Labour didn't remedy the plagiarism. Not even close.

Soon after I posted four examples (here and here) of how Labour plagiarised news articles in its Future of Work discussion document, the party reacted in three steps:

  1. They pushed Clare Curran under a bus;
  2. They copped to plagiarism while dismissing it as a case of omitted footnotes;
  3. They appended footnotes to address the four instances I had highlighted. 

This was a profoundly inadequate response in many respects, but it worked wonders as an exercise in media management. Credit where it's due. To be honest, it probably helped Labour that it was me who revealed the plagiarism since I am easily dismissed as embittered and angry – over the Chinese surnames affair that led to my resignation, but also the more general perception in sections of the political Twittersphere that I am a full-time malcontent. While I would dispute those characterisations, I can't deny they diluted the impact of the revelations.  It may also be that plagiarism is just not that big a deal in New Zealand. Fair enough, I guess. 

Anyway, in Labour's haste to cover tracks, they failed to do the most obvious imaginable thing: rule out the presence of more examples of plagiarism.

First, I discovered another pilfer from the same edition of the Economist cited in an earlier post. 

Labour wrote:

Consumers may be winners, as can workers who value flexibility over security such as younger workers, those with portable skills in demand who attract higher wages, or those who don’t want to work fulltime.

But those who value security over flexibility, have families or have mortgages are all threatened. In addition, there are inequities for those who work in the on-demand economy but do not qualify for superannuation and other benefits.  

In Workers on Tap, Economist, Jan 2, 2015:

Consumers are clear winners; so are Western workers who value flexibility over security...

But workers who value security over flexibility, including a lot of middle-aged lawyers, doctors and taxi drivers, feel justifiably threatened. And the on-demand economy certainly produces unfairnesses: taxpayers will also end up supporting many contract workers who have never built up pensions.

Labour failed to append a footnote in this instance. It's time to test the proposition that this is a footnoting problem.

Let's examine one section in the Future of Work paper: 

It speaks for itself.  It is laughable to explain this away as a referencing error. It is the wholesale cutting and pasting of the large tracts of text presented as original work. Clearcut plagiarism of the most rampant, unambiguous kind. 

Aside from this new example, a reader emailed me with an instance where Labour has ripped words and ideas from a NZ Herald article in January:

In 2.2 Work and Workers,  Labour wrote:

Workers of all generations want flexible working conditions and a flexible working environment. Younger workers rate flexible conditions twice as important as other work factors.

Yet organisational practices are lagging behind technological change. Employers are often concerned about the costs flexible work can create and the additional management skills needed. There are also negatives to remote working such as loss of career and training opportunities and social isolation which need to be tackled.

In article entitled Flexibility High on Wishlist, (NZ Herald, 24 January 2015), Raewyn Court wrote:

...employees of all generations overwhelmingly want flexible working conditions and a flexible working environment, with millennials even rating flexible work conditions twice as effective as any other engagement strategy.

...organisational practices are lagging behind technology-mediated changes... Employers say [...] flexible working puts a greater burden on managers and supervisors, who need new skills to manage remote employees.

Dallimore says there are negatives to remote working in that employees can be "out of sight, out of mind" in terms of promotions, career and training opportunities, and can suffer social isolation.