MMP gives parties too much power and makes them impotent

March 27, 2011

MMP gives parties a lot of power in some ways but leaves them impotent in others.

They rank the lists which determines the order candidates get into parliament giving them a lot of  control over candidates.

Once a minor party has a seat it has power far beyond its support base even, as both Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne prove, it is no longer effectively a party.

However, the system which gives parties a lot of power also leaves them powerless.

Labour doesn’t want Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher or Dave Hereora back in parliament but under the rules, they are the first five in line to get the seat vacated by Darren Hughes. Only if each in turn does not accept the offer can it be offered to Louisa Wall.

If any of those five returns to parliament we’ll be paying them 11 months salary and allowances which comes to a total of $162,020 to do what?

She or he will go to parliament, sit in the house and have select committee duties until parliament rises for the election in early October. S/he might be asked to be a buddy MP in an electorate but how hard s/he applies her/himself to the task will be entirely up to her/him.

Knowing s/he is only there as a stop-gap gives her/him nothing to lose as Judith Tizard has already made clear:

Goff’s other problem is Hughes’ vacant party list spot – it’s due to go to Judith Tizard.

He views her as a figure from the past and doesn’t want her back.

“It’s for seven months, for some that might be regarded as disruptive,” he says.

But Tizard is undecided – she’s got unfinished business.

“I’d love to make a valedictory speech,” she says.

And if she does – she really will be disruptive.

“The question is whether Phil Goff is the person to lead New Zealand and he’s got to capture New Zealand’s imagination and for New Zealand to see him as an alternative,” she says.

Labour is already unstable. Allowing a former MP to return when she makes it quite clear she isn’t loyal to the leader will only make that worse but the rules of MMP allow that to happen and there’s nothing the party can do about it.


Labouring the list

March 26, 2011

Party lists are of great importance to the people on them.

That’s understandable for anyone not standing in an electorate, or standing with little or no chance of winning. But even those with safe seats often want a high place for ego’s sake if nothing else.

Those ranking the list labour over them trying to present a line-up which will appeal to voters without disrupting caucus and upsetting non-MP candidates which can be mutually exclusive goals.

But does anyone else, even political tragics, really pay much attention to them?

The lists are made public once they’ve been sorted but unless there is someone who is well known I’d be very surprised if many voters know, or care, about who is on them and in which order.

The only time after an election a list matters is if a list MP jumps or is pushed from parliament when the next person on the list is invited to take his or her place.

Sometimes,  a party has second thoughts about the ranking as Keeping Stock reminds us the Green Party did  when co-leader Russel Norman leapfrogged Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward to get into parliament before the last election.

When the Labour list was ranked in 2008 the importance of not upsetting sitting MPs must have had at least some bearing but that is now causing them problems.  The next person on the list is former MP Judith Tizard who must be offered the place vacated by Darren Hughes. If she turns it down it’s offered to Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora, all former MPs who, Labour president Andrew Little told Mary Wilson on Checkpoint, will not be on this year’s list.

The next one on the list is Louisa Wall another former MP but one who is standing again.

It is possible that the next five people on Labour’s list won’t want to disrupt their lives to return to parliament for a few months. But, has anyone asked them if they’d like to return for longer? The Labour list has yet to be ranked so if one of the five made the sacrifice they could be offered a place which has the potential to keep them in parliament for the next term.

But from what Little said last night, that isn’t a consideration. Instead it looks like five people will be expected to not take the place which they are entitled to by the law giving a whole new meaning to the term labouring (or should that be Labouring?) the list.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog notes that the five could-be MPs would be turning down 11 months salary if they decline the chance to return to parliament.


8 new names on Labour list, but where?

August 31, 2008

TV3, The Herald and Stuff all carry news that the Labour list had eight new faces who were promoted over some sitting MPs.

However, none have the whole list nor do they say where the newcomers are placed on it. The Labour website is paid for by parliamentary services so won’t mention candidates either.

On the running average of polls Labour is likely to have no more MPs after the election and may have fewer so Helen Clark will have the task of keeping disaffected MPs in line to add to her troubles.

The new people on the list are:

Rajen Prasad, former Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner;  Jacinda Ardern, a senior policy adviser to British Home Secretary Sir Ronnie Flanagan; Raymond Huo a lawyer and writer;  Phil Twyford, former global head of policy for Oxfam;  Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont;  Maori education advocate Kelvin Davis; Carmel Sepuloni,  an equity manager at Auckland University; and Stuart Nash, who stood in Epsom last election and if memory serves me right conetested and lost the selection for Napier.

I wonder if the CTU will have the same problems with their secretary standing for Labour as the EPMU does with Shawn Tan standing for Act?

Update: I see on Keeping Stock that I should have checked Scoop which has the full list.

Exactly who gets in on the list depends on the party vote and which canidates further back on the list win seats because each seat won puts those in front of them on the list back a slot.

On current polling anyone past the mid 30s will be unlikely to get in unless they win a seat which could include some MPs.

Damien O’Connor at 37 followed by  Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora to  Louisa Wall at 43 will be unlikely to still be in parliament unless they win seats. Lesley Soper doesn’t have a show at 77 and unless she requested to be in a totally unelectable position it’s an insult to put a sitting MP so low.


Youth Vote Up For Grabs

June 21, 2008

Gordon Campbell says the decision to make third party insurance on motor vehicles is another example of Labour’s punitive stance towards young people and first time voters.

According to to Labour Party president Mike Williams, there will 190,000 eligible first time voters in this election, and they’re supposed to be a Labour priority. Yet the array of policies that the Labour government has promoted over the last year or so have targeted young people and their leisure habits, mainly to score brownie points on law and order issues.

Add them up. There has been have the attack on youth drugs of leisure ( the party pills ban) and on forms of protest and expression ( the anti-tagging Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti vandalism) Amendment Bill.) Labour has vowed to keep young people compulsorily inside learning institutions until they’re 18, via the Schools Plus initiative, which is already in some trouble.

The Schools Plus initiative won’t be popular with 16 to 18 year olds who want to leave school, nor with those who want to stay and find their education disrupted by those who’d rather be elsewhere. But the party pill ban and anti-tagging legislation probably only affect a small minority.

Now, we have this 3rd party insurance move against their driving habits and related risks. Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoeven has been quite upfront that the compulsory 3rd party insurance idea was ‘brought into focus’ as a mechanism to get boy racers off the streets. Unfortunately, the measure will further offload the cost onto all motorists, and onto young drivers in particular, and the insurance industry is already contesting Duynhoeven’s cost estimates.

He is right about the added expense but I don’t think it’s a big enough issue by iteslf to repel or attract votes.

This punitive stance towards the young is not an election year tactic, since it has been evident throughout this term of government. Late in 2006, Labour MP Martin Gallagher sponsored an attempt to raise the drinking age, which would have forced young people out of clubs and bars, and denied them the chance to listen to bands on licensed premises. [ Disclosure of self interest : I co-promote tours by indie bands, and raising the drinking age would have killed such tours stone dead ]

You get the pattern, and that’s only on the punitive side. In the Budget, when Finance Minister was handing out the sweets to everyone else, he conspicuously failed to address student debt and student allowances. His token best effort was to drop the age that students will be regarded as dependent on their parents from 25 to an insulting 24 – apparently, according to Cullen, because United Future wanted it that way.

With the exception of students, most young people aren’t generally organised about lobbying so are easy for Governments to ignore.

There’s a word for it : ephebiphobia. It means fear of the young and Labour needs policy treatment for it. So, of course, does National – always a haven for young fogies – who have shown themselves more than willing to pack young offenders off to boot camp, even if the armed forces supposed to be running them don’t want a bar of it. For the Maori Party and the Greens, those 190,000 voters really are theirs for the taking.

I’m not sure why the Maori Party would be attractive to non Maori and today’s Fairfax poll shows Maori are favouring National (39%) with Labour and Maroi both at 22%. (David Farrar blogs on the significance of this here and No Minister comments here).

However, the poll also shows Labour has clawed back some support from National among young people and those on low incomes – but these two groups are also most likely to change their minds before polling day.

Labour targetted the youth vote (and their parents) in 2005 with the last minute interest free student loan bribe. The public coffers aren’t so healthy now, but that won’t necessarily stop them trying to snare the young – and any other sector they feel is worth targetting – with a last-ditch spend-up.


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