Is The Standard “a mouthpiece for Labour”?

Lynn Prentice keeps adamantly denying that his Standard blog is a mouthpiece for Labour. Technically he’s probably correct – but there’s no doubt many mouths of Labour are active at The Standard.

The denials of being very Labour are bizarre. It’s not like Peter three times denying Jesus on one day. It’s more like the twelve disciples denying Jesus throughout the writing of the New Testament.

In a radio interview yesterday Prentice was at best blatantly misleading – see Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard.

Here’s a list of most of the current and recent Standard authors.

lprent (Lynn Prentice) – Standard trustee, editor, sysop, author  and chief moderator (banner of unwelcome opinions). Prentice is a long time Labour Party member, has often mentioned how much he helped Helen Clark in her Mt Albert electorate, attends Labour conferences but has pledged to vote Green this election. No disclosure on The Standard but this of the “brilliant blogger” is still at The Daily Blog.

lprent (also known as Lynn Prentice) is an ancient geek who fell out of management in the 90′s after getting irritated with accountants and doing an MBA and back into programming. During the process he became involved in real world politics as a reluctant socialist. He hasn’t really emerged from those twin obsessions since.

Lynn Prentice is Editor of The Standard, the largest left wing blog in NZ. Lynn is a brilliant blogger and resides in the high ranking Jedi Knight category. He likes Don McGlashan, a facebook page called Whaleoil Sucks and the Ponsonby Fish and Chips shop.

Currently he programs anti-collision devices in c++, linux, Qt, and touch screens. Since he also acts as the sysop of multi-author blog The Standard, that large left-wing nest of vipers that plague the NZ politicians of all hues. He finds the same predictive algorithms useful in educating the trolls who waste his time. Occasionally he finds time to write the odd blog post on whatever interests him.

Mike Smith – Standard trustee (since 2010) and current author. Retired as “the long standing party secretary of the Labour party in 2009”. Worked as an adviser in David Shearer’s leader’s office up until last year.

mickysavage (Greg Presland) – current author.  Former chair of David Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate committee and presumably still on the committee. He was the lawyer who set up Cunliffe’s secret trust during the Labour leadership campaign last year.

Bunji – current author and active Labour Party member.

I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland. That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Stephanie Rodgers – current author (also blogs elsewhere). On the Labour campaign team in Ohariu. Communications officer at EPMU.

Stephanie Rodgers is a communicator who lives in Wellington with her partner and two guinea pigs.  One of them was once the Dominion Post’s Pet of the Day (the guinea pigs, not her partner).  She is a communications officer at the EPMU and member of the Labour Party, but blogs in a personal capacity in her own time.  Opinions are her own.

UPDATE: Stephanie was grumpy at me because she has a disclosure statement – but it is on her own blog, not at The Standard. Some of her posts have a link to her blog ‘Boots Theory’ and if find a hidden menu with ‘About’ on it (the black square on the left) she has a different disclosure:

Disclosure statement

All opinions expressed on this blog are my personal views.

I work as a communications officer at the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.  I am a member of the Labour Party and have previously worked for Labour’s team in Parliament as a lowly receptionist.  Nothing on this blog should be construed as a statement made on behalf of any of these organisations.

Stephanie has been a lowly staffer working for Labour in Parliament but that was before she began as an author at The Standard (which was in February this year, she was working at EPMU last year).

karol – current author (since 2012). Strongly promotes Greens. Previously used the pseudonym ‘carol’. A recent ‘Disclaimer’:

Disclaimer:  My primary political allegiance is to the Left. I am not now, nor ever have been, a member of a political party.  I don’t speak for any party.  I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election.  I will give my electorate vote to Carmel Sepuloni.

James Henderson – author April 2010 until December 2013. Closely associated with Greens. There have been rumours he was Clint Smith who had authored under the pseudonym ‘Steve Piersen‘ until March 2009 when he went to work in Parliament for Labour.  Smith switched to Greens as media and political adviser (of “Hey Clint’ fame), and then in April this year switched back to work for Labour.

Rocky (previously as Rochelle Rees until 2009) – past author, has just started posting again (last posts before this week were in 2012). Prentice’s niece. Political and animal rights activist. Prentice blogged in 2008:

My niece Rochelle Rees has uncovered some unsavory practices operated by element of the NZ Police directed at peaceful protest groups.

You can read them either by buying the paper, or by these links to articles from Nicky Hager.
Police anti-terror squad spies on protest groups
Who the police were spying on
The activist who turned police informer
How Gilchrist was found out:

Twenty-two-year-old Rochelle Rees got involved in politics as a schoolgirl, determined to do something about issues such as cruelty in battery hen farms.

Since then she has handed out leaflets, been arrested for locking herself to a shop selling clothing made with animal fur from China and made the news during this year’s election campaign for a cheeky “Google bomb” calling John Key “clueless”.

Ben Clark – occasional author.  Labour Party member. Brother of Labour MP David Clark. Stood for Labour in North Shore in 2011 and was 69 on the party list. Not on the 2014 list.

Irish Bill – past author (last post September 2013). Earlier in 2013 Prentice denied – “Labour party member”.In the words of a Tui ad – “Yeah right!” but IrishBill corrected him:

We’re a loose collective at TS. I’ve a policy of keeping myself to myself outside of what I write there but would like to correct a couple of things here. I am a Labour party member (and have been on and off for a long long time) and my call for joining up certainly wasn’t tongue in cheek – having seen what happens when the broader left walks away from the party I’m very keen to see as many lefties as possible sign up now – it’s more important for us to be in the party now than it has been since the dark days of the 80s.

Eddie – author until January this year. Seems to have been strongly connected to one of Labour’s factions – see a post from March last year Labour’s three factions. Many rumours since way back about the identity, notably that it is a pseudonym that has been used by a number of Labour insiders or staffers, both male and female. The name Jennie Michie keeps coming up back a few years. Always denied. From Dim Post in 2009:

It’s rumoured that Eddie, the author of the rumour is a senior Labour comms advisor so if there’s a story to be found here I think it’s that Labour are begging the gallery to start smearing cabinet Ministers.

UPDATE: Eddie and IrishBill from The Standard refute the rumour that Eddie is a comms advisor with the Labour Party.

Comments:

“Eddie is not a comms adviser. You need to quote her job title 100% correct then ask her and Irish to deny it again. That is the game they play.”

“Does anybody actually believe Rob and Jennie when they keep denying who they are via their nom de blogs? Ridiculous.
“Senior EPMU staff member and labour staffer spend all day trying to smear and build mountains from molehills. Quelle surprise.”

“So Eddie aka Jenny Michie senior Labour comms wallah and IrishBill aka Rob Egan, Communications Advisor of the EPMU are getting their nickers in a twist over being outed ? Why don’t they just come out of the closet, it really would be much easier for them in the long run.”

An article on blogging in 2009 got a response from ‘Eddie’ plus a counter claim.

Eddie: Sandra. Sorry that we didn’t get back to you on your email about us commenting for this article. Clinton used to handle the public stuff and he tells me he got your email when he was pulling out of the whole blog scene, forgot to pass on the email.

I’ll take this opportunity to clear up a few things.

The Standard is a broad-Left blog, about half the regular writers support the Greens and the other half Labour. We don’t toe party lines and we’re more likely to write critical articles on the parties of the Left than supporting ones.

You could have found this info on our About page and might be nice if you could edit the text to reflect them, at least noting we dismiss Hooton’s conspiracy theories.

Hooton’s got no evidence of any association with Labour, much less than any of us are paid by them. It’s simple lies from a man who has made a career out of spouting extremist rubbish. How’s his blog doing these days? Oh yeah, it died.

Roger: Eddie at the standard is Jenny Michie who is the communications officer at the labour party. When she says there are no labour party link with the standard that isnt credible.

Zetetic – current occasional author. Obvious Labour/left leanings. Rumoured to be many people including Trevor Mallard (I don’t think that’s credible) or associated with Mallard (feasible). Another denial from Prentice here, this time about Zetetic’s Labour-ness.

I can’t remember Zet ever mentioning unions and his posts that even mention Labour are usually somewhat disdainful. However as he mostly stirs in his posts it is frequently difficult to see the difference. He said he was voting for the Mana party in 2011 (and RAM in 2008).

But Zetetic was quite clear here early last year. In For a February leadership vote

No one in Labour can deny there’s a real issue with internal disunity. Not only is the caucus divided (and more than ever since the Shearer camp’s handling of the conference fallout), but there’s a major breach between the membership and the caucus. Unless this is fixed and we can get the party united we’re looking at another term in opposition after 2014.

Increasingly, people are coming to the view that the only way to heal this rift and unify the party is for caucus to take the leadership issue out to the membership this February so we can put it to bed once and for all. That’s what the conference was about. We wanted to make sure we were never ignored again. We simply want our right to vote, and whatever the outcome is I believe that will settle it.

Nearly all of these authors are proven to have close Labour links or are likely to have close Labour links. There are union links as well which isn’t surprising.

Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones (ex EPMU) and Rob Egan.

I’m baffled why Prentice and others keep trying to deny that The Standard is closely associated with Labour.

Sure it may be a group of semi-independent bloggers. But most of them have an obvious strong common interest – Labour.

Why do they try to hide from this? Prentice told blatant mistruths on Radio New Zealand about The Standard and it’s authors.

I would have thought they would be proudly promoting Labour, but they seem embarrassed or afraid of something.

They could be a very effective mouthpiece for Labour but they want to hide in semi-anonymity and denial. It’s bizarre. 

Note: I’ll amend this with any credible corrections or additions. Put in comments or email me at petedgeorge@gmail.com

UPDATE: Duncan Garner writes in Politics is a sleazy business – regardless of who is in power

Senior Labour  ministers and press secretaries rang to point me toward The Standard, a Left-wing blog, to read its vitriol on certain days. Who had written those posts? I’m told many were written under fake names by Labour staffers paid by the taxpayer.

More Labour connections

The Standard re-posts from Polity by Rob Salmond:

Rob has wide experience relevant to public affairs. He has been a Parliamentary adviser to two leaders of New Zealand’s Labour party (Helen Clark, David Shearer), and through Polity continues to work with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

They also re-post from Imperator Fish by Scott Yorke:

My name is Scott Yorke. I’m a lawyer, but this site doesn’t really have anything to do with my day job, because, really, what kind of twisted job would that be if it did?

This blog is my own, and the posts do not represent the opinions of anyone other than me.

Nor does anything on this blog represent legal advice. This is my hobby, not a job. I don’t give out legal advice over the internet.

Disclosure

Yes, I am a bit left leaning. But some of my best friends, etc. etc.

I am also a long-suffering member of the Labour Party. Now you can’t say I didn’t tell you.

Scott is also active in electorate campaigning for Labour.

These are both very good disclosures and they both do some very good posts, but it makes a nonsense of The Standard claiming no Labour input into their blog. 

 

Is ‘James Henderson’ Clint Smith?

David Farrar beats around the bush on Kiwiblog in asking A question:

Which prominent blogger has been on the parliamentary payroll for the last 18 months to two years as a parliamentary communications advisor to a political party?

Would not a failure to publicly disclose this be a shocking breach of ethics?

Will the media ask party leaders the names of all their communications advisors, and see which one fesses up?

It’s a fairly good bet Farrar is referring to authors at The Standard, in particular ‘James Henderson’ and possibly ‘Eddie’ and ‘Zetetic’.

It’s been fairly widely suggested that ‘James Henderson’ is the now infamous “Hey Clint” Smith. If Clint can advise that he does not directly or indirectly use that pseudonym (nor any of his co-PR staff at Greens) then I will blog acknowledgement of that as a clarification.

It has at least been confirmed that James Henderson is a Green Party person, and whether it is Clint or not it’s a dishonest misuse of pseudonym to present as a person using a full name when that is not your name.

lprent (Lynn Prentice) makes all sorts of excuses for this dishonesty (you can also question who uses ‘Eddie’ and ‘Zetetic’) but usually resorts to attacking the messenger, which is a sure sign the messenger is close to the mark.

The credibility of The Standard as a forum for the labour left is severely damaged by this ongoing dishonesty and lack of transparency. And there is a strong labour-Green association involved.

So the credibility of the Greems is in question.

The easiest way to clarify is to get an answer. Hey Clint?

I’ll post any response in full.

The Standard on power of blogs

Anthony Robins has posted at The Standard on the power of blogs. He writes about recent publicity about National ‘consultant’ Simon Lusk and his relationship with Cameron Slater and his Whale Oil blog. He raises the issue of paid blogging.

As to the vexed relationship between blogs and money, as is clear from recent rants on the Lusk/Slater Whaleoil blog, with a right wing blog you don’t know if posts have been bought and paid for.

But then he tries to differentiate his own Standard blog:

I think I can pretty safely state for the record that no Standard author has ever been paid to write anything here, and would never accept money to do so under any circumstances (authors please contradict me if I am wrong!). 

I don’t expect some authors to say anything, they would rather not reveal that they are paid to promote party PR and use The Standard to do this.

Mike Smith is open about the fact he works for David Shearer, and his posts are often obviously on behalf of his employer.

Some of the other Standard authors are widely believed to be employed by unions or political parties and use The Standard as a part of that employment. They are being paid to blog.

Round here what you see is what you get.

That’s a laughable claim. I’m sure Anthony believes it, and with him it is true, but there is a lot of deceitful political posting by other Standard authors.

Pseudonyms are used to try and hide who Standard authors are paid by and post on behalf of.

At least names like Eddie and Zetetic are obvious pseudonyms. Deceitful, but openly deceitful.

But using what appears to be a person’s name, like ‘James Henderson’, to disguise the real identity of the writer and hide from the readers who they are working for is blatantly dishonest.

lprent, who is widely known as Lynn Prentice, will huff and waffle in an attempt at diversion – including his usual attack-the-messenger pettiness – but that won’t hide the facts.

Despite Robin’s naive claims some of The Standard authors are paid political mouthpieces.

No one is likely to be surprised that Labour uses anonymous propagandists.

But the lack of openness and transparency of the Green Party  is not only deceitful but also hypocritical.

Hey Clint, it simply isn’t good enough for a party that used to have principles. The power of blogs is not always positive.

NZ Power politics

The Labour Green proposals for NZ Power are as much about political power as electrical power, as illustrated by some left wing comments:

IrishBill at The Standard in NZ Power and the next step combines political ideology with political power…

First let me say that the NZ Power policy is some of the best progressive policy I’ve seen for a long time – it’s so good to see a real move to break with the Chicago School consensus. And it’s good to see the right caught off guard and resorting to showing the ugly abusive face they usually keep in check. Remember, in politics losing your cool is losing.

But let’s also be clear that this is a policy that threatens to transfer wealth from the elite to the people and, once they gather themselves, the elite will come after this policy hard. Not only to stop NZ Power, but because they know that if it gains traction then it might embolden the electorate to embrace other social democratic policies.

Danyl at Dim-Post in Kicking the tires out from under them…

But you can’t fault the politics. The government needs the partial sale of Mighty River Power to succeed. It’s their signature achievement. English needs the cash, and Key has bled so much political capital and invested so much time on this policy that it has to work. And now the shares are finally on sale to New Zealand buyers. It lists on the NZX early next month. They must have felt like they’d finally made it.

But now Labour and the Greens have announced that if they’re elected dividends from these companies will be minimal. How do you quantify that if you’re a risk analyst for an investment fund? No wonder National are furious, and Simon Bridges was close to tears in Parliament yesterday spluttering about the decline in Contact Energy’s share price.

Maybe the market won’t care, and the float will be a success. But if it isn’t, I don’t think the public will be sympathetic when the government blames the opposition. This is an unpopular policy, and government Ministers blame Labour every time they spill their coffee. It’ll also leave English trying to raise money, either through borrowing, spending cuts or tax increases, all of which would kick in in 2014. Election year.

…doesn’t seem to understand that could actually mean kicking the tires out from under the economy – that will impact on all of us far beyond having a bit of cheap power.

All about winning political power and nothing thought through about the wider implications and impact.

And Green ‘James Henderson’ at The Standard talking up Nats panicking on NZ Power

At the end of the day, National is fucked on this. They stand for the profits of the (often overseas) capitalist elite, which come from sucking the lifeblood from the rest of us. Labour and the Greens have neatly exposed the fact that National stands for the elite while putting themselves on our side. And they’ve done it with a policy that makes a hell of a lot of sense.

This makes it look like a political power game where people are pawns and electricity is being used as spark that could ignite far more than Labour and Greens have thought of.

Chauvel’s barb backfired on party office links to blogs

Charles Chauvel made an accusation against bloggers in his valedictory speech in parliament:

In the case of the two better-known right wing blogs, those online sources are proxies for the present government, with much copy supplied directly out of ministers’ offices at taxpayers’ expense.

It has not been disputed that he was referring to Kiwiblog and Whale Oil.

“Much copy supplied directly out of ministers’ offices” is totally unsubstantiated by Chauvel, and at the new The Daily Blog Lynn Prentice implies the same accusation:

The implication that Pete George is evidentially trying to imply is that The Standard is run by Labour in the same manner that those two blogs are.

There is no evidence for and much evidence against the claim that Kiwiblog and Whale Oil are “proxies for the current Government”. In a blog post headed Pete George – an example of right wing blogging falsehoods it’s ironic that Prentice is promoting a falsehood made in parliament.

I haven’t claimed and have no reason to believe that The Standard is “run by Labour”, I was simply showing significant connections with Labour. And Prentice actually agrees with (and clarifies) Labour-Standard connections – doesn’t deny one that is directly linked to Shearer’s office.

Mike Smith – “works in David Shearer’s office”. Wow – what a inordinate level of omission. Mike retired as the long standing party secretary of the Labour party in 2009. We asked him to join me as a trustee of the trust that runs The Standard in 2010. He couldn’t resist starting to write posts later that year.

However I don’t think that anyone who knows politics is surprised that David Shearer’s office also wanted his advice on a part-time basis. He has a rather lot of political experience (unlike Pete apparently).

Smith is only an occasional poster but even Labour Party members at The Standard raised eyebrows via their keyboards about his posts during the leadership/conference stoush in November, and suggested it was copy supplied directly out of David Shearer’s office.

And I had also said:

‘James Henderson’ – believed to work for Greens in Parliament.

Prentice:

James Henderson – 22 posts. I’ll ignore the unsubstantiated whaledreck Pete George asserts. But JH always party votes Green.

And…

However with the exception of Mike Smith for Labour and JH for the Greens…

…Prentice confirms those party links.

And the other pseudonyms could be fed by anyone. This highlights problems with using pseudonyms for political purposes on blogs. David Farrar  has blogged on this:

Again, because readers have no way of knowing if an author is a genuine unique individual, one associates things they say more with the site, than them as an individual – because we do not know them as an individual.

And because we don’t know them as individuals, and they don’t openly identify their connections and motives, pseudonym users (and sites like The Standard that allow them for political purposes) leave themselves open to reasonable speculation.

‘James Henderson’ – is not a known identity, virtually any blogger using their own name reveals details about themselves over time. Not so with James Henderson. There is no indication it’s anything but a pseudonym – which could be seen as misleading and dishonest trying to pass themselves off as a ‘person’ they are not.

I don’t have direct evidence that ‘James Henderson’ is a pseudonym that uses copy supplied directly out of Green offices but there are ample indications that this could be so, and there is no denial from Prentice or anyone else.

The Greens could deny any link between their offices and ‘James Henderson’, that would settle this. Both David Farrar and Cameron Slater make detailed disclosures about themselves, their pasts and their connections.

I am not claiming (or implying) that either Labour or the Greens run The Standard.

But Chauvel’s barb has backfired, as has Prentice’s grand entrance to The Daily Blog. They have made unsubstantiated accusations about right wing blogs with “much copy supplied directly out of ministers’ offices at taxpayers’ expense“, and Prentice has shown that in fact Labour and quite possibly Greens are doing exactly that from opposition party offices (as a part of the overall blogging at The Standard).

It’s a double own goal.

Green conflict over four year term?

‘James Henderson’ has posted Against a four year term at The Standard.

Key and Shearer want 4 year terms of parliament.

Regular opportunities to vote the bastards out is all we have.

That’s why Kiwis rejected a change to a four year term by a margin of more than two to one when the question was put to us in referenda in 1967 and 1990. That’s why we would reject it again. Indeed, both the public’s adoption to MMP in the 1990s and our strong decision to retain it in 2011 show that we want more controls on the power of government, not less.

(** And with both National and Labour having put themselves on the wrong side of public opinion on this, if there is a referendum in 2014 on a four year term, there’s big opportunities for parties that support a three year term.)

It is correct that the 1990 referendum rejected four year terms. But that was 23 years ago, and as a Herald editorial Four year term better for country says.

Voters were in no mood to give the Executive more time to push through radical and unpopular reforms. Bruised by the Douglas-ite mantra that there was no alternative, the public chose what appeared to be one of its few remaining sanctions – the three-yearly chance to cry “enough”.

The referendum defeat for the four-year term preceded the adoption of the new MMP electoral system, which took effect at the 1996 election.

And ‘James Henderson’, who some believe is a Green Party author, appears to be at odds with Metiria Turei. As reported in the Herald’s Key pushes for four-year terms:

And Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says she thinks the public would support the move.

“Most of the public agree it’s better for governments to have more time to implement policy rather than going from election to election.”

When Turei said that on Waitangi Day I don’t know what she based her claim on, but a Stuff poll suggests she could be right, currently showing:

Should Parliament have a four-year term?

Yes: 1230 votes, 67.4%

No: 596 votes, 32.6%

Total 1826 votes

Turei obviously speaks for the Green Party. Who does ‘James Henderson’ speak for? He has effectively said that Turei has put herself “on the wrong side of public opinion on this“, contradicting what she said at Waitangi.