Gagging social media on election day

Now we have heavily promoted advance voting for two weeks leading up to the election, during which time campaigning for votes is full on, it’s more than a little anachronistic that on election day itself publishing anything that may influence how someone votes is forbidden by our electoral law.

This was originally an exclusion on media advertising or reporting. That is now extended to not only blogging but to all social media commenting.

Up until Thursday night (Friday’s figures haven’t been posted yet) the Electoral Commission report that 557,174 people had advance voted and they expect the final figure to be around 700,000.

In the 2011 election 2,278,989 voted. If a similar total votes this time that means about one third will have advance voted while campaigning and vote soliticiting was very active.

So it’s odd that the rest of us are protected from influence in election day.

The Electoral Commission states:

ELECTION DAY RULES FOR CANDIDATES, PARTIES AND THIRD PARTIES

This guidance has been produced to help candidates, parties and third parties comply with the law by setting out the general rules for behaviour on election day and during the advance voting period.

Any activities (including advertising) promoting the election of a candidate or party, or attacking a party or candidate, are prohibited on election day before 7pm (Saturday 20 September 2014) and are a criminal offence. The full list of prohibited activities is set out insection 197 of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements.

Summary of the rules for candidates, parties and third parties

On election day you must not:

  • Display any hoardings – all election signs must be taken down or covered up before election day.
  • Display any other election advertising – cover up or place away from public view vehicles advertising parties or candidates (this includes flags and bumper stickers).
  • Distribute any campaign material.
  • Distribute or display anything showing political party or candidate names.
  • Post election-related material online. This includes election-related posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Take part in any election-related demonstration or procession.
  • Wear or display clothing that promotes a political party or candidate.
  • Conduct opinion polling of voters.

In relation to websites and social media:

Social media on election day

There are additional restrictions on election day.  On election day (from midnight on 19 September until 7pm on 20 September) there is a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for. 

Election advertising does not have to be removed from social media so long as:

  • the material was published before election day
  • the material is only made available to people who voluntarily access it, and
  • no advertisements promoting the page or site are published on election day.  

If you use social media, do not post messages on election day that could breach these rules.  The Commission recommends candidates and parties temporarily deactivate their Facebook campaign pages to avoid the risk of supporters committing an offence by posting on your page.  For other forms of social media where others can post comments the Commission recommends that where possible security settings are changed so that other people cannot post messages before 7pm on election day. 

Posts on social media that are not connected in any way with the election can of course be posted on election day.

So as long as you post something prior to midnight on election eve it’s fine, even if it is prominently displayed during election day. But you supposedly can’t post anything on election day.

While most of the Electoral Commission advice relates to parties and candidates “a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for” implies that these gagging rules apply to everyone.

To an extent this is understandable, if individuals were allowed to promote party and candidate voting then parties would find ways to sneak around the rules.

But when an increasingly large proportion of people vote while campaigning is in full swing this seems anachronistic.

I wasn’t going to tell you who you should vote for anyway. Just make an effort to vote if you are inclined towards voting.

Dotcom’s gagging order

Kim Dotcom has been granted an interim injunction to stop former security guard Wayne Tempero revealing anything about any of Dotcom’s (or his wife’s) business,  personal, musical or political details.

Court gags Dotcom bodyguard

Dotcom made a successful application for an interim injunction against Wayne Tempero in the High Court at Auckland yesterday. The action came soon after the Herald reported that Tempero was set to release “secret revelations” about Dotcom’s “mindset and megalomania”.

Tempero resigned from Dotcom’s staff in October.

Yesterday Justice Sarah Katz granted an interim injunction and ordered that Mr Tempero – and anyone else on his behalf – was “restrained from using or disclosing to any person, firm, corporation or entity, any confidential or trade information acquired whilst working for Kim Dotcom”.

The information included, but was not limited to, any information acquired by Mr Tempero “about Kim Dotcom, his role with Kim Dotcom, any information to do with providing services to Kim Dotcom and any other information whatsoever concerning Kim Dotcom, his businesses, his political party, his music, his family and friends, and all images of Kim Dotcom, his family and friends at any time”.

The order also prohibits Mr Tempero from disclosing computer software.

Mr Tempero was also ordered not to disclose any information about Dotcom’s wife Mona’s business or his other companies including Megaupload and Megastuff.

Peterwn at Whale Oil:

The judge probably adopted the lawyer’s draft order ‘as is’. The wording would cover his employees or anyone acting on his behalf. It would only cover Cam if Kim can show on the balance of probabilities that he was acting on Mr Tempero’s behalf – this would be an issue that Cam would need to consider but his sources go far wider than this.

I am surprised that Mr Tempero would do anything but have the utmost respect for his clients and ex-clients and keep things ‘in confidence’. His future engagements depend on it. I cannot believe he is disclosing such confidential information, seems to me Kim suspects he has, hence the injunction. The only other explanation is Kim is foul-mouthing him around the place and Mr Tempero feels a need to fight back to maintain his professional reputation.

Cam Slater responds:

Kim Dotcom already broke the confidentiality agreement when he spoke to Rachel Glucina about Temperos pay and conditions…game over after that.

This seems to relate to this from Rachel Glucina in NZ Herald last month (February 26):

Now it’s the Dotcom tapeKim Dotcom has been taped talking to an unpaid former staff member, The Diary has learned. It’s understood a news organisation is in discussions to air it. Dotcom is allegedly trying to stop it by enforcing non-disclosure agreements.

Dotcom came under fire last week from Kiwi small business owners who are owed as much as $500,000 in unpaid bills. A lack of funds was also blamed for longtime bodyguard Wayne Tempero’s exit.

The Megaupload founder told The Diary he could afford to pay his minder only half of what he was getting two years ago.Dotcom, who continues to embrace an opulent lifestyle, has pledged to pay his debts when he has the money. But when? Who knows? Yesterday he told The Diary he did not want to talk about the tape.

Gagging orders are risky. They tend to get journalists more interested in issues and more determined to dig.

Whale Oil is promising to reveal much more. NZ Herald obviously has information too. And media interest is likely to be stoked up by this gagging order.

Curran gagging cancer

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…

lprent

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…

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

http://blog.labour.org.nz/2010/04/30/openlabournz-how-it-will-work/

…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? yourdunedin@gmail.com

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)

13.2

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.

Updates on Curran clusterfuck

I’ll add relevant information as it comes out, the flow is growing.

The Standard:

http://ideologicallyimpure.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/i-thought-no-one-read-blogs-anyway/
http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/gagging-membership.html
http://tumeke.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/labour-to-censor-mps-from-blogosphere.html
http://www.recessmonkey.org.nz/2012/12/07/stopwhinging/

Curran needs to answer gagging accusations

Viper Anne

I will give you an example that happened a few months ago. The MP in question ‘outed’ one of The Standard’s most well known (and highly regarded) commenters… on Red Alert. I doubt the person in question was too phased because he’s never made any attempt to hide his real identity anyway. What I’m saying is: she has a history of this kind of silly behaviour.

Tumeke: Ruthless Labour’s new purge of the blogs

Just viping

Muzza, you seem to be saying a) What’s so special about Colonial Viper?
and b) you question the importance to CV of his pseudonymity, and believe you have a right to know his reasons and have the right to judge whether his reasons are “valid.”

You do get that CV is a commenter on a blog, and you have no right to know anything about his “real” life? Any more than I have a right to any information about yours. That CV has been silenced (albeit temporarily I hope) by Labour management shows his right to privacy is very important to him. And CV is one of us.

And we know, because it has been discussed here extensively, that some, maybe many, would not be able to participate at all, or would have their right to freedom of speech significantly curtailed without this protection.

Labour management is silencing dissent by bullying its own members (who are, it’s worth noting, its (unpaid) workforce). If you don’t see this as important enough to warrant a rallying of support from this community, and/or don’t see CV as ‘important” enough, I’d be kind of interested in your criteria.

Who would be important enough?
What would be important enough?

Grant Hay

What kind person stops posting their passionately held opinions just because a chinless wonder in the Labour hierarchy goes on a “witch-hunt”. They dont actually burn witches any more and the ruling faction doesn’t have the powers of a witch-finder pursuivant.

If Labour’s activist base is more concerned with membership of a dysfunctional party which ceased representing the working class decades ago, rather than the right to freedom of expression, then there truly is no hope for reclaiming the party from the clique that hijacked it in the first place.

Viper73

I know I’ve ragged on the looney lefties in the past (and deservedly so) but this would be one of the most (if not most) dumb-ass things counter-productive things I’ve ever heard an MP propose…

Whats an electorate MP get a year, $150 grand or something and this is what it produces?!?!?

What next, every right wing blogger gets put in prison for dissension?

colonial locus

Maintainable

What the heck are you talking about. Threatening to expose someone when they’ve used a pseudonym to debate on blogs is bullying at best and blackmail at worst.
This issue is not “political theatre”, nor is it just “harassment”, it is both a personal attack on an individual’s rights, and total contempt for the premise which gives bloggers the freedom to question the means and ends of those in power without having their livelihood threatened by bullies.

Outed

What kind of word is that? To me it suggests that you equate the threat of damaging someone by releasing their private information to an inevitable act of ‘bringing something out into the open’ And do you really think CV would be receiving this degree of support if it were purely based on “Following vague details” Over the last two days reliable contributors have corroborated information that blackmail/bullying is happening

David from Chch — December 9, 2012 @ 10:35 am

I for one stopped supporting Labour before the 2008 election when I realised that they were no longer interested in listening to their ‘grass roots’ supporters. I made comments on a couple of issues, and was told quite bluntly that I was wrong in a very dismissive way. No engagement, no discussion – simple dismissal.

So I am not surprised at the events of the past few years. I am surprised that Labour are doing as well as they are. The Greens have become the real opposition party. Now often their stands are simply silly, BUT they are out there and engaging with the issues and you know where they stand, even if you disagree with them.

Paul — December 9, 2012 @ 11:42 am

Ditto, Have experienced the same: How does Labour do so well? Labour Caucus need some old heads cleaned out!!!

I’ve actually had this same experience – they (MPS) weren’t interested in input of ideas, they wanted political servants.

Someone testing whether they can post at Red Alert with an innocuous comment but a provactive pseudonym.

Neo colonial viper says:

Not looking pretty for poor NZ. Time for a solid policy platform from labour over the next year or so and take it to the tories

Now continued on a new post: More blogs, more details on Labour gagging

Curran needs to answer gagging accusations

There have been credible claims that the Labour Party has been gagging party members on blogs. ‘The sprout’ confirms this in a blog comment at The Standard:

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?

So far it’s been CV, millsy, Peter Wilson, and me – that I know of – but who knows who else has been leaned on to shut up?

That’s on a blog post – I, Vipertacus – dedicated to solidarity for one of those who have been gagged, Colonial Viper., in which Zetetic says:

We’re not like the disgrace of an MP who has hounded CV into silence because she can’t handle honest criticism (and she’s not just a disgrace for that – she’s the first Labour MP in the history of her seat to let it go blue). Proud of you lot for standing beside our own against a bully.

That gives a strong hint about who the MP is who is leading this gagging campaign. This also alluded to on Friday:

Peter

A damned shame, but highly reflective of the state of affairs with the NZLP currently. I too know the identity of the person involved in this, and there will be future consequences no doubt. Will be interesting to see what happens for me, blogging under my own name, in the future.

Nah, it’s more that some MPs are spending a large amount of their time trawling through blogs, and Facebook etc, and then intimidating members based on what they say, particularly if it doesn’t agree with them. I don’t know if its an overt strategy or policy of NZ Council, but it’s certainly a policy of about 3-4 core MPs, and there may even be a a rogue one in there who can’t help themselves.

I have the evidence, as do others. It exists, and if the behaviour doesn’t stop, it may just come out.

Hilarious. Most people who’ve hung around the Labour Party know who I am. But for the record, my name is Peter Wilson, I was a former party member, LEC member, Otago University youth branch founder and president, Otago/Southland Labour regional council chairman for three years. I’ve chaired list conferences, fought on four campaign committees, including two as campaign manager in tough tory blue country. I have also worked in paid employment for a number of MPs, including the MP in question today.

… I had already received cease and desist messages privately.

There’s more ‘hints’:

Another Viper

Perhaps we show solidarity with CV by including Viper in new pseudonyms.
Clare has him in her sights and Tim Barnett et al will execute on her wishes.

Viper Anne

Does CV have a blog site, or a role inside the membership which would explain this attention?

Not to my knowledge except he has shown himself to be a very effective communicator. I suspect that was the sin he committed.

I know CV lives in Dunedin because he has mentioned it on occasion. The MP in question also hails from Dunedin. In my view she has simply lost the plot. While there may be some other incidences of bullying going on, I don’t think its a campaign on the part of the Labour caucus to stamp out criticism or dissent. I hope not.

All this was sparked by this post on Thursday night:

Just how wrong can you get it?

Written By: – Date published: 9:03 pm, December 6th, 2012

Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere. It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.

And IrishBill clarifies and emphasises:

Nope. That was a turn of phrase that perhaps made it sound more like gossip than fact but it is fact.I can also assure you that I don’t air the party’s laundry like this without good reason.

It has been going on at least since the Labour Party conference:

lprent

Nope. This is an actual problem. There was a threat of “outing” by a MP that came up during the lobbying at conference. Subsequently it was raised by the same MP in the NZ Council as part of the lobbying to push Tamihere’s membership through.

It fits the same pattern of behaviour as Shane Jones demonstrates. A caucus that does things less by focused strategy and more by stupid intimidation.

I’d advise people to think carefully before putting comments at Red Alert if your identity can in anyway be traced back to you. I guess that is why the comments are dropping like a stone over there.

It is quite unacceptable net behaviour.

It’s even more unacceptable behaviour from an MP and a political party. More from lprent:

TRP: There is more than sufficient evidence. At least for me.

The lobbying at the conference which is where this round of it seemed to have started was pretty intense and I’ve had quite a four people independently describing it to me.

The NZ Council debate is something that I have had several direct and indirect sources on.

Much of this information is coming from identifiable Labour Party members. Another member (a conference delegate) questioned the evidence:

Te Reo Putake

To be fair to Labour, there is no evidence presented that supports the claim of bullying. A few people are hinting about dark dealings, but nobody’s fronting with the facts. Name and shame, I reckon.

There is no reason why the evidence should be suppressed. Therefore, it is possible, even likely, that the evidence does not exist. IB, LP and PW are credible people, hence my amazement at their singular failure to back up their position.

The fact that legal threats and intimidation are being used might explain that. But once this started on a blog it was inevitable the leak would become a flood. And word gets around behind the scenes.

Apology accepted. For the record, I never denied anything; the whole thrust of my questions was to establish the truth. I now know the facts, via a private source, but I still don’t know why the Standard won’t publish the full story, because it really is appalling behaviour by a half witted bully of an MP.

However, I’m going to assume the lack of detail is to protect the victim/s and leave it at that. But you should know that this incident leaves me very angry indeed and I firmly believe the MP concerned should be de-selected and expelled from the party.

These are serious accusations. Another blogger (Chris Richardson) quotes the party rule apparently being used to silence the critics:

302. Disciplinary action shall be applied for and ruled upon on the grounds of:

i. contravention of the Principles, Rules and policies of the Party as contained in the current Constitution and policy documents of the Party;

ii. and/or for bringing the Party into disrepute;

Free speech on blogs is not what is bringing the Party into disrepute – there has been a lot of strong criticism for sure, but it has been mostly honest opinion raising valid points as far as I have seen.

I believe draconian gagging and intimidation of party members is doing far more to bring the Labour Party into disrepute.

Clare Curran

MP for Dunedin South
Spokesperson for Communications & IT
Spokesperson for Broadcasting
Spokesperson for Open Government
Spokesperson for Disability Issues

Her spokesperson roles are particularly ironic.

Clare is also the Labour Caucus secretary and representative to the Labour Council.

Clare needs to use her communication expertise and expressed desire for openness and transparency  in politics. She tweeted yesterday:

Contradiction here re opp ITU regs vs support TPPA: Chris Barton: The global battle for internet freedom via @nzherald http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10851641 …

The Herald article she references began:

The online clamour – voices battling for internet freedom and others battling for internet control – became a one sided conversation last week. The voices of freedom shouted somewhat apoplectically at the voices of control, which were mostly secret whispers outed by leaks.

It gets even more serious when political parties and MPs are battling for internet control by quashing the voices of freedom within their own party. Clare already has a reputation for controlling Red Alert – I for one have been banned there. In an email  Clare told me:

Pete I simply don’t believe you. Have had too many instances of your trolling behaviour on Red Alert and my facebook page. Have watched how you comment on The Standard, Kiwiblog and Whaleoil.

I don’t feel threatened by you, I simply don’t believe you.

I think your claims of transparency are rhetoric.

The commenter called Whodunnit has been banned for very offensive comments towards me and for refusing to reveal his identity to me and for it being revealed that he routes his email through another country in order to remain anonymous. Red Alert and Labour MPs on facebook and Twitter engage in real debates and conversations. But people who have malicious intent should not be tolerated by anyone on the internet.

Feel free to publish my comments as no doubt you will.

That was in September when I queries her banning me from Red Alert. Back then I saw no need to publish Clare’s comments, but it fits in with and adds to a bigger picture of political censorship.

Clare, querying and posting honest opinion isn’t trolling. You label people as trolls if you don’t want to hear what they are saying. It is a form of insult and intimidation that you back up with active suppression of free speech.

That brings the Labour Party into disrepute far more than party members expressing their opinions and frustrations with the Labour Caucus. As a member of the house of representatives it also brings Parliament into disrepute.

And as a Dunedin MP it’s an awful look for the city too.

Clare, if you truly believe in open and honest politics and governance as you claim then you need to start being open and honest about what you are doing. Before the damage gets totally out of control.