We complained long and hard in 2008 when the Green Party tampered with its 2005 Party List. The Greens shoved aside Catheine Delahunty and Mike Ward to parachute co-leader Russel Norman into Parliament to replace Nandoor Tanczos. That, of course, allowed Norman to campaign for the 2008 election as an MP, and on the public purse.
This morning Newstalk ZB reports that Labour is going to commit an even worse abuse of MMP. Darren Hughes' resignation yesterday leaves a hole to be filled from the 2008 Party List. Next in line, of course, is Judith Tizard, closely followed by Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora, all former MP's. But no; the radio report suggests that Labour Pary President Andrew Little wants new blood; he wants Manurewa candidate Louisa Wall who is the sixth cab off the rank.
This is outrageous. Labour put up a list for the voting public to consider. Now, the needs and wants of the union movement seem to be more important than the democratic process. That is quite simply unacceptable. Surely Labour has, if nothing else, a moral responsibility to stick to the list that it presented to the voting public prior to the 2008 election.
This tawdry affair also exposes another flaw in MMP. We are not advocating for a return to First Past the Post as the electoral system that New Zealand uses, but there MUST be something better than MMP, if this is the kind of contempt with which political parties can treat those who vote for (or against) them.
Labour may not want Judith Tizard back in Parliament, nor Mark Burton, nor any of the others mentioned above. But they are the names on Labour's 2008 list; they made themselves available to serve between 2008 and 2011, and that is that. If it doesn't suit Labour; tough. That should have been taken into account when the list was compiled.
We have no sympathy whatsoever for the Labour Party in these circumstances. They are quite literally hoist by their own petard.
UPDATE (Midday Saturday): Newstalk ZB reports that Barry Soper has spoken to Tizard, and at this moment, she intends to take up the seat which is hers both by law and by Labour’s constitution. She did not get to make a Valedictory speech when she lost her seat in 2008, and wants to put that right.