UPDATE: You'll see above Nigel Haworth's defense to RadioLive's always excellent Jessica Williams. Apparently, Haworth was merely offering party members free Twitter training. Really, Nigel? I'm just not seeing it. Even if I set aside the fact the comments below were preceded by a paragraph emphasizing "unity" and "discipline", and ignore that the words themselves, however drearily euphemistic and obfuscatory, were a perfectly self-evident admonition against unauthorized political tweeting, I cannot find in those paragraphs the meaning Haworth is trying to retroactively attribute to them. In fact, I defy anyone to read those sentences and conclude that Haworth was offering members help with how to use the Twitter and the Facebook. Coincidentally, Haworth last week went out of his way in an email exchange to assert proudly that he writes all his own stuff. Judging by this latest own goal, I'm not sure Labour should take any comfort in that.
In another tone-deaf display, NZ Labour President Nigel Haworth has used the latest email newsletter to urge party members to check with party officials before tweeting.
Equally, the modern era provides multiple opportunities to comment publicly on political issues. Blogs are one thing, but I think media such as Twitter are probably more important.
It is easy to read a newspaper report, or pick up a news item on the TV, and launch immediately into a commentary that may be widely shared.
We see this regularly, and it is sometimes founded on incorrect information, as events subsequently show. Spokespeople in Caucus, staff in Party HQ, Council members, members of Policy Council and I are available promptly to respond to queries about issues before public comments are made.
We are happy to talk to you if you hear or read something that worries you, or makes little sense. And a quick check with the Party about the issue allows you to comment in an accurate and informed way, even if you disagree! We are all the better for debate founded on accurate information.
Under the guise of "discipline", Haworth wants ordinary party members to clear tweets with party bigwigs.
I'm no longer a member but, if I was, I would have a few questions about this extraordinary and revealing new injunction.
- What will this Twitter Pre-Authorisation Process (TPAP) look like? Where, and to whom, do members send their draft tweets for approval?
- Given the fast-moving nature of social media, what's the likely turnaround time between submitting a draft tweet to the Party Committee for the Authorisation of Social Media Commentary (PCASMC) and receiving the final, approved version for dissemination?
- Will there be an appeal process when a member disputes or rejects the PCASMC's recommendations?
- If a member fails to follow TPAP protocols and goes ahead and tweets willy-nilly, will he or she be answerable to PCASMC or any other body of the party?
- Before retweeting politically-themed tweets, how can members know whether the tweet in question is PCASMC approved? Will members be held to account for retweeting items that have not undergone the appropriate TPAP protocols?
I have looked around for examples of political movements who institute similar rules, to no avail. In my observation, parties prone to such inclinations tend to just ban Twitter outright.