Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is a Labour MP intimidating party members?

Over the last few days, there have been rumblings around the blogosphere that a high-profile Labour MP (high profile around social media at least) is threatening to "out" those who comment anonymously at The Standard and Red Alert.

To go into the full details would take far more time and energy than we have today. You can read The Standard's perspective here, and Dunedin-based blogger Pete George names a suspect here. And in The Standard thread, Colonial Viper (with whom we have clashed on occasion) said this:

If this allegation is correct, and if it is Clare Curran who is cyber-bullying Labour Party members who express their opinions online it is crass stupidity on her behalf. Ms Curran is a self-claimed communications expert. However attempts to censor dissenting opinion are anything but expert, and suggest an ever-widening gap between factions within the Labour Party's membership and elements of the Labour Party caucus. 

We are often critical of The Standard. On this occasion however we stand alongside those who have felt the need to withdraw from online comment due to intimidation. This is not a Left/Right issue; it is something on which the blogosphere should be united.

We agree with Pete George. Clare Curran needs to answer these allegations against her made not by right-wing bloggers but from the very people she purports to represent; Labour Party members and activists. The right to free speech is fundamental to our democracy, and attempts by politicians to restrict it need to be brought out into the open.

FOOTNOTE: We must disclose a conflict on interest here. Clare Curran banned us from Red Alert in September 2011 for what we thought was an innocuous and opportunistic dig at Phil Goff's record on asset sales. When the ban was challenged by other commenters at Red Alert, she responded thus:

Jem and others: Inventory2 was banned for several reasons. He was personally offensive and he lied. A number of others who comment regularly in a similar vein are running close to the line and are on notice.

We reject those assertions totally. But let's just say that whilst we do not have a lot of time for Ms Curran, we believe that she has totally overstepped the mark if the allegations against her are correct.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, what are they thinking? I have noticed some odd things happening on Red Alert, so have sayed off it. Mr Mallard can be especially rude to commenters, this cannot help the party cause.

Are they trying to **** the membership off, or do they only want members who don't think critically? The Standard is a much more open place, in my view.

A party member who believes in free speech. I thought that was what Labour stood for? (as long as it is not trolling, rude etc, why should anon commenters be a problem?)

Keeping Stock said...

@ Anon - lprent suggested the other day that it may be unsafe to comment at Red Alert; here's his comment:

lprent 2.2.2
7 December 2012 at 10:40 am

It is probably for the best at present CV. My abject apologies for not having the energy/time to talk to you (work is hectic).

Well, as I’m not a member, I guess I remain free…..

I never care.

Quite frankly the party could do with my skills far more than I need the party. I’ve pretty well withdrawn from party activity over recent years as the environment has become more toxic.

But I’d advise anyone who has used a pseudonym on Red Alert that could compromise them in real life to expect problems. The system operators over there are quite compromised, don’t act responsibly, and have been that way for some time. Quite simply they are not operating in a way that makes it safe to leave comments there unless you have cast-iron anonymity. Treat it like you would Whaleoil’s site.

Which incidentally, is why you don’t see Red Alert on our feed

I was banned at Red Alert (by Ms Curran, ironically) before the election, and I have not been back. I can understand a tough line on those who do not share Labour's view. But heavying your own team? That seems extreme to me, bordering on paranoid. Things cannot be healthy within Labour.

Anonymous said...

Thanks KS.

I just stay off, as I have noticed RA outing anon posters and a few other strange things. Seems like it is run by just one or two MP's. I just stay off, don't feel safe there, even though my own comments were pretty careful in the main. Staying away, would rather post at the standard or elsewhere. Might join elsewhere too.

Is David Shearer aware, I wonder. Surely he'd back free speech.

Anonymous said...

Ms Curran has moved on from MPs and is now screwing the membership!

macdoctor said...

Curran has a long history of bagging dissenters viciously, so this comes as no surprise. Every day the central coterie in the Labour Party resemble the politburo more and more. Yet another sign that Shearer has little control over them.

Keeping Stock said...

Thanks for your comments Anon. Please feel free to comment again, but it would be helpful if you could give yourself some sort of alias so that you are distinct from other Anons.

I suspect that Ms Curran is some distance further to the Left than David Shearer, but that she does not regard David Cunliffe as a credible leadership aspirant. As Macdoctor says, I doubt that David Shearer has much control over his caucus.

Pete George said...

Anon - I've emailed Shearer to advise him, don't know if that will get to him or not but someone in his office should have seen it.

I've also emailed Clare twice, yesterday and today, making her aware and asking for comment but no response.

Labour leadership would have to be extremely incompetent or blind not to be aware whats going on at The Standard.

And Shearer would have to be aware of what Curran and the Labour Council are doing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that re above.
I'm Tanz, a regular commenter at the Standard and an ex commenter at Red Alert.