Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…
Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,
“I’ve been leaked a copy of
the draftan unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]
David Farrar then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)
Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.
My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?
Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.
When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright lies;
– then that speaks well for his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present a story biased according to his own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)
On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,
“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”
This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)
David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection is even more direct, transparent, and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.
In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.
So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar offered up this explanation,
“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”
The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,
"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party. Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun. Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list. [...] We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators, bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and list-ranking processes..."
One part of that statement leaps out at me; “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”
What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.
In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.
If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.
David Farrar concluded by stating,
“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked “draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”
David Farrar may insist that he will not “print anything I believe to be untrue”.
But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.
If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.
Perhaps Mr Farrar should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.
Yup, it must be election year…
[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]
Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader
Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)
Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)
Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)
Previous related blogpost
2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen
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