Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of Labour, MMP, and the democratic process

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.


pdm said...

The slope towards below 20% of the Party Vote has become steeper and even more slippery.

Siena said...

"Surely Labour has, if nothing else, a moral responsibility to ..."

Labour and "moral responsibilities" in the midst of what you call "this tawdry affair"?

Inventory2 said...

@ Siena - the irony you refer to was entirely unintentional!

PM of NZ said...

politicians and morals???

Grantavius Kennarius said...

I think that there shouldn't be a list. Instead, after the FPP results are tallied, we should see what percentages the different parties got, and give them MPs to make up the difference- with the first being the one who got the highest number of votes, then the second, etc. This will mean that the candidates with better support will be at the top of the 'top-up'.

pdm said...

GK - that sounds like a variation of STV to me and it seems like a good idea

gravedodger said...

One of the factors that lead to the narrowist of margins in the referendum that gave us MMP was the perceived theory that MMP would deliver us from a dictatorial power that Muldoon was portrayed as holding over the executive.
What did Helen Clarkes total grasp on the levers of power, and also the media,police and the public service give us under the liberating democracy that is MMP. An even greater control and manipulative power than the alcohol fed ego of Muldoon could only dream about.
A basic tenet of a functioning democracy imo is the ability of a geographical based group of electors to vote to 'prevent' a person who the majority of that group see as unsuitable or has lost the confidence of a majority of the voters, from representing them in the parliament.
Mr Hughes lost the support of his electorate in 2008 in all likelyhood due to the swing against his Party and not as far as I see it as any reflection on his personal behaviour, morals or lifestyle choices. However his fate in 2011 under FPP would have been a straight forward choice whatever the outcome whereas under the MMP system he would have waltzed back into parliament as a valued member of the "party" in spite of his rejection by those who had the best chance of evaluating him at the local level as happened in 2008.
Any shennanigans with the list such as those oh so democratic Greens did to manipulate Normans unseemly grab for a seat and subsequent access to additional state based electoral funding. This with total disregard of the list that was ranked to appeal to the electorate as they searched for "party" votes at the previous election, will imo be a gift to those of us who see MMP as a lot less democratic than the system it replaced.
If the proportionality that supporters of MMP see as desirable why not just give additional votes to "the party" to exercise without bringing the "carrion" that is list MPs into the house and in the case of Parties that get the 5% without an electorate seat, they then just hand their "votes" to the party they choose to support. After all in most cases they are just faceless bodies at present and it is farcical when a "vote" is called in the house the Party of government or opposition exercise those votes in absentia even for Phillip Field when he was "on gardening leave" and as later events proved could well have been incarcerated on remand.

Anonymous said...

Political Parties should not be allowed to compile their party list. This power needs to be taken off them.

Each Party List should be created, after the election, comprising the highest-polling unsuccessful electorate candidate of each party ranked at No.1 and so on down.

At least this way even List MP's could claim to have some personal mandate.

Anonymous said...

Each Party List should be created, after the election, comprising the highest-polling unsuccessful electorate candidate of each party ranked at No.1 and so on down.

Oh GREAT. It's bad enough now when electorate losers get in on the list. This would just make that permanent!

Here's a better idea: just get rid of the f**king list. Have the electorate vote - ideally with each electorate being the same geographical size. That's all you need. That way we'd get a government that really worked for the good of the country

Shunda barunda said...

The Labour party is a total mess.
Helen Clark did such a good job of destroying all potential opposition to her leadership that they now have no depth.
Phil Goff will never be any more appealing to the NZ public than a half filled filing cabinet, and the rest of his party certainly don't think he is 'left' enough.
Couple this with continuing depraved behaviour of younger MPs and you have a party that has the political appeal of used toilet paper.
They have still not got over the "born to lead" doctrine of the Clark regime and don't appear to be going to drop it any time soon.

Inventory2 said...

Couldn't agree more Shunda. Labour had a change to purge its ranks before the 2008 election but didn't, so the electorate did it for them. The message still hasn't got through though.