Orwellian – “connotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda,
surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past”.
Yesterday members of the Labour Party received an email from president Moira Coatsworth which urges restraint and good behaviour during the leadership campaign. The email reminds us of Labour party principles which include:
Moira states that if the process is to deliver these expectations then it has to be “conducted in a spirit of respect and with the realisation that many from outside the Party are watching the process.” All good so far. Who could disagree.
She makes the point that the greater the discipline of members the stronger the foundation will be to unite behind the leader who is selected.
She then advises that the New Zealand Council had various expectations (note expectations, not requirements) which included a hope that members do not not directly or indirectly refer to a candidate for leadership in a way which is denigrating or disrespectful and that members should be cautious to ensure that any statements they make are factually accurate and fair. They should also ensure that any public comment on the candidates, the Party and the leadership election system uphold the status of the Party and its chances of election to Government, and do not bring it into disrepute.
Moira’s request is perfectly appropriate in these sensitive times. To show his appreciation of this yesterday lprent did something I have not seen before. He voluntarily unpublished his post about Clayton Cosgrove after being requested to do so by General Secretary Tim Barnett.
Phil Quin, someone who was part of Labour’s right in the 1990s, has described Coatsworth’s request as Orwellian. He should review his choice of words. How a request for a civilised leadership campaign could be described in such stringent terms is strange and of itself a perfect example of orwellianism. The degree of misinformation and denial of truth is strong.
Moira has responded and Phil has blogged the response.
The Herald has reported on the issue in a manner that causes concern. It uses a photograph of David Cunliffe at the top of the article even though he has had nothing to do with the email. The original headline (since changed) describes a polite request as an Orwellian Decree. And the first paragraph compounds matters by describing the request as an instruction.
Orwellian may be a perfectly appropriate description for this particular incident. But not in the way Phil Quin contends.