More blogs, more details on Labour gagging

‘Eddie’ at The Standard has added to the growing story on the Labour gagging allegations with  Butterfly upon a wheel, or we haven’t changed. This largely confirms what’s been said and adds a few details.

You may recall, as I do, when Clare Curran launched Labour’s Open Government policy as a crowd-sourced, Internet-based policy. A New Zealand first, that was welcomed as a democratisation of the party and New Zealand politics. Members thought this new approach, along with Red Alert, was the beginning of a new age.

And the members are still striving for the ideals underlying that open, non-hierarchical approach as witnessed by the newly democratic leadership rules and the coming changes to electorate and list selection.

But the mood has changed in Labour’s own elite. Now, a senior Labour MP has written a letter to the New Zealand Council trying to stamp on debate by party members online. The MP has singled one individual commentator in particular for attack in the letter (don’t worry, you know already if it’s you) after using back-end data from Red Alert to identify them.

This backs up what lprent (Lynn Prentice) has already stated – presuming ‘Eddie’ is a different person (and yes, this is a relevant point to make). There is other evidence of past action to support this claim.

While Eddie refers to “one individual commentator in particular” – Colonial Viper – there is one other member who uses a pseudonym who has exited The Standard in a similar fashion, and two identified party members who have claimed specific gagging including being issued with a cease and desist order.

To be clear, a senior MP is attempting to change the membership rules of the party to punish a member for writing somethings that the MP doesn’t agree with in the comments section of blogs (which everyone knows Labour MPs don’t read anyway).

A comment on another blog, Imperator Fish (Are The Guns Turned Inwards?), suggests that this attempt was binned by the council:

Maxton December 9, 2012 10:44 PM

As far as I understand it, a paper did go to Council discussing anonymous blogging. Lots of stuff goes before Council. Much of it is quietly filed in the circular file. I have it on very good authority that was the fate of this particular paper. And I got the impression that everyone rolled their eyes at this one, and it was very much an awkward interlude between a series of awkward decisions.

It’s difficult to know if this is correct or if it’s an attempt to deny resonsibility by the Labour Council.

Apparently, the letter also included reference to bringing The Standard ‘back into line’.

That’s a credible claim, the MP in question has openly expressed dismay at criticism from blogs, and has banned many from Labour’s Red Alert blog, often for trivial or unfathomable reasons. (She has banned me from Red Alert making nonsensical claims).

Ironically, senior Labour MPs, who are now trying to suppress members and non-members’ personal opinions, have resisted all attempts by their own media staff to exercise message discipline over their online activities. Or, perhaps, that isn’t ironic at all. Don’t both the attempts to shut down dissenting membership voices and the refusal to accept messaging advice both reflect an elitist outlook that puts personal power ahead of responsibility to the party?

There are a number of ironies in this story, especially the spokesperson roles the MP has and the things they have openly campaigned for but in the background acted contrary too.

A commenter at The Standard points to an ironic post at Red Alert in 2010 when Clare Curran launched an Open Labour initiative that has evolved into this clusterfuck:

SHG (not Colonial Viper)

When the “OpenLabourNZ” initiative was announced feedback was sought from all and sundry in what we now know was just a stage-managed bit of theatre. Clare Curran posted on Red Alert

…that she wanted “…to hear all your ideas, suggestions, and the issues you think are important regards open and transparent government. At this stage any contribution is welcome and valid, no matter how left field.”

It’s become an embarassing failure, with control and power freaking becoming dominat. As well as being quick on the ban button Clare also ‘unlikes’ people who she doesn’t want to be open with on Twitter and Facebook.

And another irony should be included here – The Standard is the main target of this attempt at gagging, and The Standard is known for gagging of it’s own. A number of commenters have been warned, intimidated and banned at The Standard, notably several pro-Shearer commenters recently.

A particularly pointed irony is that on the night this story broke on the Standard with Irish Bill’s post Just how wrong can you get it? a commenter who had recently been actively defending and supporting David Shearer was banned for seven weeks by lprent:

I’m not so forgiving of such stupidity. You’re banned for seven weeks (24th of Jan).

The Standard is more open and upfront when they suppress dissenting and critical voices but Clare Curran is not the only one in Labour known for shutting down messengers she doesn’t like.

Labour could be known as a gaggle of gaggers.

The Labour Caucus, the Labour Council, Red Alert and The Standard should all have a hard look at attempts to control their messages and the benefits and rights of free and open discussion.

Labour party member Robert Winter ruminates: We know who you are….?

I don’t know what to make of the story that MPs (or one MP in particular) are/is trying to heavy bloggers with links the Labour Party. If it is true, and there seems to be a conviction amongst people that I respect that it is true, then it is not only politically wrong, but also stupid.

It would reflect an arrogance in the caucus far in excess of that to which I have alluded here, and a lack of judgement of monumental proportions.Witchhunts are the stuff of the Inquisition or the Stasi, not of modern Social Democracy. I would hope, if it proved to be the case, to hear that Mr Shearer had spoken out against such behaviour.

If you are new to this story see at detail since Thursday at The Standard:

For summaries posted here:

This is also being covered on many other blogs.

And Bryce Edwards joins the fray with a major summary and comment:

Clare Curran, The Standard, and the state of the Labour Party

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:

Blue (At the Standard):

Just read about CV. Did this seriously happen? Clare Curran is one of the electorate MP’s down here and is not well liked, lost the party vote to National in a strong Labour seat. I don’t agree with much (anything?) CV has to say, but his right to say it in anonymity needs to be protected. The fact that Curran beleives she should ‘out’ him, to exert control over the message is the lowest form of censorship. What a scumbag.

If it seems harsh repeating that comment here, but especially with Curran’s continued silence that’s a fairly common feeling being expressed.

Vipete said (at Liberation to Bryce Edwards)…

10 December 2012 at 09:37 AM

The situation is pretty much as you say it – Clare Curran laid a letter of complaint against the person known as “Colonial Viper” with the NZ Council of the NZLP last week. I’m told that this letter seeks disciplinary action against Colonial Viper, who is a member of the party.

If so, this is draconian in the extreme. What I can’t work out is why an MP would spend her days worrying about supposedly trivial comments on a blog, except if its out of fear.

Anon (at The Standard)

I’ve seen the letter. It exists, it is from Clare Curran to the NZ Council, and The Standard authors’ representations of it are accurate. It specifically targets Colonial Viper and talks about a need to do something to bring The Standard into line.

Obviously I can’t reveal my identity because I don’t want to be targeted and defamed myself. But ask around if you have political contacts. Enough people have seen this letter, which is why no one in a senior position in Labour will deny it.

Barnsley Bill (at Kiwiblog)

December 10th, 2012 at 11:42 am

On the contrary, Mold convincing somebody who champions the anti cyber bullying and open government policy to project herself as the biggest hypocrite in the history of the interweb marks Mold as a modern day Sun Tzu.
I salute her.

We should bow down to the geniuses in labour. Every time a crisis starts to fade they manage to conjure up another one from thin air.

It’s probably only a matter of time before a coy of the letter to council surfaces, there are more and more people talking about having sighted it. MSM are loking for one.

Toby Manhire@toby_etc

If anyone has copy of mysterious letter from Labour MP about anonymous bloggers or similar – tobydotmanhireatgmaildotcom in full confidence

Alternately if anyone wants to send me a copy of that or a cease and desist message?

Scott has amended his Are The Guns Turned Inwards? post at Imperator Fish:

(oh, and please don’t play “guess the MP” in the comments thread, unless you’re prepared to indemnify me in the event of a defamation suit. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to) [Update 2: Okay, so apparently it’s Clare Curran, and her name is on so many blogs that I don’t really see the point any more of pretending the author of the letter could be anyone else.]

Freddie Fleetstreet (at The Standard)


Lprent, forgive the name change please. I write this comment in my day job capacity.
Clare Curran is going under the bus in Truth this week.
The open government, anti cyber bullying champion of the Labour party has gone too far.
If it were a national MP threatening a blogger in this way I would be equally as angry as the commenters here clearly are.
Each and every time things seem to be calming down a little for the Labour party one of the MPs seems to slip the strait jacket and create another scat storm.

Frances Agnew (at The Standard)

I live in the Dn South Electorate. I was a LP member but am so dissatisfied with what they are doing I am not involved any longer. Labour will be doomed to the scrap heap if they continue to fail to listen to their members. This “Old Guard” should gracefully retire and let other more sensible people be in charge. Dn South has been controlled by a few for many years. They have fixed veiws (not neccesary left) and will not move an inch.


  1. The Fan Club was banned for 7 weeks for personally attacking an author which is a self-martyrdom offence at TS (as it is virtually everywhere on the net and is listed in our policy), and for wasting my valuable time after they requested I review the comment sequence. Quite simply s/he was running diversion comments away from the topic of post

    I really couldn’t give a shit about positions that people are coming from when I’m moderating. As I have repeatedly pointed out to you (and you ignore), I care a whole lot about peoples behaviour and that includes respect for the operators and authors of the site.

    Fools who personally attack authors and waste my time deserve bans because they are guest and their behaviour sucks. In TFC’s case after I’d warned them about something else, pointed them to the policy and which they then appealed would have to qualify as monumental stupidity since I’d have to read the comment stream to review my warning.

  2. The standard are shocking at censoring people’s messages, but they’re no where near the level of Labour list MP (she didnt make parliament) Anjum Rahman and her Blog “Kiwi Stargazer” and a blog she writes at “The Hand Mirror”

    Any dissent tom what she has posted, gets deleted and the poster gets told to F off.

  3. mikey

     /  December 15, 2012

    Brett Dale.. So much like the sub-standard then?

    • Yes, pretty much, what Brett is experiencing at The Standard at the moment is typical, if a buch of them there decide thay don’t like someone they harrass them away. Many of the attacks are pathetic, like Morrisey today, totally uncalled for and unrelated to what was being discussed, and lprent and the moderators either don’t notice or don’t care, even though it’s at odds with what they say is the blog culture.

      So most of the commenters left there conform to a particular way of thinking and behaving – which is frequently hypocritical, as evidenced by their complaints about Claire Curran trying to mamage the message.

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