Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An exercise in dishonesty

Writing in the Dominion Post, National Party hack and former hollow man Richard Long attempts to exploit Labour's list replacement saga to attack MMP. MMP is bad, according to Long, because it allows the electoral process to be "gazumped" and the list to be rewritten after the fact.

So, what does he propose as a replacement? Supplementary Member, of course - which has exactly the same list system as MMP. So, if like Long you think the presence of list MPs and mid-term replacements is a problem, this isn't actually a solution.

But that isn't actually the "problem" Long is really concerned about, as his final paragraph makes clear:

Importantly, it would also reduce the inefficient and costly tail-wag-the-dog aspects of MMP which stem from governments having to squander millions of taxpayers' dollars to fund the questionable pet projects of small coalition partners. MMP institutionalises this barmy loyalty-buying exercise.
Translation: SM would end coalition politics, permanently sidelining small parties and cutting them out of power. What Long really wants is a less democratic electoral system, which restores the two major parties (and particularly National) to their "rightful" place, while eliminating the need to compromise their agendas in order to gain majority support. His entire column is simply an exercise in dishonesty to serve this undemocratic goal.

Long isn't alone; this is mainstream thinking among National. And that should concern all of us. When one of our major political parties thinks our system is "too" democratic, that it should have power disproportionate to its share of the vote, and that the electoral system should be changed to ensure this, we are all under threat. We'll have a chance to vote on this later in the year. We can't let National get away with it.