The Herald’s attack on the EPMU over its handling of Shawn Tan’s contractual breach is instructive in the construction of propaganda.
After a fair summary of the facts as they stand, the Herald enters the realm of the right-wing blogger, always ready to paint its opponent with the worst possible spin, and then build on that as if on fact:
“That version of events avoids, as it must, any hint of the suspension being politically motivated. It falls a long way short of traversing this whole episode, however. It is reasonable to ask how the EPMU would have responded to a staff member who had agreed to stand for the Labour Party but had not told the union of his candidacy. Certainly, there would be no talk of suspension. Any breach of the collective agreement would be quickly and conveniently overlooked.”
It is a reasonable question to ask, and the Herald may indeed be correct in its suspicion that things might have been different had a Labour supporter breached the collective employment agreement in this way.
But it cannot say, “Certainly, there would be no talk of suspension.” (Emphasis added.) Especially if, as the EPMU alleges, Tan was reminded of this contractual obligation, the EPMU would be foolish to ignore it, regardless of the political affinity of the offender. Sets a precedent, you see.
Classic stuff. Make some unfounded assumptions for which you have no proof, and then you’re away. Later, more unfounded assertions:
“Mr Tan’s case suggests, in fact, that any fostering of candidacy is extremely selective. Indeed, the contractual condition requiring permission to stand in elections could be seen as enabling a scrutiny of candidate suitability as much as it allows the union to juggle workloads while a person is campaigning.”
Actually, it does not “in fact” suggest anything of the sort. The Herald seems to have missed the original report that states, “Earlier this year an employee’s request to stand for the Labour Party in local government was turned down.” That’s what is widely regarded as a “fact”, Mr/Ms Herald editorial writer, not your easy assumption made for the purpose of a cheap slur.
The people of Auckland deserve better than right-wing blogger invective dressed up as considered comment. The Herald is by far the largest circulation daily in NZ after all.