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Key and Shirtcliffe conspire against MMP

Written By: - Date published: 1:57 pm, September 26th, 2010 - 60 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, MMP - Tags: , ,

The Sunday Star Times has documents showing John Key’s Chief of Staff and anti-MMP campaigner Peter Shirtcliffe discussing how best to remove proportional representation from Kiwi votors.

According to the documents the two decided that STV wouldn’t attract people away from MMP:

Shirtcliffe prepared notes of the meeting outlining areas of agreement on how the issue should be handled, noting chief of staff Wayne Eagleson and Shirtcliffe agreed Key supported the SM option. “The feeling seems to be STV [Single Transferable Vote] does not meet the public wish for simplicity. There is… some merit in offering a format which reduces the House to 100 seats.”

While there were “a few National caucus members who want the whole thing to go away”, the document said, “Wayne does not believe they are any impediment to progress”.

Key’s press sec, Kevin Taylor is trying to claim it’s “ridiculous” to think that the Nat’s and Shirtcliffe would collude to get rid of MMP. Which begs the question; has anyone from Key’s office discussed the caucus position on MMP with pro-MMP campaigners?

Thought not.

Of course the end of MMP would suit the Nat’s as they would be likely to be able to govern despite a minority vote and thus be able to push through the kind of policy their big business backers are desperate to see. That would be the same big business backers that helped fund the anti-democratic attack on MMP last time:

60 comments on “Key and Shirtcliffe conspire against MMP”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The authoritarian right plotting to get rid of democracy – who’d ‘ve thunk it.

    • Bored 1.1

      If Shirtcliffe had no money and no position in the hierachy of right wing organisations I know for a fact I would not have heard of him or his dislike of representative democracy. He would be what he is today, a nobody BUT more importantly an unheard nobody.

  2. outofbed 2

    Good to see Diana there
    Expect to see the same sort of thing again
    It a shame that there won’t be a level playing field around the advertising for the referendum

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    I hope ACT and the MP are keen to support National in gutting MMP 🙄

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      The MP get all their seats from the electorates, so getting rid of MMP would be in their favour, presuming that the Maori Seats stayed (which is a separate issue).

      captcha: suppose

      • Ari 3.1.1

        Not really, as it would be harder for the Maori Party to implement its goals with the way most disproportionate systems advantage right-wing parties like National.

        Not to mention that their closest allies on continued Maori representation are in the Green Party, which would be at least halved under SM, if not worse.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1

          Yes, of course if National got majorities each time, they wouldn’t need coalitions with other parties.

          But obviously even with FFP you sometimes need coalitions (see England, Australia, current Canadian parliament) and under the last results, Act and United Future would have single seats, NZF and Greens wouldn’t get in at all, leaving Maori Party as the only minority party with any significant share of seats with which National could form a coalition with. I would suggest that a MP/National coalition would be stronger in favour of the MP than the current National/MP/Act/UF grouping is.

          • Pascal's bookie 3.1.1.1.1

            Why would Epsom voters have voted for Rodney absent MMP bringing an extra 4 mps on his coattails. That was his whole election campaign ffs. Likewise United. Dunne’s main claim is to keep the others sensible. That becomes a lot less meaningful when the chances of the others needing to give a shit about your opinion is reduced.

            Have a look at how often parliaments are hung under fpp and you’ll see how often the mP would be relevant in that system. That’s assuming the mP would even survive in an fpp system. Would their voters make the same calculations that they do now about the benefits of independence? Who knows? Not me.

  4. the sprout 4

    no surprise there mate.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Grant Robertson has a post up about this over at Red Alert as well.

    This was of course a classic tactic to divert the debate away from the actual issue (the fact he is supporting Rodney Hide who covered up David Garrett’s actions) to try to make it about MMP.

    Spin and distraction – the only things we ever get from NACT.

  6. Tigger 6

    “Prime Minister’s Department spokesman Kevin Taylor said it was “ridiculous” to claim the memo showed the two men were working for SM.”

    Key likes SM? That’s the most interesting thing I’ve ever learned about him. Creepy, and understandable, but interesting.

  7. richard Bartlett 7

    Nicky Hagers “Hollow Men” demonstrated just how devious and hypocritical Key and Co really are.
    The media are playing their part lulling us into a totally false sense of security.
    The “No Brash…..no cash” gang prepared a bloodless coup for 2005, and were stopped only by the
    release of the emails and memos which revealed what their actual plans were. Don’t expect anything but lies from the “smiling assassin”. The advice from the spin doctors was don’t do anything to frighten the “punters in punterland” in the first term. That’s what they’re doing. They want FPP………..
    but then, so does Phil Goff.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      I would hope that Goff doesn’t support FPP. I know Grant Robertson is on record as an MMP supporter.

      • the sprout 7.1.1

        same. if he did that’d really burn some already rickety bridges

      • Anne 7.1.2

        @ richard Bartlett
        Phil Goff does not support FPP.

        I’m not sure who are the most dangerous: the RWNJs or those Lefties who have some sort of ‘hate’ fetish on Phil Goff. He may have fallen for the neo-liberals once (so did I – briefly) but that was nearly 25 years ago. For god’s sake give the man a break!

  8. outofbed 8

    Maybe the campaign for MMp should write to all the Mp’s to gauge their opinion and then publish the results That would be interesting
    I’d guess that white middle aged men would be the most anti MMP. Grant and Keith excepted

    • the sprout 8.1

      from what I’ve seen the highest positive correlates for being pro-FPP are age and being a National party voter

    • IrishBill 8.2

      Grant’s Middle aged? I’d always thought of him as young. Damn, I’m getting older every day.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      I’d guess that white middle aged men would be the most anti MMP.

      That’s too much of a generalisation. Most middle aged men would remember the fiasco that was 1981 and 1993 where National got in with significant minorities. Now, if you’d said rich, white, middle aged men then I’d probably agree with you as they’d have the propensity to vote National who long for the days of having a minority dictatorship.

      • KJT 8.3.1

        This white middle aged man prefers MMP over FPP. I do not have fond memories of the exercise of absolute power by either Labour or National.

        NACT are now re-eNACTing the borrow for election bribes policies of the Muldoon minority Government era.

        • Macro 8.3.1.1

          this white “decrepit ol’ man also totally supports MMP (with perhaps minor amendments to lower the “cut off” of 5% vote to a smaller say – 2.5% of party vote – ie 3 + MP representation),
          and for much the same reasons.

  9. outofbed 9

    Labour leader Phil Goff said in the 1990s he had preferred first past the post but the problem with that system was that it did not allow small parties fair representation in Parliament.

    ”My personal support would be for the system that is fairest, I think MMP is fairest, but it does have the problem that the tail wags the dog and we have seen that in recent days,” Mr Goff said

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/politics/3334329/MMP-referendum-question-released
    So yes Goff is on the fence, funny that

    • rosy 9.1

      One person’s tail wagging the dog is another person’s representative democracy.

      • locus 9.1.1

        The argument that “the tail wags the dog” when a small party is in coalition suggests a greater degree of influence than is really the case. The small party in the coalition “tugs the whiskers” rather than “wags the dog”.

        Ultimately the best thing about MMP is that people can vote for the party that represents their views best, in the knowledge that there’s a good chance their views will get an airing in parliament.

  10. locus 10

    I lived with FPP most of my life. Being ruled by a party that had gained around 30 percent of the vote totally sucked unless it was the party you voted for. Typically FPP led to wholesale policy and legislative change whenever the alternate ‘minority’ party gained power. The 30 percent of the electorate who never voted for the two larger minority parties were generally disenfranchised. Occasionally one of the small minority parties would start to poll well, but as it got closer to election time the pressure on people to switch their vote to one of the two larger parties was huge: better to have a party in power which you agree with 20% of the time than one you agree with 2% of the time. Neither of the two bigger parties had any real intention of changing the regime because they rather liked having 100% control when they were in power.

  11. Tanz 11

    List MPs are not voted in by the people and are often rejected, but get to stay, due to the silly list system. Key should be more open in his views, if he doesn’t like MMP, that is his right, his populist manner is just annoying. I would like to have a leader who has the courage of their convictions, rather than one who constantly tests the winds, and shifts their views accordingly.

    FPP is the better, more decisivie system, with all MPs elected by the people and answerable to the people (and not just their various party machinery).

    • millsy 11.1

      Are you an old white man who wants his privilige back?

      Please give me a detailed explanation why you want less gays, Maoris, women, etc in Parliament.

    • outofbed 11.2

      No FPP election are decided by a few marginal electorates it
      is a shocking system
      I want my vote to count thankyou very much
      in FPP I would be forced to vote Labour as my least worst option

    • Pascal's bookie 11.3

      List MPs are not voted in by the people and are often rejected, but get to stay, due to the silly list system.

      List mp’s are elected via the list vote, so even if an electorate rejects them then the people can put them in parliament by voting for the list they are on.

      You do know you two votes in MMP don’t ya tanz? And that they are different?

      You may not like Key, fair enough. But according to your preference for fpp that’s just tough shit. He’s an electorate mp so your opinion of him under fpp is worth precisely nothing unless you live in his electorate. Under mmp you get a list vote to help determine how much power Key gets, and that vote is separate and independent from your vote for the choice of your own electorate mp.

      Clearly one system is better than the other. Granted though, given you prefer decisiveness over representativeness or other factors then fpp is a marginally better choice. Better still of course for decisiveness would be a simple absolute monarchy.

      …with all MPs elected by the people and answerable to the people (and not just their various party machinery).

      As noted, all mps are elected by the people now, but if you think candidate selection for electorates isn’t just as partisan as list section, then you haven’t been watching fpp elections for the last few, I dunno, centuries.

    • Shazzadude 11.4

      And this is the flaw in your thinking. Electorate candidates are not rejected if they do not win their electorate, someone else just merely wins more votes, and that can often be based on the political climate in that electorate. Would Phil Goff win Clutha-Southland? No. Would John Key win Mangere? No.

  12. Tanz 12

    MMP has not delievered more MPs who represent minority groups, it just delivers more MPs who were not actually elected by voters. Don’t split hairs, Millsy, or do you like being represented by MPs who were not endorsed by the electorate? Is representation of minorities all that matters to you? That’s usually typical of the pro- MMP debate. MMP is not a democratic system, how can it be, it offers rejected MPs/Candidates an undeserved and unmandated lifeline. I am neither old, nor male. by the way.

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      “MMP has not delievered more MPs who represent minority groups”
      Yeah, because all those people who vote for a sustainable future, you know, the minority, aren’t represented by the Green Party in parliament under MMP. Oh wait, actually they are represented under MMP!

    • Pascal's bookie 12.2

      If you know of any mps who were not elected, you should inform the police.

    • the sprout 12.3

      MMP has not delievered more MPs who represent minority groups

      that is factually incorrect

    • Draco T Bastard 12.4

      I am neither old, nor male. by the way.

      Who cares, what you are is bloody stupid.

      http://publicaddress.net/6865

      Phillip Field – electorate MP, shown to be dishonourable stayed in parliament.
      Chris Carter – electorate MP, shown to be dishonourable stayed in parliament.
      Richard Worth – List MP, shown to be dishonourable got kicked out of parliament.
      Donna Huata – List MP, shown to be dishonourable got kicked out of parliament.
      David Garrett – List MP, shown to be dishonourable did the only thing he could and left because he had no mandate left.

      The more accountable MPs are the list MPs.

      BTW, when people vote for the party they are voting for the list that the party has put forward so those list MPs are voted for specifically, ergo, they are not rejected.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    I don’t really see why a fuss is being made about this.

    1. Key is entitled to have a view on the electoral system he prefers.
    2. It is open for anyone, pro or against MMP to lobby the government.
    3. There is going to be a referendum on the matter anyway. It is not like the government is going to impose a system on voters.

    Unless there is evidence of money being offered for a change in the electoral system, or some other form of corruption, then I don’t see where the problem is.

    • IrishBill 13.1

      So you’d expect the pro-mmp campaign to get an inside-running briefing from the PM’s chief of staff on the cabinet’s view of the electoral system?

      • tsmithfield 13.1.1

        I don’t see why that would be a problem.

        BTW, I assume you meant anti MMP.

        So long as the pro MMP people get the same treatment if they ask. Have they asked?

    • outofbed 13.2

      Er because big money is going to be used on an anti mmp ad campaign perhaps

      • tsmithfield 13.2.1

        Maybe. But that’s still a long way from corruption.

        I imagine they would be funding a big money campaign against MMP regardless of the views of the PM anyway. So I don’t see why it makes any difference at all.

        • Redlogix 13.2.1.1

          Corruption? Not in a strictly legalistic sense, but you only have to consider the almost total capture of the US Federal govt by corportate power to understand where that sort of thing leads you.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.2.1.2

          So I don’t see why it makes any difference at all.

          Considering the drive for profit of the MSM it means that the people who don’t have big money can’t get their message out. Ergo, we don’t have a level playing field for the campaigns.

        • Tanz 13.2.1.3

          It’s so typical of the Left to resort to name-calling tactics as soon as somone disagrees with their wonky views. So glad I sit on the right side of the fence, the more honest side. Grow up.

          • fraser 13.2.1.3.1

            “name-calling tactics”

            where? – all i see is a discussion where there are differing opinions.

            could you help us all out by identifying said name calling?

  14. Tanz 14

    MMP got voted in by a hair’s whisper, and I bet, it’ll get voted out again., but by a landslide. What a dog of a system it has been, with small parties having far too much say and sway, to say the very least. When a new system finally prevails, it can only be good for the country, and democracy in general. Bring it on, the champaigne is on ice.

    • the sprout 14.1

      I bet, it’ll get voted out again

      i’m keen to take you up on that bet Tanz

      • Tanz 14.1.1

        Okay, wanna bet five hundrend dollars? You’ll lose, though.

        • NickS 14.1.1.1

          $500? That’s a mite delusional in these economic times, but I guess you need more money for what ever hobbies you have. Or you could just be trying to be smart and make the other side drop teh ball by betting such a figure. Which given previous fun and games here, We’re somewhat sceptical that you’re good for it.

          Also, there’s more than enough people who remember the bullshit that went with FPP, and the subsequent lack of representation for anything outside the views of the two main parties. Which while we may have ended up with ACT and NZ first having a greater presence in Parliament, with all the subsequent fun and drama those two parties generate, the only reason they’re in there is because people voted for them for them in the first place. It isn’t perfect, some tweaking of thresholds might be an idea, but even then the over-representation of minority views does mean they can’t as easily be ignored by Parliament. Even if that means we get to see some horrible ideas come to the surface.

          Although in saying that, with some of the badly written legislation brought forward by ACT, the only reason it’s getting through is with help from National, despite rather large gapping goatse-like flaws in it. Or in the case of the student union bill, massive feedback from affect parties not in favour of it.

        • tea 14.1.1.2

          Dunno if you were watching. MMP was extremely popular. Then Shirtcliffe ran a Guantanamo paper bag MPs campaign and funnily enough introduced doubt.

          But hey so do the anti-climate change lobby.

  15. Tanz 15

    Plenty of mps were rejected and not elected, Pascal’s bookie. List MP’s may well be chosen by their party membership etc, but they were often not chosen by the wider electorate on election day. You would call white black, and black white, as the Left is known to do.

    • Redlogix 15.1

      Sorry Tanz but you’re living in total denial.

      Electoral MP’s are selected by the party…just the same as List MP’s. Under FPP you get less choice, because if you don’t like a candidate your only options are to vote for another candidate selected by another party…. or not vote at all.

      But you’re not fooling anyone here …democracy isn’t what you are interested in.

    • Pascal's bookie 15.2

      Real slow.

      If they are in parliament it is because they were elected. That is how people get into parliament. List mps are elected mps. Elected off the list. That’s what your list vote does.

      They were, in fact, precisely “chosen by the wider electorate”. They may not have won an electorate seat in a narrow geographic race, but they were elected by the broader electorate, the nation at large, via the list vote.

    • felix 15.3

      Fuck me sideways. What’s Brett Dale up to these days?

  16. AndrewK 16

    I would favour an MMP system with more electorates and more MPs and a lower threshold for allowing a party in without an electorate MP (at least .5% of the party vote would be ideal).

    So, say 200 MPs elected through the list and a further 200 MPs elected through an increase in electorate seats then cap all MP’s salaries at the national average wage, regardless of whether they sit in cabinet or not.

    With so many MPs it would be a lot more difficult for the domestic wealthy and foreign corporations to buy influence, representation would be more widely distributed. This is what a truly representative democratic system would look like.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      That’s actually been bugging me. Electorate seats have gone up but the list seats have gone down to keep the 120 cap. The number of list seats should equal the number of electorate seats to help maintain proportionality.

  17. Irascible 17

    Key has already signalled that he and his party favour FPP over MMP. His comments about the Hide-Garrett-ACT fiasco clearly indicate that Key would rather be quit of the thorn of ACT and sees FFP as being the mechanism to do so.
    Key’s natural inclination is towards authoritarianism over democratic process because that’s how you manage the sort of business he has been involved with and understands.
    The alliance between National and Shirtcliffe is simply the obvious manifestation of his attitude.

  18. Bruce 18

    I like MMP and support it…I voted for it in the 90s due to being frustrated with major parties dictating to the population and it felt like there were only two parties to vote for. I feel it could use some tweaking to ensure that minor parties must cross a certain line more through their own popularity with voters. ACT hypocrites are not very popular and shouldn’t be part of the current government as a result (the party threshhold could be set lower than it is, and perhaps stop them from getting in through local politicians winning electorates) – I lean to the left and I’m saying that this should apply to both left, right, and the middle.

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