In the final week of the election campaign Labour MP Clare Curran blogged a picture drawn by a seven year old that asked John Key not to sell our treasures, fish and toys. I was critical of Clare’s decision to blog the picture, as were many of the commentators at Red Alert.
I have long held the view that children and politics are best kept apart, and never like seeing kids used in protest marches and the like. I stand by my criticism on that issue.
A couple of days later I had someone point out to me a photo on Facebook of some people in Dunedin waving Labour and Clare Curran hoardings at traffic. One of those waving a Clare Curran banner was a young girl, who looked around nine or ten.
With the previous issue fresh in my mind, I took this as evidence that Labour was happy to exploit children for political gain, and blogged the photo. In doing so, I made two mistakes.
The first mistake is that I assumed there was no legitimate reason for the young girl, to be out campaigning for Clare. I was wrong. There was an excellent and very positive reason for her to be doing so. It is not my role to specify what that is, but it was my error that I did not think of that possibility before I posted.
My second mistake is that regardless of what the reason was, I didn’t consider the impact on the young person of blogging their photo, and the comments it would attract. Yes, the photo was already public on Facebook, but I gave it more profile. Incidentally Tim Shiels (A Dunedin YN) also regrets publishing the photo. I deeply regret that my actions caused upset to the young girl concerned
In the heat of an election campaign, sometimes you over-react and get things wrong. This is one of those things I got wrong, and I do regret the impact it had on Clare and especially the young girl who was in the photo. They have my apologies, and I hope that next time in the same circumstances I’d do it differently, learning from my mistakes.