Revealed: Assange knee-deep in failed WikiLeaks preference deals
August 30, 2013
A damning internal email trail from inside the WikiLeaks Party has revealed that Ecuadorian Embassy recluse Julian Assange was intimately involved in the Senate preference debacle that led to the party’s implosion.
Leaked emails sent by Assange and obtained by Crikey lay bare the internal war that consumed the transparency advocates and show how the self-described “president” and “party leader” tried to railroad democratic processes and impose the will of a small clique of acolytes. There is no WikiLeaks leader or president — under its constitution the party is controlled by an 11-member council.
Under the subject line “NC micromanagement of preferences”, Assange, the lead Victorian Senate candidate, slammed the council and suggested it should become a rubber stamp for decisions taken by individual candidates:
“I am receiving unhappy sounds from the NC micromanaging preferences. I agree with that. I am unhappy about it too. The people with the most information, motivation and responsibility are the Candidates and their campaign teams. I have a fully booked schedule and do not have time to attend snap NC preference meetings. I know that the NC is well motivated and wants to help, but it is not helping.”
“Preference negotiations are the single most important factor now in winning the campain [sic] and are extremely dynammic [sic]. Bar a raid on the embassy, we will not win without them. A great deal of time is being spent on it. At any moment there may need to be a re-adjustment based on a party removing a proposal to us or a new party stepping forward. This may then require adjustment of other preference agreements.”
Assange then goes on to propose:
“… that I assess the proposed final negitotiations secured by the Candidates and their teams to ensure that none of our Canadidtates [sic] or their negotiators has at the last moment has become a stalking horse for another party or would be a PR disaster (the latter is unlikely because our Candidates want to win).”
WikiLeaks activist Samantha Castro, who has since stepped down from the national council, responded in savage fashion, calling the missive “bullshit”:
“This plan sounds undemocratic and disrespectful to the national council of which I thought Julian was an equal member not the a person who could override choices by issuing statements from afar while not attending any meetings (bar one that I am aware of) The council is trying to ensure the values of the party are not trodden on in pursuit of deals that have NOT been shown in any real way to clearly benefit us and instead completely compromise our values and risk alienating our base. This is bullshit.”
In the days leading up to the decision, Crikey showed how WikiLeaks could conceivably cut a deal with the micro-Right to improve Assange’s chances in Victoria, but this tactic wasn’t pursued. Instead, when group voting tickets were released two weeks ago, the party nonsensically preferenced WA Nationals candidate and former West Coast Eagles goal sneak David Wirrpanda ahead of the Greens’ Scott Ludlam in Western Australia, potentially denying the staunch Assange supporter victory. In New South Wales, WikiLeaks bizarrely went to the redneck Shooters and Fishers Party and the extremist anti-immigrant Australia First Party ahead of the Greens, Labor and the Coalition.
A marathon 12-hour meeting on the day before preferences were due to be lodged concluded with an official directive from campaign director Greg Barns, but in WA and NSW this was ignored. In a statement released after the snafu, the party blamed the mix-up on administrative errors and said it “unreservedly acknowledges that the errors made in GVTs have angered many supporters and members and the Party apologises for those errors.”
Dissidents who have since quit the party say the tilt towards unilateral decision-making and the ossification of control around Assange, his biological father, John Shipton, and Barns left them devastated.
Yesterday, Crikey uploaded the swingeing resignation statement of volunteer co-ordinator David Haidon. Last week, former national councillor and former Assange uni mate Daniel Mathews posted a detailed account of why he had left the party he loved, with the preference debacle the final straw. Social media co-ordinator Sean Bedlam jumped ship, saying in this emotional YouTube video the party “has to die and can’t be allowed to continue”. Victorian Senate candidate Leslie Cannold quit, explaining on ABC News Breakfast how WikiLeaks’ founding principles of openness and democracy were betrayed. And national councillors Luke Pearson and Kaz Cochrane also resigned.
An earlier Assange email under the heading “CANDIDATE TASKING” shows his level of micromanagement of technical tasks:
“I require (as President) TWO people assigned to candidate registration tasks in each state for each candidate. There are only days in it and we’re dead in the water if there is a single mistake.”
In an interview with the ABC after the shit hit the fan, Assange twice claimed to be “party leader” and said couldn’t rescue the problems in Australia because he was too busy “saving a young man’s [Bradley -- now Chelsea -- Manning's] life.”
[Comment: I wonder what effect these revelations have on the Party's chances of winning seats? The main problem, as I see it, is that the Party has campaigned and indeed defines itself as one seeking Transparency and Accountability (and er Justice) and yet it seems clear from the available evidence that it's none of those things, and is instead characterised precisely by a lack of democratic accountability, in this case to its nominal leadership, the National Council. In other words, it's chiefly a vehicle to pursue Julian Assange's political ambitions, a means of continuing to draw attention to his plight, and perhaps exerting further political pressure on Australian and British authorities to arrange some kinda deal whereby he can leave the Embassy without being arrested and deported to Sweden to face (possible) charges of rape and sexual assault. On the other hand, the preference deals that appear to have been arranged with other minor party candidates may in fact -- if the Party's level of electoral support reaches some minimal level -- ensure at least one or possibly more of its candidates are indeed elected. I suspect that even this seemingly increasingly less-likely outcome may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory. See also : WikiLeaks Party : How Not to Campaign for Office, August 21, 2013 | WikiLeaks Party mired in crisis, Patrick O’Connor, wsws.org, August 29, 2013 | notes on assange, August 12, 2012.]
Special Bonus Batshit!
As noted, in NSW the Wikileaks Party decided to preference the Australia First Party ahead of the Greens, a decision initially described by it as an “administrative error” (sic). A neo-fascist party, its fuhrer is convicted criminal Dr James Saleam, a man with a lifelong commitment to various forms of neo-Nazi, fascist, and utra-right-wing politics. In Victoria, the party is standing John Carbonari (above) for the seat of Deakin. In May 2013, the party newsletter, Audacity, was distributed in the area. (Note that Audacity was also the title given to the newsletter produced by Saleam’s former political party, the neo-Nazi National Action. Dr Jim’s tenure as fuehrer was interrupted when he was sent to jail for organising a shotgun assault upon the home of a political opponent — he assumed control of Australia First a few years after his release.) The newsletter has been uploaded to the web and contains both racist vitriol and a genuinely crazed and hearty dose of homophobic rhetoric.
…and this is the mob the WikiLeaks Party believe is preferable to the Greens.