Clare Curran has confirmed via the ODT what everyone knew, that she was the senior Labour MP who approached the Labour council to try and address members criticising MPS and the party online.
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.Curran confirms correspondence to the council, that’s the letter that has been talked about, so that doesn’t need to be chased any more.
”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.”
Ms.Curran said she had sought discussion at the party council level about what was an ”acceptable” standard of behaviour, particularly when a member was expressing views anonymously, in a way in which was intended to damage other party members and the party overall. She also made suggestions about how the party could deal with the issue professionally.
”Not at any point have I sought disciplinary action against any individual.”
In her correspondence, she said she had not used individual names, instead using an online pseudonym as an example of how the behaviours were being manifested.
”That person had previously identified themselves as using that pseudonym to me in an email conversation, and in subsequent face-to-face conversations.”
An ”acceptable” standard of behaviour
This is mind boggling. Acceptable to whom? To Clare? To the party leadership?
Is she proposing monitoring party members online? Who would do that? What standards would be stipulated? What would happen if someone has been deemed to have breached the standards?
This is a huge own goal for Ms Curran and for Labour. She is now admitting that she has gone to some lengths to identify those who blog or comment on blogs anonymously. That is outrageous behavior from an MP who railed just four moths ago about cyber-bullying.
We congratulate Pete George for following this through. He has done us all a favour by identifying the lengths to which Clare Curran will go to stifle dissent. We urge David Shearer to distance Labour quickly from this appalling behaviour, and we urge Ms Curran to apologise those whom she has essentially spied on.
Labour was already a damaged brand before this behaviour was outed. If Clare Curran believed that cyber-bullying was an acceptable form of damage control, one would have to question whether her judgment is what would be expected of a Member of Parliament, especially one who describes herself as a communications expert.
And Pete George closes with some questions that we would love to hear answers to as well:
But all that aside, some serious questions remain unanswered.
1. Did Clare play a part in gagging Colonial Viper, millsy, Peter Wilson, the sprout and possible others online?
2. Has private information from Red Alert been used in cross matching data with other blogs to identify people using pseudonyms?
(people in a position to know say Trevor Mallard did this last year)
3. Did Trevor Mallard play any part in this over the last month?
4. Has the Labour council approved of this gagging?
5. Has David Shearer approved of this gagging?
6. Should Labour succeed in leading the next Government would similar (anti-government) criticism control be used?
Those are all excellent questions. Whether or not the answers will ever be given is anyone's bet, which is unfortunate.