Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alamein Copeland

That apparently is what United Future's former MP is being called around Parliament. And he deserves it. Not because he jumped parties (something I regard as part of the normal political process), but because like Kopu he wants to continue to collect his MP's salary while not actually bothering to be there. Instead, he thinks that the "tremendous public support" he has received permits him to spend his time away from Parliament building his party, and that he can represent his constituents by not being there.

This wasn't acceptable when ACT was doing it, and its not acceptable for Copeland either. If he's not going to bother to turn up, then he really shouldn't be an MP at all.


Yes but it's really for the electorate to decide.

I suspect in Copeland's case, just as in Kopu's, the electors will make a good decision.

Posted by Rich : 6/19/2007 01:11:00 PM

Rich: The Electoral Act includes a provision allowing a vacancy to be declared where a member is absent for an entire session without the permission of the Speaker - i.e. when someone isn't doing their job. Originally a session meant a year, but now Parliament effectively sits in one session split over three years (the Governor-General does not prorogue it in between, because its not their place to do so anymore), so the clause is redundant. But I don't think its a bad idea, and I'd like to see it updated to take account of modern arrangements.

But as you point out, the voters are likely to take a very dim view of such behaviour anyway.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/19/2007 01:16:00 PM

I think it's a good general principle that an MP gets chosen by the electors - and the Speaker or the law shouldn't interpose without very good reason.

MPs may in some circumstances choose to boycott a parliament as a political statement (Sinn Fein do this in the UK - the electors of Belfast West and elsewhere are presumably aware that their chosen MP will not be taking his seat).

Posted by Rich : 6/19/2007 02:06:00 PM

Rich: I think it's a good general principle that an MP gets chosen by the electors - and the Speaker or the law shouldn't interpose without very good reason.

I agree that its a good general principle. But its not absolute. We have longstanding provisions allowing MPs to be removed if they betray their constituents (e.g. by swearing allegiance to a foreign power), or become incapable of representing them (e.g. through madness or prolonged imprisonment). And I don't see why the thinking behind the latter doesn't also extend tho those who fail to represent their constituents by choice, out of laziness or because they have other priorities.

The law has certainly allowed such removals in the past - see s55 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act. It's just that the definition of session has shifted with the move to both independence and more regular sitting.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/19/2007 02:21:00 PM

Only electorate MPs are chosen by the electors. Copeland's a list MP, ie he's there because people voted for United Future, not for him. The electors didn't choose him at all, other than to the extent that they knew he was on the list when they voted for his party.

All Copeland's doing at the moment is swindling those electors who voted for United Future in 2005. The law should provide for kicking his sorry arse out and giving United Future voters back the representation they voted for, by putting in the next person on UF's list. (Not that I think there's a likely substantive difference to be achieved from such an interchange of nonentities, but there's a principle involved...)

Posted by Psycho Milt : 6/19/2007 04:10:00 PM

"Copeland's a list MP"

i thought so.

what the hell is he still doing in parliament, and why hasnt he been replaced by next on the list?

any insights as to "why" out there?

Posted by Anonymous : 6/19/2007 05:09:00 PM

Why? Because he's a dick. Or rather, he argues, loosely, that he's holding true to the platform and it's the party that sold out.

From a technical, constitutional point of view, because the electors elect the list MPs too - from the point of view of parliament there's only one kind of MP. I realise the are issues, but it's pretty much how things stand.

Posted by Lyndon : 6/19/2007 05:40:00 PM

yeah - Lyndon's got it. Why? Because he's not dead, bankrupt, swearing allegiance to a foreign power or recently convicted of a serious offence.

80%+ of United Future voters opposed the anti-smacking legislation, yet UF didn't. Copeland probably (and not necessarily unreasonably) thinks that UF voters - most of whom are social conservatives - will hardly be pleased if he resigns, to be replaced by another person of the Peter Dunne ilk who was anti-smacking (as many of the anti-anti-smackers ahead of whoever that is have apparently left the party).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/19/2007 06:10:00 PM

"80%+ of United Future voters opposed the anti-smacking legislation"

Irrelevant. What percentage of National voters opposed it? National MPs were ordered to support it - Copeland wasn't.

What percentage of United Future voters want an MP who props up the government, while voting against it? Copeland's current stance is that if a confidence vote was tied 60-60, he would vote for the government, and against an election.

99% of 2005 UF voters would want him to do one or the other - support the government or oppose it. There's nothing principled about his position at all.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/19/2007 08:06:00 PM

This list MP thing is a fundamental weakness of MMP. These party hacks are only their because of their party affiliation. When, for whatever reason, that affiliation breaks they're in a quandary. Personally, I would like a proportional electoral system that doesn't perpetuate this kind of weird nonsense. STV, where everyone's least offensive configuration is installed in parliament has the attraction of not relying on list MPs.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/20/2007 08:35:00 AM

A lot of the electorate MPs are also only there because of their party affiliation. I'm convinced a lot of electors only find out who their MP is at voting time..

I don't see anything wrong with the concept of voting for a set of ideas and policies rather than for an individual?

Posted by Rich : 6/20/2007 12:01:00 PM

STV, where everyone's least offensive configuration is installed in parliament

You're suggesting voters should rank their 120 favourite candidates for election to parliament in order?

Posted by Lyndon : 6/20/2007 12:39:00 PM

The electorate MPs are the weak link in MMP: electorates still provide opportunity to gerrymander (look at the outcry over the proposed split in the Pakuranga seat). Far better to go to list MPs only with seats in parliament divided in 1/120th slices of the vote. Then in effect you vote for party policies rather than personalities.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 6/20/2007 05:03:00 PM

"Copeland's current stance is that if a confidence vote was tied 60-60, he would vote for the government, and against an election."
Now why would he do that?
Oh!! Silly me! Because if he didn't he would be out of a job.


Posted by Anonymous : 6/20/2007 09:03:00 PM