More detail of the Labour MP gagging and intimidation campaign against party members critical of the party on political blog The Standard has been revealed.
This shows a conflict in claims between Clare Curran and prolific Standard commenter and Labour Party member Colonial Viper. Curran denies she “sought disciplinary action against any individual“, but Colonial Viper seems to contradict that.
In December there were claims that Curran threatened party members critical of Labour in social media and effectively gagged them until the end of the year. Colonial Viper (and others) stopped commenting at The Standard for the rest of the year.
My friends were heavied in an attempt to intimidate me to stop posting during the leadership contest between Shearer and Cunliffe. Clearly someone in Wellington didn’t like me saying their pony was a rightwing puppet who couldn’t lead a party to save himself. Despite me only stating the obvious, it spurred a pretty awful and nasty intimidation campaign. They knew the people being threatened weren’t me, but they knew too that doing that to my friends would quieten me. How shitty North-Korean is that?
Most of the focus was on Colonial Viper, a prolific commenter at The Standard.
Curran subsequently confirmed that she was involved. From Curran confirms, but key questions unanswered:
Ms.Curran said the people she complained about were party members, some of whom were using pseudonyms and had contributed to other party members being attacked and the Labour Party being undermined.
”There are 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.”
Ms.Curran said she had sought discussion at the party council level about what was an ”acceptable” standard of behaviour, particularly when a member was expressing views anonymously, in a way in which was intended to damage other party members and the party overall. She also made suggestions about how the party could deal with the issue professionally.
”Not at any point have I sought disciplinary action against any individual.”
Colonial Viper has just commented on this incident at The Standard:
This Viper certainly sees the irony in your “faceless commentators” remark, Mr Mongoose, since Clare, Trevor, and a substantial portion of both the Labour Caucus and NZ Council know exactly who I am.
And I don’t just “claim” to be a Labour Party member, I’m a Labour Party member, donor, activist, and organiser that the ABCs threatened in person, and then wanted to revoke the membership of via disciplinary proceedings in front of NZ Council.
But in this incarnation of the Labour Party, this is simply situation normal
There is a direct conflict in claims here.
Curran provided a statement that was reported in media in which she said: “Not at any point have I sought disciplinary action against any individual.”
Colonial Viper names Curran and Trevor Mallard as being involved, and claims “the ABCs threatened in person, and then wanted to revoke the membership of via disciplinary proceedings in front of NZ Council.“
If this is correct (there is no guarantee of that but it is supported by comments made by muliple people at The Standard in December) then either Curran was not being truthful, or:
- she sought action against multiple people, not an individual
- it was someone else who “sought disciplinary action”
This is topical gain because Labour seems to have begun an attempt at engagement of it’s MPs at The Standard, and Curran is one of several MPs who have commented there over the last week or so. She said:
Hi there The Standard. Would like to comment occasionally.
Her comment ignored the recent tumult her actions initiated at The Standard. Unless she is open and honest, and makes a significant attempt to address the accusations of threats of intimidation and the apparent gagging she initiated, she will find it difficult to be taken seriously. Her comment was viewed with obvious suspicion. QoT (a blog author) responded:
Clare just wants to comment “occasionally” so expecting her to do anything more than a key messaged hit-and-run is demanding way too much.
If genuine engagement was intended Curran would have, well, engaged, and responded to questions. And she would have said something of substance instead of repeating party PR fluff.
She will need to do far more than that if she wants to repair a very damaged relationship with The Standard. An explanation and clearing the air of last year’s furore may not be pretty but it is essential if ‘engagement’ is seriously being considered by Labour’s strategists.