Clare Curran has made it clear she thinks that critics on blogs should be held to account by Labour MPs. Unlike the normal method of holding to account on blogs by presenting counter arguments and debating points, Curran wants to clobber any dissent by shutting voices down. She has proven adept at this with her ban button at her Red Alert blog – this has proven to be a massive failure for the ‘Open Labour’ forum she had promoted it as.
Curran issued a statement to media and she has since confirmed the intent expressed in this. Toby Manhire at the Listener quotes:
I have raised with the NZ Council of the Labour Party my concerns about behaviour online by commenters and bloggers who are party members , some of whom are using pseudonyms which have contributed to other party members being attacked and our party being undermined. There are legitimate questions about the conduct of anonymous bloggers who belong to the party but may be bringing it into disrepute and it’s an issue the party needs to grapple with in the digital age.
Obviously disrepute is in the ey of the paranoid. What happens if different factions in Labour’s caucus have different opinions on whether something passes the disrepute test? Does the leader have the deciding vote in gagging bloggers?
I have sought discussion at the Council level about is what is an acceptable standard of behaviour, particularly when a member is expressing those views anonymously, in a way in which is intended to damage other party members and the party overall.
‘Acceptable behaviour’ as per Curran has meant that anyone she doesn’t like commenting (at Red Alert) gets banned. And if they can be identified as Labour Pay members they get special attention. That’s why tumbleweeds now dominate at Labour’s flagship experiment in social media.
I have also made some suggestions about how the party could deal with this issue professionally.
There have been some reports that the reaction to her letter was eyes rolling and it was binned.
But Curran has gone ahead anyway and taken action against several party members, who have chosen to be cowed into silence in preference to having to deal with legal action.
It looks far from professional.
Has she done this despite Council’s rejection? Or have they actually approved?
David Shearer must also either approve, because this action remains unchallenged by Labour leadership, or he allows his MPs to independently promote their agendas without limits. Both possibilities are remarkable.
Not at any point have I sought disciplinary action against any individual.
That’s evasive semantics. No one has claimed any disciplinary action, that would mean dealing with it with the party procedures and due process.
What is being claimed by a number of credible party members – not all of them anonymous – is that Curran has taken direct covert action against bloggers she has identified as party members.
In my correspondence with the Council I have not used any individual’s name, but I have used an online pseudonym as an example of how the behaviours are being manifested.
That person had previously identified themselves as using that pseudonym to me in an email conversation, and in subsequent face to face conversations.
Curran’s version has been challenged by multiple party member, for example at The Standard Lynn Prentice says…
It would be pretty unlikely. CV changed from a previous psuedonym because he thought it had been compromised by the right. At the time I told him that it was unwise to tell anyone.
From what I understand she has reversed the order of events. She asked if he was CV after getting it from other means, and he confirmed it after she pestered. After all what would a Labour MP do to Labour member, right? You can trust them right?
Without specific evidence it’s impossible to know which side is most accurate.
It is known that in the past Red Alert private inforamtion has been used to cross match with other blogs and membership information to identify people. Curran denies this is the case – when asked by Toby Manhire on Twitter she said ‘No’ (see the Update here).
But people have been identified and targeted, at least three. There are indications all three may be from Dunedin so she may have usd local contacts.
There are signs things are not good in Labour in Dunedin. There have been a number of blog comments from unhappy party members.
Last month the president of Young Labour in Curran’s Dunedin South electorate resigned. And there are indications the Dunedin North branch has problems with Curran too.
The Curran gagging campaign is a cancer growing in an ailing party. If Curran and Labour leadership think this will all blow over they are as out of touch with their membership as, well, as they are on many things.
The latest at The Standard: Something rotten in the state…