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Thompson quits as Internet Party general secretary

Alastair Thompson has quit as Internet Party general secretary amid rumours of infighting.

The move comes just 10 days after he departed Scoop, and his place in the Parliamentary Press Gallery,  for a formal role with Kim Dotcom's nascent political movement (which, earlier, he had been assisting on an undeclared basis; see below).

A statement posted by Mr Thompson to Scoop late Friday reads, in full: "Scoop website co-founder Alastair Thompson has resigned as interim general secretary of the Internet Party. Mr Thompson is not available for further comment."

The Internet Party released its own brief statement, attributed to "The Internet Party team", which said Mr Thompson's resignation was effective immediately.

"Vikram Kumar will take over Alastair's role as interim General Secretary ... we expect to announce our permanent General Secretary in the near future," it reads.

On Wednesday, former InternetNZ CEO Mr Kumar quit as Mega CEO to join the Internet Party in a yet-to-be-defined role.

"Personally I was looking forward to working with Alastair on the Internet Party and am disappointed that will not be the case," Mr Kumar tells NBR.

Infighting rumoured
On social media, there was speculation about whether Mr Thompson had quit the party, or was merely abandoning his administrative role to clear the way to stand as a candidate.

The candidate scenario seems highly unlikely given the abruptness and brevity of the party and Mr Thompson's statements.

Well-connected political blogger David Farrar weighed in, "I hear there was a huge argument and fall out so doubt it is a move to candidacy ...  I am hearing a lot of stories about people not getting paid."

Organisational chaos
Mr Thompson's role as Intenet Party general secretary also coincided with a period of organisational chaos. 

A document outlining strategy suggestions, allegedly written by left wing blogger Martyn Bradbury, was leaked.

A combined Dotcom album launch and political rally scheduled for January 20 was at first narrowed in scope to music, then cancelled as the Electoral Commission warned the free event at Auckland's Vector Arena could constitute the offence of "treating" or offering free food, drink or entertainment in a bid to sway potential voters. 

And NBR noted that the purple and white of the Internet Party logo are also the brand colours of Orcon - the ISP for which Kim Dotcom recently signed on as a pitchman (the party says the colours were chosen because they are politically neutral).

"Indefensible"
Could Mr Thompson return to Scoop, and regain his seat in the Parliamentary Press Gallery?

First, he has broken bridges to mend.

The editor and GM faced criticism from within his own camp after Whaleoil outed him as a Dotcom political operative - particularly over registering domain names (website addresses) for the Internet Party while still Scoop editor, with his interest in Dotcom's political venture undeclared.

Gordon Campbell recently wrote on Scoop, "Especially in an election year, any potential conflicts had to be identified and dealt with beforehand in a way that maintained the necessary distance. Instead, the boundaries in this case were actively blurred. The domain name registration was indefensible."

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


POSTSCRIPT

Alastair Thompson was on the steering committee when the Aotearoa New Zealand Foundation for Public Interest Journalism (o PIJ; formerly the Scoop Foundation project) was launched in April, 2013.

After NBR published a photo of Mr Thompson huddling with Dotocom at his mansion on December 13, a fellow member of the PIJ contacted NBR, concerned that Mr Thompson had an undeclared affliation with the accused pirate's soon-to-launch Internet Party, which would constitute an undeclared conflict of interest.

The Scoop editor had been "evasive" when questioned on the matter, the fellow member said.

Today, Mr Thompson's name has disappeared from the list of steering committee members on the PIJ's website; he resigned the day he quit Scoop.

Mr Thompson is still listed as a candidate for Internet NZ's - although he faces a possible Council conflict of interest discussion if elected.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
11

There have been far too many working journalist's in this country that have suddenly popped up as members of political parties, (typically on the left) and some have even gone on to be elected to Parliament. If their political sensibilities and affiliations were already that strong, what on earth does this say about the impartiality, fairness and integrity of their print and film work, and journalism as a whole in this country? I’ll tell you what it says, it stinks.

Is it getting to the time now where journalists will have to declare their political affiliations and leanings so that members of the public can be mindful about their bias when reading or watching their work?

And from the right are Maggie Barry and Deborah Coddington

What I find more galling is the number of journalists and editors who are suddenly unavailable for comment when the spotlight uncomfortably shines on them.

Those ones lose all respect because they are utter hypocrites.

What's sauce for the goose is not necessarily sauce for the gander.

Too true...

...and approaching the "impartial" Press Council - the self-regulating, self-policing Media industry body does no good at all.

Probably because of the imbedded EPMU union members who are proudly on the front page of their website?

Surely there must be some kind of "related-party" conflict when the 4th Estate, media industry body who are the "checks and balances" in our democracy - charged with shinning bright lights on dodgy elected officials - actually have imbedded financiers of a major political party in their midst?

Is not like having the Mafia oversee the efficiency and credibility of the judiciary?

I guess you need a brain to be a journalist so at some point you're gonna think and then maybe you start on some conclusions and some opinions then walla you're a hypocrite....

The political game in NZ has been set up so people pick left or right. The Internet party is neither left or right, which may be a big adjustment for those who actively played the previous game.

How about the Internet Party come out with some actual, you know, policies? Then we will be able to decide whether it is left, or right, or the "keep dotcom in the limelight" party.

'Left' vs 'right' went out 30 years ago when the 1984 - 87 Labour Government introduced the neo-liberal 'Rogernomics reforms'.

Penny Bright

Penny,
Do you have any thoughts on why National wants to sell SOE's?
Is it because America asked us to do it via the TPP, so that in the future it would put more pressure on China to privatise their SOE's?

Also why does Labour support the TPP? Do they have any say in the matter? Has anything fundamental changed with Labour since the Lange govt takeover?

lotta speculation in this piece based on Twitter babble. Also struggling to think who these left-wing former journo-politicians are. The only one who springs to mind is Denis Welch, who got nowhere.