I saw last night on Twitter, several attacks on Massey University’s Claire Robinson. Trevor Mallard and Deborah Mahuta-Coyle had a go at her, presumably because she was critical of Phil Goff’s performance.
Claire blogs a summary of what was said:
During last night’s TV One debate, Richard Pamatatau, whose decribes himself as “Programme Leader Graduate Diploma Pacific Journalism. Auckland University of Technology” tweeted “Claire Robinson was a private secretary to Jenny Shipley – hmmmm”. This was retweeted many times, and a lot of abuse was subsequently directed at me.
It was felt that the fact that I worked as a Cabinet Minister’s Private Secretary 20 years ago should (a) be a disqualifier for being a political commentator — Trevor Mallard tweeted “if this is true than expect TVNZ resignation”; (b), that it meant that I couldn’t provide objective commentary — Glenn Williams “Wammo” called me a “ boil on the political commentary landscape “and (c) that I must be a National plant. Deborah Mahuta-Coyle tweeted “just take your national party rosette out of your pocket and slap it on your forehead.” Even TV3 reported hearsay as “fact” on their website this morning that I had once been a press secretary for Jenny Shipley.
Now I was puzzled by this because I did work for Jenny Shipley when she was Prime Minister. And I don’t recall any Claire Robinson. It turns out they were referring back to 1991, when Claire was the Women’s Affairs Private Secretary to Shipley, who was then the Minister.
The moment I read that, I realised how nasty they were being, because a portfolio private secretary is not a political role. In fact normally they are bureaucrats, seconded from departments. I didn’t know for sure whether Claire was a secondee or not, but here’s what she says:
In 1991 I worked as the Women’s Affairs Private Secretary in Jenny Shipley’s Office. I was a departmental official on secondment from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. I was appointed by Dr Judith Aitken, the then Secretary of Women’s Affairs.
This is Erin Leigh all over again. Robinson has never ever worked for National, or in a political role. Seconded bureaucrats do not necessarily share the political views of their Ministers. Isn’t Labour meant to be the party that defends public servants? yeah, right.
Claire’s crime was to give an honest opinion on the debate. Because she dared to criticise Phil Goff, Mallard and lackeys jump in and stick the boot in. And her Massey website states she was a private secretary, so Mallard knew that she wasn’t a political advisor.
And here’s the really interesting part:
I voted Labour in the 1990 general election, just prior to taking up my role. I voted Labour in the 1993 general election, after I had left the role.
Erin Leigh was a Labour voter also.
Tweeters from the left may not like some of the things I say, but I speak not from any political bias, but from 12 years of studying and understanding what works and what doesn’t in political communication. I have been equally critical of National in the past when it has missed crucial communication opportunities.
Criticising other parties is okay. It’s when you criticise the nasty party you become a target.