Anti-MMP cabal rumbled

Written By: - Date published: 10:16 am, May 29th, 2011 - 62 comments
Categories: democratic participation, MMP - Tags:

National Party pollster David Farrar has been revealed as the campaign strategist behind a coming anti-MMP campaign. He’s joined by Nat ‘campaign manager for hire’ Simon Lusk* who did the work on the Brash coup at Steven Joyce’s behest, Nat muck-thrower Cameron Slater, and Jordan Williams a former Young Nat also involved in the Brash coup.

There’s nothing wrong with a group of citizens forming a campaign for or against MMP, of course. But each one of the players named in this campaign is a core National Party activist. It’s well-known that Key and senior Nats want Supplementary Member to replace MMP – SM is First Past the Post in drag, and they know the public won’t go for FPP itself.

It’s simply not credible for this group to run a campaign as if they are independent of National when they’re all Nats and campaigning in line with National’s official position.

If the campaign goes ahead, it should have National Party logos on it.

Trev’s recent series of posts make a lot more sense now.

Oh, and I assume Fairfax and the Herald won’t be letting Farrar continue his laughable ‘independent commentator’ columns given he’s not only National’s pollster but helping run a parallel campaign for them.

* (A little info on Simon Lusk. He apparently charges $10,000 for managing a nomination campaign, which effectively guarantees selection because of Lusk’s connections in National’s head office. If you want to be a National Party candidate and you won’t pay Lusk, and one of your competitors will, you won’t win. It makes a mockery of democracy. It was one of Lusk’s emails to Don Brash in 2005 that revealed crucial details on the Exclusive Brethren’s campaign when he and the Brethren were helping Chris Tremain win Napier. Louise Upston and Sam Lotu Iiga both thanked Lusk by name in their 2008 maiden speeches. )

62 comments on “Anti-MMP cabal rumbled”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Funny to see Farragoblog “denying it “, by classical political spin by mentioning 30 min on the phone. Of course his time in meetings his emails and so on isnt mentioned.

    Of course his real motives are not being shut out of the debate where he can masquerade as a ‘expert observer’.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Will ‘Fear Facts’ stand down Farrar for the duration of this odious anti MMP campaign? Heh. Not bloody likely. But there is industry and indeed company precedent.

    It was once common for columnists standing for office to be relieved of their duties until the results were known. In fact ex copper Mike Sabin, Nationals recently confirmed Northland candidate, replacing “Hone” Carter was subject to this practice earlier this year. Sabin who scrawls a neanderthal reactionary column in Fairfax regional The Northland Age had several months off columns while the local tories scrapped it out.

  3. Peter 3

    The least he can do is declare his interests when writing for the Herald.

    • greenlemur 3.1

      Yeah, I agree. It’s not cool when the Herald’s opinion pieces spill out all over the place.

  4. Tigger 4

    As murky as American politics. I’m sad for NZ. We deserve a cleaner right wing than this.

  5. Policy Parrot 5

    What is the endgame for the far right?

    A real-life version of the pantomime from historical based dramas such as Downtown Abbey/Amazing Grace? Don’t they realise that such portrayals are conveniently cleansed of the struggle to survive in Industrial Revolution Britain?

    A poll or sales tax being the greater source of revenue, with no income tax?
    End of all regulations – replaced by claims based on damage suffered under tort?
    A life where many single working class women/mothers were forced into moral sacrifice?
    A judicial system where stealing a handkerchief for a person of low station statutorily required execution, when the elites literally got away with murder?
    End of all welfare, replaced by private charity, with instruction to give only to those considered worthy?
    Voting restricted to those who are deemed to served society, restricted citizenship?
    An education system where Plato’s Republic is referred to as “communist rubbish”?

    Also sounds like a written works by Robert A. Heinlein if you ask me.

    • Eddie 5.1

      I’ve seen a little of Downton Abbey and I reckon there’s quite a bit of anti-elitism in it. Set in 1912, right at the end of the age of the age aristocracy, the family decrepit, immoral, and in decline.

      The servant girl who wants to go away to be a typist.

      The heir who works and can’t understand the point of having a man whose job is to help dress him.

      It’s about the end of a bankrupt system. Of course, a hundred years later and a new elite is trying to take the same place – parasiting off everyone else while calling themselves the ‘wealth creators’.

      But at least Brash doesn’t have a man to make his corned beef for him 🙂

      • Jum 5.1.1

        Eddie,

        Or wash his undies – I’m still reeling from that overkill of information!

  6. tsmithfield 6

    “National Party pollster David Farrar has been revealed as the campaign strategist behind a coming anti-MMP campaign.”

    Cool. Where can I donate?

    • Policy Parrot 6.1

      I think Kyle Chapman has set up a suitable page.

      • Jum 6.1.1

        LOL

        He’ll have to buy more washing powder if he’s going to be washing all those whites. Luckily, the gaps where the eyes go should save a little.

        But what’s with the peaked caps?

    • Eddie 6.2

      I doubt they need your money. They have shirtcliffe et al’s money and the brethren to do the ground work.

    • lprent 6.3

      Oh – try here… 😈

  7. NickS 7

    Heh, they’ll probably try and use the Mana Party as their focal point, hypocritically ignoring the fact that ACT is dead in the water without MMP. Of course, the ACT coup could just be the pre-amble to this by giving the odious Brash, and now Banks a means to get back into parliament and creating a major anti-MMP draw card for a wider part of the population. Though given how dumb Farrar is, I somehow doubt they’re that devious.

    • Carol 7.1

      Actually, I think the Act takeover was a short term gambit to help elect a NAct government this year. If they succeed in getting rid of MMP, then they can dissolve Act, or collapse it back into National, and then aim to continue to to work to get National elected to govern on its own with less than 50% of the vote.

    • Eddie 7.2

      Farrar’s reverse midas touch is legendary.

      He did the numbers during the English v Brash coup for English, there’s footage of him celebrating in backbenches the night before with Nick Smith because they thought they had won it. Then Key did the dirty on them.

    • Under supplementary member (SM) or first past the post (FPP), the Mana Party may have more power: there will be 9 (probably 10) Maori seats under SM, and 12 (probably 13) Maori seats under FPP (or PV or STV).

      • Pascal's bookie 7.3.1

        I imagine getting rid of the Maori seats would be next on the agenda.

  8. Craig Young 8

    Given that the right’s preferred option is supposedly Supplementary Member (SM!), the left can have a lot of fun with this between now and election day. Just imagine (…is into SM) (“Oh, so that explains their social/industrial relations/welfare/[insert your own bete noire] policies!].

    NB: It’s also Kazakhstan’s electoral system. Anyone for Borat impersonations?

  9. Lanthanide 9

    My boyfriend had an interesting suggestion for how to tweak MMP and get rid of one of the major complaints that MPs end up sneaking through on the list after they lose their electorate seat. Many people see a strength of FPP as being able to “vote out” someone who was useless, but in MMP they just get back in through a high list ranking anyway.

    New rule: if you are an incumbent MP from winning an electorate, then you may not also be placed on the list for the next election.

    This would force the list to be used for up-and-comers, and prevent dead-wood from sucking up top list rankings. It would also force electorate MPs to really look after their constituency, because there’s no fall back for them.

    This could be moderated so that the leader and co-leader/deputy leader are allowed list places as well as electorate seats. Potentially this protection provision could extend for a few more places, to help ensure a core continuation in skills at the top, although I think that may be setting a distinct cut-off (like 5 or 6) greatly strengthens smaller parties, so some pro-portionality could potentially be used – maybe 2 list spots + 1 list spot per 10 MPs elected (with a little rounding)? So labour party with 35 MPs would get 5 safe list seats, and Greens with 9 would get 3 safe list seats (not that they ever win electorate seats anyway).

    • PeteG 9.1

      That sounds like a good way of addressing one of the main weaknesses of MMP, but apart from that I think MMP is about as good was we are going to get, as long as you favour diverse representation over concentrated power.

      Other improvements to MMP could be made simply by politicians and voters using it smarter. I’d like to see more electorates prepared to vote strategically like Epsom, it can give them far more bang for their vote.

      • Lanthanide 9.1.1

        Electorates don’t vote strategically unless they actually have a chance to do so – where splitting your electorate and party vote will make a tangible difference to the make-up of parliament. Having said that, the Greens should really be trying to get an electorate seat somewhere.

        With this proposal, electorate seats would definitely matter, and voting strategically even between Labour or National would be much more of a possibility.

  10. side show bob 10

    I wonder if rolls were reversed and Labour had Nationals poling numbers the cries of anguish about the retaining of MMP would be as loud, I suspect not, more like a whimper.

    • Pascal's bookie 10.1

      Well why don’t you go and look for some quotes then. From memory it was righties complaining about mmp back then as well.

      But thanks for lending support to the belief that there is nothing principled about right wing objections to mmp.

  11. Descendant Of Smith 11

    Nope wrong.

    I prefer MMP regardless of who is in power – voted to get rid of FPP to bring more diversity into the political arena, to allow alternative voices to be heard more easily.

    Democracy is not majority rule – democracy is about ruling in the interests of all members of society and has a responsibility to protect and support the interests of all including minority groups.

    MMP achieves this which National and their religious supporters in particular dislike – even their mandate mantra is bullshit because it really promotes the notion of majority rule – not democracy – it purports to give voters a choice but at the same time says to those who oppose or who are badly affected – we don’t give a shit about you.

    Their continuing abuse of urgency to support this notion that just because we are in power we can do what we like becomes one of the ways in which they usurp normal processes in order to stifle debate on legislation and consideration of minority groups.

    The fact is they have to resort to urgency to stifle those processes – they can only be maintained for so long before people get fed up though.

  12. Sookie 12

    RWNJ’s, still partying like its 1989 (or even 1889), wanting to drag NZ back into the bloody stone age. MMP has its faults, but those are easily fixed (no dragging in extra MP’s on an electorate seat below say, 4% of the party vote, no electorate seat losers sneaking back in on the list). My opinion of the intelligence of my fellow countrypersons being at an all time low, I would expect this gaggle of nasty old ugly men to get some traction. In the pathetic TV media at least (looking at you, TV3).

  13. Wayne91 13

    Oh dear a political lobby group – how dare they!!

    • Zetetic 13.1

      oh dear, wayne couldn’t read the second and third pars:

      “There’s nothing wrong with a group of citizens forming a campaign for or against MMP, of course. But each one of the players named in this campaign is a core National Party activist. It’s well-known that Key and senior Nats want Supplementary Member to replace MMP – SM is First Past the Post in drag, and they know the public won’t go for FPP itself.

      It’s simply not credible for this group to run a campaign as if they are independent of National when they’re all Nats and campaigning in line with National’s official position”

  14. Millhouse 14

    I just commented to a mate that what makes me angry is the feeling of powerlessness that I just felt when reading about a group of wealthy, connected, right-wing men conspiring to disenfranchise the people of New Zealand in order to suit their own political whims.

    Does anyone know of a group that I join in order to oppose this smug cabal?

  15. DPF: Why do people not read what I said. I am not a member of any campaign. I am not being paid to advise or do anything. I have not attended any meetings. In fact I don’t even know for sure if there is a formal campaign. I have had three or four phone calls with people over a campaign, where my advice each time was basically you need to start early and you need to make the case for SM, rather than the case against MMP. I don’t think it is yet a crime to answer my phone.

    I’ve also had drinks with the pro-MMP campaign head and also offered some advice over drinks. This does not make me a member of the pro-MMP campaign.

    My main interest is in fact that there are campaigns and there is a debate, and people make an informed choice. This is probably the last vote on electoral systems in our lifetimes. It deserves a good debate

    Doth he protest too much ? Time will tell…

    • PeteG 15.1

      What do you doubt about what he says?

      • felix 15.1.1

        The words.

      • pollywog 15.1.2

        Well PeteG, for starters…

        My main interest is in fact that there are campaigns and there is a debate…

        • PeteG 15.1.2.1

          I think there should be a debate and all options should be aired, that means having campaigns.

          In the first round (this year) MMP may be challenged but next time round I think there’s a good chance it will be retained, hopefully with some minor modifications re the list.

          • Pascal's bookie 15.1.2.1.1

            Do you think political parties should be open and honest about their positions?

            Do you think it’s a wee bit suspicious that these guys, all neck deep in National party donkey shit, are just independently doing this?

            • PeteG 15.1.2.1.1.1

              If the party as a whole has a position then yes, they should be open honest, about this as they should about most things.

              It’s early days yet. Have any parties stated a position yet?

      • Pascal's bookie 15.1.3

        The words.

        In particular the ones that look like ferrets.

        “I am not a weasel of any campaign”

        ” I am not weasel to advise or do anything.”

        “In fact I don’t even weasel if there is a weasel campaign.”

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      …and people make an informed choice.

      That’s the last thing Nact want. If people made informed choices they’d never vote Nact.

  16. There is more to this story that will be revealed as time goes by. Someone in the National Party does not like Simon Lusk and has been leaking.

    Anthony Hubbard’s full article is at http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/opinion/5069466/Right-has-MMP-in-its-sights

    Obviously the right does not want to win under MMP. There are too many restrictions and contrary views to take into account.

    I wonder how the media would respond if Labour staged a take over of the greens and put up money so that ex Labour MPs were selected in prime spots on the Green’s list?

  17. Anne 17

    I wonder how the media would respond if Labour staged a take over of the greens and put up money so that ex Labour MPs were selected in prime spots on the Green’s list

    Excellent comparison ms.. thank-you. I can see the Herald now. Big red letters ‘DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK’ followed by an enraged front page headline and story comparing Labour to the Pol Pot Regime.. Stalin’s Soviet Union.. Hitler’s Nazi Germany and all the little tin-pot dictators in between.

    Makes the pledge card political scandal of 2005-2008 look like a Sunday School picnic.

  18. HC 18

    And once MMP will have been sunk by these political mafiosis, then we will finally get the rebranding and re-naming of the NZ National Party to its future name: The NZ National Socialist Party! Any opposition will be prohibited by the leader’s decreel, which will be enforceable under new emergency legislation, which will serve the long term interest of “the nation” (i.e. the privileged few at the top owning all and treating us as their absolute slaves).

  19. Draco T Bastard 19

    This is a couple of years old but worth (re)reading:

    This history leads directly to John Key’s MMP referendum statement last week. It was no coincidence when Key said he would be surprised if New Zealand went back to First Past the Post and that “some proportionality makes sense”. He was referring obliquely to the Supplementary Member system. Questions by the Sunday Star-Times to Shirtcliffe and other anti-MMP lobbyists revealed that they had been actively lobbying Key and were awaiting his referendum announcement.

    The anti-MMP Key is following directly in the footsteps of Brash and the small group of big business lobbyists who see MMP as an obstacle to their plans. It is the clearest sign to date that National’s wealthy backers are still there, of what they want in return for their support and that Key is listening to them.

    We really need to get the claws of business out of our government.

    • Gosman 19.1

      Perhaps the Left can come up with a platform of introducing strict campaigning laws around who can and cannot fund political parties and/or political campaigns.

      Oh hang on a minute… didn’t the Labour Party try this during their last time in office and it backfired terribly on them as people pointed out how anti-free speech it was?

      • Carol 19.1.1

        The more money you have to spend, the freer you are? As much freedom of speech as you want, as long as you can afford it? Spending money equates with freedom…. for all? Curious logic.

        • Gosman 19.1.1.1

          There is no conclusive evidence that spending lots of money promoting a message actually significantly influences people’s opinion especially around politics. You may cause someone who is partial to your ideas to become more aligned to them but it is highly improbable that you will convert hard core supporters of opposing view points.

          Regardless of this you seem to think spending money promoting messages is somehow not fair. Why is this? Why is it not fair for someone to spend money trying to influence people but it is fair for someone to organise a mass mobilisation of volunteers to canvas on behalf of a political party?

          • Carol 19.1.1.1.1

            ummm… democracy is about numbers of people supporting a policy or party. Hence a show of support equates with democracy, as long as you don’t just pay people to turn up. If spending lots of money doesn’t achieve anything, why do some people & organisations continue to do it? Why not keep there money to spend on something more useful?

            And why is it then a limitation of free speech to limit spending? If the democratic freedom of speech isn’t dependent on money, why is limiting the spending a problem? I think the right show evidence that they are out to buy elections…. and to buy political parties, buy media bias etc etc.

            • Gosman 19.1.1.1.1.1

              I go back to my question. Why do you have a problem if someone spends money to try and influence people rather than relying on volunteer labour?

              BTW people spend money on lot’s of things that don’t have the outcomes they hope for.

              • felix

                Why do you think the money of a small handful of people should be given as much credence as the work of an army of volunteers?

                • Gosman

                  Because I happen to think that money doesn’t play a major role in determining which way a person votes.

                  Someone might wish to bombard the airwaves and media with a message but if that message isn’t something preople are amweniable to it doesn’t matter how often they repeat the message it still won’t be acceptable. In fact the more it is pushed the chances are people will turn against it in great numbers.

                  So why do you think people shouldn’t be allowed to spend their own money expressing their own opinions on subjects which they feel are important?

                  • felix

                    Perhaps I was being too subtle. I was referring to this:

                    Why is it not fair for someone to spend money trying to influence people but it is fair for someone to organise a mass mobilisation of volunteers to canvas on behalf of a political party?

                    To answer your question directly, the voices of the wealthy few are already given prominence over the voices of everybody else in almost every facet of life in our society. That’s just how our society is stacked; money and power by their own virtue give you a louder voice.

                    I have no problem with attempting to level the playing field by restricting the amount that a wealthy voice can drown out a poorer one (or many poorer ones).

                    That’s because I fundamentally believe in a contest of ideas rather than a contest of pocketbooks.

                    • Gosman

                      “the voices of the wealthy few are already given prominence over the voices of everybody else in almost every facet of life in our society.”

                      This is merely your opinion. Your attempt to ‘level’ the playing field then is just you attempting to scew the political landscape in favour of those opinions you think are more valid.

                      I have seen similar views to yours expressed far more eloquently by various censorship csars in tinpot dictatorships the world over.

                    • felix

                      So are you contending that everyone’s voice in our society is heard equally? Regardless of the amount of wealth and power they wield?

                      If so that’s a fairly extreme viewpoint Gosman, and not one that I feel I need to take particularly seriously. It runs contrary to almost all conventional wisdom and I think you’ll struggle to back it up.

                      Actually I don’t think you’ll bother.

                  • HC

                    Gosman:

                    Why then do so many enterprises that want to sell products and services bombard the airwaves with praising messages for these commodities, with little contense about objective information? Because to some degree advertising works, especially if you use the most effective visual, acoustic and smartly worded methods. The same applies to political messages of opinion and all other information.

                    Why is the US spending billions on elections now? Because the large enterprises, rich individuals decide to put in mega sums to promote certain candidates to get into the close selection for who will become president and which party will get the majority of votes.

                    Is it not surprising that only the two large parties there have the means (obtained through money donations from the wealthy and financially strong) to spread their views and agendas, while others never get a chance.

                    Democracy is hardly fair and balanced or representative of all by simply letting the strongest and loudest shout. This also limits the messages that are left for others to shape views on, who do not have such a “vocal” position.

                    So money, wealth and donations do count, and hence in a healthy democracy strict controls must be put and kept in place about how political parties, candidates and voters can be influenced in any way.

  20. Craig 20

    Here’s a little something I wrote about Supplementary Member last year…
    http://gaynz.com/blog/redqueen/archives/867

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