The feud between Labour Party activists and the Labour caucus and party management was ramped up last night through a post at The Standard. Over the past few months The Standard blog has transformed from a notably anti-Key/National mouthpiece of Labour to a pro-Cunliffe anti-Shearer megaphone.
Since the involvement of Labour Party activists in the Cunliffe ‘coup and Cunliffe’s subsequent demotion anger and criticism has been seething at The Standard. With a handful of exceptions there has been a tsunami of angst and opposition expressed about David Shearer’s leadership and the Labour caucus.
There have also been a number of recent bans on commenters at The Standard, as far as I have seen all of those banned have been showing support for and defending Shearer and the caucus. The last ban was last night when “The Fan Club” received a seven week ban, it is hardly a coincidence that that takes out a pro-Shearer voice up until just before February’s leadership vote.
Over the last month The Standard has been dominated by anti-Shearer and anti-caucus posts and comments (interspersed with promotions of Green Party and Russel Norman narratives).
Last night the feud between Labour party activists and the Labour Party hierarchy was escalated by one of the few Labourites at The Standard who has genuinely earned credibility and respect. IrishBill posted:
Just how wrong can you get it?
Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere. It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.
A cynic might feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of such a policy. Especially when John Tamihere has compared the party to the head-hunters on national TV and then had the party leader intervene to get his membership approved. Double especially when Shane Jones gets to attack the Green Party on matters he holds no portfolio for and yet faces no censure. And that’s not even talking about the way caucus members themselves have brought the party into disrepute with their online antics.
But rather than be that cynical, I’ll just stick to pointing out the fact that the Labour Party membership is the lowest it has been in the history of the party and that to try to introduce such a proscriptive and draconian policy would only encourage that number to sink even lower.
It’s also antithetical to every theory of organising in the modern age that I can think of. Almost without exception member and volunteer based organisations are opening up their discourse and flattening their hierarchy as they realise that in the age of social media people need to feel connected and that they have a voice if you want them to join your organisation and help build your cause. In this light, telling people that joining the party means shutting the f*ck up on the internet isn’t really a winner.
There is no reason to doubt IrishBill (or his source), and his posts are usually carefully considered.
The obvious point is how ridiculous and futile it is to to even consider trying to control what party members say in public forums where most people operate anonymously.
A cynic might feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of such a policy.
Yes, especially when the finger is being pointed (by a couple of commenters) at an MP who publicly promotes open governance but has a reputation for banning commenters at the official Labour blog Red Alert – Clare Curran has banned me from there, dissenting voices are frowned on.
(And a cycnic might also feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of The Standard complaining about the party trying to control the message and the messengers through censorship when they openly ‘modify behaviour’ through one sided moderation).
Red rag to bullshit
As predictable as a sunrise the response has already been incredulous and incensed, and it was posted during a normally quiet evening. Expect an avalanche of comments today, following these themes of futility:
If these blog denier fools were interested in democracy they would take notice of what the people they claim to represent actually have to say. If having some home truths voiced upsets them they are in the wrong job or the wrong Party.
Attempting to censor the everyday conversation (apparently by non-voters that nobody pays any attention to) on the internet. Really, that’s just too funny…
As for controlling it – imagine what it would take to work out the pseudonyms… and on the pseudonym point the reason for having them has just been established beyond doubt.
The other issue is would the new rules apply only to blogging? What about other media? No letters to the editor? No commenting in discussions online? No talking out loud at public meetings?
How to prove your political party is stuck in the past:
Step 1: Try to censor people on the internet.
Step 2: Assume you can really identify who a person is on the internet, especially on sites you have no control over.
You would be surprised QoT at the angst the Standard has caused some Labour MPs.
Doesn’t stop the rest of us expressing our astonishment at the stupidity of the idea all the same.
“I’d dearly love to see the logistical planning involved. Sourcing the naughty comments, doxing the commenters’ handles, comparing to the membership list …”
There’s already a bit of that kind of thing going on. It’s why I won’t comment on Red Alert.
They’re complete morons. It makes me sick.
I have personally witnessed some of the backstory to this post. And it is a damn nasty and personal business behind the scenes. If anything, IB has sugarcoated the facts of the situation with his restraint (that’s not a criticism btw).
Expect a lot more of this to follow.
RedLogix on IrishBill’s credibility:
1. The person is not some ordinary member. It’s someone with considerable experience and organisational power. That anyone else in the Labour Party has treated this risible idea with anything other than a polite snigger suggests that either this person has a lot of clout, or the idea has fallen on fertile ground.
2. Sure it’s one ‘persons’ opinion. But then again Irish Bill has been an author here at least as long as I can remember and I joined up here within a few weeks of when The Standard began. Over that time IB has written many dozens of posts on numerous Labour Party topics and has earned his own reputation and credibility with many regulars. You can’t fake that.
There is plenty of faking at The Standard but not from IrishBill, he stands out there as a straight talker and a straight shooter. Whether this “shot across the bows” is seen by the target that badly needs a major realisation of reality is another story.
Labour leadership seems resolute in repeating the same old failures, and has been blind and deaf to the barrage of inter-party angst.
IrishBill’s post will escalate the discontent within the Labour Party, the only thing in doubt is whether it will precipitate any recovery action or if Labour heads will remain in the sand.