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  He voluntarily unpublished his post about Clayton Cosgrove after being requested to do so by General Secretary Tim Barnett.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 /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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    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago

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