Finally someone addresses the elephant in the room for the left wing

Philip Matthews is a Twitter troll, and a journalist. He is a lot like John Drinnan, just with a smaller newspaper to bleat on it.

His constant harping and screeching about Dirty Politics led me to block him, he like many journalists think Twitter is the real world. He still misses the point of Dirty Politics. It was an attempt to silence, in my case permanently, opposing political voices.

Nonetheless he has written an article in the DomPost addressing the elephant in the room…the left wings very own dirty politics brigade (but without the influence or relevance).

The left wing mistook Twitter and blogging for the real world, and failed in their attempts to get me.

But are they part of the problem rather than the solution….after all Martyn Martin Bradbury established The Daily Blog with union funding to be “a Whaleoil killer”…and failed. He never even got close to his stated goal of a million pagewiews a month before the election.

In a parallel universe, David Cunliffe is the prime minister of New Zealand presiding over a Labour-NZ First minority government in a happy arrangement with the Green Party. Internet Mana, backed by German entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, has a few MPs in Parliament, including veteran activist Hone Harawira.

ACT is already history and former Prime Minister John Key has taken a long holiday in Hawaii.

Wake up. The Left was soundly defeated in the 2014 election.

“I think it’s fair to say we haven’t had dreams in colour since September 20,” says Left-wing activist and blogger Martyn Bradbury.

He freely admits he got it horribly wrong. That was his election prediction above. He “didn’t consider for one moment” that voters would rally to National and that high levels of early voting meant that New Zealanders were backing Key.

Instead, Labour had its worst result since 1922, the Greens slipped below their 2011 peak and Harawira is out of Parliament. “Despondent” is a good word to describe how those on the Left feel.

I like despondency…often it brings clarity and solutions, unfortunately for the left it just brings hate, anger and more despondency. Martyn Martin Bradbury really should change his name, or at least his nickname from Bomber to Wrongly Wrongson. He was so wrong with his predictions he really should just STFU and disappear…but hey we live in a democracy…he can speak, we can laugh, it’s not like we are trying to kill anyone eh Martyn?

“Right across the Left there are conversations,” says Asher Goldman, co-founder of the newly- launched blog On the Left. “We lost the election, what does that mean?”

Is it even possible that bloggers are part of the problem?

Goldman agrees that blogging and tweeting are no substitute for real-world political activity. It should be an extra not an end in itself.

“A successful blog for me is one that has good stuff to contribute, a community built around it that is participating in useful, productive discussion and a few visitors, hopefully,” Goldman says.

Hope seems to be the prevailing mood. How else would you describe launching a Left-wing blog after such a historic defeat? Or is this the ideal time to start regrouping?

Hope is not what lefties I’ve been speaking to are talking about. Mostly it is a bout retribution on those whom they blame for their poor showing, and none of that blame is falling on the right.

Goldman is a Green Party member, co-founder Stephanie Rodgers is a Labour member and both believe their new blog should be broadly across the Left rather than overtly party-based. They also want it to be fun, which has not traditionally been a feature of Left-wing politics.

“It doesn’t have to feel like a chore,” Goldman says. “Politics is about all our lives and should have a sense of hopefulness and passion. You’re not going to change things by sitting and moping.”

When the blog launched a fortnight ago, Goldman and other authors wrote thoughtful pieces about what being on the Left means to them. On the first day, some 2500 individuals viewed around 10,000 pages. If those numbers keep up, On the Left would be in New Zealand’s top 10 political blogs, alongside Kiwiblog, the Daily Blog, the Standard, Whale Oil and others.

The problem these wombles on the left don’t get is that blogging is actually quite difficult. Mostly too their stuff is TL;DR. They mock me and my methods and carry on failing with their methods. Then they get angry then they break the law.

They could bother to learn from the best, like I did. But no, their view of blogging is like their view of politics. Their way is the right way it’s just that the readers and public don’t know it.

Over the years I’ve seen bloggers come and bloggers go. The ones on the left get big boosts from their media mates, just look at the fuss and bother over The Civilian…touted as New Zealand’s answer to The Onion. It failed, barely is updated and is a veritable deserted town complete with tumbleweeds all because Ben Uffindel thought this lark was easy. It isn’t.

But is there room for another blog on the Left of politics? The more the merrier, Bradbury says.

“There is a limited attention span and everything is in competition, but that’s healthy,” he says. “At a time when we have had such a shellacking, I don’t think anyone can pretend to have the answers. It’s time to do a lot of listening and talking and asking what we stand for on this side of the fence.”

It is also time to ask what kind of impact blogging can have. Since the first Barack Obama campaign in 2008, political obsessives have assumed that social media would play a greater and greater role. Twitter and Facebook might reach every undecided voter. Blogs might replace mainstream journalism.

They were all wrong about the impact of social media and blogs will never replace journalism…better journalism will replace journalism.

The problem the left has is they like to be co-operative…and they congregate around little known blogs, create an echo chamber, all agree with each other and ultimately close out everyone else. Then they wonder why they get everything so wrong, especially when they consider their comments sections to be the be all and end all of commentary.

For Bradbury and many others on the Left, here was evidence that Key’s laid-back, “non-political” persona disguised a ruthless political animal.

“I thought that when people saw the other side [of Key], they would be appalled. I suppose I was naive to think you could change six years of media narrative in six weeks.”

Bradbury was sure that Dirty Politics would be a turning point. It hasn’t been just bloggers and activists who have been scratching their heads. Mainstream journalists have been, too.

Wait until the evidence of the left wing’s dirtier politics comes out. The real appalling behaviour will be revealed in all its nastiness. Martyn Martin Bradbury posted just after the election that he would have a think about his future, he is yet to post the results of that thinking…it might a good time for him to have another think.

Why did the stories in Dirty Politics, and the revelations about mass surveillance in the final week of the campaign, have no impact on the election result? What does that imply about the efficacy of journalism?

Or was the Left undermined by its own bloggers? Was the squabbling and bickering on the internet symptomatic of the Left’s general disarray and lack of discipline?

Should everyone on the Left just shut up and let the politicians do the talking?

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove seemed to think so. In the wake of the historic defeat, after being attacked anonymously online by someone who turned out to be David Cunliffe’s wife, Karen Price, Cosgrove said he wanted to see “appropriate discipline” in the Left-wing blogosphere.

He singled out the Standard and named bloggers and Labour activists Lynn Prentice and Greg Presland. Presland is closely associated with Cunliffe.

Prentice responded quickly on the blog, calling Cosgrove’s comments “ill-informed and outright silly” and claiming that he is the most “destabilising” MP in the Labour caucus. Pot, kettle, black.

With scenes like these it is no wonder Key was able to neutralise the impact of Dirty Politics by saying that Labour has its own secret relationships with bloggers. That argument caught on with the public.

But Goldman calls that a “false equivalence” and Prentice agrees.

“Unlike Slater’s or Farrar’s professional efforts on behalf of National, we don’t get paid either directly or indirectly for our volunteering to work for politicians or writing blogs and never have,” Prentice says.

The blog is about serving an audience and community rather than a party.

Nice of Lynn Prentice to defame me again, this time in a major publication. I have not ever, nor will I never take money from the National party. There is not a professional relationship with them, their never has been., But that just suits Prentice’s narrative. Unfortunately for him I will start telling the truth about him as frequently as he tells lies about me. The “World’s Greatest Sys-Op” isn’t so clean either. Prentice himself wouldn’t know the first thing about serving an audience, he allows defamations to stand, if it is against an enemy, he allows hate and loathing to cloud his better judgement and he is precisely what he accuses me of being. He really should look in the mirror.

There are other lessons to take from Dirty Politics and its revelations about Whale Oil, Goldman says. Blogs now have to work harder to earn credibility.

Transparency is key. It has become impossible to look at Whale Oil since Dirty Politics without wondering whose agenda is being served. Goldman says that On the Left will use real names unless there is a good reason not to and a strict moderating policy will keep the trolls out.

By transparency do they mean hacking anyone you don’t agree with? Inciting suicide to get rid of a pesky annoyance standing in opposition to you? Is everyone fair game now for a bit of hacking?

Left-wing satirist and author Danyl Mclauchlan has put his popular Dim-Post blog on “hiatus”, because he thinks “some of the Left’s problems stem from over-engagement with social media”.

Mclauchlan’s argument is that some who thought they were part of the solution were really part of the problem.

“If you’re listening to and engaging with a cacophony of voices online it’s easy to lose touch with the silent but demographically much, much larger section of the population that aren’t commenting via blogs or Twitter and have very different priorities and concerns,” Mclauchlan wrote.

Danyl is dead right, and one of the few not involved in the conspiracy. Danyl got usurped somewhat with all the media driven fanbois of Ben Uffindell, but if he is just patient he will prevail.

Meanwhile I’m still here, so is David Farrar and it will be a long, long time before anyone out there can sneak up on me and take over my number one spot. You see I listen to my audience, cater to them and new readers and continue to grow.

 

– Fairfax

 


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