Red Alert

I highlighted Clare Curran saying “Farrar … is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party” in a thread about NZ on Air. It seemed an obvious reference to NZ on Air being a communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

Now Clare has said she was referring to Red Alert:

Apologies for not being clearer. Labour’s Red Alert blog has been attacked by a number of anti Labour bloggers and commenters for a while. I was referring to this.

Farrar is part of this group.

Once again Clare is sadly wrong. She is infamous for having invented the Vast Right Wing and Non Labour Left Wing Conspiracy (VRWNLLWC), but now the conspiracy has expanded to include Labour activists!

Let’s look at who has publicly expressed doubts about Red Alert:


Painting this criticism as an organised conspiracy or group intent on depriving or “censoring” Labour of a communications channel, sums up all the problems Labour has. Rather than accept any of the criticism as valid, they see it as being done by enemies of Labour wanting to punish them.

And now here is the irony. I am not one of those who has been advocating Labour should close down Red Alert. In fact, quite the opposite.

For some reasons I get invited to talk on the Internet and politics on a regular basis. I’ve talked to classes at Victoria, Canterbury, Auckland and Massey universities. I’ve talked to rotary clubs, to legal publishers, to chambers of commerce and even the Business Roundtable on this area.

And you can ask anyone who was at any of those talks, what I said about Labour and Red Alert. They will tell you that I have consistently praised Labour for Red Alert, and think I think it is laudable that they are communicating in such a direct way.

Sure in the last year I have pointed out some of the SMOGs or Social Media Own Goals that have happened on Red Alert, but I always make the point that a political party has to accept there will be occasional own goals if you use this medium, and be tolerant of them – so long as people learn from their mistakes. I specifically say that overall I think Red Alert has overall been beneficial to Labour.

As I said, there have been hundreds of people at these talks, who can all back up that I have always spoken well of Labour for Red Alert, despite the occasional SMOG.

Those same attendees will also confirm that I regularly describe the National blog at as the greatest cure for insomnia ever invented. They are so mind numbingly boring, that I only subject my eyeballs to them around twice a year, as they start bleeding as I read about some organic carrot farm they have opened.

Of course to some degree this is a deliberate strategy by National. When in Government they want boredom, not excitement and controversy. What will be interesting is to see what National and Labour both do in the blogosphere, when they are in opposition and government respectively.

So if Clare really was referring to Red Alert, not NZ on Air, she got it absolutely wrong. The vast majority of the criticism of Red Alert is coming from the left, and I am one of the few people who has praised it in dozens of forums up and down New Zealand.

My view on Red Alert is that Labour should of course continue with it. I’d like all parties and MPs blogging. I do think for their sake they should look at how to reduce the number of own goals, but note you will never eliminate them entirely as blogging is not a medium you can control. My suggestion would be to have perhaps a couple of the less excitable MPs act as a sounding board and have them just eyeball posts before they get published, so they can point out that the way something is worded may lead to misinterpretation etc.

At the end a blog is just a tool. You don’t stop using a tool because you have some troubles with it. You just get better at using it.

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