Farrar responds to Christchurch attacks and Kiwiblog content

As promised just after the Christchurch mosque attacks, David Farrar has posted on his opinions on what happened and explains more about his tightening up moderation in Kiwiblog content and comments.

Murder and Violence

The terrorist killed 50 people. He believed his beliefs justified violence and killing. There are lots of people with strong beliefs but very very very few who think it is okay to kill innocent people, let alone actually do it.

Any incitement to serious violence is of course not acceptable on Kiwiblog, and never has been. In fact I have on two occasions supplied information to the Police when a comment was seen as a serious threat.

White Supremacy

The terrorist was a white supremacist. He judges people based on their skin colour or where they are born. He doesn’t think non-white people should live in “European countries”

Again such views and beliefs are not and never have been acceptable on Kiwiblog. Judging people based on where they were born, their bloodline or the colour of their skin is repulsive.

Anti-immigration

The terrorist says he was profoundly anti-immigration, linked to his white supremacy. He claimed Jews were okay so long as they live in Israel. Muslims are okay as long as they live in a Muslim country. Asians are okay so long as they live in Asia. He says that he saw legal immigration as a very bad thing.

His views are repugnant to me. I am a huge fan of controlled immigration. I think NZ has a generally excellent immigration system where anyone can qualify for residency regardless of race, nationality or religion.

…there is a difference between debating immigration policy and the pros and cons of immigration and scapegoating immigrants who are already here. Statements suggesting people who have chosen New Zealand as their home should not be here will not be acceptable.

Islamophobia

When it comes to religion, it is a fact that there is huge antipathy in many quarters to Islam, compared to other religions. Why is this? Why does Islam have such antipathy which Hinduism doesn’t, Buddhism doesn’t, Taoism doesn’t, Shinto doesn’t, Sikhism doesn’t, and Baha’i doesn’t?

The obvious answer is because of the number of terror attacks that are done in the name of Islam or motivated by an interpretation of Islam.

The reason there is antipathy towards Islam in many quarters is because people are scared. They want these attacks to stop. It doesn’t matter they still have a higher chance of being killed in a road accident.

That is one reason. Another is simply religion – some of those who are most anti-Islam are Christians. It’s common for fundamentalists to fear any different faith to their own beliefs.

There are also other aspects of the Islamic religion that some people find problematic.Sizable minorities support the death penalty for apostates, stoning for adultery, honour killings for pre-martial sex.

Islam also differs somewhat from most religions in that it has a political aspect to it, commonly called Islamism. Most Muslims are not Islamists. There are difficult questions about how compatible Islamism (NB not Islam) is with liberal democratic values.

So I absolutely reject that one should not be able to criticise the Islamic religion. However it should be done in a way that doesn’t stigmatise all Muslims and/or suggests a commonality of view.

That should apply to any religion – including Christianity.

That guest post

One issue that has been discussed on Kiwiblog is whether there should be a ban on Muslim immigration. I vehemently disagree with such a proposal, and the proponents of it. But does that mean it should be deemed as beyond debate?

In fact the sad reality is the growth in support of far right parties in Europe is because the mainstream parties have not come up with credible solutions to issues around immigration and integration. Populist parties will always rush to fill a void.

So for the last two weeks some people have tried to close down Kiwiblog because three years ago I allowed a guest post (which I disagreed with) by David Garrett which advocated for a policy that has been debated endlessly in the United States for three years, has majority support in Europe and plurality support in Australia.

Here is the Guest Post: David Garrett on A case for immediate cessation of all Muslim immigration. It contains some common anti-Muslim memes, like:

It is really very simple. Every western country which has allowed its Muslim population to exceed 2% has experienced problems generated by that community – or at least arising because of their presence within those societies.

And:

I truly believe we are, in a very real sense, in exactly the position Western Europe was in the  early 1930’s. The prevailing sentiment among both  the political elites  and the population of Britain at large was then, as ours is  now, one of tolerance, or at least wilful blindness to the dangers posed by the rising tide of fascism in Germany. It is important to be reminded that the very word “fascism” had none of the pejorative connotations in 1933 that it most definitely carried ten years later.

Coincidentally being pushed again now – see Jumping the Whale, piling on Godwin and hypocrisy.

Garrett concluded:

Muslim immigrants are a very real threat to our way of life. We should not take one more of them.

Farrar followed that with:

For the avoidance of doubt, the post is the opinion of the author, not of Kiwiblog. Kiwiblog accepts guest posts, even when I disagree with the views in them.

It looks like there has comments deleted from the following thread, possibly quite a few. That was in the days when Kiwiblog commenting was fairly open slather.

Back to Farrar’s post yesterday:

Media have demanded to know why this post has not been deleted. I’ve been labelled a party to the slaughter in Christchurch because of this post. The sheer bile on Twitter has been vile led by certain prominent people.

A number of people have contacted me offline to discuss Kiwiblog’s moderation policy and the desirability of changes. Those exchanges have been useful. Inciting virtual lynch mobs far less so.

The view of some on Twitter is that such a view in opposition to Muslim immigration is so extreme that one can’t ever allow someone to read something in favour of it.

Now one should recognise that debating stuff such as an immigration ban on Muslims is hurtful to Muslims. Absolutely it is. And most Muslims are themselves victims of the violent Islamic extremists. They are often both literal victims (ie are killed) but suffer the backlash where they have to worry about their safety in public. They can suffer acts of casual abuse, and feel that elements of their adopted country are hostile to them. And the Christchurch shooting has shown how real those fears can be.

So bearing in mind that allowing a debate on stuff such as an immigration ban can be hurtful to many Muslims, why allow it at all?

Well as I explained to the media, my preference is for people to be convinced their views are wrong. The thing I like on Kiwiblog is that we have people who comment from across the political spectrum.

I sort of agree with what DPF is saying here about allowing debate. But he would have (or should have) known that a post like that would have been a red rag to the Kiwiblog bulls.

In one of the malicious misrepresentations I have ever seen, Russell Brown took this explanation I made to the media, and summarised it was that I tolerate racists and don’t want them to go to even more racist websites and I am “a piece of shit”. Remember that this is about allowing a guest post on a topic that is one of the most debated issues in Europe and North America.

Something I don’t think DPF has appreciated enough is how comments on posts at Kiwiblog are seen as reflecting on Kiwiblog as a whole and on himself. He has allowed a lot of abuse and fairly extreme views to be posted for as long as I have followed Kiwiblog – ten years or so.

So as should be clear I am not deleting the guest post.

I think it’s a fair decision. Everyone can read and make up their own mind about Garrett’s views on Muslim immigration.

I also think it was wise to run a heavy hand over the comments and delete the worst of them.

Of course there are some topics I would not allow a guest post on, even with a rebuttal. The post on Muslim immigration was a borderline call. But in the end my judgement was that one could not pretend this was not a topic that could be ignored as if it didn’t exist and have support from majorities in many democratic countries.

Posting it “was a borderline call” – but allowing unrestricted comments left DPF open to criticism. He seems to have finally woken up to that.

Muslimophobia

As I indicated earlier I don’t find the term Islamophobia useful. In fact earlier today I quoted the leader of the world’s largest Muslim organisation saying the term is often used as a weapon to prevent criticisms of extremist aspects of Islam.

I have no problems with criticism of Islam (or Scientology or Mormonism or Catholicism). But I do have a problem with people smearing all Muslims as if they all have the same beliefs, same characteristics etc. Some people have an unhealthy antagonism to Muslims, and I would say they should be called Muslimophobes, not Islamophobes.

And Muslimophobia is not welcome on Kiwiblog.

Now. It may not have been welcome by DPF but it has been rampant in the past.

Judging 1.5 billion people off their religious affiliation is bizarre.

Kiwiblog is now applying far far more scrutiny to comments that fail to differentiate between legitimate scrutiny of Islam and are just bile against Muslims. They are not welcome here, and if you can’t work out the difference, neither are you.

That’s similar to what I have done here to the best of my ability.

And some (a small minority) need to learn some empathy. When the Prime Minister wears a hijab at a mourning celebration, it is not an Islamic takeover of New Zealand. It is the Prime Minister being a decent human being and respecting the fact 50 people of the Muslim faith were slaughtered. If 50 people had been killed at a synagogue, I am sure a similar gesture would be made. Such a gesture means a hell of a lot to those who have been targeted for their faith. Have a bit of bloody empathy for what it must be like to be a Muslim in New Zealand at this time.

Fair comment.

I agree with most of what Farrar says as quoted here and on his post. And on his new moderation policy, which I will cover in my next post.

Farrar belatedly addressing moderation at Kiwiblog

Kiwiblog has long had problems with lack of moderation. David Farrar can write good posts, and there are a lot of knowledgeable commenters who are worth looking out for, but the comments have been blighted by abuse and highly questionable agendas.

The Christchurch mosque terror attacks, and responses in comments at Kiwiblog, have finally prompted Farrar into taking more action.

It’;s difficult enough moderating a small blog like this, especially when some people are persistent and determined to do as they please despite requests and warnings to comply with fairly liberal guidelines.

Monitoring a blog the size of Kiwiblog is a huge task. It’s common for posts to have hundreds of comments throughout the day and night.

Due to lax moderation for years it is an even bigger task trying to get things under control there.

Yesterday:

General Debate 18 March 2019

Comments turned off until I have had time to delete and sanction those who have crossed the line.

UPDATE: Comments now back on. But they will not appear until manually approved. Those lacking in empathy will probably not appear.

This was a drastic step. I’m not sure when comments were turned off, or on again with moderation, but the comment rate slowed down considerably.

And later in PM announces inquiry

The last comment at Kiwiblog appears to have been posted at at 9:20 pm last night, so something significant is obviously going on there. Time will tell how that pans out.

However moderation and comments go now there it will be a major challenge changing the widespread perception that Kiwiblog is an abusive and toxic environment, with racism, political abuse and white supremacy issues.


Whale Oil has been heavily moderated for years, but that has largely been for message control and manipulation.

Comments there yesterday indicate that they still have problems with some of their content, both in posts and in comments. They may have stopped swearing, but they still allow political abuse, and anti-immigrant and ansi-Muslim sentiments.

They have started today with much of the same old anti-Muslim lines (that Farrar appears to be trying to claamp down on): https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2019/03/face-of-the-day-1906/

 

Political predictions for 2019

I don’t try to predict what will happen in politics. But Stuff and David Farrar publish their guesses for each year.

Stuff: 2019 predictions start with some sort of show, so it seems a bit flippant. Some of their other predictions:

  • Healthy food is here to stay
    (so is unhealthy food)
  • Backing the beard
    (is most notable for it’s html mistake).
  • Watching TV – real TV – will become cool again
  • #Metoo hits the hospitality industry
  • Expensive coffee will get more expensive
  • Stuff political reporter Henry Cooke predicts National leader Simon Bridges may not be in as much of a happy place by the time 2020 rolls around, but the National Party will not dip very far below 40 per cent in the polls.
  • Northland’s Whangarei will be the next underrated, affordable destination (“We all know someone who moved to Dunedin this year” – no we all don’t know).
  • Stuff predicts Jones’ eternal war with Air New Zealand will continue apace …but “he will continue to fly with them, constantly”.
    (I predict more than one Minister will be an attention seeking hypocrite)
  •  The future of our consumerism will change with the advent of getting pretty much anything you want delivered to your door.
    (except for better journalism)
  • This will be the year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford tie the knot
    (good for them if they do but something i will avoid as much as possible)

That’s the less trite ones.

David Farrar’s Predictions for 2019 include some standard point scoring guesses, but these are more interesting:

2. ACT will change its name to the “Freedom” party.

5. The End of Life Choice Bill will pass its third reading, but be subject to a referendum

10. The Government’s projected surplus in the 2019 Budget will be less than the surplus for 2017/18

11. The Government will fail to get the numbers in the House for a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax
(Labour have already virtually ruled out a comprehensive CGT)

13. Brexit will not occur on 29 March 2019

15. Kelvin Davis will be replaced as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

16. Donald Trump will not get $5 billion for his wall so will back down on the Government shut down

19. Kris Faafoi will be promoted to Cabinet
(he should be, he is one of the Government’s most competent/promising performers).

 

 

What sort of truce could National and Ross have?

There have been some calls for some sort of a truce between National and Jami-Lee Ross. After what has happened this week what sort of a truce would be possible? Could Ross be trusted anyway?

And some scepticism is warranted given who is calling for a truce. Ross has little if anything to negotiate with, and national would be taking a huge risk if they gave anything to Ross now.

Cameron Slater: Farrar follows my lead and calls for a truce, pity is the party appears to want to destroy itself

The other day I suggested a truce, or the intervention of a third party to sort out the mess inside National.

National would be wise to get someone to broker a peace treaty with him before they lose most of their front bench.

Now David Farrar has suggested the same thing:

National has no good options in dealing with JLR. The question is which is the least bad option.

Of course the best way out would be a truce. If somehow JLR and National can find a way forward that would be a good thing. But the problem is that JLR has so damaged himself I’m genuinely not sure what National can do to reverse the harm he caused himself. But if he has a proposal, then it should be considered.

Sadly, it appears that National wants to burn itself to the ground.

It seems to be Ross who is the one lighting fires and pouring petrol on them.

Paula Bennett, it seems, is behind the spreading of the lurid smears to Newsroom.

Actually it seems to be Slater who is trying to spread lurid smears, including about Bennett, someone he has been trying to discredit and smear since she became deputy leader and longer.

Newsroom have made it clear their year long investigation into Jami-Lee Ross was independent – and if Ross hadn’t gone ‘rogue’ their revelations when they published them would have put a lot of pressure and responsibility on National and Bennett,

Wise heads in National need to prevail. They should take up David Farrar’s suggestion and my suggestion and start talking to each other instead of past each other.

But Ross has backed himself into a very tight corner. He would presumably want something from a truce, but what could National offer? It would be extremely damaging to the party if they did anything but act strongly against what Ross has been doing and says he will continue to do.

If Bridges compromises now in his approach to Ross I think his leadership will become untenable. Perhaps that’s what Slater is trying to manipulate.

Slater wanted Bridges to fail in his leadership bid, and he has tried to discredit and smear Bridges since he became leader.

He is as trustworthy as Ross.

Proposing a truce between Ross and National should be viewed with a lot of suspicion. If it is a genuine attempt to broker a deal it suggests that Ross has few other options but to try to negotiate a truce, or keep digging the bloody great hole he has dug for himself.

But National would be taking a huge risk if they are seen to be doing anything to help Ross.


There’s quite discussion on this at WO. A number of comments point out the obvious risks to National of any compromise with Ross.

2eyesee:

I feel that JLR is such damaged goods that any form of truce would be even more damaging to National. Such a truce would publicly legitimise JRL as part of the National Party, and I don’t think National can afford that association.

If they can’t cut JRL loose, the next best option is for him to remain a pariah. Each new conversation release is attracting less and less interest, and he’ll become largely ignored before long.

spanishbride/Slater’sBride:

Really? Every single unfaithful politician and journalist is sweating bullets right now. They broke a long standing rule of politics which was to NEVER report on affairs. Forget the political revelations, if they do not make peace with him he can return the favour and do to them all what they did to him.

2eyesee:

Extramarital affairs between consenting adults is not the issue here – it’s JRL’s abuse of power and bullying behaviour. If National came to a truce with JRL it would be legitimising that behaviour, which would be very damaging for National.

spanishbride/Slater’sBride:

A truce does not mean taking him back. It means a quiet behind the scenes exit

And trust Ross, who has already shown he is willing to record ‘quiet behind the scenes’ conversations and use them to threaten and make false claims?

I think that spanishbride may have been sucked in by someone here into promoting a truce that is likely to be an attempt to compromise bridges even more than he is now. If any secret scheme to try to silence Ross came out Bridges would be right where Slater wants him, out of the leadership.

“Massive increase” in MP funding, most for Government MPs

The Speaker has tabled a report in parliament proposing that MPs, especially Government MPs, may be given substantially more funding – like 20% – plus extra staff for Ministers, just two weeks after two weeks ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a’nobly prudent’ freeze of MP salaries – MP pay frozen and fairer system for increases developed:

“Today Cabinet agreed to freeze MP Pay till July 2019, and to reassess the funding formula used by the Authority to ensure it is fair and in keeping with this Government’s expectations and values,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern made a big deal about this in some sort of principle of fairness and to close the income gap – “It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners”.

NZH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces salary freeze for MPs

The latest pay rise, of 3 per cent, was due to kick in later this month and be backdated to July 1 but Parliament will pass a bill under urgency to freeze the current pay for a year.

Ardern said it is not appropriate for MPs to be subject to such an increase.

“It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners,” she said.

Ardern said the way the draft increase had been determined did not seem fair.

“We do not believe, given that we are at the upper end of the scale, that we should be receiving that sort of increase.

“The current formula isn’t meeting our expectations.

“What we have seen in this determination I believe is out of kilt with those expectations.

“This is about us acknowledging that we are at the top end … and this only extends that gap.”

But the salary gesture pales in comparison to expence increases proposed for MPs, especially list MPs.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Massive increase proposed for MPs expenses

The Speaker has tabled a report which proposes a massive massive increase in funding for MPs, almost all of it to benefit Government MPs.

We’ve got the Government turning down a 3% pay rise, which is chicken feed compared to the 20% increase in funding that has been proposed for them.

The details will make your blood boil. They overwhelmingly benefit the Government. The major changes proposed are:

are:

  • List MPs to get the same funding as Electorate MPs. 34 of the 49 List MPs are Government MPs. It is a huge boost for Labour, Greens and NZ First. It is also wrong as Electorate MPs have far greater demands on them. They represent an actual constituency and need extra staff to deal with all the constituent issues. Many List MPs do very little constituency work, and any extra funding will go on advertising and campaigning.
  • Parties won’t lose funding if they lose MPs at an election. At the moment a party gets funded based on their actual number of MPs. Totally sensible. This report proposes a gerrymander where National and Labour get guaranteed 38% of the funding regardless of their number of MPs, and NZ First and Greens get 8% minimum, again regardless of their number of MPs.
  • Also outrageous is it proposes Ministers get extra staff. Ministers already get totally funded for their staffing needs through Ministerial Services. And the number of staff is already 13% higher than the last Government. This report proposes each Minister also get an additional staffer funded through The Parliamentary Service. So a huge boost of 30 more staff for the Government. It also may allow Ministers to avoid the OIA by having one of their staff working for The Parliamentary Service instead of Ministerial Services.
  • And bad enough this $13 million increase in funding for MPs, but they want to have it get even bigger every year. They recommend an automatic 3.3% to 3.7% increase every year, which means Parliament will be the only public sector organisation that doesn’t have to make a business case to justify extra spending.

This proposal is a huge rort designed to massively increase funding for Government MPs.

And it is the Government that effectively decides whether or not to accept the recommendations.

Farrar seems a bit against this, perhaps for good reason. The quoted cost is accurate:

Our recommendations include indicative costs where these are available, and these show that the package of
recommendations will involve a significant investment in the first year to support the lift in performance of our
democracy. Across all of the funding, this represents approximately $13.0 to $13.5 million per year.

$13 million works out at $108,333 per MP, but it sounds like it will go disproportionately to Ministers and list MPs.

That’s a lot more than a 3% salary increase would cost.

It will be interesting to hear what Ardern thinks about this.

 

 

Moderation changes at Kiwiblog

Lurcher posted a comment:

I sent a really caustic email to David Farrar about the rubbish been posted on his blog [deleted the rest as inappropriate – PG].

He also provided a link to Kiwiblog: Quicker moderation

In this David Farrar has announced some moderation changes at Kiwiblog. He has a reputation as one of the most light handed blog managers, supporting the principle of free and open speech, but has chosen to toughen up a bit – by how much is yet to be seen, if it is notices at all, as he may now silently delete abusive comments – something Farrar has a negative reputation for.

For the last 15 years or so, I have tended to not delete comments that are overly nasty or abusive, but hand out strikes and eventually suspensions to commenters.

This has had the benefit of publicly showing that I don’t censor comments based on political opinion, but for breaches of my commenting policy. It also has allowed people to see what is and is not acceptable, and for most (not all) infringers it has allowed them to learn and stay within boundaries.

There have been minimal boundaries and much abuse at Kiwiblog as long as I have known (about ten years). It has popular for some, and I’m sure drives others away.

It has also caused problems for Farrar in wider media as comments on his blog have been seen as his responsibility. I suspect this is part of the reason for a change of approach.

I am not stopping this approach, but I am supplementing it.

So in future I am going to more frequently  simply delete comments that I deem are too abusive or trolling etc. They will simply disappear. If this happens to one of your comments, then you should change your commenting style in future.

If I see someone being persistently abusive or trolling, I may still take the time to do a formal strike and suspension.

I think enough people have seen my style the last 15 years they they know (unlike some blogs) I won’t just delete comments because I disagree with them politically. The whole point of comments (for me) is to have debate and disagreement.

A major point of comments for me has also been to have debate and allow disagreement and different views, but I think that lax moderation leaves too much opportunity for some to abuse the privilege of commenting on someone else’s website. A common approach by some – and I’ve seen this across a number of blogs including here – is to abuse people with views that aren’t agreed with and try to shut up alternate voices and drive them away.

I think this has been common at Kiwiblog, which is a shame because some of the comments and commenters are worth looking out for.

From my own experience some people (a small minority) can get worse if their freedom to abuse is curtailed. There could be some adjusting required.

Moderating a blog is a very challenging job, trying to get the balance you want somewhere about right most of the time.

It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change at Kiwiblog.

I hope the worst of the abuse is filtered out and it encourages more open debate and more freedom to express different views. Almost always, abuse is the opposite of debate,


I have rarely commented at Kiwiblog for years now, so it’s funny to get a couple of mentions on the thread.

@’secondcumming’

And you know *Kiwiblog’s* doing something right, particularly when you see someone like Pete George @ YAWNZ, criticizing DPF’s moderation policy. LoL!

Very funny, but I suspect for a different reason.

@All_In_Red:

In the past DPF has cracked down on ‘link whoring’
I recall Pete George used to do it a fair bit and got punished.

That’s straight out wrong, I haven’t seen any cracking down or punishment from DPF. I responded:

Blogs are commonly largely based on linking to other information. Like Kiwiblog.

One of the main features of the Internet has always been the ability to link to other information.

I don’t recall ever getting ‘punished’ for providing links to sources or to more detail (or to anything), apart from some commenters grizzling when they didn’t like alternative views, and that wasn’t punishment, it was success.

It was interesting to see who tried to attack the messenger or means of message, with no attempt made to debate points made or information provided.

Greens staff loss is Labour’s gain

One of Greens’ best communicators, Andrew Campbell, is moving to the top Government PR job in the prime Minister’s office.

Stuff: Prime Minister appoints new chief press secretary Andrew Campbell from the Green Party

The Prime Minister’s office has hired Andrew Campbell as its new chief press secretary.

Campbell is currently the chief strategist and communications director for the Green Party.

Campbell has worked for the Green Party for a number of years on and off, including as the chief of staff and communications director. He began his latest stint in December, and was a part of the Green Party’s negotiating team going into Government.

Campbell has also worked for NZ Rugby and teachers’ union NZEI.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said it was a great appointment and Campbell was “one of the best in the business.”

“He and the Prime Minister have my full blessing. He’s an enormously talented strategic communications person,” Shaw said.

“I think he’ll make a fantastic difference in the PM’s office.”

I’m not sure that Shaw woukld have wanted to lose Campbell, but the best tend ot rise to the top, albeit within associated party circles with political staffing.

Staff have moved from Greens to labour before. Clint Smith of ‘Hey Clint’ fame made the staff switch from Greens to Labour  a few years ago, having previously moved from labour to the Greens.

Campbell joins Senior Press Secretary Leah Haines, who joined Labour when they took over late last year, She had previously been the Green chief press secretary before taking a break and also working for NZEI.

There seems to be a bit of Labour-Green churn. Back in 2016 Stuff: Green Party’s chief of staff becomes latest to resign from party

The Green Party’s chief of staff has announced his resignation – becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the party.

Campbell had been with the Greens for nearly six years, and was promoted to chief of staff after James Shaw became the party’s new male co-leader in 2015.

Chief press secretary Leah Haines has also announced her resignation to spend more time with her family. She will leave after the party’s AGM in June.

David Farrar has copped some flack lately but deserves some credit: A smart appointment

This is a smart appointment. Campbell is one of the most talent operatives on the left in NZ politics. He is also likeable and able to work with diverse people. Generally has a good relationship with the press gallery which should help.

But he can’t help a bit of a dig.

Another former student president, which almost completes their takeover of Labour – Robertson, Hipkins, Kirton and now Campbell.

Whatever – with Campbell, Greens’ loss is Labour’s gain.

And it will no doubt help with communications between Labour and the Greens too.

Kiwiblog still has problems

Some blogs appear to have had a legal shake up this week over the Gayford rumour mongering. One blog has been having a big sook and claiming to be the big victim. They are full of contradictions and irony. This takes the cake:

One thing I have learned in politics is that when a political party accuses some other party or individuals of heinous political crimes then they are actually projecting their own actions and abilities against those they accuse.

This is a well known tactic. From what I’ve seen over the years that its exactly what they themselves often do.

At least they have fairly tight moderation and largely seem to have filtered out attempts to hint around the legal letter sent out to some media.

However this issue has highlighted a longstanding problem with Kiwiblog. It’s biggest strength is it’s biggest weakness – it’s very light moderation and very little monitoring. This has encouraged open and free flowing discussions, and there are some gems if you look for them.

But it has also allowed a culture of abuse to become established, as well as enabling the pushing of legal boundaries. This made it a forum of choice for some of those intent on pushing Gayford rumours.

Stuff: Where did the false Clarke Gayford rumours come from?

One early April post on right-leaning site Kiwiblog featured a whole thread discussing the rumours as a “personal scandal” in the comment section, with several commenters with thousands of other comments to their name spreading them.

This probably about the time the rumours picked up steam, but they had originated from months earlier.

That thread remained up on Wednesday, but was soon deleted after Stuff contacted Kiwiblog editor David Farrar for comment.

Farrar told Stuff he deletes defamatory content when it is brought to his attention.

From my own experience he does this promptly and responsibly.

With two million comments and counting on the site it was difficult to keep on top of everything, and he didn’t routinely read the comments on every post.

“When you get that level of comments you can’t go and read them all, you can’t go and read them all it would just take hours every day,” Farrar said.

For a small blog it can be difficult, but for forum the size of Kiwiblog it would be very difficult. Yesterday’s General Debate had 500 comments.

“I tried searching to see if I could proactively find some of it, and actually it’s really hard because people don’t necessarily use the name you would think, they sometimes use nicknames etc. It is really difficult.”

He had suspended several users over comments concerning the Gayford rumours.

To that extent a good response, but the problem persists. Some of those intent on keeping the rumours going have switched tack, to ‘where there’s smoke’ and trying to talk up a Streisand’s effect. As well as trying a conspiracy angle of blaming it all on Labour.

This has turned into a story about the Left slandering National and it’s supporters with false allegations.

The most credible story I have heard is that these rumors came from within Labour and were just gossip about Ardern’s bit of rough. They were not politically motivated or anything new. Now she is promoted beyond her ability its a problem.

“I have heard” is not evidence. It is a common way of trying to spread dirty rumours.

But Farrar has a bigger problem – continuing attempts to hint at what the rumours were about. I have seen two examples already today.

This is a problem Farrar has created for himself to an extent, but having such a hands off approach to monitoring and moderation. But if he doesn’t find a way of dealing with it he could have difficulties.

Another problem for Farrar is his openly disclosed association with National. By allowing Kiwiblog to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum he is giving opponents of National free shots with claims of ongoing dirty politics.

But changing a culture that has become established virtually unfettered for a decade won’t be easy.

‘Future qualification’ on Northcote by-election candidate’s profile

Three candidates have been announced for the Northcote by-election (to be held on 9 June) – National selected Dan Bidois and Labour selected their general election candidate Shanan Halbert, and Peter Wakeman seems to have selected himself. Brief details (some from Wikipedia):

  • Dan Bidois – Economist, 72nd on National’s 2017 party list
  • Shanan Halbert – Head of Recruitment & Relationships at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, 51st on Labour’s 2017 party list
  • Peter Wakeman – Perennial candidate

National Party announcement: Bidois selected as National’s Northcote candidate

Mr Bidois is currently Strategy Manager for Foodstuffs. He was raised and educated in Auckland, leaving school at 15 to complete a butchery apprenticeship with Woolworth’s New Zealand. Aspirational for his future, he went on to study at the University of Auckland, and attended Harvard University on a Fulbright Scholarship. He has worked as a strategist and economist in New Zealand, the United States, and Malaysia.

Labour party announcement: Shanan Halbert selected as Labour’s candidate for Northcote

Shanan is an education professional with experience across the sector including secondary, tertiary and with the education unions. Locally he has been in leadership and governance roles at Northcote’s Hato Petera College. Currently he is head of Relationships and Recruitment at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

“I look forward to campaigning in Northcote on the issues that matter locally – transport, decent housing, health and education,” says Shanan Halbert.

(Oddly that can’t be found on Labour’s website,  had to go to Scoop for it).

I don’t recall hearing of Bidois or Wakeman before, but Halbert featured in the Labour intern issue last June – see Little and Labour MPs with interns.

Earlier in the week Labour party secretary Andrew Kirton promoted Halbert’s selection:

And David Farrar dissed Halbert’s chances and promoted all National candidates in  It’s Bidois vs Halbert for Northcote.

Yesterday Farrar tweeted on a Kiwiblog post What happened to Shanan’s MBA?:

He saw a MBA from AUT listed for Shanan Halbert (the Labour candidate). He checked out the AUT graduate page and they do not have Halbert as a graduate.

He then checked back Halbert’s Linked In page the next day, and the MBA mention was gone.

Stating unearned qualifications on your CV looks bad, and more so if you are a head of the Recruitment & Relationships department at an educational institute.

And the misrepresentation has been confirmed by Kirton in a response to Farrar on twitter:

That’s a remarkable explanation. The LinkedIn  page says nothing about ‘a timeframe of 2016-2020’, and it is extraordinary to list under Education courses you are enrolled in and are nowhere near completing. If Halbert wins the by-election he will have less time still to study.

And Kirton  goes further:

It’s not a dirty trick pointing out a candidate falsely claiming a qualification, it is holding to account, something some who are new to Government don’t seem to comprehend.

I don’t know enough about any of the candidates to rate them as potential MPs, but Halbert and Labour have not started their campaign very well.

UPDATE: I have just found Halbert’s profile on the Labour website. It includes:

As a senior manager in the education field, Shanan knows that life-long learning must be made available in our fast-changing world.

Changing so fast he got ahead of himself in claiming to have an MBA.

Bishop, Snapchat and Dirty Politics

The story about Chris Bishop’s brief use of Snapchat was known about and ignored by media before the election.

Several months later, it has now become a dirty politics style smear after the story surfaced at Stuff:  National MP confronted about his social media messages to teenagers

National’s Hutt South MP Chris Bishop was confronted before last year’s election by a mother upset at the older man messaging her daughter and other minors.

Witnesses said Bishop was taken aside and asked to stop what he was doing.

“I wanted to confront him as many parents felt very uncomfortable that their children were messaged,” said a mother who wanted to remain anonymous.

“He admitted it straight away and thanked me for bringing it to his attention.”

Another mother, whose 13-year-old daughter was allegedly in daily contact with Bishop for a week or two on Snapchat, took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

The mother, who also wanted to remain anonymous, allegedly wrote to MP Paul Goldsmith to complain about Bishop’s behaviour.

None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided.

Note: “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions were anything other than misguided”. In other words, this was a non-story.

But it has become a dirty politics story, with claims that it was an internal National Party hit job, and counter claims that it was a diversionary hit from Labour.

When David Farrar posted about it at Kiwiblog as Anonymous innuendo – some will see some irony in his comment “Disappointed Fairfax has run a story like this, with anonymous sources” – Matthew Hooton both played down what Bishop had done, but blamed National party insiders:

I guess the problem with Snapchat is the lack of a record. But I have no doubt the exchanges were as anodyne as when MPs usually communicate with school kids who contact them. This is a hit job, presumably by people associated with Bill English against one of the new MPs seeking generational change.

Note ‘presumably’ – in other words, no evidence. And:

This is the sort of thing that happens when National has a subterranean internal war. People just forget, because it’s been more than 10 years since the last one. But Labour also on the suspect list, of course. But, if it was them, I think they would have dropped it during the election campaign.

Plus speculation that it could have been Labour.

Cameron Slater went further – much further, delving into extreme dirty politics with carefully worded (arse-covering) insinuations. I won’t repeat the dirt, but Slater claimed:

Yesterday there was a hit job on National MP Chris Bishop.

When someone commented ” I am also upset to see comments from some that they think it came from Bill English” Slater replied “Because it did. Join the dots.”

I’ll join some dots – Slater has no evidence, Slater has a long standing grudge against Bill English, Slater has attacked Bishop before, and Slater’s word is wothr bugger all, he has a reputation of being wrong and making up malicious shit. He repeats:

“Not the left. Internal Nat hit job.”

“My information suggests it was a Blue on Blue hit job.”

Note ‘suggests’. No evidence at all.

But Bill does, to protect himself. As Sally points out, if Labour had this they would have dropped it the week before the election. This is patch protection from National party players.

That sounds like nothing more than speculation laced with a long standing grudge.

Why the hell would National, who spent last week playing down leadership speculation and papering over any internakl division, do a dirty on a popular MP?

And Slater’s ‘Dirty Politics’ partner Farrar is notably in disagreement (or spinning a different line): HDPA on the Bishop smear story

Real dirty politics, but I predict no book written about this.

Labour just hate the fact Chris Bishop worked so hard that he won Hutt South off them, so this is what they stoop to.

Farrar referred to Heather du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB (about 11:30): http://120.138.20.16/WeekOnDemand/ZB/wellington/2018.02.12-09.15.00-D.mp3

Why is this a story now? Because it’s a Labour Party hit job. That’s what I think.

I’ll be honest. I knew about this before the election. I knew there were messages about this. Guess how I found out? From the Labour Party. The Labour Party knew about this. So the only reason it has been delayed is probably because the parents would finally talk about it.

The Labour Party has probably been working on the parents to try and get them to talk to the media. So this in my opinion is a Labour Party hit job. And I think it’s actually disgusting to be honest.

And HPDA’s partner follows a similar line – Barry Soper’s The Soap Box: Vilification of Chris Bishop is sick

The vilification of Bishop is sick, mainly by those with warped minds, and is obviously politically motivated, curiously coming at a time when Labour was on the ropes over its unfathomable closure of charter schools!

Also no evidence that Labour was behind the stuff story. But this deserves more investigation, whether National or Labour are behind the attack smear.

This is dirty, and I think alarmingly so. Disregarding the Slater sleaze, the insinuations against Bishop, even though the original story said “None of the parents were concerned that Bishop’s intentions”, are dirty politics at it’s worst.