Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Anderton's response: Threats and bluster

Jim Anderton has lashed out at the Electoral Commission over their referring him to the police for violating electoral advertising law, blustering that

"I'm authorised to send my constituents any message I damn well like. This is my electorate.

"And if the Commission wants to start stopping electorate MPs from communicating with their electorate, they'd better get prepared for a breach of privilege complaint, because that's what it amounts to.

They are interfering with the regular work of an MP."

On the first point, Anderton is just wrong. He has to obey the law like everyone else. That law provides for an exemption for regular parliamentary funded communications such as constituent newsletters and contact information, but Anderton's letter did not fall into that category (its not a regular newsletter and stated that it was not funded by Parliament).

As for the threats, Parliament has made it clear that it is not part of an MP's regular work to solicit for votes. It may be what they do, but its not protected by Parliamentary privilege.

Yesterday, I was willing to attribute Anderton's crime to (unforgivable) ignorance. Today, its clear that its one of arrogance. And he needs to be held to account for it.