Twitter reaction to political violence

The attack on James Shaw prompted many and varied comments on Twitter. It has been claimed and reported there were some despicable tweets. This one got a lot of attention:

That’s an awful attempt to justify the attack on Shaw. There have probably been others, but I’m not going to go looking for them.

But that tweet raised another string of condemnations. It was pointed out that @MattKingMP followed the above account, and that was questioned and condemned.

Should MPs (or anyone) be criticised for who they follow on Twitter? In some cases that would be justified. But some people go out of there way to find some way of linking political opponents to negative news.

I follow about 400 people on Twitter. Some of those have probably at some time said crappy things. I used to follow @WhaleOil and @laudafinem (until they blocked me), not because I support them but because I wanted to track what they were saying. I still follow @kiwiblog and @thestandard, things have been said at the related blogs that I have condemned.

It’s difficult to monitor everything that is said on Twitter by people you follow. It depends on time (I don’t have Twitter available all the time) and it also depends on what Twitter displays on your feed.

I think that MPs have greater problems with this. The aim of social media is to connect to as many people as possible, some people rate popularity depending on number of follows and followers and tweets. It’s a flawed measurement, but it happens.

And most MPs won’t have the time to carefully check Twitter and especially check or know what every account they follow  is saying and has said.

But MPs leave themselves open to criticism because some people will look for whatever they can to dump on them.

There are no easy answers.

Another angle on Twitter to the Shaw assault was this thread from Neale Jones:

He may make some fair points (and possibly some unfair ones. Important issues are raised but the timing and link to Shaw makes it look like political opportunism to attack those politicians he frequently and strongly criticises.

Labour leaks targeting Bridges

There have been a series of leaks of internal information obviously designed to damage Simon Bridges and National.

This began with the odd expenses leak just a few days before the information was due for public release, followed by the onslaught from Jami-Lee Ross as the now ex-National MP self destructed. There have been further anonymous leaks of historical information that look suspiciously like a continuation of that attack.

There has also been what looks like a Labour campaign to discredit Bridges and destabilise National heading into the holiday period.

Leaked UMR polling information has progressed from whispers to journalists to drip feeing of poll graphics. I posted on this one yesterday –UMR polling history – which notably was monthly polling with the last result from October, so without the latest poll. One could presume someone is only able to get old data, or the November poll didn’t fit the hit.

There is also a word cloud floating around – Stuff reported on it here How public view Simon Bridges – that was purportedly ‘sent to corporate clients in late November’ and has just popped up. This also indicates it is October data – from the time of the Jami-lee Ross saga, so an out of date targeted hit on Bridges.

Ex Labour staffer Neale Jones, now working for a ‘public affairs company, specialising in Government Relations, Strategic Communications and Campaigns’, keeps tweeting a stream of criticisms of Bridges and National. Whether that is personal or part of Strategic Communications and Campaigns is not clear.

And The Standard has a steady diet of anti-Bridges/National posts. Over the past week:

Mostly this is preaching to the converted, and several authors are involved, but it looks like they have more interested in damaging the Opposition than promoting the Government.

Over the same period there are three posts on Labour/Government bills.

Will all of this have any overall effect? It’s hard to say, but even though there has been a string of media ‘opinions’ from political journalists dumping on Bridges the consensus is that a leadership challenge would be unlikely with National polling higher than Labour (apart from the leaks of cherry picked UMR polls.

In the meantime Jacinda Ardern and Labour keep polling reasonably well – but news of Government progress has not been prominent. Perhaps that’s why there is more focus on attacking National.

Labour staff appointments

Andrew Little has made two appointments to vacant positions in the Labour leader’s office.

Chief of Staff – Neale Jones

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Jones has been upgraded from his current job of Political Director in Little’s office.

Te Reo Putake has some detail at The Standard:

Excellent appointment for Chief of Staff. I’ve known Neale for years and he is a top bloke and good value for the job. I know he also worked with Andrew Little at the EPMU, modernising that union’s comms, and, clearly, they both work together well. I predict good things for Labour.

TRP has been predicting good things for Labour for years. He might be right about it one day.

Modernising the Labour Party may be a lot bigger challenge than modernising union’s comms.

Labour stalwart Greg Presland:

Neale is really good. Safe pair of hands and dedicated to the cause.

So Jones strengthens the EPMU influence in Labour. Some, especially those with union connections, will like that. Others may be less enthusiastic.

Now shunned ex-Labour member Phil Quin tweeted:

The appointment of Neale Jones, a dyed-in-the-wool loyalist, is testament to Andrew Little’s utter impregnability as Labour leader.

Also from Twitter Stephanie Rodgers (who works in union comms):

Nice one, comrade

Little became Labour’s leader due to the crucial Union vote (affiliate unions have 20% of that vote).

Chief Press Secretary – Mike Jaspers

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From NZH Labour confirms senior positions including chief press secretary

Mike Jaspers will be chief press secretary, filling a position that has been vacant since Sarah Stuart left in May after little more than a year in the role.

Jaspers works in communications for New Zealand Rugby including when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He has experience in Parliament – previously working as a press secretary for Sir Michael Cullen in 2006/07, and before that in Parliament’s press gallery for TVNZ.

It’s understood Little previously tried to hire Jaspers after he became Labour leader.

From a different sort of union, the Rugby Union.

Jaspers has been given the most attention by journalists and media who seem to rate him highly. The Standard reaction was more wary. Bill:

Fair to say “Neale Jones good, Mike Jaspers…jury out”?

Jaspers was very effective with the Rugby Union. This may pose a bigger challenge. He has to fill a void and somehow transform how Little and  Labour are presented.

One thing both Jones and Jaspers will need to try and overcome is the negativity that has oozed from Labour from the top down. On his return from a visit to Canada Little indicated that he was keen to follow Justin Trudeau’s positive methods.

Party comms can’t control what is said in social media but they can try to influence it. It desperately needs a positive makeover.

A comment on The Standard’s New lineup for Labour Leader’s office thread is a symptom of an entrenched problem of Labour’s image of vicious intolerance.

He is a semi-literate, trolling muppet, like Pockish Rogue and Maninamuddle. Their new tactic is to derail by being friendly and matey. Why else are they constantly cackling away on nearly every thread on this site?

A new form of Peter George.

Don’t respond to their apparent friendliness. Study the ways of One Anonymous Bloke. He identifies these sleazebags early in the piece and gives them hell. We all need to. Tell them to fuck off.

Friendly bad, fuck off good, so ‘In Vino’ and others seem to think.

Little recently very publicly branded ex-Labour members Quin and Wellington mayoral candidate as right wing traiters and and effectively told them to “fuck off”.

Enticing people like them, like me, and like thousands of other ex-Labour voters, to consider ticking Labour again will be a big challenge for Jones and Jaspers.

While some at the Standard are enthusiastic about these new appointments, hoping they finally have a ‘game changer’, shit continues to be thrown around their nest and elsewhere in social media.

Jones needs to reform the attitude of the party from within and from the top down.

Jaspers needs to present to the public a far more positive Labour, and to somehow paper over the crackpots.

Andrew Little’s leader’s office appointments

The leadership roles in Andrew Little’s office have been confirmed.

  • Chief of Staff: Matt McCarten
  • Political Director: Neale Jones
  • Director of Media and Communications: Sarah Stuart
  • Director of Research and Policy: Martin Taylor

McCarten’s background is well known, both political and union. His appointment by David Cunliffe last year raised a few eyebrows as he had close associations with Mana. His re-appointment by Little also surprised some.

Neale Jones also has a union background, he is ex comminucations manager for EPMU, the union Little used to head before switching to Parliament. Martyn Bradbury on Jones in 2013:

Cunliffe’s new head of communications is likely to be Neil Jones, currently doing a similar job for the Engineering, Publishing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU). Jones has been out of the country for the last few years, working on a contract basis for a number of progressive, campaigning NGOs. Also in his early 30s, he is highly thought of by his peers in the trade unions who describe him variously as “really on to it” and “an impressive guy”.

(Neale) Jones was appointed by Cunliffe as head of communications. This is a different role for him.

Last year Josie Pagani named Jones as a Labour staffer who blogged at The Standard but that hasn’t been confirmed (or specifically denied as far as I’m aware). It would be surprising if Little allowed staff to blog anonymously directly but it would be normaly for the communications directory to communicate with bloggers as well as journalists.

David Farrar on Sarah Stuart in Labour’s new chief press secretary.

Sarah is a former Deputy Editor of the Herald on Sunday, during its start up phase when it went from no customers to winning many awards. Since then she went on to be managing editor of the APN regional and community papers and then two years editing NZ Woman’s Weekly. She has a formidable media background, as both a journalist and an editor.

I think this is a strong appointment for Labour. Her background in both hard and soft news will be useful as they try to get Little’s brand set as a positive one. She should also be able to manage relations well with the press gallery. I’ve not had any dealings with Sarah for many years, but all my experiences has been she is very pleasant and likeable (which helps in dealing with a diverse caucus).

Social media may be a challenge for her, but that is what you have staff for.

On Martin Taylor from Hamish Rutherford at Stuff.

From time to time political parties are accused of giving plum jobs to party faithful, but it appears Labour has not done so in its appointment of new research director, Martin Taylor.

True, Taylor (according to Beehive people) used to work in the office of former Attorney-General and Labour Minister Margaret Wilson, but since then, Taylor has been been chief executive of the Aged Care Association. A carer of the elderly he may be, but he is not an obvious supporter of the union movement.

Check out this release from Taylor in 2011:

“The Labour Party’s Aged Care policy released today by Steve Chadwick has ignored the findings of a 2010 national review into the Aged Care sector and instead proposes policies they rejected themselves when in Government. The policy also mirrors the Nurses’ union ‘Aged Care Charter’ released to Parliament today and which also ignores the critical issues facing the sector.”

Weeks later Taylor wrote that both Labour and National were in a “state of denial” over the issues facing the aged care sector.

Last year the Aged Care Association issued a series of statements warning about the implications of the Kristine Bartlett vs. Terranova Homes and Care Ltd case (a test case for aged care workers fighting for higher wages.

“For the aged care sector it is a big concern. The majority of the sector is standalone SMEs or not-for-profit providers, and they will not be able to survive if caregiver wages increase by 15 per cent without a supporting increase in government funding,” Taylor said.

Admittedly, Taylor said in another statement on the case that the organisation acknowledged that “caregiver wages are too low” as it pushed for the government to increase the amount it paid aged care providers.

That’s an interesting appointment in an office with strong union representation.

Farrar on the team:

Little has also confirmed former EPMU staffer Neale Jones as the party’s political director in Parliament and Martin Taylor as their research director. A good staff team don’t win you an election (the leader does that), but a non performing team can stop you winning. Little’s picks are looking quite sound.