Greens out before race starts


The Green Party candidate is out of the race for the Botany by-election before it’s started.

The Greens announced in a press release late last night that it had selected former staffer Richard Leckinger to stand.

Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden confirmed that the Green candidate had not made it.

“A completed nomination form from the Green Party was not received before the legal deadline of noon today and therefore the Electoral Commission could not accept the nomination,” he said.

Mr Leckinger was upset.

“Gutted. In one word gutted. My heart is broken for the Green Party folk in Botany who had pulled all this together. I am gutted, it’s a real disappointment that I got stuck in traffic on Ti Rakau Drive.”

He told NZPA he showed up at the registrar’s office at 10am but the official discovered one of his nominees had, by moving a couple of blocks, moved to the Hunua electorate rather than Botany. Mr Leckinger dashed back to Botany to get another signature but did not make it back on time.

“I was two minutes too late.”

Misfortune or carelessness?  More of the former than the latter but a well organised party and its candidate ought to know the rules and meet all requirements well before a legal deadline.

Word of the day


Whatabouts – matters with which one is occupied.

Everyone’s a critic


Today’s discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass was based on Neal Gabler’s contention everyone’s a critic now and the response to that from several critics – is the age of the critic over?.

Sugar wins more votes but not prescription for health


Rob Hosking, in the print edition of the National Business Review, diagnoses the problem parties on what he says is lazily called the “centre right” or “right”  have more trouble winning elections.

This side of politics – which is more accurately called the liberal-conservative side – has, or should have, a strong emphasis on pushing the virtues of enterprise, small government and self reliance.

The endemic problem for such parties since the rise of mass democracy, with it election based around crude auctions for votes, is that this philosophy puts it at a tactical disadvantage.

It is easier for parties on what is lazily called the “centre left” or “left” – basically the parties whose origins lie in the variants which sprung from the writings of Karl Marx.

These parties, with their emphasis on ever-increasing provisions of government services to an apparently ever expanding pool of needy, can promise more and more goodies, cross their fingers and hope they are not in office when the eoconomy inevitably turns belly-up.

Sugar-coated placebos will almost always win more votes but they are not the right prescription for economic health.

Just as turkeys are unwilling to opt for an early Christmas, voters are unlikely to vote for changes which take away their treats.

Many supporters of National were disappointed when the party went into the last election pledging not to touch policies based on addressing want rather than need, like Working for Families. But there was too great a danger of losing the election had it not done so.

The mood as we approach this year’s election is different. People have got the message that too much debt is dangerous and voters might be more open to stronger medicine now we’ve all seen the damage too much sugar does to economic health.

Is MMP good for wee parties?


One of the supposed virtues of MMP is that it give wee parties a far better opportunity to get into parliament than would be possible under FPP.

But there is little point just getting into parliament. To achieve much a party must get into government and how many of the wee parties that have got into government have survived?

New Zealand First splintered into bits which disappeared at the next election. NZ First came back only because its leader won his seat and in spite of bringing other MPs into parliament was, and still is, no more than a one-man vanity vehicle.

United Future has swallowed up several other parties to no good effect. It too survives on the strength of its leader’s now tenuous hold on a seat and when he goes the party will too.

Act has pulled itself together after nearly falling apart last year. But it struggles to articulate what it really stands for and survives only by virtue of the people of Epsom who voted for its leader.

Alliance imploded. Jim Anderton clung to his seat and pretence at leadership through various changes in party names. The current manifestation still exists only to provide him with a leader’s budget and will go at the next election.

I was pulled up for calling the Green Party wee when it is the third biggest in New Zealand politics.

But that is not so much a reflection on its success, as the failures of all but the two bigger parties. An organisation which can’t count its members in at least thousands, and for democracy’s sakes it should be 10s of thousands, is really only a lobby group not a party.

Call it what you like, a party which has managed to get into parliament in three successive elections but failed to get into government is effectively only a lobby group with public funding.

Now the Maori Party is facing the problem all wee parties face in government – the need to differentiate itself and claim kudos for its achievements without undermining the government or its own support base.

The party’s co-leaders and two of its other MPs have accepted the reality that it’s better to get something  than to stand on a high horse and get nothing. Hone Harawira hasn’t and his antics threaten the party.

If he becomes an independent or forms another party and stands again he might split the vote and allow the Labour candidate to get through. When the Maori Party loses its seats it will almost certainly disappear and the seats could well follow.

The National Party policy to get rid of the seats was set aside in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party. If the party allies itself with Labour or disappears that policy is almost certain to be resuscitated.

After five elections under MMP only three wee parties survive with more than a leader. One has never been in government. The other two are there only because they hold a seat or seats and neither could be regarded as being secure in the long term.

MMP gives wee parties the oxygen of representation in parliament but they risk suffocation when they get into government.

Who does an MP represent?


MPs who stand for a party represent that party.

They also represent the people who voted for them and those in their electorate who didn’t.

MPs also have a responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the country.

There are inherent contradictions in this. Sometimes the interests of the party are not the interests of some or all of the people in the electorate or the rest of the country; sometimes what is best for the electorate might not be best for the party or the rest of the country; sometimes the greater good of the country might, at least in the short term, not be in the best interests of the electorate.

Who does Hone Harawira represent as the MP for Te Tai Tokerau?

He represents the Maori Party which selected him as a candidate and under the banner of which he gained his seat.

He represents the 12,019 people who voted for him personally and the 7,911 people who voted for other candidates.

He also represents the other 13, 130 people on the Maori roll in the electorate (37% of those eligible) who didn’t vote for anyone and the people who were too young to vote at the last election.

Given it is a Maori electorate he might argue he represents only those on the Maori roll but there were 62,400 people of voting age in the electorate in 2008. That includes 25,037 people of Maori descent on the general roll.

He argues he speaks for his supporters and he might do. But as an MP he has a duty to represent all his constituents and also work in the best interests of the Maori Party. That is the party he stood for at the election.

If he can no longer do that he should resign, start a new party or become an independent.

As for how popular he is – his majority in the last election was 6,308 which isn’t marginal but other MPs did much better. Some won majorities far greater than Harawira’s total vote including John Key with a majority of  20, 547;  Tony Ryall (17,604);  and Allan Peachey (17,020).  A total of 48 MPs won with higher majorities than Harawira.

February 8 in history


On February 8:

1575  Universiteit Leiden was founded and given the motto “Praesidium Libertatis”.

1587  Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

1612  Samuel Butler, English poet, was born (d. 1680).

1622 King James I disbanded the English Parliament.

1692 – A doctor in Salem Village suggeseds that two girls in the family of the village minister may be suffering from bewitchment, leading to the Salem witch trials.

1693  The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.

1726 The Supreme Privy Council was established in Russia.

1807 Battle of Eylau – Napoleon defeated Russians under General Benigssen.

 Cavalry charge painted by Simon Fort.

1817  Juan Gregorio de las Heras crossed the Andes with an army to join San Martín and liberate Chile from Spain.

1828  Jules Verne, French author, was born (d. 1905).

1837 Richard Johnson became the first Vice President of the United States chosen by the United States Senate.

1849 New Roman Republic established.

1855  The Devil’s Footprints mysteriously appeared in southern Devon.

1856  Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei abolished slavery in Wallachia.

1865 Delaware voters rejected the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and voted to continue the practice of slavery.

1867 The Ausgleich resulted in the establishment of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.


1879 Sandford Fleming first proposed adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute.

1882 Thomas Selfridge, first person to die in an airplane crash, was born (d. 1908).

Thomas selfridge smoking pipe.jpg

1887 The Dawes Act authorised the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divided it into individual allotments.

1900 British troops were defeated by Boers at Ladysmith.

1904 Battle of Port Arthur: A surprise torpedo attack by the Japanese at Port Arthur, China started the Russo-Japanese War.

Battle of Port Arthur crop2.jpg

1910 The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce.

1915  D.W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles.

1922 President Warren G. Harding introduced the first radio in the White House.

1924 The first state execution using gas in the United States took place in Nevada.

1931 James Dean, American actor, was born (d. 1955).

1931 All three people on board  a Dominion Airline DeSoutter were killed in a crash near Wairoa. This was the first fatal air service accident in New Zealand.

 First fatalities on a scheduled air service in NZ
1932  John Williams, American composer and conductor, was born.
1941  Nick Nolte, American actor, was born.
1948  Ron Tyson, American singer (The Temptations), was born.
 The Temptations in 1984. Pictured L-R: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, (from top) Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Ron Tyson

1952 Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the UK.

Young lady wearing overalls and a cap kneels on the ground to change the front-left wheel of a military truck Elizabeth changes a wheel during WWII.

1955 John Grisham, American writer, was born.

1955  The Government of Sindh abolished the Jagirdari system in the province. One million acres (4000 km²) of land thus acquired was to be distributed among the landless peasants.

1960 – Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants would take the name “Mountbatten-Windsor“.

Badge of the House of Windsor.svg

1962 Charonne massacre: 9 trade unionists were killed by French police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Paris Prefecture of Police.


1963 Mohammad Azharuddin, Indian cricketer, was born.

1963 Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba were made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.

1968  The Orangeburg massacre, a mass killing in Orangeburg, South Carolina of black students from South Carolina State University who were protesting racial segregation at the town’s only bowling alley.

1969 Allende meteorite fell near Pueblito de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico.


1971 The NASDAQ stock market index debuted.

The image above is proposed for deletion. See files for deletion to help reach a consensus on what to do.

1974 The crew of the first American space station Skylab returned to Earth after 84 days in space.

1974 – Military coup in Upper Volta.

1978  Proceedings of the United States Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time.

1979 Denis Sassou-Nguesso became the President of the Republic of the Congo.

1983  The Melbourne dust storm .The result of the worst drought on record and a day of severe weather conditions, the 320m deep dust cloud enveloped the city, turning day to night.

1989 An Independent Air Boeing 707 crashed into Santa Maria mountain in Azores Islands killing 144.

1996 The U.S. Congress passes the Communications Decency Act.

1996 – The massive Internet collaboration “24 Hours in Cyberspace” took place.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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