During last night’s TV One debate, Richard Pamatatau, whose decribes himself as “Programme Leader Graduate Diploma Pacific Journalism. Auckland University of Technology” tweeted “Claire Robinson was a private secretary to Jenny Shipley – hmmmm”. This was retweeted many times, and a lot of abuse was subsequently directed at me.
It was felt that the fact that I worked as a Cabinet Minister’s Private Secretary 20 years ago should (a) be a disqualifier for being a political commentator — Trevor Mallard tweeted “if this is true than expect TVNZ resignation”; (b), that it meant that I couldn’t provide objective commentary — Glenn Williams “Wammo” called me a “ boil on the political commentary landscape “and (c) that I must be a National plant. Deborah Mahuta-Coyle tweeted “just take your national party rosette out of your pocket and slap it on your forehead.” Even TV3 reported hearsay as “fact” on their website this morning that I had once been a press secretary for Jenny Shipley.
Claire Robinson's rebuttal of the allegations made against her by two Labour Party candidates and others is detailed, but it's well worth a read, for she completely pulls the rug out from under those who were engaged in publicly slagging her off last night. And at the foot of the list, she comes up with this little gem:
Fact 5: I voted Labour in the 1990 general election, just prior to taking up my role. I voted Labour in the 1993 general election, after I had left the role.
Oh; the irony! Claire Robinson is being accused of being a National Party plant, but was a Labour voter when seconded to Jenny Shipley's office, and was a Labour Party voter in the next election after her secondment.
But the haste with which the rumours of Claire Robinson being a Tory plant spread across the Twittersphere was alarming; it's very quick and easy to make allegations based on hearsay and rumour. We wonder if the likes of Trevor Mallard and Deborah Mahuta-Coyle will be as quick to apologise to Claire Robinson via Twitter, or even better, in person as they were to besmirch her name, or to allege political partisanship.
We doubt that will happen though; which is why some in the blogosphere led by Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater are beginning to refer to Labour as "the nasty party". Here's a chance for two Labour candidates to prove the critics wrong.