the Labour Party would be to censor direct comment about what went on in Labour Party from named/known Labour Party members – thus all such comment would either be off the record (by someone else writing on their behalf and citing their opinion) or by themself under an alias.

    Then akin to Labour caucus members and their practice of leaks to journalists when attacking a fellow caucus member.

    As mentioned already it is suggestive of a policy to identify party members commenting in the blogosphere so as to use party discipline to manage dissent.

    It seems some in the caucus are paranoid about party activism/democracy/free speech and wnat to bind all members by the same rules that supposeldy bind caucus – but which they themselves do not keep (either because they do so on behalf of the ruling faction – are the attacks on the Greens by Shane Jones official Labour caucus policy?).

    PS Why is it that National Party caucus members do not post on-line and take comments?

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  16. Keeping Stock (10,100 comments) says:

    The only reason that Red Alert is SMOG-free is because no-one bothers to go there any more and check. Anyone who has a contrary view to theirs has been banned, and you don’t hang around where you aren’t welcome.

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  17. Bill (90 comments) says:

    There is a crises in the Labour party at the moment.

    Since the loss in 2008 they have had very weak leadership.
    Goff was not a winning leader and had no transformational policies. But at least at least Goff knew his topics, could hold his own on most policy issues and could speak coherently.
    For the past two years of his term the members knew in their souls that Goff was probably going to loose in 2011. But they gave Goff the benefit of the doubt.
    Now with a significantly worse leader in place, the membership ain’t going to bite their lip a second time and wait until the inevitable second failure.
    Unfortunately a clique of weak and uninspiring people, in serious job-protection mode, has taken control of the Caucus.
    They don’t like what the membership is saying. So they want to block it out. Hence the witch hunt of any one not paying lip service to the clique.
    That is why they are trying to force Cunliffe out.
    That is why they want Tamihere and similar all-talk-no-transformation types in.

    Shearer cannot lead by inspiring people. So Shearer, through other people, will bully anyone who dissents.
    This is the hallmark of Shearer.
    Shearer plays the upfront hero: Shearer manipulates others to do the dirty work to achieve the results he inherently cannot get the straight-up way.
    Shearer is a very flawed man.

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  18. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    Claims the Labour Party is threatening legal action against dissenting party members.

    I pulled that last comment on reflection actually, I had already received cease and desist messages privately. I don’t have the time for a legal battle, and I know that the people involved might push it that far. There are other ways of handling it.

    http://yournz.org/2012/12/07/labour-issuing-cease-and-desist-notices-to-members/

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  19. Nostalgia-NZ (4,911 comments) says:

    Where does that information come from Bill, sounds like you are one of those that failed to upset Shearer’s leadership. Same type of style and use of the ‘b’ word.

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  20. Positan (383 comments) says:

    @SPC “Why is it that National Party caucus members do not post on-line and take comments?”

    I’m not a National Party member – but I’d imagine it has a lot to do with attitudes sustained by characteristics like individual substance and an individual certainty as to self worth. By and large, National would attract those who’re complete and at one with themselves, the sort who can rationalise differences easily, who are persuadable by compelling argument. Rational, intelligent people know that viewpoints can be modified through intelligent discourse, thus there’s no need for anonymous sniping as do those in a party as constricted, hamstrung and intolerant as Labour.

    Labour/Green followers will get themselves wound-up and then divert completely from whatever was the issue on the strength of any emotive aspect that arises. North/south “debates” become east/west “debates” so very often. Labour’s lot frequently demonstrate how they’re congenitally unable to debate anything remotely contentious without red-lining – none of them showing the least trace of reason or rationale.

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  21. RF (1,271 comments) says:

    Pete George.. 4.36pm. Very interesting reading….What a toxic bunch. My money is on the ducks mate.. The self opinionated Curran.

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  22. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    Positan – so you don’t have any idea why National MP’s don’t post their thoughts on matters of the day in public forum and allow party members to discuss this with them in this way.

    Is it related to National party members having little say on the formulation of party policy or a quiet contempt for the concept of being accountable in an on-going way to the public once in office?

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  23. kiwi in america (2,436 comments) says:

    I’ve often pondered on why parties of the left can be so vicious in their approach to politics even to their own. Being identified as a Rogernome inside Labour in the late 80′s early 90′s was a recipe for constant nasty attacks. One of Clark and the sisterhood’s key goals was to purge the party of the heresy of Rogernomics and they succeeded. Anyone with an inkling towards free market policies, regardless of the fact that they may have been in Labour because of its history of seemingly more compassionate social policies, was driven out. When all that remains is the more doctrinaire activist core, you are dealing with people for whom the process and power of politics is THE biggest driving factor in their life. They eat, sleep and breath politics and the goals of a progressive nirvana.

    When I got out of the vortex of the ‘beltway’, the machinations of the inside of a major political party and the distorting world view of the permanent campaign, I realised most people are not driven by politics but rather family, sport and work/business. Now there are ambitious and driven people on the right in politics but fewer of the pathologically life controlling win at all costs types that you find frequently on the left. Because centre right party activists tend to come out of the broad middle of society, they tend to gravitate towards policy proscriptions that fit more comfortably with the aspirations of mainstream society. Such policies require less of a ‘sell’ and so the persona, image shaping and policy spin for a broad church right of centre party like National requires less contorting and flossying up than on the left. Parties of the left in the Anglophile countries find themselves led by (or dominated by) people more out of step with the middle of their country. This is because their party’s internal structures favour the ideological and highly committed and allow them to rise more swiftly through the ranks than an equivalent person farther to the right of a centre right party. Centre right parties have more centrist instincts politically and have more formal and informal mechanisms to block more hard core ideologues.

    Leaders/senior MPs of left leaning parties then must face the electoral reality that their privately held views and preferred policy outcomes are too far to the left of the broad middle where electoral power lies and so the more politically astute of them must make themselves over, tone down their rhetoric and engage in more elaborate word games, messaging discipline and in some cases outright Orwellian doublespeak. Pretty soon left leaning politicians trying to get elected in a centrist world realise that the tried and true electoral recipe is one based essentially on deceit – the demeanising and outright lying about your opponents on the right and the masking and spinning of the true left ideology so as to appear more electorally appealing. Anything that gets in the way of this campaign of masking and deceit has to be dealt with. I feel this is one of the reasons why the left are so nasty because, when they run up against the truth (that implimentation of their true progressive policy pathway has never worked), they can’t cope. I’ve tried to have calm rational fact based core principals discussions with doctrinaire lefties with whom I have enjoyed long friendships and they just cannot get past their ideology. They resort to distorted talking points, propoganda and outright falsehoods when even the most easily proven facts are raised. It explains why The Standard and Red Alert are so heavily censored. The left never believe that they are voted out because a majority of people don’t like their policies, they always believe it was because their policies weren’t properly explained, or the media were out to get them (laughable given how far the NZ media tilts left) or that the great unwashed were duped by ‘smile and wave’ John Key.

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  24. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    The logical next step for Labour is to ban the internet.

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  25. mikenmild (10,720 comments) says:

    Nice analysis KIA. I think you could recast very well to suit the National Party as well, who compromise on many things to appear more centrist also.

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  26. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    I’ve taken the liberty of posting your comments kia, very interesting. And I’ve given my two bobs worth too, a bit long but this is now yesterday’s thread.

    I have had a different (non-party) background to kia but have leant Labour-ish in the past. Over the past few years I have had extensive discussions on blogs right across the political spectrum. My experience with people from the centre-right and the left are very similar to as kia describes.

    There can be nastiness and censorship on the extreme right, for example Redbaiter. And Christian conservatives can never be swayed, and some can tend towards nastiness too, especially in discriminatory topics like homesexualism. And there are a view nasty and abusive nutters, some fueled by evening alcohol.

    But most political argument is uncensored and on an even playing field, certainly robust at times but fairly respectful of the right to have differing views.

    In contrast on left wing blogs if you are deemed an enemy of the ideology you are condemned to neverending personal attacks and attempts to discredit and drive away. And the left wing blogs are far more likely to actually drive opposing views away by harrassment and banning.

    My political views and blogging style are both relatively moderate and I rarely resort to personal attacks. I aim to introduce discussion points and promote debate. I confront things I think are wrong, lying or offensive, but usually with argument I try and back with facts. I can sometimes be provocative, and long winded, and boring. I sometimes get accused of link whoring – sometimes that’s justified, mostly I believe I add value to discussions and link to more detail.

    I am periodically criticised on right wing blogs, with some commenters trying to ‘encourage’ me to shut up or not bring up certain topics ot link to things they don’t like. I’ve had differences of opinion and debate with bloggers – Whale Oil, David Farrar and Keeping Stock. WO and DPF moderate very lightly but do warn and ban sometimes, KS a bit more, but I’ve never been blocked from commenting or banned on their blogs. I have built a rapport with all three (minor but mutually respectful).

    On left wing blogs I’ve been widely targeted, harrassed and abused, some of it quite vicious. Most of this seems to be because I have been deemed an ideological outsider. Blog moderation has usually supported this active discrimination.

    I’ve been banned or blocked or deleted on a number of left wing blogs – The Standard, Dim Post, Red Alert. Some bans, blocks and warnings have been when I was the one being attacked and abused.

    Clare Curran told me she banned me from Red Alert because she doesn’t trust me. I think that’s unfounded and bordering on paranoia – MPs from Red Alert don’t seem to trust anyone who doesn’t grease up their PR and bow at their greatness, going by the number they ban.

    And as an example, yesterday I’m aware of three bloggers from the left (people who run blogs or are blog authors) who have taken aim at me – Lynn Prentice of The Standard (it’s hard to know how much is game playing, I admit I bait him), Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish) and Andrew Geddis (from Pundit but on another blog). It’s amusing, but I think their attention, snarkiness and arrogance reflects more on themselves.

    The general theme here is that blogs and bloggers from the left are much less likely to tolerate opposing views and are far more likely to censor what they don’t like. They also seem to decide and never forget, once an enemy, always an enemy seems to be their way.

    I don’t think this is something that can be changed (try suggesting improvements to lprent!) It’s just how things tend to be.

    But this isn’t a totally right versus left impression. I’ve already mentioned some aberrations on the right. And some on the left are accommodating and will debate respectfully – for example, most MPs I have been able to establish discussions with have been from the left. Most Green supporters have mostly been fine to communicate with (with one notable exception).

    Hissiness and nastiness seems more persistent through the ranks of Labour and Mana.

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  27. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    We all love you, P.G. Great example of perennial straddling the middle of the road. :D

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  28. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    You’re a good representative example from the more right of the right Manolo, we have significant differences in our political opinions but we can come back every day and debate them without the perpetual rancour that’s prevalent on the left. Here each day is a new argument (even if it’s on the same old topics). Commonly on the left each day is a renewal of the same old attacks.

    By the way, you really haven’t got a clue about pragamatic centre based politics, you prat.

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  29. Positan (383 comments) says:

    @SPC – “Positan – so you don’t have any idea why National MP’s don’t post their thoughts on matters of the day in public forum and allow party members to discuss this with them in this way.”

    Assuming that this is a genuine question – not posed, as is so often the case, by one of the perpetually argumentative, intentionally self-baffled and thus diverted elements of the Left – I’d suggest that the answer is quite straightforward.

    Those who vote National would have determined their support for their candidate on the basis that he/she was possessed of sufficient “clues” to stand up, represent their position and generally act on their behalf in accordance with their outlook and views. Most National candidates meet weekly with any constituents who wish to see them, but they’d only be expected to consult the wider electorate on contentious issues. Most National voters have sufficient other matters on their hands and wouldn’t want to be bothered about every minuscule issue that those in Labour would see infinite grounds for fussing over. Unlike in Labour, National “party members” aren’t accorded higher status than ordinary voters.

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  30. kiwi in america (2,436 comments) says:

    Thanks Peter
    The contrast between how you are treated here and at Whaleoil compared to the 3 most trafficked lefty NZ blogs provides a real world example of the point I was making. The same is true on the US blogs. The right leaning blogs like Hot Air, Powerline, Red State and Breitbart rarely block lefties and allow robust debate. Whilst it can get a bit rambunctious at times, most of the debate is civil. Not so at the Daily Kos, Fire Dog Lake, Talking Points Memo and to a lesser extent the Huffington Post. There vitriol, ad hominem attacks, foul language, abuse and miscellaneous nastiness to those from the right abounds. When I confront my friends on the left about this, they try to allege that the right indulge in just as much abuse of progressives and they chalk it up to the fog of political war. They are not interested in examining the lopsided proportionality because proving it means actually having to go on to the right leaning blogs and have a read.

    Part of it also is the realpolitik played more agressively by the left – that the ends justifies the means. Our cause is right so how we get to the legislative goals is just the messy business of politics they say – the political version of not really wanting to watch a sausage being made despite liking to eat the end product. When you have a largely incurious left leaning media mostly unwilling to either investigate let alone report the excesses of the left, most of the bully boys on the left know that no seemingly neutral observer (the press) is likely to blow the whistle leaving only partisan opponents to call them on the carpet to which the purveyors of nastiness can simply shrug and say “well my opponents would say that wouldn’t they”.

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  31. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    Interesting comments.

    I’ve said before that back when I was compling blog rankings, one thing I was doing was harvesting people’s blogrolls and then clicking on all the links to see if any qualified.

    One thing that always got me was that several times I was able to pick a blog as leaning left by the nastyness it displayed, before I was able to by anything else. Of course, that was in the days of George W Bush when the American left were frothing with hatred at the idea he’d been re-elected.

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  32. Pete George (22,839 comments) says:

    And what we are witnesssing at The Standard at the moment is the ingrained habit of attacking any deemed opponents is kicking in as the left/right war turns into a civil war. And some of it isn’t very civil.

    One of the worst offenders at TS has ended up on the receiving end in one of their internal conflicts, and they have struggled to deal with their own medicine.

    But while all this is going on they still accuse ‘the right’ of being poorly behaved.

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