Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Watkins (T) on Norman and democracy

It wouldn't be stretching the truth to say that Tim Watkins from Pundit leans just a little to the political Left. In addition to his blogging Watkins is regularly on the radio on Newstalk ZB, where he almost always defends left-wing positions and causes.

So that makes his condemnation of Russel Norman much more noteworthy; Watkins opines (with our emphasis added):

I'm no great fan of referenda, but when phrases such as "elected dictatorship" start getting bandied around we all need to draw breath and remember how this 'running the country' thing really works
Well, it's been less than 24 hours since the Keep Our Assets groups nailed their petition, metaphorically, to the door of parliament, and there's already been a fair bit of tosh spoken about it. Some of the worst has come from Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but he's not alone.
On its second crack, 327,224 valid signatures - 18,500 more than required to initiate the referendum - were collected by the Keep Our Assets coalition and yesterday delivered to the Speaker. The referendum question will be: "Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?"
Driving home last night I heard Norman on Checkpoint, rejecting questions that National had won the election and therefore had the right, y'know, to govern. Norman said that people vote for an against numerous issues in an election, so it didn't mean National had a mandate for partial asset sales.
"That's not how democracy works," he told Mary Wilson.
Except that's exactly how democracy works. Elections are never single issue referendums and a party like National, which for two elections has been clear as a newly polished pane of glass on a summer's day (with not too much light, but not much cloud either) about its intentions, has every right to, y'know, govern. To argue otherwise makes no sense.
Because by Norman's logic a governing party has no right to implement policies in its manifesto that don't get a majority in separate polls. Well, that's not how democracy works. If it was, you could look at this random measure from 2003 and say Labour had no right to cut us off from the Privy Council.
Indeed, republicans have never won support for New Zealand to cut ties with the monarchy in any poll ever, so by Norman's logic it would be anti-democratic for any future Labour-Greens government to even consider such a move until it had won at least a few polls.
But we don't want government by polls. Y'know, the sort of polls that urged the US and Britain to go to war in Iraq, for example.
Norman went on to say that we're not "an elected dictatorship" and that Key must listen to the voice of the people. So let me go on with another couple of examples. Because by Norman's rhetoric it's surely more oppressive for National to have started implementing the Greens' insulation scheme in its first term – at least asset sales were a clear part of National's manifesto!

If there's anyone in Parliament who rivals David Cunliffe for being an ungracious winner, it's Dr Norman. It would be easy to excuse him by suggesting that it's the Australian way, although Australians have had precious little to celebrate in recent months, especially on the sporting field. But there's something more to it than that.

Perhaps Dr Norman is peeved that David Shearer's departure and the start of the #Labour'sGotTalent taxpayer-funded tour has pushed him out of the limelight. He has certainly hammed it up in the media over the last couple of days, but as Tim Watkins note, he has been big on rhetoric, and small on substance.

And unfortunately for Dr Norman, the words of Phil Goff have come back to bite LabourGreen on the bum; check this out from 25 January 2011:

Mr Goff said Prime Minister John Key had made this year's election a referendum on whether New Zealanders wanted to see their most important strategic assets sold.

National's Mixed Ownership Model policy was one of the very central issues of the 2011 General Election campaign. Labour in particular devoted huge resources to campaigning against "asset sales", which was an untruth in itself. We all know the outcome; National recorded its largest-ever percentage of the vote under MMP, and Labour crashed to its worst result in 70 years.

The moment that John Key was able to inform the Governor-General that he was able to form a government was the moment that the 2011 referendum on "asset sales" ended. Labour and the Greens should accept the outcome that MMP, which they of course support, threw up and move on.

And here's one other point to ponder. Late in its third term of government, Labour passed. with the support of the Greens the Electoral Finance Act and the Emissions Trading Scheme. Labour was a minority government, and neither of these policies received anything like the amount of scrutiny at the 2005 General Election as the Mixed Ownership Model did in 2005. Indeed, the EFA, later repealed by National, with Labour's support was a direct response to allegations of dodgy campaigning in 2005.

Russel Norman may support MMP and democracy, but only when tthe outcome it produces suits him. Kudos to Tim Watkins for not swallowing Dr Norman's deceit, and for calling him on it.


Nookin said...

You say that he is an ungracious winner. He is also a nasty loser. His reaction to the shambles that was the initial referendum count was vicious. There can be little doubt that the policy to nationalise the supply of power was a very calculated attack on the imminent MRP float.

He behaved like a spoiled brat over his flag when he should have known that people who aspire to government do not go about offering gratuitous insults to guests.

Norman has a chip on his shoulder. It comes from the frustration of being an ineffectual prat. He does, however, have a degree of eloquence which some people find persuasive. I am firmly of the view that he is wholly unsuited for any role in government

Keeping Stock said...

I don't disagree with your opening statement Nookin; Norman's dummy-spits have not gone unnoticed. But on this occasion, it was his gloating that grated, and clearly not just with those from the Right.

As for your close; could not agree more.

robertguyton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Keeping Stock said...

Why do you even bother Robert?

Please get this message; your repeated trolling, abuse and questioning of my character has left you unwelcome here permanently.

bsprout said...

51% of voters did not vote for a party that supported asset sales. No moral mandate exists.

Rather than sell assets that will continue to earn income, why not chase the $5-6 billion dollars of tax fraud. We have already clawed back about $2 billion of avoided tax from the Australian banks. Mining white collar fraudsters would be far more profitable that oil drilling and hitting beneficiaries.

jabba said...

come on lads .. give the Gweens as much daylight as possible .. they can't hide their madness forever and we need the sane people who voted for them to see them for what they are .. in a way, you should also let bOb comment here as he is a classic Gweenie

Keeping Stock said...

So you are saying that NO coalition that has less than 51% popular support can pass ANY legislation bsprout?

Or are you just cherry-picking one policy and one coalition government which you happen to disagree with?

PS: The Government IS pursuing tax evaders; just this week IRD has been hailed for more than $24m in undeclared tax that has been tracked down and paid. Your argument is just a red herring bsprout, but then again, why would we expect anything less when your beloved leader's credibility is under attack from a normally-friendly source?

Keeping Stock said...

Sorry jabba, but bOb has had plenty of chances. He was banned and reinstated twice, but three strikes and you're out.

He can't say that he wasn't warned, but he chose to ignore the warnings.

pdm said...

bsprout - using your logic around 90% of voters did not vote for the Greens in 2011.

Yet lead by Russel Norman they saw fit to waste thousands of taxpayers money to obtain signatures to a pointless referendum.

Edward the Confessor said...

It's understandable that the right fear the people having a say on this issue. Despite spending $100m it botched the MRP share float, ripping off the Kiwi Mums and Dads it encouraged to buy shares. Now it's going to be shown there's no popular support for the sales. All in all a disaster, only mitigated by the fact that the Nats now have a slush fund to give to its mates (irrigation scheme anyone). Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?