Just now on TV3’s Northland special Patrick Gower and Duncan Garner were saying that Labour had lost all moral high ground on “dirty deals” and Little had done a deal with Winston. Presumably as “that’s MMP” and this result stinks likes Epsom.
Except… it doesn’t.
There was no deal done. I heard Andrew Little a week or so ago saying about how Winston had been organising to avoid him ever since the start of the by-election. No talking, no pictures etc. Andrew was trying not to take it to heart :), but the point is: there was no deal, and Winston was making absolutely sure there was not even the chance of an appearance of a deal.
Labour had done the numbers, sure. They weren’t going to win, and Winston might. In First Past the Post – and that’s what by-elections are in our political system – it makes sense for voters to coalesce around 2 candidates. Usually the incumbent and the contender. If you’re not the contender, usually your vote will collapse – and Labour merely accepted this and let it be known to those whose loyalties may be conflicted.
Paddy & Duncan are always about sensation, the scoop, the big story… and this doesn’t fit their narrative, so even though Winston made sure they couldn’t get the appearance of a deal, they’re still saying that’s what happened. Unfortunately for them, sometimes life is more mundane.
This is very different from the Epsom and Ohariu deals, that are about using the system to distort the make-up of parliament against the population’s wishes.
I say against the population’s wishes, as we had a review in 2012 after the 2011 decision to keep MMP. And that review said to ditch the coat-tail provision that National keep looking to use, and refuse to remove, despite popular disapproval.
So instead they keep alive a zombie party in Epsom, turning a seat that should be safely theirs (rather than one they have no chance of winning), into a seat for a front party, to distort parliament. Similarly they could have a good shot at Ohariu if they cared to try (albeit the 3-way split might be a little more risky).
It’s quite different to hand a seat of yours on a platter to another party, versus having your voters coalesce around an option that has a better chance.
Perhaps our most popular political media should go back and learn their trade and the difference between MMP and FPP…