How very Orwellian

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, October 3rd, 2014 - 38 comments
Categories: labour - Tags: , ,

Herald Labour orwellian decree

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:

  • democratic integrity and certainty,
  • transparency and fairness,
  • membership participation,
  • Party growth.

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  He voluntarily unpublished his post about Clayton Cosgrove after being requested to do so by General Secretary Tim Barnett.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.

38 comments on “How very Orwellian”

  1. Tom Jackson 1

    There are an awful lot of people still involved with the Labour Party who just need to leave. It’s supposed to be a party representing working people, not a party to provide careers to rightish leaning people who don’t like National.

    • tc 1.1

      Or in Shane Jones case no issues with the nats and happy to grab a nat provided sinecure.

    • Puckish Rogue 1.2

      Hey its a broad church remember 🙂

    • Bill 1.3

      But Tom, your exchange, as so far as it refers to merit, and if it’s an oblique reference to Robertson, is ignoring the “need (for your comment) to be based on performance and attributes which are relevant to their ability to be the Labour Leader.”

      Please wheesht, and allow a spirit of cloying niceness to prevail.

      • Tom Jackson 1.3.1

        Sorry Bill. I didn’t mean Robertson. I was referring to the M. Quin named in the original post and others like him – in particular those who are frequently “Labour” panelists on TV.

        I don’t really have much of an opinion on the leadership, except that I don’t think Robertson is electable (not because he’s gay: Louisa Wall would IMHO be very electable if she had the experience to be leader).

        • Bill 1.3.1.1

          Oh, I misconstrued then. I assumed it was a reference to Robertson, among others, and had no problem with it at all. I was only somewhat mischievously measuring it against the ‘requested’ code of conduct sent out to Labour Party members.

    • AmaKiwi 1.4

      @ Tom Jackson

      The Labour Party “is supposed to be a party representing working people.”

      No, Tom. It’s supposed to win 51% of the seats in Parliament.

      • DoublePlus Good 1.4.1

        That’s the desired result, not the reason for standing in the first place. If you achieve the result, but abandon all you the principles you stand for, then what is the point of achieving that result?
        The goal instead must be to convince the New Zealand public that the principles you stand for should be voted for, not to change your principles to suit what the public wants. Have some integrity and conviction.

        • Jones 1.4.1.1

          What’s the point…? Power.

        • Murray Olsen 1.4.1.2

          +1 ++Good
          I agree that the Labour Party is supposed to represent working people. Forming a government (not winning 51% of the seats with MMP) is a means to this end.

  2. DoublePlus Good 2

    I really didn’t expect my user handle to become relevant that quickly…

    • Tom Jackson 2.1

      Have a Victory Gin to celebrate and then watch Key send our boys to the Malabar front.

  3. Bill 3

    So I read the email and my hackles were immediately raised. Not Orwellian, but it can only give rise to a degree of self censorship.

    So for example (a small one), would ‘beltway’ be considered ‘denigrating or disrespectful’? I guess if one considers it to be, then one ought not to use the term in reference to Grant Robertson, no matter how instructive or illuminating it may be.

    Then we have…

    …it must be conducted in a spirit of respect and with the realisation that many from outside the Party are watching the process. This applies across mainstream and social media, our husting meetings, other Party meetings and the informal networks which we all have. The greater our discipline the stronger our foundation will be to unite behind the leader who is selected.

    There’s so much wrong there. Anyway, ‘be nice’ and when it’s all over, ‘be nice’. Disrespect reality, possibly your thoughts and feelings, and respect some amorphous ‘spirit of respect’, and continue in that vein to achieve ‘disciplined unity’ post selection.

    I can’t be the only one seeing these delusional appeals to discipline as desperate commands to ‘keep your mouth shut’ and advance by the left…left…left, right, left….can I?

  4. left for dead 4

    +100 %,this is playing into MSM hands,at your pearl,Labour…yes i’m a member

  5. greywarbler 5

    Perhaps Bill, Moira Coatsworth should have said ‘Talk among yourselves, discuss the leadership in private but don’t muddy the waters by going public with your opinions, or even your facts if you have any! And not going public includes not twitter, not facebook, not social media of any sort, not leaks to favourites with or without a tea, coffee, alcoholic drink or lemonade, not discussion with some chatty person from other Parties, or your favourite media hack, or someone else in the family with loose lips, or your business buddies, your bank manager.’

    Really spell it out, because the troops have become loose, and that leads Labour to lose. Quite simple. All this bloody democracy encouraging free speech, yet everyone wants to a King or Queen passing uncontrovertible? royal judgments. Instead they are passing bricks that get thrown back at Labour. Stop it, we are getting hurt.

    I did some background checking about this smart mouth Phil Quin last night.
    Here is the Ts link http://thestandard.org.nz/labour-announces-key-decisions-about-leadership-election/#comment-902754
    or go straight to media sources –
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10716608
    and
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11266928
    edited

    • Murray Olsen 5.1

      Yep. Given what they’ve been doing for years, they needed to be told, and in no uncertain terms. We may well have a different government if the Labour caucus had stopped leaking. They didn’t even need to unite behind their leader, they just needed to stop moaning their guts out about every little thing.

  6. I just found something very interesting. It turns out that John Key’s PR Guru Mark Textor is working for Fairfax. How much are you willing to bet that this kind of shit comes out of his playbook?

    • Te Reo Putake 6.1

      Wow! The guy writes an occasional column for an Aussie business paper and you reckon that means he dictates every word that O’Sullivan and Armstrong type. In the real world, they don’t need coaching. They already know how to earn their paychecks.

  7. Guys like Mark Textor don’ t write the odd columns. Not when they are strategists running election campaigns of the Tories in two or three of the five eye countries. here is what is happening in Germany. You think that doesn’t happen here?

  8. Tracey 8

    Labour described as Orwellian…

    GCSB
    illegal spying on citizens
    skycity
    new IT surveillance in auckland
    super city
    keys lies
    etc etc

    oh the irony

    ““connotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda,

    surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past”.

    • bearded git 8.1

      +1 tracey. The same thoughts were going through my head. We all knew the Herald is one-eyed but now that it regularly turns stories through 180% to suit it’s masters it is becoming ridiculous.

  9. Tanz 9

    course, Labour and its antics are never at fault……..Key is starting to look like a real hero in comparison. This site defends Lab.no matter what!!! Labour could look graceful, instead there is open in-fighting and name calling. I am bailing to Colin’s camp.

    • Anne 9.1

      Good for you mate, and don’t forget to close the door behind you and leave the key under the mat. Ta.

    • KJT 9.2

      Well, I for one have written posts on this site that are rather scathing about Labour as it is currently.

      Though, I reckon no matter how disorganised the “left” is, it is a huge improvement on the “right” which is competently leading all the Lemmings to their fate..

      The diversity of ideas and approaches on the left is preferable to everyone headed over National’s inevitable cliff, together.

      Haven’t noticed any censorship.

      I do get requests, not always polite ones, to be “nice” at times, from commenter’s, which I consider on their merits.

      This site, is kindly provided by Iprent and associates as a place for voices of the, so called, “left”, and the discussion of ideas. . Though it is depressing that in New Zealand, policies which look after the sick, the aged, children and those without jobs, polices which were considered part of how we are, even by conservatives leaning towards the right, are now said to be “left wing”.
      I notice most opposing comments, even right wing ones, are published, unless they break the site policy..

    • Jones 9.3

      I disagree. In the short time I have been here, I think this site has been quite critical of Labour… and, from my perspective, deservingly so.

  10. Skinny 10

    Regrettably I am unable to comment on this site or any other blog post, social media post relating to the Labour Party. However I can comment on topics of rugby, over paid CEO’s and the rock star economy. Though I’ve all ready heard Mike Williams ‘blinked opinion and no doubt the usual dross will be pumped out on The Nation, Q & A by Pagani, Mahuta-Coyle.

    Be interesting to see just what Stu Nash has to say on Plunket’s Prime Time tonight. Ok go ahead Stu make someone’s day!

  11. Marksman33 11

    @ bearded git, my dear old dad worked for the NZ Herald for 38 years and he can attest to the fact that it was quite common for the editor, the subs and certain other editorial staff to have regular meetings whenever any of their big advertisers had adverse news stories about to break. The old ” we don’t want our advertisers too grumpy with us ” was the order of the day. And this going back to the early 60s. Nothing has changed except no need to be subtle anymore.

  12. coaster 12

    Personally I didnt see anything wrong with email from moira coatsworth.

  13. ianmac 13

    National trumpeting their increased majority isn’t true. According to Horizon:
    Preliminary election results, before counting of 254,630 special votes, show National won 1,010,464 votes compared with 1,058,636 at the 2011 election, a reduction of 48,172 or 4.5%. (Special votes could change this.)
    I know that it is the percentage that counts in forming the Government but National are not all that clever are they?

  14. red blooded 14

    Any responsible president would have sent out a similar message. In fact, I tried to make a similar pint in the discussion line that was withdrawn yesterday. Discuss, yes: vilify and smear, no.

    All parties have similar provisions about how members should discuss party matters in the public arena. That includes the NACTs.

  15. adam 15

    So it is true – being polite, is just another thing that the right can beat up the left for being.

    Sad, sad, day.

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