The racist party

Written By: - Date published: 12:57 pm, March 15th, 2011 - 91 comments
Categories: act, racism - Tags: ,

3-time election loser Don Brash spoke at the ACT conference on the weekend. It was an attempt to revive the Owera days with an anti-Maori speech. When he made a ‘they don’t know how lucky they are’ reference to how Australians used to “shoot the natives”, a ACT member yelled “bring that back” and the audience laughed.

You can hear the audio here at about 2.25. here

No wonder Roger Douglas is keen to get away from this bunch. There’s a lot to say that’s bad about the man but we can give him this: he is a principled liberal through and through, both socially and economically. The party that he created, however, was taken over by reactionaries, starting with ‘tough on crime’ Richard Prebble and sinking to ever lower depths under scumbag Rodney Hide.

John Key, however, wants to work with this bunch of racist bigots so badly that he has told National’s Epsom branch “his need for coalition partners overrides any local desires for Epsom to return a National MP to Parliament”. But even such political trickery might not be enough – “National’s soundings in the electorate are understood to show Hide is running well behind an as yet unselected National candidate, in part because he’s extremely unpopular with female voters” according to John Armstrong.

I suspect that Douglas, like the rest of us, won’t be too sad to see ACT die at this election. But he might shed a tear for what it could have been.

91 comments on “The racist party”

  1. Rich 1

    It’s fairly inevitable that hard right parties will go down the bigotry route.

    Most people have at least some concept of voting for their own self-interest, so a party that fairly clearly aims to make Rod Petrevic and his mates richer and everyone else poorer isn’t going to get much traction.

    So appealing to rednecks is always going to be an attractive path for such groups, even if it conflicts with their ideology.

  2. bbfloyd 2

    while i agree with the main points of your post,, i’m a bit in the dark on the”3 time election loser” thing… if you could clarify that i’d appreciate it,,, if only to fill in gaps in my education 🙂

    • Bright Red 2.1

      Eddie’s got a long memory by the looks

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Brash

      “Brash’s first entry into politics came in 1980 when the National Party selected him to stand as its candidate in the by-election in the East Coast Bays electorate. Brash’s attempt at the seat, however, failed — some believe that this resulted from the decision by Robert Muldoon, National Party Prime Minister, to raise tolls on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, an important route for East Coast Bays residents. The seat went to Gary Knapp of the Social Credit Party.”

      that’s the first

      “Brash again failed to win the seat at the general election of 1981.”

      That’s two

      “Following the counting of the special votes the gap widened, with Labour taking 41.1% of the vote to National’s 39.1%. Dr Brash conceded defeat on 1 October”

      makes three

      • lprent 2.1.1

        Ah – I forgot those ones. When National stopped putting him up as a candidate, they stopped losing to Social Credit 🙂

      • Jim Nald 2.1.2

        As NACTs love to say: three strikes and you’re out !

        For this context, they can be reminded to throw away the Key.

    • lprent 2.2

      I think Eddies education is at fault myself.

      He was only involved in two elections to my recollection (and wikipedia) – the 2002 one as an MP and the 2005 one as opposition leader. He resigned from parliament in 2006.

      It could be that Eddie is counting the internal election that rolled him as leader of the National party?

  3. Anne 3

    I suspect that Douglas, like the rest of us, won’t be too sad to see ACT die at this election. But he might shed a tear for what it could have been.

    That will be correct. I can’t agree with his politics (he was captured back in the 80s by the hard right business elite), but he is a principled liberal especially in the social sense. Can’t imagine why he went back into parliament as an Act MP in the first place.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      It was his party, no one else would have him and maybe, just maybe, he thought he could steer it back to what it once was when it was getting double digit support in the electorate. Not that that would have made any difference as it hasn’t really changed – it’s that people have woken up to the fact that it has a radical, hard right, authoritarian ideology.

      • Anne 3.1.1

        There were two factions in the Act Party. The first included liberal socials who were also economically dry. Roger Douglas belonged to that faction and in the beginning they were in the ascendency. But it wasn’t long before the hard-right racists and bigots started to appear out of the woodwork, and they eventually got the upper hand. It started under Prebble’s stewardship and was sealed in perpetuity by Rodney Hide.

        I think you’re right DTB. Douglas thought he could steer it back to what it once was… but it was always doomed to fail.

  4. Nick K 4

    I know the Left is lost, clueless and worried when it starts to revert to cries of racists and bigots.

    • lprent 4.1

      I thought those were the cries in the audio?

      Whatever columnist wrote that they were ‘groans’ obviously was sitting close to one of the few people that did.It does sound like overall from the mike in the front that there was more supporting laughter than groaning at the interjection.

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        Maybe the press journo’s were sitting near comm’s team. They’d be groaning.

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          Who’d want to be sitting that close to Fran 😈
          She sometimes does seem like the Act’s parties best communications asset.

  5. John Key… has told National’s Epsom branch “his need for coalition partners overrides any local desires for Epsom to return a National MP to Parliament”.

    Which is exactly the kind of slimy gerrymandering and backroom deal-doing that is not just mandated by, but can become compulsory (if you want to survive politically) under MMP.

    If Epsom were part of a multi-member STV electorate, for instance, good luck in knobbling the will of the people then.

    • wtl 5.1

      Or we could just remove the 5% threshold – if a party gets enough votes from the party vote for at least one MP, that MP should be there. If this results in a ‘joke’ MP being elected, so be it.

      • William 5.1.1

        Or we could have the best of both worlds. Remove the 5% threshold for the party vote AND have STV for electing the electorate member.

        • I like this, but I still think it needs to be multi-member, at least until people start to get used to the idea of a few independents in Parliament. That way they have the safe, cuddly feeling of voting for their preferred party candidate and might feel like living a little and giving an independent a go as their second or third MP.

    • wtl 5.2

      I’ve seen your previous comments on the multi-member STV system and really don’t see it working as well as you think in practice. The main reason for this is that voters are ultimately restricted in their choice based on who is standing in their electorate. While it will work ok if there are enough quality candidates for you to vote for ones you really want, in reality there probably won’t be enough of these candidates and your choice is constrained by that. The only way around this I can see is for the candidates to be members of political parties, and therefore your voting can be guided by this, as at least you like what the party stands for (to some degree), even if you don’t particularly like the candidate. Of course, this goes against your reasoning that it will allow us to eliminate parties from the mix.

      A more workable way of eliminating parties from the system would be to weight MPs votes in parliament by the number of votes they receive from the electorate (e.g. the vote of an MP with 20000 votes would be worth 2x the vote of an MP who got 10000 votes). While there are obvious flaws in this system (it will probably result in the election becoming even more of a popularity contest that it is now), it will largely eliminate the above problem, as each voter will only need to select one candidate they particular like. Of course, to ensure the number of MPs in parliament is still a reasonable number, some vote threshold will need to be set before an MP gets elected at all. Therefore electorates will have to be large to ensure this threshold is not set too high (which would cause many wasted votes), e.g. a nation-sized electorate.

      The main advantage of such a system is that it will allow you to select a candidate who’s views particular align to yours, ensuring that your views are well represented in all votes in parliament. In theory, it should provide a good approximation of direct democracy while being more workable. IMO, the main argument against direct democracy is that people do not have the time to make properly considered decisions regarding all votes in parliament (it really is a full time job) so many votes will be based on ‘gut feelings’ – this is often not the best way to make important decisions.

      • Pete 5.2.1

        No matter what poitical system is used it will have quirks and anomalies and will be open to exploitation and abuse. Rather than tinkering with the mechanism, wouldn’t it be better to work out how to get better quality candidates?

        I’m in Dunedin North electorate. Almost certainly the new MP has already been chosen, with the vast majority of potential voters having no say at all in who that will be, except for rubber stamping or futile protesting at the election in November.

        That candidate has probably been chosen for how they fit with party ideals and who knows who and who’s back was scractched. I don’t know how much consideration has been given to how well they will represent all the electorate constituents, nor how capable they might be at administering the country if they are promoted to dual roles.

        This is replicated in many electorates around the country. Some electorates are lucky enough to actually have a bit of a contest.

        MMP, FPP, STV, they might all make only a slight difference for electorate MP selection.

        The blimmin List is another story altogether.

        • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.1

          You’re advocating a move to a Primaries system of electing candidates?

          If you wanted a say in how Dunedin North elected its candidate David Clark you should’ve got active in the Labour Party. And as far as I know, Clark was up against stiff competition at his Selection so what’s your problem again?

        • Mac1 5.2.1.2

          Pete, get involved in a political party, of your choice obviously, and find out about the process fully rather than sitting on the sidelines saying ‘probably” or “I don’t know how much consideration” or “how capable.”

          It is called participatory democracy. If you get involved, you can complain about the process. If you sit outside the process, then all you have is vague wonderings.

          MMP really depends on widespread involvement to avoid capture of parties by tiny organised groups. Get in, and enjoy working with people of like minds (in our case, the other lot don’t have minds 😉 ) I’ve been ‘in’ for thirty eight years. Some would say that alone would mess with your mind……….

          • lprent 5.2.1.2.1

            Sure does. But at least you get a say in the candidate, and even sitting MP’s listen closely to their local party activists if they want to survive.

          • Pete 5.2.1.2.2

            I don’t want to get involved in a political party and be tied to one flavour. I’d rather keep a free choice, and want to be able to choose the best person for an electorate, not just for a party.

            Parties have a vested interest in trying to force anyone wanting any say in selection to join, so they will obviously be reluctant to open it up to wider selections.

            We need a non-tiny organised group that will promote more independence and more independent MPs. Of course parties don’t want that, they want the control themselves, they don’t want the people to actually be able to properly exercise democracy.

            Parliament should serve the people. Parties should serve the people. Not control them to maintain their own power.

            Edit: yes, time of day for Rex to appear.

            • Rex Widerstrom 5.2.1.2.2.1

              *pops up on cue*

              We need a non-tiny organised group that will promote more independence and more independent MPs.

              Yes please. Count me in. If you want to kick something off, give me a yell.

            • lprent 5.2.1.2.2.2

              There is absolutely nothing apart from a small amount of money stopping anyone from standing for an electorate. A party is not required, and there are a bloody lot of independents all over the country every election.

              Being a candidate for a 50k person electorate is a *lot* of work and requires a *lot* of volunteers. Moreover you have to do this every 3 years. A lot of the work is simply getting to know your electorate. The one I have done most of the political work over a number of decades still has places that I simply don’t understand. And I have access to the data collected across decades and I grew up in in that electorate. It is also one of the smallest electorates in the country in area.

              It was bad enough when the electorates were 20k people. Now they are 50k you need a lot of computer skills just to keep up with the changing demographics.

              I’d hate to have to also do the fund raising, finding volunteers, sitting through interminably boring meetings, attending schools, getting corflutes, talking to the election controller for the area, and all of the other thousand and one things that get done get the candidate into parliament.

              Once you delegate all of those tasks out – why we seem to have a party.

              This is also why independents always lose. They have to build all of this expertise from scratch. It either takes enormous amounts of money (damn those spending limits) or a organisation like a party that conserves skills between elections.

              • There is absolutely nothing apart from a small amount of money stopping anyone from standing for an electorate.

                True. There’s also nothing stopping me putting my arm through a sausage machine other than the fact I don’t like enduring agony for absolutely no positive outcome.

                No independent will ever make it in NZ unless they first join a party, then betray that party while at the same time positioning themselves as an invaluable coalition partner to a major party and being willing to abandon whatever principles got them into politics in the first place (not that they usually have any). c.f. Peter Dunne.

                Once you delegate all of those tasks out – why we seem to have a party.

                When I stood in ’93 the incredible people I had doing all that stuff for me were primarily there for me, not NZF. I was the envy of other NZF candidates as I even had a driver… they were out outting up their corflutes themselves.

                If independents had a fighting chance, they could get practical support from people who supported them as individuals. But just as no one will waste their time standing, nor will anyone waste theirs working for an independent.

                That’s the fault of many things: the MMP system above all else; the MSM; lethargy (it’s easier to pick the red or blue box than to think), etc.

        • Rather than tinkering with the mechanism, wouldn’t it be better to work out how to get better quality candidates?

          Which we won’t, ever, because the nature of parties is to look for people who are most like the people that make up the majority of those already in the party. So you either get warring factions (as in Australia) or people with passion who’d inject new ideas getting fed up and splitting off into minor parties which may or may not ever get anywhere (c.f. Hone Harawira, Mat McCarten maybe, one of these days…)

          And is why we should do away with parties… they stifle genuine debate and compromise. Ironically only Act seem not to stage manage their annual conference (or at least not stage manage it enough if clowns like the one we’re discussing haven’t been whipped into line).

          And when I’m King, that’ll be my first decree… 😀

          • Mac1 5.2.1.3.1

            King Rex? Tautology.

            It’s human nature to form alliances, coalitions, parties. If I’m on a committee and I need a seconder for a motion, if I organise that, then I’m on the way to having a party, at a simplistic level. I have an idea or set of ideals, then I will seek support.

            I believe that the system you describe, Rex, is of the FPP old style party. MMP should slough off the warriors and the splitters. You do want a party of like-minded people who can compete for the vote with like-minded people of a different persuasion. Quite frankly, I can get enough of the impassioned at times with their single issue nuttiness- some of them. A bit of time tempered in a party sorts out people, too, because the nutters should become more obvious and treatable, before they get to be candidates.

            • Rex Widerstrom 5.2.1.3.1.1

              If I’m on a committee and I need a seconder for a motion, if I organise that, then I’m on the way to having a party, at a simplistic level.

              I’ve seen that sort of thing work well at local council level, before the national political parties started infecting that arena. There were natural alliances between people who thought alike on most issues but, because no one had a party banner to defend, they felt able to approach those not so ideologically aligned on issues with which, perhaps, their usual allies disagreed.

              Do that in Parliament and your party will call in the lawyers, a la Hone, Winston and other examples I’m too busy to think of now.

              At the level you describe, alliances are a useful means of getting things done. It’s when they morph into tribes, who punish heresy with banishment, that they become the very antithesis of the motives that led to their formation. And the thing is, they always do.

              Not that I’m really advocating their banning. If people want to get all tribal about politics, fine. But we need a system in which the tribes are just a part, not the whole, and which they cannot gerrymander to their own advantage to keep out independents.

              • Mac1

                Interesting, Rex. I wonder how much our thinking is coloured by the size of the parties that we are experienced with, me with one of the two major parties and you with NZF, and then further with the relative age of the two in terms of internal experience and organisation, as to how much we fear and can deal with either nutters, short-term one issue folk, apparatchiks or the conservative heresy-hating banners, and thereby keep a vibrant, fresh, people-friendly organisation.

        • Bunji 5.2.1.4

          Best I can tell, (for your example, Dunedin North) David Clark was chosen (as cv says, from a tough selection field) because he a) showed true belief in party values, but also b) showed he would be good for representing all his electorate – and would thus be likely to be elected. The ODT thought he’d be good for cabinet minister duties if he were to get the chance, so capability for higher office is somewhat of a criterion too.

          But the more people that get involved in their local political parties the more voice they’ll have and the better for democracy. Participation is the most important part.

          • grumpy 5.2.1.4.1

            ……and he had the unions on side…….that helps…..

            • Loco 5.2.1.4.1.1

              “……and he had the unions on side…….that helps…..”

              um no Glenda Alexander was the union favourite. The Dunedin North selection was very much down to how many party members each candidate got to support their nomination.

              • Clint Heine

                I have a few friends from the Dunedin North branch and many of them were left disillusioned with how that nomination ended up. They wouldn’t tell me what exactly happened, (them knowing I would tell everybody) but there was bullying and all sorts of stuff going down to get the “right” candidate.

                Why do the main parties do this?

      • wtl, I agree with your definition of the problem, but not your solution.

        At present List MPs get no votes, so it looks like you’re suggesting we’re rid of them. With that I wholeheartedly agree.

        But giving an MP a “vote power” based on the number of votes they received worsens the disenfranchisation (is that even a word?) of those who didn’t; it encourages votes for “major” party candidates… “I’d rather my second choice National canddiate get to wield my vote against those horrible socialists than to risk wasting it on my first choice Act candidate”… and so on.

        It also gives safe seat MPs – who are often little better than many List MPs in terms of intelligence and energy – a greater “vote power” than those from marginal seats, who are often amongst our best.

        the main argument against direct democracy is that people do not have the time to make properly considered decisions regarding all votes in parliament (it really is a full time job) so many votes will be based on ‘gut feelings’ – this is often not the best way to make important decisions

        That one’s easy. A 20 question (factual, set by the independent electoral authorities) multi-choice test on the topic to pass before you vote. If you fail you’re not disenfranchised, you can go away and study the issue and try again, till polling closes. But the wilfully ignorant don’t get to vote. Thanks for playing, Radio Live listeners.

        • wtl 5.2.2.1

          But giving an MP a “vote power” based on the number of votes they received worsens the disenfranchisation (is that even a word?) of those who didn’t; it encourages votes for “major” party candidates… “I’d rather my second choice National canddiate get to wield my vote against those horrible socialists than to risk wasting it on my first choice Act candidate”… and so on.

          This is ultimately determined by the ‘vote threshold’ and the size of the electorates, as I outlined. The way I see it, each voter only gets 1 vote and the ‘power’ of the vote is transferred to their preferred candidate. In the situation where the ‘preferred candidate’ does not get enough votes to meet the threshold, you could use a ranking/transfer system to give that vote power to the second most preferred candidate, or third and so on. However, the system still needs to be set up so that the preferred candidate of most voters is elected, otherwise you are right, only major candidates will be elected. This is why I suggested a nation-sized electorate, which would also eliminate the problem with safe seats, as all candidates are on a level playing field that is not determined by geographic area.

          That one’s easy. A 20 question (factual, set by the independent electoral authorities) multi-choice test on the topic to pass before you vote. If you fail you’re not disenfranchised, you can go away and study the issue and try again, till polling closes. But the wilfully ignorant don’t get to vote. Thanks for playing, Radio Live listeners.

          In theory this is a good idea. But:
          1) Good luck selling this to people 🙂
          2) You could get to the situation where polling is dominated by special interest groups that all vote in certain way and ensure their votes are always counted by sending short ‘study guides’ to their members (or even lists of answers, once polling has begun).

          • Rex Widerstrom 5.2.2.1.1

            you could use a ranking/transfer system to give that vote power to the second most preferred candidate, or third and so on

            Ahh… so preferential voting, as used in (some elections) in Australia. Okay, that makes it viable and potentially fair. But the size of the ballot paper for a whole-of-nation electorate is potentially huge.

            Anyone have a number for the total number of candidates in a general election?

            special interest groups that all vote in certain way and ensure their votes are always counted by sending short ‘study guides’ to their members (or even lists of answers, once polling has begun)

            Study guides, fair enough. If you take the time to be informed, your vote should count, even if you happen to be a member of a lobby group. Those who are worried a lobby with ideas opposing their own should do the same thing.

            “Cheats”, not so good. A random test of 20 questions drawn from a much larger range, so each time someone logs on they get a different mix, perhaps.

            • Pascal's bookie 5.2.2.1.1.1

              these tests seem like a *really* bad idea to me. How is it any different from the tests used during Jim Crow to disenfranchise sectors of the electorate?

              How would it account for the diferences of opinion that the vote is supposed to decide on in the first place? eg AGW. How could you design a 20 q test that would qualify someone to vote, that would not also disenfranchise one side of the debate?

              • I agree there’s fish hooks Pb. In something as contentious as AGW I suspect the questions would need to be agreed to by both “sides” of the debate to ensure they weren’t biased.

                But the questions I’m talking about wouldn’t go to bias. They’d first ascertain some basic general knowledge about NZ and its political system and then some questions round the topic.

                Trust you to choose probably the single most difficult topic on which to create unbiased questions 😛 Perhaps the answer would be to ask questions about the biases of each side… “Denialists think that… a/ b / c”

                We’d need to be careful not to disenfranchise one side of any debate, but I’m unashamed in admitting that the process is designed to disenfranchise anyone who’s formed an opinion on anything based on bugger all (“Michael Laws said on radio that…”).

        • KJT 5.2.2.2

          “the main argument against direct democracy is that people do not have the time to make properly considered decisions regarding all votes in parliament (it really is a full time job) so many votes will be based on ‘gut feelings’ – this is often not the best way to make important decisions”

          Don’t make me laugh. The level of incompetence, lack of thought and lack of general knowledge and real consideration of the issues evidenced in Parliaments decisions is breath taking. Do you really imagine the general public could possibly do worse.

          As the Swiss example shows, after the initial idea of people power settles down, it is those who have a interest in the particular issue who vote on it. Politicians also have an interest in informing voters as they will not get policies through without general support.

          At the moment our Government is representative of these people. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html
          http://www.metafilter.com/88184/Leading-bankers-destroy-7-of-value-for-every-pound-they-generate
          http://www.sott.net/articles/show/225183-Dear-Koch-Brothers-Tea-partiers-union-bashers-Anonymous-would-like-your-attention-please

          They have proved they have no conscience as the take an income paid for by NZ taxpayers while robbing us and selling us out.

          How could democracy possibly be worse.

    • felix 5.3

      “Which is exactly the kind of slimy gerrymandering and backroom deal-doing that is not just mandated by, but can become compulsory (if you want to survive politically) under MMP.”

      Then why is it not more widespread? Why is it only ACT in Epsom?

      For a systemic problem it’s a fairly isolated one.

      • That’s but one example, at an electoral level. I’d say sticking both fingers in your ears and going “lalalala can’t hear you” while your coalition Foreign Minister behaves like like a pimp also counts.

        Also, more principle on the left (so far). I don’t think the Greens would sell out. Though as the Jeanettes (the people whose principle caused them ro stumble into politics) get replaced by the Russels (the people whose political ambitions required they hitch their star to the party closest to their principles), I don’t know.

        Someone like Matt McCarten, for instance, would be more amenable to such a deal on the left I suspect. I admire Matt immensely, but he’s come up through that system of compromise. The belief is it’s better to get something rather than everything – which is a valid perspective, but only if you see the system which dictates such compromise as the best we can achieve. I don’t.

  6. Rich 6

    Could someone explain to me why my vote should be worth much more if I happen to live near all the other people who vote the same way?

    And why an MP elected by a group of people living together is somehow more “legitimate” than one elected by people throughout the nation?

  7. higherstandard 7

    Orewa.

  8. RobertM 8

    Act have never been a legitimate party. |Essentially their a right wing cult- an offshoot of the l960s and 70s left wing movement. What Douglas and Brash advocates is effectively mafia Russian style robbery when applied to a country like NZ, which lacks a real capitalist middle class or much of a share market.
    Surely its time for the Nats to ditch Act. Most of the cabinet must hold their noses at the Hide racist speak.

  9. Pete 9

    I understand that joining a party could give me political privileges and influence – I don’t want that, I don’t think I should have to join a cosy club to get preferential treatment in a supposed democracy.

    I know there’s little chance of changing the system much, it’s a cosy arrangement for those that toe the lines on offer so parties are not going to give that up easily.

    But there are possible ways of using the system as it is to promote a more even democracy. That will mean accepting a continuing major influence of parties as they are, but if an independent alternative could prove itself and gain a small foothold, and develop from there, it could make a decent sort of difference.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      I understand that joining a party could give me political privileges and influence – I don’t want that, I don’t think I should have to join a cosy club to get preferential treatment in a supposed democracy.

      This is so stupid and wrong headed I’m not sure its worth wasting time to refute it.

      Suffice to say you seem to believe that democracy works better when ordinary people don’t get involved in politics directly, and when ordinary people can’t be bothered to put time and effort into their local political formations.

      What a load of idiotic BS Pete.

      • Bob 9.1.1

        Well said CV , if Pete cant be bothered applying himself to anything , anyone or anycause then thats his loss . Have friends like this , they dont want to commit but will put in the boot , sad really.

        • I don’t know Pete from a bar of soap but that’s a huge assumption.

          I work my arse off for a lot of pro bono stuff, mainly in the justice area. I estimate I spend a minimum of 20 hours a week helping out in ways that range from web design to court appearances. I don’t, however, have any active engagement in a political party.

          Why? Because nothing fits, not because I “can’t be bothered applying myself”.

          If the political parties to which you subscribe offer nothing to the likes of Pete and your friends and me, you might want to think about whether the failure lies with us, or them.

          • lprent 9.1.1.1.1

            Personally I don’t bother too much if the party fits – they’re always going to be awkward beasts. I tend to make it fit around me by working on what I want to, working on what I think it needs, and expressing opinions when I feel like it. I just listen, ask nasty questions, and occasionally offer up ideas that are often workable. I support who I feel like supporting to the extent that I can.

            I generally just have fun. Of course that means that I never take formal positions inside the party because those make garden parties look interesting. But I’m quite unconcerned about political influence. That just sort of accumulates over time.

            Mostly what I’m interested in is making sure that the politicians can’t screw up too badly on any side. So I spend quite a lot of time looking at the idiots.

            I could have done many of those things in areas outside of politics. There are an awful lot of ways that you can affect things if you take enough time at it.

        • Pete 9.1.1.2

          Both Bob and CV are jumping to wrong conclusions. It’s not that I “can’t be bothered” applying myself. I choose not to apply myself to one organisation that doesn’t, in practice, come close to fit with my ideals. As I have already said I get really annoyed at the childish “us good, them bad” approach many party people seem to be keen on.

          And, commenting on political blogs is one small way of “being involved”.

          I intend to become more involved, I have been researching ideas and looking for opportunities to become more involved. That that is not a traditional involvement of joining an existing party doesn’t necessarily make it an idiotic approach. I think the traditional approaches are often idiotic.

          Single party governments have not worked well for New Zealand.
          Small parties in coalition have struggled to be remain relevant and in one piece.

          I think an alternative approach that recognises that large parties will dominate in the foreseeable future so will compliment and support the current system and parties is worth trying.

          An approach that has a much better connection with all of the voting public, and isn’t slanted towards privileged members of one cliche. An approach that balances the need for an individual representative to to be true to themselves with being true to their constituents and country. And welcomes real diversity.

          Connecting with other people with similar ideas, and getting other people to think outside the political square and do something about it is a bit of a challenge. But it’s not that I “can’t be bothered”.

          Anyone interested in exploring this – gmail address of nzindiepol

          • Rosy 9.1.1.2.1

            “I get really annoyed at the childish “us good, them bad” approach many party people seem to be keen on”

            You might want to sort out the MSM on this, I remember shortly after Goff became leader of Labour he mentioned he supported something Key did, it was pretty non-controversial (sorry can’t remember details). The MSM ridiculed him about not knowing how to be a leader of an opposition party – that it was not his role to agree with government. The whole parliamentary system and news gathering and reporting relies disagreement. Unless you want to end up as Dunne there is a whole system to re-organised before political parties can work in a non-adversarial way.

            • Pete 9.1.1.2.1.1

              The MSM are a major party of the problem. Trivialising, sensationalising, presidentialising, overexposing, ignoring and self importance are a few things that come to mind.

              But MSM and politicians use each other and feed the frenzy.

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.2.2

            I notice that in his reply here Pete completely avoided mentioning the original reasons he gave for not joining a political party – that it would lead him to a position of “privilege” and “influence” within a “cosy club”.

            What BS

            You know that people can scroll up and see what you’ve written, right?

            • lprent 9.1.1.2.2.1

              I really found Pete’s attitude incredibly naive and outright divorced from reality. Politics to me is notable for how much frigging unpaid work I volunteer for. Same with everyone else that I know who does it apart from the politicians and HQ staff. Watching the paid workers and MP’s over the decades would convince anyone that it is a lot easier to find other work. They’re nuts to do such a pain in the arse job that chews every waking hour.

              To give a sense of scale.. Before my heart attack I’d routinely do 10 hour paid work days. Usually that was for 5 days. But I’d get often get rushes and do 6 or 7 days a week for months at a time (that happened in 2009 for about 6 months). I’d then fit in 10-30 hours of volunteer and blogging work on top of that per week. Fortunately Lyn has almost as full on a schedule as well with a full-time paid job and building and promoting a documentary (damn near a full-blown business) on top of that (otherwise I’d be in deep shit).

              I wouldn’t do the work of any MP or paid party worker voluntarily. Their hours routinely dwarf mine, and they have to be nice to people – something I personally find to be one of the more stressful jobs around. It was basically why I dropped out of management a few years after the MBA and went into programming – it made work fun again.

              Pete obviously hasn’t been around MP’s or political parties

              • I think what’s happening here is that lprent and others who’re busy in the bowels (excuse the analogy) of the political machine hear “party” and look around them at all the other people working just as hard as they are.

                When Pete (and to some extent, me) say “party” we’re talking MPs and a small group of upper-level influencers (varies from party to party but usually includes the President). And that’s what most voters think of as “the _____ Party”.

                And they don’t like what they see; they see what Pete sees – a privileged club. Which is why they are not joining in record numbers.

                They know very well that – to choose a random example – Goff’s new found embrace of lynch mobs wasn’t run past the people beavering away in the bowels of the party, because they can see the angst of those very people displayed in places like this.

                They know that a privileged elite around Goff is calling the shots, and that if they sign up and pay their membership then they too will end up working the kind of hours lprent describes, while being taken for granted by a bunch of incompetents in the Goffice.

                That’s the reality – at least as perceived by a lot of people and expressed here by Pete – and if the parties are simply going to get prickly and defensive in response then it’s their own funeral. In which case I’d better start polishing my dancing shoes…

                • lprent

                  Which is why you find that sites like this or NRT operate so well. I know that the many of the Labour activists of the computer generations seem to read them quite a lot generally with quite a lot of approval. The political operatives find that they have to take notice of it and often do so with a certain amount of trepidation. It means that they have to start looking at things other than opinion polls.

    • lprent 9.2

      I understand that joining a party could give me political privileges and influence – I don’t want that, I don’t think I should have to join a cosy club to get preferential treatment in a supposed democracy.

      What strange ideas. What it mostly gives you is a large amount of unpaid work for quite some time. Your influence inside parties pretty much depends on how much respect others give your opinions. How do you earn that respect? You work for it.

      People will not only look at what your opinions are, they will also look at what you do. The latter usually counts for far more than the former. We’ve all seen a vast range of useless blowhards coming through who aren’t prepared to do the yakka. If at all possible we try to send them to NZF or Act where such people belong. Some parts of the Alliance used to be good as well before it crumbled.

      If we can’t then we find them a nice title and a group of similar minded people to deadlock each other with rules and meetings and all of the paraphernalia of the pre-net age. Then those who work form the smaller groups that gets everything organised with the minimum of fuss and effort and a lot of input from everyone who is useful via e-mail.

      It is no different from something like this blog. People judge others based on how coherent their arguments are, how agile they are in adapting to stuff that they haven’t looked at, how much interesting linked material they dredge up, and how much fun they have with the annoying people getting in the way of a good argument.

      Blogs and political parties run on the respect you have for others and hard work.

      BTW: Talking about blowhards – I haven’t seen Clint Heine here and he usually reacts to posts about Act. Hopefully he has been listening to Katie and is determined to stay away..

  10. Descendant Of Smith 10

    Alternatively someone could form a party called something like the coalition of independents that could both be a party and have a clear philosophy of conscience voting and no party votes.

    Part of our democracy however also involves the right to organise and so like minded people should also be able to form parties – that’s not undemocratic – that’s just one form of exercising it.

    Equally I should not be able to only influence my local MP but also who the government of the day is = that’s why MMP is so appealing I have much more choice in influencing both.

    Take for instance the number of candidates who voted Tremain for an MP in Napier but also voted for Labour. The numbers were quite substantial.

    Part of your problem Pete (and the problem for many rightwingers) is that you seem to think that everyone is driven by self-serving motivation when many people are much more altruistic and want better communities. Once you see the world full of self serving people I’m not sure that it’s that easy to turn back – unless occasionally there is some personal life changing event.

    Maintaining a belief in the inherent goodness of people and in a commonality of purpose can often be hard work.

    • Pete 10.1

      Why are you assuming I’m a rightwinger? I don’t think “everyone is driven” or any of your other absolute generalisations.

      I have an inherent belief in the goodness of many people. But I’m not blind to the fact that many people are inherently selfish. A lot just tick away in their own lives and don’t care too much about the wider world as long as they’re ok, and will vote on fairly trivial criteria.

      Politicians can be and often are selfish and self interested. It’s partly necessary to get to that level – and under the current system it means canoodling your way up the party somehow. Some that make it will genuinely work for the good of others and the good of the country – and some are not so generous with their efforts.

      My biggest gripes are with a lack of genuine democratic process, and with the party first mentality that is quite prominent on the surface at least. Maybe underneath all the partisan bullshit it’s all “commonality of purpose” but it certainly ain’t obvious.

      And – altruistic idealism might have more of a genuine message if it weren’t so one-sided – the “them bad, us fantastic saviours of the country” divide is really quite apparent.

      • Descendant Of Smith 10.1.1

        I didn’t say you were a right winger hence the brackets and the and – read the sentence more carefully. I also said “seem” which stops it from being an absolute.

        Maybe if you did make the effort to work within a party you might be pleasantly surprised. As it stands you are pretty disparaging of pretty much everyone – voters, politicians, parties, the process. I think it’s called active disengagement.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.2

        My biggest gripes are with a lack of genuine democratic process

        You are so full of shit Pete, you’ve been going on about how people shouldn’t get involved in political parties because they would end up getting some kind of cushy preferential treatment and hear you cry that you are all for democracy.

        How does keeping people away from being involved in grass roots democracy help a genuine democratic process?

        Not only full of shit, but a hypocrite to boot, one imitating a paid astroturfer.

        • felix 10.1.2.1

          Kudos to Petard for his imitation though, it’s very convincing.

        • Pete 10.1.2.2

          you’ve been going on about how people shouldn’t get involved in political parties

          No I haven’t. If people want to get involved in poitcal parties that’s up to them, I haven’t said anything against that, but it’s not what I want.

          Many many people think they are screwed by a largely futile democratic process, and see it as crap, just less crap than any alternatives. Some people are happy to be involved with it as it is. Some others, including me, lok for ways of tweaking or using the system to make it better.

          My ideas accept and rely on the main parties continuing much as they are (but encouragedto be ] more co-operative and positive). A few independents where quality of candidate is foremost would actually help the main parties, or at least the party that gets the most seats, because it would give them more options, and more flexible options, for forming coalitions and for governing.

          But I know it is difficult to change people’s ideas on how to do things – especially those with an entrenched interest in the current way of doing things.

        • Rex Widerstrom 10.1.2.3

          you’ve been going on about how people shouldn’t get involved in political parties because they would end up getting some kind of cushy preferential treatment

          I seem to have taken on the role of Pete’s defender. But see my comment above. Most people involved in parties get less influence than a member of the general public because their loyalty is taken for granted – a function of the “the tribe will brook no heresy” thinking I alluded to earlier.

          But the people Pete’s referring to, I think, are those who achieve a certain positon within the party, usually not having worked their way up – look at Fa’afoi… no Labour loyalty, job in the Goffice done not esepcially comptently, straight into safe seat.

          They quickly become a privileged elite. They’re a monority, sure, but they’re what the public sees, and that’s what Pete is reflecting. CV and felix, you’re usually not so ready to dismiss someone without at least considering where their pespective may be coming from… if parties mean so much to you, you really ought to think about the perspective that Pete’s seeing things from because it’s one shared by a lot of others beyond the blogosphere.

          • lprent 10.1.2.3.1

            They quickly become a privileged elite.

            And if they act that way and don’t grow into the job, they have rapidly diminishing electorate majorities because their electorate activists find better things to do. You find them working in other electorates.

            Actually the best example I know of is Richard Prebble. When I decided that I’d better get involved in the LP, I was in Auckland Central. As you know I’m a pretty conservative character and had a newly minted MBA at the time so I looked at Prebble in 89. Didn’t like his way of working his supporters. It showed a distinct lack of respect for people.

            And that is why I went to work for Helen Clark in my home electorate in 1990 despite disagreeing with her on most policy matters in the abstract. She talked to her supporters without all of the pissing around that Prebble played with.

            • Rex Widerstrom 10.1.2.3.1.1

              they have rapidly diminishing electorate majorities because their electorate activists find better things to do

              …and then, provided they’ve been good little foot soldiers doing as they’re told, they get rescued by the list so they don’t have to worry about those annoying plebs at all.

              /Cue rant about why I hate MMP…

              • lprent

                Not likely. If they are lousy electorate MPs then you tend to find that they rapidly drop on the list as well. The people who vote on the list positions in the regional conferences are those activists. They prefer people that do some work. Sure there is a party element as well and a lot of lobbying. But in the end the list isn’t there for supporting people who cannot support themselves. We’d prefer some new blood.

                It isn’t hard to think of MPs who have been severely disgruntled about their list placing from both big parties

                There are exceptions in the list of course. But they tend to those like Cullen who are wanted for specific skills.

              • Colonial Viper

                Hi Rex, I’m not a big fan of party politics. Its partially responsible for a loss of colour, vigour and personality in politics today, as far as I can see. Ideas which should be discussed with the public don’t, simply because no party is interested in broaching the issue and individual MPs dare not.

                Not sure what the alternatives are. Especially since the media love to pick up on any MP who sounds like they might be a dissenter from the rest of the party solely through having their own opinion and then make a news circus out of it.

                The old line that caucus is where vigorous debate is held and then a unified front presented to the public is pretty stupid as well. What good does that do for the public’s understanding of what is happening and what the alternative viewpoints were.

                • Not sure what the alternatives are. Especially since the media love to pick up on any MP who sounds like they might be a dissenter from the rest of the party solely through having their own opinion and then make a news circus out of it

                  Use that to establish your independence rather than letting have the desired effect of hammering you back down to a level with all the time servers.

                  Rally people behind you who’ve had a gutsful of the party system and the colourless, vapid, system it produces and which sustains it, and get them thinking about breaking out of their old voting habits.

                  Like Hone did. Then when he got it, didn’t know what the hell to do with it *sigh*

              • Herodotus

                Rex you are taking it that those in party politics also want to engage with the public and for the public to seek info. IMO and difficulty I have with one LP individual there is no desire for engagement. Take a few personel cases this year I have written to 7 Mp’s from PM and Phil down. Only got 2 cases of acknowledgement. At least with HC and M Cullen not only acknowledgement but responses. The policies from both Nat and Lab are very thin in any substance (That is if there is any) and when questioned response (from go away to banning). No wonder Nat are still so strong in the polls. You want superficial and a diet on reality TV you get superficial, and Lab cannot even register on this scale. Then we get the womens mag story of the glam girls battling it out for Jafa Cent, both the parties and the 2 respective women go with it, a spirl that goes down !!

                • No I’m not asuming that, in fact I agree with what you’re saying. Most MPs once elected quickly realise where their loyalty lies and thus who gets the most attention and – unless they’re in a marginal seat – it’s not with their electors.

                  I just don’t see happening what lprent says happens… that usless MPs incur the wrath of party workers and get dumped. There are many, many MPs across both major parties that are either doing a damned good job of buttering up the local activists while actually doing bugger all for the wider population, or it’s simply not happening the way he thinks it is.

                  And yes, I’m saddened, appalled, but not surprised that those involved in the “Battle of the Babes” (a phrase that makes me throw up in my mouth) seem to relish or at least condone that attention. As Lhaws teaches us anew every week, any publicity truly is good publicity in this climate…

                  • lprent

                    It isn’t just activists, the voters, msm, and even the blogs get into the mix. But losing the support of your activist supporters, the ones that deliver phamplets through to running campaigns, and who are there campaign after campaign is the absolute surest way to oblivion.

                    Brown nosers are invariably useless except for simple tasks and are often outright disruptive – you don’t win campaigns with them.

                    Activists are usually pretty damn hard to butter up. The older ones are outright cynics. After all most of them started as idealists and the ones who survive the disillusionment stay because they have thought through exactly why they endure the grind.

                    Most have been around many politicians and worked across a number of electorates. The political trick of charming them is usually about as effective as making them believe a campaign will be easy or fund raising is fun.

                    Look in the mirror som time…. 🙂

              • Pete

                Interesting stuff. Once the jousting calms down I don’t think I’m that far away from a few others here, aye CV. In somethings anyway.

                The big question is how to do something about it

                * I think the best but by far the hardest option is to get a few high calibre independent MPs.

                * Lobby MSM hard to get their act together and do a lot more decent political journalism. Like it or not the media has a lot of influence, they pick the few things that get high exposure, and a lot of politicking has a major eye on how to use or avoid the media. Entrenched ideas and self promoting would be hard to change.

                * Set up a direct to MP lobby system, with a good wide connection with the public. Name and praise, name and shame, whatever it takes to promote what’s good and diss what’s not.

                I’m not against parties – on the contrary, unlike (I think) most I’d like to see more strength in more parties, across the spectrum. Getting precious about one choice and wanting to try and eliminate all others is unrealistic and immature. The better quality candidates and MPS across the board the better our parliament will be no matter who is waxing and who is waning.

  11. prism 11

    Don Brash is our Sarah Palin.

    Wise antispam – discouraging

  12. todd 12

    HRC says Racism is A OK

    http://thejackalman.blogspot.com/2011/03/hrc-says-racism-is-ok.html

    Recently I made a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) concerning racist statements made by Michael Laws on RadioLive. Here is the HRC response…

    • Marty G 12.1

      this is just linkwhoring mate. Don’t mind you linking to a post of yours in a comment but that comment has to be more than a title, link, and excerpt.

  13. Pascal's bookie 13

    Interesting discussion guys.

    One thing that hasn’t come up is the fact that people actually really do disagree with each other. A lot. There are some broad agreements but even amoung those that agree there will be profound differences on other issues. Parties form in response to this dynamic. They are essentially compromise platforms based on the ranked priorities of the issues. If I agree with a bunch of people on something that I consider to be important, I will compromise away my disagreements on the things I consider less important.

    When looked at like this, the problem of independents is shown in a different light. They are people that essentially either reject that notion of compromise, or are not prepared to do that compromising prior to being eected, in which case how could voters know what sort of policy a govt of independents would deliver?

    Further, there is a related strain of thought in some of the arguments here that says that people who diasgree about the way forward must necessarilly be acting in bad faith and simply seeking power for their party.

    I don’t see the diference between saying that ‘ if only the parties would stop putting themselves ahead of the good of the nation’ and saying, ‘if only everyone would agree with me about the right way forward we would be sweet’.

    The simple fact is that there is no agreement about the right way forward. There is, in fact, wide and honestly held disagreement. This is why we have politics in the first place, asking that people put aside those disagreements in favour of ‘the good of the nation’ is a profoundly undemocratic idea that presupposes that what is ‘the good of the nation’ is a clear cut thing known to umm, whom exactly? Whose good of the nation idea is it that we are supposed to be putting ahead of our own ideas?

    • …independents… are people that essentially either reject that notion of compromise, or are not prepared to do that compromising prior to being eected, in which case how could voters know what sort of policy a govt of independents would deliver?

      I think that’s very unfair. I’d love to be an independent MP because it would give me the chance to research issues as they arose, debate them with others who’d done their own research, modify my ideas, perhaps get them to modify theirs, maybe agree on a conclusion, maybe honourably disagree – exactly what I do when I come here.

      Then I’d get to vote in what I genuinely believed were the best interests of the country.

      Compare that to what a party MP faces. The position is worked out by a subset of MPs (the Cabinet) and I’m told my vote will be cast in its favour. Unspoken but obvious is that if I speak or – God forbid – vote against the decision taken for me by others I’ll be ostracised and deselected from my safe seat and / or lose my List ranking.

      I want independence not because I don’t want to compromise, but because I do… but only if my mind, my heart and my conscience tell me it’s right; not because my Party Whip tells me to.

      Genuine debate – debate which changes minds and brings people closer to acceptance of one another’s perspective, even if that acceptance isn’t complete – is the essence of good lawmaking. It’s also exciting and stimulating, at least to me – and I know what that says about my level of political tragicness.

      I’m merely asking to do in Parliament what I do each day here and on Kiwiblog and other places… test my ideas and those of people of good faith who may disagree with me, modify my own beliefs to the extent I think appropriate, and behave accordingly.

      I see none of the tinge of megalomania Pb seems to see… but then again, maybe I’m so megalomaniacal I can’t spot my own faults 😀

      • Pascal's bookie 13.1.1

        I’m nothing if not unfair, but I think we are talking past each other a bit.

        I’m trying to work out, in my head, what parties are for. Why did they arise, and persist, under a system actually designed to present the sort of independent mps you are talking about?

        I also try to think about from the view of what works for voters, not mps. MPs and parties are to me, as a voter, policy delivery devices. I want an mp that will fight as hard as they can to get the sort of things done that I would like to see done.

        You seem to be telling me that i should vote for you simply because I think you are an honest thoughtful sort of a chap who has the best interest of the country at heart. I do think this about you, but it’s not actually enough. Such a chap could well be outmaneuvered by the nasty grasping little shits that all the other people choose to vote for. What if they lie to you and change your mind on something by doing so? How can I predict what you are going to do as an mp in terms of how you will vote in the house?

        I think parties, for all that they are hierarchical and everything else you describe, add to democracy in that they allow voters some input and control* and more importantly, predictability when compared to the alternative. There is a baby there, hiding in the mucky water.

        * the level of control will depend obvs on how much time and effort the voter is prepared to spend on getting involved and actually engaging with the process. My problem with pete’s line is that he thinks he ought t have some sort of control over who a party selects as its candidate even though he rejects the notion that he should show even a token level of solidarity to the party in return. this is the selfish angle I hinted at, the lack of compromise.

        • Rex Widerstrom 13.1.1.1

          I want an mp that will fight as hard as they can to get the sort of things done that I would like to see done.

          Me too, so the debate is about how to achieve that. I’d posit as a starting point on which we could hopefully both agree that a prerequisite is accountability… the more that MP is answerable to you, the more s/he will do what you want them to do. That rules out safe seat and list MPs and leaves a minority of marginal seat MPs. It’s no coincidence that the holders of these seats often turn out to be our best and brightest.

          I’ll try and do your other questions justice without a 1,000 word essay *takes deep breath*…

          Such a chap could well be outmaneuvered by the nasty grasping little shits that all the other people choose to vote for.

          Yes, but as long as he stood by his principles and fought for the position he’d told you he’d espouse on your behalf he’s done his democratic duty. That’s more than you get from your average MP now.

          What if they lie to you and change your mind on something by doing so?

          The only thing I’d hope they’d convincingly lie to me on was their voting intentions and if they kept that up they’d very quickly find no one trusted them and their position was untenable. Look at Winston.

          In terms of information on which to base my decisions I’d do my own research, have staff who challenged me (that’s one thing I’ll say for Winston – I could say “you’re being a dick” and he’d listen, not take umbrage) and rely on my friends in the blogosphere, like Pb 🙂 Even back in ’95 I spent a good deal of time on NZF’s message board and in nz.politics for that very reason.

          How can I predict what you are going to do as an mp in terms of how you will vote in the house?

          That one’s easy. I’d tell you, and you could ask me. And if neither of us had thought of the question and it arose, you’d be able to ask me via the web, on which I would spend several hours a day as I do now (despite working 60 – 70 hour weeks).

          In fact Google my comments across here, Kiwiblog and PA and you’ve probaly got 75% of a platform.

          Hell, I might even publish a manifesto which actually committed me to stuff, unlike the vague mutterings and photo ops favoured by the parties you prefer 😛

          Oh, and I might offer to subject myself to recall, whereby if you got the signatures of 51% of those whom I represent to say they no longer want me, I’d resign. Of course legally I could tell you to stick it, but that’d be the end of me at the next election for sure anyway.

  14. Vicky32 14

    Just hearing on 3 News that ACT MP Hilary Calvert has shamed herself. Again. Racism rules!
    Deb

    • grumpy 14.1

      Pretty easy accusation to make. From what I’ve seen reported her points have validity.

      • Vicky32 14.1.1

        Ironically yes, I think one of the points she made did – but if I hadn’t had such terrible connection problems, I would have added that her attempt at pronouncing Tariana Turia’s name was just pitiful!
        Much as I despise Tariana Turia, I still think it’s just common courtesy to learn to pronounce someone’s name correctly!
        Deb

    • mcflock 14.2

      Nice to see that their newest MP is continuing the tradition of go-getting success and political ability that has made ACT so popular.

  15. Nick K 15

    You’re a racist misogynist Deb.

    • Vicky32 15.1

      ?????????????????????????????????????????
      Misogynist, I absolutely am not. I am racist, at least according to QoT, although no one has ever pointed that out to me before.
      From what I have seen, you’re a RWNJ… 🙂
      Deb

      • QoT 15.1.1

        Fuck you’ve got a chip on your shoulder about that argument we had, Deb. Quick, tell us again how you can’t be racist because your kids are part Maori but we should totally be grateful to you for not being racist because you could be if you weren’t such a wonderful person.

        (oops, there I go “bullying” you by quoting your own comments at you again)

        • Vicky32 15.1.1.1

          You’re simply an attention-whore, and I am not going to play your reindeer game.

  16. Adele 16

    Teenaa koe, grumpy

    Could you please enlighten me as to what those valid points might be?

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