Like any political blog The Standard (authors and most commenters) strive to be noticed. Most of them want to be seen as relevant in the political discourse. The Standard has built up an enviable audience. It is one of the most active blogs in the country, and the biggest covering the left of the political spectrum.
Until recently it was known more for it’s frequent over the top attempts to damage the credibility of John Key and National, even to bring down the Government. It was difficult to take frequently absurd claims seriously – in fact it was easy to not take them seriously.
The Standard put much less effort into promoting Labour policies and MPs.
A week before the Labour conference a blog by ‘Eddie’ started a string of posts and numerous comments focussing on Labour leadership. Most were highly critical of David Shearer – following Eddie were posts from Irish Bill, QoT and lprent. Mike Smith and Anthony Robins defended Shearer and the party but they were generally overwhelmed by the pseudonyms.
Responding to the noise David Shearer, Andrew Little and Clayton Cosgrove all dissed The Standard, calling it ‘nonsense’ and not to be listened to. This created an uproar. The people from The Standard wanted desperately to be heard, to be taken seriously, by MPS and by mainstream media.
This led into the ill-fated Labour conference over the weekend, the perceived leadership challenge and the over-reaction by Shearer defenders which led to Cunliffe’s demotion.
This fueled more angst at The Standard, with post after post and an avalanche of comments expressing frustration and anger at the divide between the Labout caucus and the wider party. Some tried to defend Shearer, notably Mike Smith in Keystone coups Mark 2, but the anti feeling dominated.
And this continues. Last night QOT posted After the firefight, all that did was prove the fight was not yet over. It looks like extending with fury until the showdown in February.
The Standard has become a fascinating look inside Labour activism and angst. Much has been revealed, both deliberately and inadvertently. Most of all major differences and anger have been revealed inside Labour.
The Standard wantd to be a serious political player. Some at The Standard deliberately provoked a debate on Labour leadership.That wish came true.
But their wish for political relevance has not panned out how they would have hoped. It could be said that their worst ambition has come true, but they are demolishing the wrong party, shitting in the left nest.
The Standard bears some responsibility for and has become a spotlight on the Labour trainwreck.
It will be interesting to see how long The Standard continues it’s bloodletting.
It would also be interesting to see if it was possible for this new found fame to be used to do something more, something the Labour caucus seem incapable of.
Can The Standard start to put the mess behind them and take a leading role in reconciling, repairing and recovering? This would take a concerted effort from a number of contributors, and a major change in attitude amongst many.
Or has the iron horse bolted, and too many of them too hellbent on the February showdown? By then the Labour train may be right off the rails.