The Standard Controversy

Well the controversy over The Standard being hosted on a Labour Party server made One News tonight.  It is probably worth revisiting this issue from the beginning.

Firstly, despite many people crediting me, it was actually Paul M, a commenter (and one who as far as I know is not a member of any political party, but is very computer literate) in this thread who investigated the hosting of The Standard, and published the link to a Labour Party server.

This was obviously reasonably significant, and all I did was highlight Paul’s comment in a new blog post, and  commented that this probably raises some issues for Labour under the E;ectoral Finance Act. The Labour Party President seemingly agrees with me as he said on TV that any expenses attributed to after 1 January would be included in Labour’s election return.

The blog post led to a fairly furious debate with 476 comments.   I actually only commented a couple of times on the primary issue – mainly to suggest that it would have been wise to disclose the hosting arrangements at the time they were made. Tane  (a Standard author) actually agreed with me on that.

Russell Brown blogged on the issue and describes it as messy, but not a scandal. Later in comments, says “I agree, it’s hypocritical, and that’s precisely their problem.”

Whale Oil has a go at estimating the costs of the commercial hosting of a “brand spanking new server cluster“.

On Wednesday Bill English puts out a press release on the issue asking for Labour to confirm the extent of its involvement.

Then on One News last night, Mike Williams said that Labour would include any costs post 1 January associated with The Standard and that “Labour Party activists” were probably behind it.

I imagine The Standard authors will be delighted with the extra traffic their site has got from the media attention.  On the other hand Labour itself may be less than happy that the way the issue is playing itself out in the media is that Labour looks hypocritical and undermining their own law where they insist on transparency.  That is certainly the way the discussion went on Breakfast TV this morning.  Darren Hughes deserves credit though for carefully pronouncing the term “internet protocol address” 🙂

As I said at the very beginning of this issue, it could have all been avoided with a disclosure statement at the time of the server change which said “We are temporarily being hosted for free on a server farm which also operates some Labour Party websites, and is in an IP range allocated to Labour”.

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