Trotter on Labour’s conference media ban

Chris Trotter isn’t very happy about the media ban imposed on the Labour conference this weekend.

The extent of this year’s media ban speaks eloquently of a political party at odds with, and mortally afraid of, itself.

It is almost a reflex among those who like to think of themselves as political “professionals” to deny the public even the slightest glimpse of events they haven’t already emptied of anything remotely resembling controversy, spontaneity or authenticity. The people surrounding the party’s leader have a “message” they wish to present to the public, and they are determined that every single party member should remain resolutely and coherently “on message”.

After the tumult and turmoil of the past four years, the message Andrew Little’s staffers are determined to communicate to the voting public is that Labour is united. And by ‘Labour’ they mean the whole party. The Labour caucus, the New Zealand Council, the trade union affiliates, and even the rank-and-file, are all 100 percent united and raring to go. Nobody’s heard of Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody’s the slightest bit worried about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. From top to bottom, Andy’s electoral vessel has been caulked and sealed and plugged. Nobody’s getting in and, sure as Stalin, nothing is getting out!

I bet I can get info from the conference, without even being there.

Except that a political party – especially a left-wing political party – has no right to shut away its deliberations from public scrutiny. After all, the body we’re discussing is not a society of philatelists, but a quasi-constitutional institution within which the future leaders of our nation are raised and readied, and out of which its future economic and social policy directions are expected to emerge.

This quasi-constitutional quality is only enhanced when a political party’s membership arrogates to itself the right to choose the leader of its parliamentary caucus. When the choice of who should be Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition is restricted to the candidates’ caucus colleagues, the voters can at least reassure themselves that these key political figures are being chosen by people who have, themselves, been put to the democratic test. But, they can have no such reassurance when their political leaders are being decided by people whose only qualification is the payment of a membership fee.

When Labour’s members took upon themselves the duty of deciding who the next Prime Minister will be, they simultaneously forfeited the right to behave as if they were a society of stamp-collectors. The latter has every right to determine who can participate in and observe its AGM. The Labour Party, however, like all political parties, lays claim to the right to design and deliver the nation’s future. And that must mean that the nation possesses a reciprocal right to watch them do it.

By banning the news media from a huge chunk of its conference proceedings, Labour is poking out the eyes and blocking the ears of the voters. Shame on them!

Labour have no idea, and their talent pool is as shallow as a car park puddle. They are shaping up to head into the next election with the same old tired and failed faces as before.


– Bowalley Road


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  • Aucky

    Comrade Felix Marwick and Comrade Jack Tame were having a little talkfest this morning (just prior to Comrade Jack’s very soft interview with Comrade Professor Kelsey re the TPPA) on Radio Talking Pravda this morning. Comrade Felix assured the public that Labour had nothing to hide and compared it to National’s open conferences that are highly orchestrated with plenty of ‘good news’ stories to impress the media.

    • metalnwood

      Nothing to hide, a lot to fear.

    • Dog Breath

      The reason National had good news stories at their conference is because they had good news and plenty of it.

  • cows4me

    ” Labour is poking out the eyes and blocking the ears of the voters. ” Yeah right, I imagine the howls from the membership crying censorship will be deafening. Perhaps it might be prudent they keep everything under wraps. I would liken it to getting the same cheap Christmas present from the warehouse as last year, falling apart as it’s unwrapped. No much but better to put some mystery into it, a bit like dreaming about winning Lotto, knowing it’s never going to happen, just a dream.

  • johnnyB

    No one should be surprised – and it goes to show how strong a grip the union movement has on the party. This is classic Union tactics to crush discussion and intimidate the group into toeing the line behind closed doors. They pick the leader , determine the policy and now choose the discussion.

    • Crowgirl

      Then they shouldn’t be surprised all the time when the voters choose to kick them to touch (again), and yet I’d lay odds on them being ‘shocked’ when it happens.

  • Day Day

    Well if you have a man ban, next step is to ban everyone from the tree house.

  • Mav E Rick

    -The labour party didn’t like the secrecy of the TTP negotiations.
    -The labour party had issues with our spy agency being secret.
    The labour party wanted the National Party to spill its guts over the supposed Dirty Politics scandal and wanted the PM to revel his private text msgs to WO.
    -The labour party wanted all the negotiations made with Sky City to be revealed even though some of this would be of a sensitive commercial nature.

    ……but guess what now.. The Labour Party wants its own AGM to be held in secret when previously these were open to the media. All I can say – what a bunch of hypocrites and absolute muppets.

  • Muffin

    Is any of their taxpayer funding going into this little closed door workshop? If so why arent we privy to every word if we want to be?

    • peterwn

      A small amount. Labour MPs’ travel and and Andy’s rides in a CR limo would be on the taxpayer.

      • PhantomsDoc

        I’d put a shilling on it that there would be more than that…

  • shykiwibloke

    Of course they want everyone united behind the same message. How else are you going to maintain dual polar opposite views on every subject?
    Anyone not hold two views on each topic or who cant keep up with the about turns shall be purged from the party in true communistic style.
    I can hear Orwell laughing from his grave.

  • In Vino Veritas

    “which the future leaders of our nation are raised and readied”. Yeah, riiiiiiight.
    If there is a future leader of this nation amongst that vacuous, grossly inept bunch, I’ll go he.

    • Seriously?

      I think there may be, Nash, but they will probably make him sit in the middle of the room while they dance around him chanting scab.

  • XCIA

    “I bet I can get info from the conference, without even being there” – Trotter is a trusting soul if he is prepared to believe anyone who attends a Labour conference.

    • Stuarts.burgers

      That is Cams comment not Mr Trotters. If it is leaked to Trotter it maybe spin if it is leaked to Cam it is gospel truth.

  • Bruno 32

    I really think the labour party is heading for oblivion. John Key has taken over the center left ground and labour are now controlled by extreme left conspiracy theorists. They are totally unelectable and rightly so. I reckon that David Seymour has potential to create a center right party to keep Key under control

    Only needs a few seats and would keep the nobodies of NZ first where they belong.

    Act need rebranding though. Donna Huata destroyed that brand.

    • peterwn

      John Key is unlikely to mind if David Seymour builds ACT up. ACT with several MP’s preferably including an electorate MP genuinely elected by the electorate would be far more beneficial to National than a single electorate MP and an ‘overhang’ of list votes being insufficient to bring in a list MP.

      • Bruno 32

        I like David Seymour. He is adding a lot to our governance and seems a jolly good fellow ,with a bloody good sense of humour. If Jamie whyte pulled his finger out of his arse he could attract a lot of middle ground as well.,but I think his finger is stuck.

        • ex-JAFA

          Dr Whyte hasn’t been involved at that level of the party for over a year now.

  • PhantomsDoc

    “When Labour’s members took upon themselves the duty of deciding who
    the next Prime Minister will be, they simultaneously forfeited the right
    to behave as if they were a society of stamp-collectors.”

    A society of stamp collectors (bloody capitalists they are) have more chance of selecting the next PM than the Labour Party does.

  • Sailor Sam

    Except of course Phil Goff, that tired old protester will be feeding from the Auckland trough.