Friday, December 07, 2012

Gagging the membership

You're a major political party. Thanks to domination by a bunch of talentless hacks, your leader is second-rate and your front-bench are muppets. But members keep pointing this out and objecting to it, embarrassing you and raising the spectre of said hacks ending up jobless after the next candidate selection. So what should you do?

If you're the New Zealand Labour Party, apparently the preferred solution is to gag the membership:

Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere. It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.

So, rather than being a vibrant, democratic organisation, Labour's ruling clique wants it to be a party of silent obedience, where the membership shows up, does what they're told, and helps said clique get re-elected with no input or voice. The proper role of a party member is to be a happy little drone, raising money and stuffing letterboxes in the service of their MP, without once questioning their "betters". Quite why anyone would join or continue to participate in such an undemocratic organisation is unclear, but I doubt the advocates of this measure are really thinking about that. Instead, its all about protecting themselves and their careers, and bugger the damage it does in the long-term.

Again, its a sign of the weakness of Labour's leadership that they are contemplating such authoritarian measures. Only leaders who can't stand on their merits need to suppress dissent. But its also a perfect example of why people don't join political parties today: because really, who wants to be treated like a peasant?