Labour vs The Standard | The Jackal

11 Dec 2012

Labour vs The Standard

Today, the Otago Daily Times reported:

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran admitted she was the senior MP attacked online at the weekend and yesterday for complaining to Labour Party hierarchy about comments made by commentators and bloggers.

The Otago Daily Times contacted Ms. Curran after noting the increasing number of mentions the Labour Party MP and IT spokeswoman was receiving on Twitter.

Among the allegations was that Labour Party MPs identified anonymous bloggers by their IP addresses on the party's Red Alert blog.

That's nothing new, Red Alert has a policy of identifying commentators through their IP and an active email address so that their details can be passed onto the police if needed. Most blogsites automatically log such details these days.

Ms.Curran said the people she complained about were party members, some of whom were using pseudonyms and had contributed to other party members being attacked and the Labour Party being undermined.

"There are 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."

While not saying who her complaints were against, several left-wing bloggers named the person as "Colonial Viper", from Dunedin, a member of the party.

So it wasn't Claire Curran that named Colonial Viper, it was CV himself and other left wing bloggers. This contradicts the claims that Curran was targeting any specific dissident members of the Labour party and threatened to out them ie make their real name publicly known. It appears that her raising the issue with the council was to gain advice on what the party should do, if anything, about negative commentary from party members.

You can understand why she might want clarification on such issues, being that members have access to the internal workings of the party and can use that information against Labour, as we have seen in recent weeks from The Standard with posts like this one by Irish Bill.

In my opinion Labour should move to inhibit the damage that selective and biased leaking of information to the media can cause, especially when it's source is party members who shouldn't be undermining Labour with information that cannot be verified.

It appears that what Clare Curran was talking about was Labours ability to identify dissidents and protagonists, and potentially remove them from the party membership.

The claims that she wanted to out people are clearly a fabrication promoted by people who want to further damage Labour for some reason. Interestingly enough they're the same so-called left wing bloggers and commentators who promoted the Cunliffe coup, which also makes me question where their loyalties lie? They clearly have no place within Labour if they constantly try to undermine the party by attacking its leadership.

Having said that, in my opinion the threshold would have to be very high indeed to implement such a policy to rescind membership, although I think it's a required policy that all political parties should have in place. In fact most of them already do have such policy to varying degrees.

So let's examine some of Colonial Vipers comments to see if he meets that threshold:

1. Funny then that the only people who escalated talk of a coup to the media…were ABC MPs.  

2. Fuck off. Its the Shearer camp who escalated this publicly with off record leaks and on record comments to journalists.

Well that's obviously not true... The Cunliffe coup so to speak was initially promoted by various blogger's who were supportive of a leadership change, and the media then picked up on the controversy within the blogosphere.

As far as I can tell, at no stage was a coup promoted by "Shearers camp". CV is therefore promoting a falsehood to undermine the Labour party leader, which by association undermines the effectiveness of the opposition.

3. Shearer comes across very genuinely but he is inexperienced as an MP. He seems to own precious little left wing philosophy and politics in general. And he has also been badly advised.

Perhaps a valid criticism... However being that I'm not a Labour party member I have no insight into David Shearer's advisory to know if such an assertion is correct. I'm therefore relying on CV's account of the situation. Unfortunately CV has already promoted untruths to try and undermine Shearer, so it's a case of the boy who cried wolf on too many occasions.

4. Outside of Auckland, hardly any ordinary Labour Party members (not the activists) knew that David Shearer existed, let alone anything about him, until the last 2 weeks of loud, positive press coverage.

An observation to again try and undermine David Shearer by implying he's not experienced enough. In fact CV has argued extensively in favour of John Key as Prime Minister in comparison to David Shearer, which seems a strange position to take for a supposed Labour party supporter and member.

5. Something like 18 or 19 Labour MPs, some of whom were very experienced, voted Shearer in to that top job. They picked him, in their best judgement, as the best choice to lead the Labour Party into the 2014 election.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Another falsehood... The entire Labour party has endorsed David Shearer. People who aren't aware of that fact might rely on CV's questionable insight into these matters, but I don't.

6. And Shearer himself should have said, thanks but no thanks, I’ll take my turn when I’ve time under my belt and it’s right to do so.

The continued low level snipping from CV towards David Shearer goes on and on. However I don't think it's to a degree that warrants his removal as a member of the Labour party and I don't think Clare Curran was specifically talking about him when she raised the issue with the council.

Colonial Viper has obviously chosen not to follow his convictions and leave the party of his own accord. Instead he and The Standards admin have claimed that Clare Curran is bullying people into silence, while not remaining very silent at all themselves on these issues. They have also not been able to provide any evidence of that bullying.

I'm somewhat disappointed in all of this, mainly because it takes the focus off the real problems National is causing. I'm also disappointed that the move by some of the protagonists to once again undermine Labour in order to halt Clare Curran's potential policy changes has gained such support on the left. This means that any move by Labour to now remove what are effectively traitors in their midst who obviously don't support Labour is less likely to be initiated.

In my opinion Labour need to close ranks and focus on the real enemy, which is the neoliberal agenda that's currently destroying the social fabric of New Zealand. Without that unity, Labour has a rather large disadvantage compared to National leading up to the next election, which the right wing are sure to exploit. Let's hope Labour including all it's membership, like the Greens, can provide a unified effort to win the next election... God knows the country needs it.