Monday, August 22, 2005

New Zealand Democracy- Signed, Sealed and Delivered

It is just under 12 years since New Zealanders decided that they would opt for a new voting system in the form of MMP rather than the plurality system that they had voted under for the past century. The rationale behind the change was that New Zealand had become a more diverse society and voting habits reflected that diversity.

No longer were people content to vote solely for the two major parties, National and Labour. Rather, they wanted a diverse range of parties going from the right to the left reflecting the multiplicity of political opinion. Yet, 12 years on from 1993 New Zealanders have managed to come back to a system that is very close to the one that they departed from, despite having proportional representation, in which two large parties (National and Labour) compete for the majority of votes having over a matter of years driven smaller parties to the left and right of them to extinction.

Is it the fault of the media? Certainly they have a lot to answer for. While, I’ve been aware that what passes as political commentary and enquiry in New Zealand is pitiful, I’ve become more aware of the shortcomings and superficiality of political reporting as a result of the election campaign. For example, I’ve always disliked Jane Clifton’s political commentary and while she might be passable as a writer, her analysis is often appallingly shallow. It has caused me to wonder how she and many others came to the profession that they are in…

…Scene: Barbie’s house in the late 1960s. Barbie is sitting at her bright pink toy Formica table eating something sweet and saccharine with hundreds and thousands on top. She looks up as her mother enters the room and declares loudly, “People say that I’m an airhead, but I’m going to prove them wrong Mummy!!” Barbie’s Mother well used to her daughter’s tantrums, stops, smiles and pats her on the head. “You’ll see Mummy!” Barbie sniffs, “When I’m grown up I’m going to change my name and be on TV and radio then people will like me.” …maybe not….

Partly, it is the centralising nature of MMP, which was designed to be a stabilising force rather than a radicalising one. This is helped along by the inane unquestioning nature of the majority of New Zealanders. Of course, most Western populations tend to be somewhere in the centre politically, however, only in New Zealand are people told that liking extreme right wing neo-liberal economic policies is normal and liking conservative social democratic policies or principles is abnormal and then appear to accept it, while at the same time lamenting that there is nothing else on the menu.

So what ever happened to the ideal? What happened to the big picture? No longer is it just enough to want something and then work toward it. Rather, the entire purpose of politics appears to be to settle for second best, to just accept the lesser of two evils and nothing else. Hence, a number of people on the left settle for the Greens or for the Labour Party in the safe and sure knowledge that while it is not what they want, they can achieve it. Their mantra appears to be “if you set your sights low, then gains are easy to achieve.”

…And are they? While, the liberal neo-classical ministrations of Labour and the Greens are preferable to the harsh and brutal neo-classical frankness of National and Act, the fact is that the Left has ceased to exist as a coherent force. Instead of getting the representation and political voice that the Left needs and has the numbers (in the outside community) to obtain, it instead vacates the field to others.

Thankfully, the Mother Jones, Ben Tillet’s, Harry Holland’s and co were built of sterner stuff. They realised that the Left needed its own political independence and that the programme and policies that the Left desired could not be achieved by the Liberal Parties (or by Greens) no matter how individually sympathetic some of them were.

It is bad enough to be kicked about by capital, it is worse when we do it to ourselves.
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However, a piece of good news; the ‘worm’ that mythical television creation appears not to have managed to rescue Peter Dunne this election. In 2002, Peter “Victor Von Frankenstein” Dune managed to bring life to a corpse (United Future) courtesy of the “lightening” wrought by the “magic” worm. This time, however, it appears that the worm was more securely “grounded.”

12 Comments:

At Monday, August 22, 2005, Blogger Jordan said...

Interesting placement in your blogroll.

 
At Monday, August 22, 2005, Blogger span said...

that's where you are on mine too, jordy :-)

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Asher said...

In mine you're listed with such luminaries as No Right Turn and David Farrar, in the general blog category for all those who aren't left and aren't anti-zionist.

Cheers for the linkage, Tweek. Will add you to mine soon.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger cwoo2005 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger tweedledeetweedledum said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Blogging Blogging Queen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Idiot/Savant said...

You've been up for around a day, and already you've attracted three cruising spammers. Congratulations.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Yeah..it's not enough that they invade your email...now they invade blogs as well...

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

that's where you are on mine too, jordy :)

you only need to compare our recent posts on Labour's backtrack on funding private early childhood education.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Joe Hendren said...

Tweek - I think blogger have just introduced more anti-spam measures - such as a 'are you human' test when posting comments - I need to check this option out too.

 
At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Jpinales said...

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At Tuesday, August 23, 2005, Blogger Comrade_Tweek said...

Thanks Joe. Have made the necessary changes...curse spammers...damn them to 'pizza hut' hell...

 

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