Labour’s double edged social media

Social media plays a significant part in politics now, but  as John Armstrong says in Labour’s brutal week reveals Achilles heel, it can be a double edged sword.

With the left of the party running its own agenda which puts purity ahead of pragmatism, Labour’s appeal is shrinking. Those voters whom Labour needs to capture will see Jones’ exit as a further narrowing of Labour’s appeal.

Those voters will also view the disdain shown towards Jones and accompanying calls for the purging from Parliament of such Labour stalwarts as Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard as pretty solid evidence that Labour’s disunity is such that it is not yet fit to govern.

Much of the arguing of the past few days has taken place in social media and the blogosphere. Too late Labour has discovered these tools can be double-edged swords. They are fine when it comes to disseminating a message. But not so fine when the protagonists in a digitally-sourced debate start hanging out their party’s dirty washing simply to score points against a competing faction.

I’ve posted a comment on this at The Standard – the normal response there would be to diss the messengers and deny.

Hopefully they will also digest. Social media can help Labour but only if it dispels the image of disarray and damaging dissmania.

Another indication of the pros and cons of social media is a post at The Standard celebrating a very creditable 14,000 posts. I’ll voice my congratulations here, if I say anything there it’s likely to attract detracting reactions.

lprent comments:

I tend to view a site like this as largely to make people aware of how others of similar viewpoints are thinking. It means that the surprises are limited and people can make decisions based on how they know others will react.

Then they act on their similarities rather than their differences and despite their known differences. The effect is a more concerted action rather than dissipating effort in pointless dissension. They know that they will be listened to (and disagreed with) rather than simply ignored.

If that’s their aim then it’s up to them, but it probably explains why non-similar viewpoints are often unwelcome there, and reactions are often very negative if ‘similar viewpoints’ are challenged or criticised.

But if they want an effective ‘concerted effort’ they need to be able to deal with dissent that any political forum invites, and in particular they have to be aware that negativeness and nastiness can impact more on potential allies (and voters) than on opponents.

Miravox commented:

Thanks also to the well-reasoned, and sometimes very funny, commenters who provide great examples about how to discuss a political point in the real world.

There’s quite a lot of that, but it often gets clouded amongst the negative noise.

I guess I should also say I appreciate some of the heated debate as well – good for confirming, or not, certain views and being aware of the other sides of an argument.

This is a very good comment. Healthy politics needs healthy and robust debate. Some of the more vocal opponents of differing views at The Standard could do well to take this on board – for the good of their own impressions as well as the greater good of presenting a positive and effective edge to their political sword.

Voters (and especially non-voters tend to be repelled by the negative and nasty approach.

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  1. Haven’t you read the about at The Standard? My statement is damn near a paraphrase of what we first said six and a half years ago. I would have thought a fact checker like yourself would have taken the time to read that rather basic description of the sites intent years ago rather than simply doing your usual invention of how the world would be if Pete George ran it.

    But as we all know, your ability to check facts is largely constrained by your appalling ability to only see what you want to see, and inability to understand anything you don’t recognize.

    The Standard was set up to allow people from the broad labour movement to discuss events and policies related to that movement that started with the unions in the 19th century. It has now spread out in terms of policies throughout the “left” through parties like Labour, Greens, and Mana. But also amongst unionists and many people not affiliated with any party at all.

    What it wasn’t set up to be was a mouthpiece for a political party in the way that whaleoil increasingly appears to be with National, and kiwiblog has been acting like for the last decade. We really weren’t cut out to have our mouths running in synchronized lying for a political parties PR wing the way that those puppets are used to present stories for a lazy media.

    But it appears that is what you think we should be doing? Perhaps yuoiu should get your morals changed?

    • A bit of an over-reaction. What have morals got to do with it? You should do what you want to do.

      Whale Oil and Kiwiblog certainly have significant party connections but they are the mouthpieces of Slater and Farrar. Of course they have National sources but they are also critics of their own side of politics, and also praise what good they see on the other side.

      While The Standard is far more diverse of course some authors have party connections and that will influence what they sometimes post.

      All three are political blogs with party influence. What’s the big deal about that?


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