Sunday, May 01, 2011

The done thing

Yesterday Hone Harawira launched his new Mana Party. He also made a shock announcement that he would resign from Parliament to force a by-election - something he had denied on The Nation just that morning. People are already complaining about the cost, calling the by-election "unnecessary", but I beg to differ. Seeking a new mandate from your voters when you switch allegiance or found a new party is the done thing in New Zealand. Winston did it, and Tariana did it, because they both knew that if they did not, then they would be criticised as lacking a mandate by their former colleagues and the media. As for doing it in election year, Winston's by-election was in April, just 8 months out from the 1993 general election. Yes, it costs money, but that's the price of democracy. And if we weren't paying it, the same people now complaining about the cost would be questioning Harawira's legitimacy as a representative because he had not sought such a mandate.

(They're already smearing him by saying he's doing it for the money; Graeme Edgeler puts paid to that silly idea here)

Hone's big mistake in this isn't calling a by-election, but lying about his plans just a few hours beforehand. Journalists hate being lied to, and they're taking revenge the best way they know how: by wilfully misrepresenting Hone's position (e.g. Patrick Gower's lies about him wanting to "abolish all taxes"; actually Hone wants to abolish GST). It certainly shows that our media aren't the neutral purveyors of information they pretend to be.