If they can’t keep their supporters’ names under wraps, what makes them fit to run the country?

"Before computerisation our files were kept safe and secure here at party headquarters."

The tossers at the Labour Party – having failed to properly preserve the privacy of their supporters and donors – have come up with a superb example of perverse crisis management.

They are bleating to the privacy commissioner about lists of supporters and donors falling into the hands of The Whale.

Does a whale have hands?

Dunno, but…

Details of 18,000 people were on the databases downloaded by blogger Cameron Slater, severely embarrassing Labour, which had to email donors and people who had contacted it through its website to apologise for the breach.

Slater has revealed on his blog how he obtained the databases, which appear to have been publicly available and easy to download without needing to hack into the site.

Get that?

No hacking, he says.

He just tapped into Labour’s databases.

And there it was. Lots of names and other interesting stuff.

Now (Stuff says) he is threatening to reveal any conflicts of interest, potentially compromising Labour supporters in sensitive positions who have contacted it in support of its Stop Asset Sales campaign and others.

Some public servants might feel similarly compromised by being revealed as Labour Party donors or campaign supporters.

Fair enough, too, because giving support to Labour – in Alf’s highly regarded opinion – attests to serious intellectual weakness.

Accordingly, anyone who has contacted Labour through the site may be feeling twitchy about their impairment being disclosed to the world.

Some are more than twitchy. They are downright pissed off, because…

Party insiders admit some of their supporters are angry at the breach being allowed to occur.

Their anger is the result of what Labour president Moira Coatsworth describes as a potentially “malicious” breach of the database and a “system vulnerability” that allowed Slater to access the details.

She accepted that the breach was serious and had apologised “unreservedly” to people whose privacy was breached.

But while it was a “design fault” that led to the breach, Labour believed releasing the information could breach privacy rules and was consulting the privacy commissioner before deciding whether to complain to police.

But what Labour has done is equivalent to you or me leaving our valuables on the kitchen table and the front door to the house wide open while we duck down to the Eketahuna Club for a few hours.

Breaking in is not what we are talking about, in those circumstances.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow confirmed one of its technical people had accessed the Labour database but denied that anyone had tipped off Slater.

“We haven’t passed on any information, certainly haven’t done anything with any information from their website, so we didn’t tip off Cameron Slater.”

From the taxpayers’ point of view, the breach raises fresh questions about the funding of party activities.

The leaks show staffers paid for by the Parliamentary Service – you and me, in fact, folks – were handling some party queries.

Or that’s what seems to have been going on.

But Labour insisted yesterday one of the staffers concerned was paid a part-time salary by the Labour Party as well as the Parliamentary Service.

The Parliamentary Service nevertheless if talking to some people to ensure they are not breaking the rules by doing party work on parliamentary time.

Labour has no cause to be wanting to protect whales this week.

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