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A challenge to Gerry Brownlee

Written By: - Date published: 7:54 pm, April 25th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: election 2011 - Tags: , ,

A few weeks ago Lianne Dalziel announced she wouldn’t stand for the list stating:

I came to the conclusion that if I wasn’t re-elected by the people of Christchurch East I wouldn’t want to be a member of Parliament. I wouldn’t want to be anything other than the MP for this area, especially now with the challenge we’ve got.

It’s an unusual move but it’s barely business as usual in Christchurch and with the huge task ahead of all Christchurch MPs it makes sense that they make sure they have the backing of the people of Christchurch.

Which brings me to Gerry Brownlee.

No MP needs to demonstrate the confidence of the people of Christchurch at this time more than Brownlee. So why isn’t he stepping down off the list and leaving it to the people of Ilam to determine if he stays or goes? It’s not like there’s any real risk – Ilam is bluer than blue, they’d vote in a cream bun if it had the right colour rosette on it.

Surely if Brownlee wants us to believe he is acting with any kind of real mandate he can start by putting his money where his mouth is.

24 comments on “A challenge to Gerry Brownlee”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    Reckon so Bill.

  2. I understand exactly how Dalziel feels and… much as I thought I’d never have a reason to say this… admire her. At least insofar as her stance on the list is concerned.

    If we’re going to stick with MMP, why not change it so that the party’s list was made up of the people who polled highest in their respective electorate but didn’t win? At least then the people who became list MPs would know they came close, losing by perhaps a handful of votes, and thus have some sort of mandate.

    • Rich 2.1

      Wouldn’t that just mean that there was more incentive for parties to put those with influence into winnable seats?

      • Shazzadude 2.1.1

        Potentially, but that’s still a far stronger democratic mandate than we have today. I like the idea of list rankings according to % of votes gained.

        • Rich

          If you did that, for the current parliament (assuming the existing candidatures) the Labour list MPs would be:

          DUYNHOVEN, Harry (LAB)

          PILLAY, Lynne (LAB)

          O’CONNOR, Damien (LAB)

          CHAUVEL, Charles (LAB)

          OKEROA, Mahara (LAB)

          HUGHES, Darren (LAB)

          TIZARD, Judith (LAB)

          GALLAGHER, Martin (LAB)

          BEAUMONT, Carol (LAB)

          CHADWICK, Steve (Stephanie) (LAB)

          DAVIS, Kelvin Glen (LAB)

          McDOUALL, Hamish (LAB)

          MACKEY, Moana (LAB)

          BURTON, Mark (LAB)

          SOPER, Lesley (LAB)

          MACKENZIE, Denise (LAB)

          RIRINUI, Mita (LAB)

          WALL, Louisa Hareruia (LAB)

          BARKER, Rick (LAB)

          MASON, Errol (LAB)

          BLANCHARD, Julian (LAB)

          • Rich

            And the National ones:

            WILKINSON, Kate (NAT)

            WHITESIDE, Richard (NAT)

            WAGNER, Nicky (NAT)

            PLIMMER, Malcolm (NAT)

            FRANKS, Stephen (NAT)

            HEFFERNAN, Terry (NAT)

            GROSER, Tim (NAT)

            QUINN, Paul (NAT)

            ALEXANDER, Marc (NAT)

            HENARE, Tau (NAT)

            GILMORE, Aaron (NAT)

            PARATA, Hekia (NAT)

            BLUE, Jackie (NAT)

            POWELL, Conway (NAT)

            CALDER, Cam (NAT)

            WOODHOUSE, Michael (NAT)

            FINLAYSON, Christopher (NAT)

            • Rex Widerstrom

              That’s interesting, Rich. Thanks for doing that work… it puts some reality around the idea. It’s changed my view of Lousia Wall, for one thing. If she actually got more votes than some of the people loafing round on the green seats just because they happened to have the right “look” then she certainly deserves to be there. So too, of course, does Judith Tizard.

              And how much happier would many Nat supporters, busy decrying how “Labour lite” the party has become, if the likes of Stephen Franks was amongst their ranks?

              • Rich
                From my perception of the 2008 campaign in Wellington, if National had fielded a less polarising (not to mention homophobic) candidate than Franks (into the most small-l liberal seat in the country), they might have won. (Or if Labour hadn’t fielded their best possible candidate for the seat in the person of Grant Robertson, indeed).

                Similarly, with Judith Tizard, did she:
                – lose the confidence of her electorate through lassitude and incompetence?
                – hold National to a small majority in a face of a countrywide swing and a rapid demographic change in the electorate?

                Either interpretation could explain the result.

                If we want more democratic control over lists, why not have open lists/instant primaries?

                All that would be needed is for voters to have a choice of ballot papers. If you want to rank the list, you take a long-form paper and list the candidates for your chosen party. Otherwise, you take a short-form paper and go with the parties recommendations. The results get aggregated and determine list positions.

                That way, list selections would represent the views of each parties voters, not a fairly arbitrary derivative thereof.

    • I’m not a fan of lists constructed by an ‘inner circle’ of any party. I’m happy for a list to be constructed by the entire membership of a party. I don’t see anything ‘undemocratic’ or ‘inferior’ about MP selection in that way (as opposed to electorate voting).

      I don’t usually like sporting analogies but in this case it seems apt: A party (all members) putting what they think is their best team onto the field seems perfectly compatible with a party-based, representative democracy. 

      I also don’t see as very strong the argument that someone ‘rejected by an electorate’ should somehow be ineligible to be elected via a list. Under FPP (or for electorate seats now) a major reason for a person winning was (and is) the strength of the party voter support in that electorate. Sure, in more marginal electorates it might come down to candidate qualities but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

      It therefore seems arbitrary to me to argue that electorate MPs are ‘purer’, more democratic options than list MPs. As Irishbill pointed out, you could put a cream bun up in Ilam (or even the worst person on National’s list) and they’d get into Parliament. Would that somehow validate their worth? (especially if they were selected as the candidate by a small coterie of party officials?).

      What people who are pro-electorate MPs are fighting to preserve actually exited the political scene when party politics emerged. Parties are now the main vehicles in representative democracies, for better or worse.

      • It therefore seems arbitrary to me to argue that electorate MPs are ‘purer’, more democratic options than list MPs.

        They are in that they’ve gained their positions by virtue of a greater amount of democratic input than have list MPs. But that’s not a fault of MMP, which is silent on the way lists are selected – and that’s the problem.

        When list MPs can be catapaulted from nowhere to a seat in Parliament based on a deal between a few (literally) people – David Garrett, the whole NZ First cohort – then they are, I’d argue, less “pure”.

        Widen their mandate, however, and you dilute that impurity. Open list ranking and/or the idea I’ve suggested above.

        And for safe seats (well, all electorate seats, but to democratise the safe ones as much as possible), primaries.

        • Carol

          How can it be more democratic when the List votes are about a nation-wide mandate, and electorate votes are very localised, and the number of votes partly depends on who else is running in that elctorate?
          These are 2 very different systems and mandates, and, while there may be a little overlap, I don’t think one should be fully collapsed into the other.

          • Rex Widerstrom

            Being elected as a list MP is in no way a personal mandate. It’s not called the party vote for nothing. People give their list vote to the party they most want to form a government and if they don’t like who’s on that party’s list their choices are to suck it up and give it their party vote anyway; not cast a party vote; or vote against their preferred party.

            No one outside us handful of political tragics could, if stopped on their way into the polling booth, even name beyond the top two on any party’s list unless there was a particular “celebrity” or controversial candidate on one of them.

            Party supporters would still give their party vote to their favoured party even if a tea cosy was number one on its list. That doesn’t give the tea cosy a mandate 😛

            • felix

              if they don’t like who’s on that party’s list their choices are to suck  it up and give it their party vote anyway; not cast a party vote; or  vote against their preferred party.

              That just doesn’t make any sense though Rex. If they don’t like who’s on that party’s list, then that party ain’t really their preferred party.
              What would you think if I told you carrots are my favourite vegetable, except that I can’t stand the disgusting orange parts so I refuse to eat them?

            • Carol

              I don’t disagree with you there, Rex.  But it all goes to support the view that the electorate vote cannot be collapsed into the List vote. They are two different things.
              But it seems to me the problem people have is the way the List is selected.  Selecting the List on the amount of votes gained in an electorate, really doesn’t give an accurate representation of how each candidate will perform in delivering the party mandate for the entire nation.
              [Third attempt to post this, after which I’ll give up.]

    • Shane Gallagher 2.3

      <p>A really interesting idea – and it is something I think the electoral reform commission that will look into reforming MMP should look into. It would change things quite a bit for the parties I imagine. How would it affect parties internally?
      I also think we should look at ensuring all votes have equal weight, so if say 20,000 votes will get an electorate MP into parliament then 20,000 votes nationwide should get a list MP in.
      I am just toying with the concept really – so what do other people think? Is that a sensible idea? What are the problems with it? Would it get rid of coat-tailing for example?</p>

      • Rob 2.3.1

        If you reduce the number of electorate seats you will make it more difficult for people to have access to their local MP.
        If you increase the number of electorate seats without increasing the number of list seats you will create greater disproportionality in Parliament via overhangs.
        All party votes are currently equal and this is what determines the overall number of party seats within parliament. To match up electorate vote with party vote would not alter a persons proportionate influence on Parliament. That is something that only changes through adjusting the number of MPs (or the disproportionality mentioned above.)
        Electorate seats currently are different sizes (within reason) this allows them to represent communities of interest rather than arbitrarily designating one group of people having one electorate MP and another for their neighbours. Setting a fixed number of people per electorate is problematic.
        It seems to me the current system of balance of number of electorate and list MPs is based on a compromise of ensuring limited overhangs with as few total MPs as possible but with as many electorate MPs as possible. It works quite well and I am not sure it should be adjusted.

    • Carol 2.4

      The list is nationwide.  A candidate might poll differently nationwide from the way they do in a specific electorate.

  3. Alwyn 3

    That is a wonderful idea. I’m sure you want the Labour party and the Green party candidates to adopt it in its entirety?
    Can we suggest that neither the Labour party nor the Green party put forward any list at all?
    Then presumably the only candidates who will get into Parliament will be those who can win an electorate. Lianne will of course think it is wonderful. We will have to give it a name of course. Lianne should be allowed to choose but can I make a suggestion that it is called “First past the post”?

  4. Rob 4

    Not sure it would accomplish anything for Brownlee to do that. From my impression of him he wouldn’t want to do it anyway for a simple reason. If you are a high ranking MP you cannot be a strong local MP in the same way. Gerry Brownlee wants to be able to stand up and say he is Gerry Brownlee Leader of the House. Lianne Dalziel wants to be able to stand up and say she is Lianne Dalziel MP for Christchurch. It comes down to what they value first and foremost and Gerry considers himself more than just being an MP for Christchurch I think.

    • felix 4.1

      When every last person in Canterbury has a proper roof over their head and a job of work to go to, Gerry can take a break and contemplate how he “considers himself”. Until then he shouldn’t have any other responsibilities – not leading the house, not dynamiting parks, not being Minister of useless fat fucks, nothing at all – and if he does, it’s a gross failing on the part of his boss.
      He shouldn’t even have time to campaign in his electorate this year, and if he’s making a half-decent fist of the Chch recovery he won’t need to.
      He should be spending every waking moment working for Christchurch with every fibre of his being, and if he can’t commit to that then he needs to be fucking fired and replaced with someone who will.

      • Rob 4.1.1

        Agreed but that is not the situation we are in unfortunately. The Nats have chosen to make the Minister for repairing Christchurch a part time position and given it to someone with other large portfolios.

        • Inventory2

          I’m happy to be proven wrong Rob (and it won’t be a first), but I thought that Brownlee has already had his other portfolios taken over by others so that he could focus solely on Christchurch. He certainly hasn’t been in the House that much of late

          Update: From the Herald, 24 February:

          National MP Gerry Brownlee is to focus solely on helping Christchurch  recover from the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the  city on Tuesday.

          Prime Minister John Key announced this morning he is removing all Mr  Brownlee\’s portfolios except for his position as earthquake recovery  minister.


      • pollywog 4.1.2

        leading the house, dynamiting parks, Minister of useless fat fucks…
        Talk about spreading yourself thin

        He should be spending every waking moment working for Christchurch with every fibre of his being

        That’s a whole lot of fucking fibre bro…
        …with that amount, he should be rolling out the broadband scheme as well

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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