Key and Electoral Reform Referendum

John Key faces some tough choices about the referendum on electoral reform. He will be aware that it is in the best interests of the National Party to reform the system, as when the minor parties get kicked out of parliament National will need to win a majority to beat the Green-Labour Coalition. This will be near impossible as the earlier post shows, as National have won a majority only once, in 1951.

Key will be thinking a little about National and a lot about himself. In his best interests is to maximise the vote this time, as there is something in it for him. He is using National as a vehicle to promote his power now, and there is nothing in it for him to make sacrifices for National’s long term future because he is not part of National’s long term future.

Anyone doubting this should look at Labour and see how Helen Clark took a once strong party and completely gutted it. She has left Labour with no money, no competent leaders and no hope. A group of inept middle managers from Helen’s era are currently doing their best to ensure Labour can’t win in 2014, fighting asymmetrical wars they cannot win against a blogger with nothing to lose. Mike Williams shake down of donors means the donors are giving Moira the bums rush, and there is still historic debt from Helen?s desperate attempt to hold power in 2008.

Let’s get this straight. If Helen had have cared about Labour she wouldn?t have stripped it of cash and talent, and she would have aggressively recruited good people to caucus through her time in government. She made a few changes far too late, so MPs like Grant Robertson, Stuart Nash & Clare Curran are now having to fight the deadwood. Had Clark cared about the party she would have bought Robertson, Nash & Curran and similarly talented contemporaries into parliament in 2002 and 2005 and cut out some of the deadwood. She didn?t because she didn?t want to rock the boat, and have people throw tanties like Chris Carter did that could affect her votes.

The Board of the National Party should be concerned that in the future National will not be able to form a government under MMP, and that John Key isn’t focused on this aspect because all he is focussing on right now is winning this election. Just like Clark did when she was PM. This is an opportunity for the President to take decisive action like he did in the Rodney selection process, and issue a call to arms and get National supporting a vote for change so at least there is a second referendum in 2014.

Without the second referendum we run the very real risk that constitutional reform will be handed to the politicians and passed by a simple majority in?the?parliament rather than allowing the people to have a say. The long term risk of the current approach is that there will be nothing stopping another party or indeed National from using a simple majority to further make?constitutional?changes.

Now is the time to get it right. Not prevaricate and certainly it is high time to cash in some of that vast amount of political capital.


The politics of destruction

On Monday the Vote for Change campaign was launched. Perhaps un-surprisingly the hatchet jobs started soon after. With the sole exception of Graeme Edgeler, the commentary from supporters of MMP has been to attack the messenger rather than ?actually debate the issues. The tone has pretty much been to shout, spit and hurl abuse. They like to say know your enemy for the people fronting the campaign or helping finance it. Well I think that should also apply to their side of the debate.

Vernon Small (Stuff):?Anti-MMP campaign attacked

The campaign wasn’t attacked, the people involved were.

Rob Salmond (Pundit):?Behind the Curtain at Vote for Change

Rob Salmond is a former Labour staffer. He?focusses?on the establishment of the Vote for Change Society like it is some closely held secret, yet all the documentation is in the public domain. If the Society wanted to keep secrets then they could have simply established a trust. I note he is yet to inquire into the set up and backgrounds of the Campaign for MMP. He attacks an 80 year old retired man who is spending his own money. From his tone you would think he thinks that there shouldn’t be a debate at all.

Trevor Mallard (Red Alert):?Lusk and Williams out themselves

Trevor Mallard is Labour’s campaign manager and he spends an entire post attacking the people involved. He repeats his lies of previous posts and as is usual fails to present any evidence other than the hearsay of several bunker smashed ACT members and one National party traitor who will be revealed on this blog soon. Labour continued the assault on the people rather than the policies with Phil Goff’s?pronouncements?on?the?issue. Labour is locked in behind and providing heavy resources to the pro-MMP lobby.

The Standard:?Shirtcliffe?s anti-MMP campaign launches,?(Another) Tory astroturf fail,?Vote for Change Incorporated,?Shirtcliffe?s anti-MMP campaign launches

Just like when I blogged about Labour’s appalling website issues The Standard authors, amongst them the former General Secretary of the Labour party, Mike Smith, and of course Eddie attacked everything except the details of the campaign. They launched an all out attack on Peter Shirtcliffe , Jordan Williams and Simon Lusk, all from their comfortable anonymity. Eddie is particularly?distasteful. When they attacked me this blogger called into question my mental health, my?employment?status and mounted a personal attack with so much vitriol and hate anyone would think that they masquerade as Bomber Bradbury. Not s single post at The Standard has so much as mentioned any other electoral system, they have simply attacked the people who are brave enough to put their names to a public campaign.

Their politics of personal?destruction?is the nasty legacy of Helen Clark.

John Armstrong likewise does the same thing in this morning’s Herald. He attacks the Voter for Change Campaign because they won’t say what they prefer.

Put up or shut up. The new anti-MMP lobby group, Vote for Change, does not deserve to be taken seriously until it answers this question: change to what, exactly?

The organisation is not saying “at this stage” which alternative voting system it will support in the referendum. It will make an announcement once it has a “substantial” membership whose views have been heard.

Very democratic-sounding. And very convenient. By not indicating a preference, Vote for Change can keep pointing out the flaws of MMP without supporters of MMP being able to retort.

John Armstrong thinks that the campaign has no merit because they don’t have a preference. But why should they, the referendum is set up to allow voters a choice. It seems to have escaped John Armstrong that the referendum is asking voters what they prefer not what any particular group prefers. Much and all as the media wants the Vote for Change campaign to focus on one particular system over another the referendum is not set up like that and it would be a disservice to the voters to push for one particular system over another. What the media and the proponents of MMP seem to have forgotten is that there is choice for voters to make. It is up to the voters to make that choice. John Armstrong is better than this, it is strange he has chosen to be so dismissive.

Instead of attacking the messengers the pro-MMP lobby and their supporters, including the media, should be welcoming a contest of ideas. Instead they seem to want to shut down all debate, they seem to show the arrogance of politicians that the pubic has time and again shown a?distaste?for. The Vote for Change website shares some pledges to New Zealand, it is a pity that the pro-lobby don’t?share?some similar pledges. So far their only pledge seems to be to shout and abuse and act like MMP is the only democratic system in the whole world, never mind that only 4 countries in the world (Germany, NZ, Scotland and Wales) have MMP for electing their representatives.

We should embrace political discourse not attempt to shout it down. There is a referendum the very nature of such beasts requires a contest of ideas, it seems that the Campaign for MMP and their supporters didn’t want and still don’t want a contest of ideas. It seems that they believe that?the?referendum should be held in blissful ignorance without any debate. it seems this way because of their actions. If their support for the system is depedent on blind loyalty and unquestioning adherence then it clearly is a system that should be challenged.

Vote for Change launched

Finally, someone has got off their arse and decided to challenge the hegemony of MMP.

The shouters and vested interests didn’t want a debate, they wanted this referendum to be uncontested, well that isn’t going to happen now.

A campaign against MMP was launched today, aiming to persuade voters to opt for change in the referendum that is going to be held at the same time as the November 26 general election.

The referendum will ask voters whether they want to change to another electoral system, and to tick a preferred alternative from a list of options including the old first-past-the-post system.

If a majority want a change, a second referendum will be held alongside the 2014 general election which will run off MMP against the alternative that gets the most ticks.

“Vote for Change wants a system that restores more certainty, that allows voters to easily hold governments to account and kick rascals out of Parliament”, said the organisation’s spokesman Jordan Williams, a Wellington lawyer.

“The current system lets party bosses sneak MPs who have been dismissed by their local electorates back into Parliament on party lists.”

Mr Williams said many people had high hopes that MMP would create a new era of consensus politics but instead “small groups and party bosses can now hold the rest to ransom”.

Some people are already suggesting that MMP should be reformed but that is not the question in this referendum. What we are being asked to do is choose MMP warts and all as it currently stands, or vote for change. If we vote for change then we can choose one of four other systems.

If you like MMP just as it is then vote for that option, if you like anything else, including a changed MMP system then Vote for Change.

I’m glad we will now be having a debate, something that the supporters of MMP didn’t want and have gone out of their to avoid by abusing those who would speak differently.