Strategies for the way forward – towards the next election –
(Watch for the article to be posted soon —The Turning Tide.)
The first challenge.
A recent e-mail from the Labour Party in relation to the deeply undemocratic Marine and Coastal Area Bill shot itself in the foot, so to speak…
Tapping into majority New Zealanders’ deep concern about the newly invented so-called customary rights which in law did not exist – and could not in fact do so subsequent to the signing of the treaty of Waitangi (regardless of their promotion by the Minister of Treaty negotiations, Chris Finlayson) – came the claim:
A vote for the Maori Party is a vote for the Maori Party
A vote for National is a vote for the Maori Party
What Labour strategically omitted to say is that a vote for Labour is also a vote for the Maori Party.
The tail-wagging-the-dog syndrome has now become undemocratically embedded in the political party system in this country.
Moreover, it is unfair on New Zealanders who owe part of their genetic inheritance to Maori ancestors (and we should bear in mind that there are no longer any full-blooded Maori in this country – including Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia, Hone Harawira and all those others claiming, simultaneously, special treatment, superior rights and the disadvantages of hardship. All share European ancestors whom they conveniently fail to honour in their constant reliance on racist criteria).
It is condescending to those of part-Maori ancestry in this country to be regarded as belonging to a pan-Maori group, voting as some sort of an anachronistic, tribal entity under the authority of a chief.
It is high time to put a stop to the manipulative promotion of a radicalised political group operating for self-advantage, commanding little over 2% of the last electoral vote, but still claiming, quite wrongly, to speak for all Maori.
It is more than time for voting at elections to be on the basis of the merit of an individual and his or her commitment to equal rights, equal opportunities, equal freedom, equal status to all New Zealanders – regardless of racial inheritance.
Time for the Maori seats to go has long passed. So,too, for neo-tribal cliques of sophisticated 21st century people claiming part-Maori ancestry – and in charge of an over $37 billion dollar Maori economy – to stop shamefully claiming racial disadvantage for the purpose of ongoing financial entitlements and self-aggrandizement. The benefits of the treaty settlements are not getting passed down to the poor and needy among part-Maori themselves, as they were intended to, but are being monopolised by the tribal elites for their hierarchy’s advantage.
The consequences for most of part-Maori descent are unfair and discriminatory, with a growing backlash because other New Zealanders understandably resent the pick-pocketing activity of each major party in turn, buying the so-called “Maori vote”. This of course is nothing of the sort. It is the vote of that self-seeking, very tiny minority, achieving only that 2% electorate vote, but long manipulating the political system for self-advantage. In doing so, this activist grouping is causing considerable damage to the economic and social fabric of the country.
The 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement’s suggested strategies to re-establish democracy in this country – see http://www.100days.co.nz
Strategy one: Withhold any voting for the Maori Party, founded along racist lines and promoting separatist policies that are essentially those of apartheid.
Strategy two: Withhold what the party politicians most want. Withdraw your party vote support. That is, do not give your party vote to any of the political parties.
Politicians will again campaign heavily for your political party vote. This is because the party vote is what most counts to keep our now thoroughly undemocratic and unrepresentative political parties in Parliament.
It is the political party vote which ensures the number of list seats the party can win – and which also ensures that politicians will continue to have a monopoly on our directions – especially the party leader and hierarchy.
Saying no to party politicians control of the political scene, and of Parliament itself, reduces the now very considerable and undemocratic power of autocratic individuals ambitious for leadership.
We are now well aware that political parties can’t be trusted. What they most want is our party vote to win elections. Withholding your party vote is your most powerful weapon against the corruption of politics and the behind-the-scenes deal-making.
By far the most effective way of keeping politicians accountable is through scrutinizing the record of your local electorate MP to see where he/she has respected the wishes of the electorate, or has essentially proved to be a party animal, voting in accordance with the diktats of the party, particularly its leadership.
Strategy three: Let your individual MP know that you will use or withhold your vote depending upon the amount of trust you place in him/her as an individual. It should be a given in politics – that individuals must keep their word.
Does this mean the end of political parties?
No. It would be unreasonable if individuals were not entitled to come together and, on the basis of shared principles, to form loose associations with a common end of aiming at good governance, good scrutiny of advanced policies.
However, this association of groups of individuals forming into political parties has become corrupted into the party vote, and provides the excuses we now commonly see for individual MPs to break their promises to those who voted for them.
Refusing to any longer give an actual party vote to any of these political party associations as such, and insisting that they stand for election stating their policy platform as individuals, is the only way forward for individual politicians to again be held to account for their election promises and undertakings.
Once its individual members are no longer allowed to use a conscience vote (as we have already seen in the terms of the two previous Labour and National governments), but are dominated by the party hierarchy – in particular, by strong-willed leadership – then the men and women whom we have elected to represent us are essentially treated as party hacks. Their dignity as individuals, there to represent their own consciences and be answerable to the people of their electorate for doing so, has become hijacked by the “necessity “ to court favour with the party leader with a view to promotion, perks, and actual survival in Parliament.
The present system whereby members of political parties are unable to abstain from voting, or even to cross the floor when they think that legislation is damaging to the country (as with the majority of the National Party, who reportedly disagreed with its leader-dominated stance on the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme) is a very good example of a negative outcome for the country at large by the democratic process having been corrupted by party politics.
Strategy Four: Find out whether your MP believes in democracy, i.e. really believes in democracy.
To genuinely believe in democracy is to grant more than lip service to the fact that in a properly democratic country the decisions regarding whether to support, or in fact veto, the legislation put through by political parties, very often as part of a vote-buying compromise, should not be left to a politicised class, excluding the wishes of New Zealanders themselves.
In a real democracy, every vote counts if your electorate MP
- sincerely believes in democracy;
- knows very well that at present decisions are made by the party pack basically endorsing its leadership’s wishes;
- is also well aware that most of the legislation continually passed by Parliament receives little more than a cursory overview by individual parliamentarians with very fractured time, meetings to attend, travelling, managing correspondence and multiple calls upon his or her time in the home electorate.
If this acknowledgement is forthcoming then there could be no rational objection from an elected MP, who claims to support a genuine democracy, to object to legislation passed by the House to go before the public for scrutiny.
In other words, if the corruption and distortions of the party vote and list MPs (answerable not to the voting public, but only to the party hierarchy) are removed, what we are left with is an elected MP answerable directly to those who voted for him/her.
He or she could have no valid objection to those same voters being given the opportunity to re-establish a true democracy through our 100 days – Claiming Back New Zealand initiative becoming a constitutional requirement.
Politicians are well aware that the distortions of MMP are being criticised by the public. Their answer is, as always, to produce a distraction by looking for a new system of voting, such as STV – Single Transferable Voting, equally distortionary.
The last thing the two major parties want is to lose the list vote, the party vote system. Given the absence of any mandate to govern alone, it has been the two- way manipulation of minor parties, which obviously do not represent the majority of the country, which has enabled the major parties to set up their coalition governments of recent years, enabling all their special deal-making, their abandoning of electoral promises, and their ignoring the wishes of the public.
Even more potentially damaging is the deal-making going on behind the scenes at the moment to produce and entrench a Constitution which will contain all the undemocratic distortions of input from the radicalised part-Maori minority only. We can count on its principles being in direct contradiction of the Treaty of Waitangi’s establishing of the same rights for all citizens under the Crown.
If your electorate MP is hostile to the notion of that one essential provision which the Swiss finally insisted upon, to ensure that they had a genuine democracy – the provision for a 100 days scrutiny period after legislation is passed by Parliament – after which the country can either accept it – or the citizens themselves can decide by using that 100 moratorium to call for what is known as a facultative referendum – then your best choice is to withhold your vote.
Why vote for a member of Parliament who does not believe in democracy?
In Switzerland, with a population almost double that of New Zealand, 50,000 signatures are required before a facultative referendum can be held. Labour and National rely heavily on polling. Their knowing in advance that the radicalised anti-smacking legislation would never have been endorsed by the public at large, but that it would be inevitably challenged by a facultative referendum, meant that Sue Bradford’s extremist proposal would never have been supported by the major parties.
The call for 50,000 signatures also ensures that a facultative referendum will be held only as a genuine need is envisaged. However, this brilliant provision essentially carries the weight it does because its very presence ensures that radicalised proposals from the unrepresentative minor parties which the country will disapprove of, and defeat, are in future highly unlikely to attract the backing of the major parties.
The equivalent number of required signatures in New Zealand could be assessed at about 30,000 – rather than the ridiculous number now required for the quite different referenda with a distinctly different purpose – (that of the Citizens Initiated Referenda, requiring 100,000 signatures in Switzerland) – which New Zealand’s political parties have learned to simply ignore.
- Very many New Zealanders admit that they had no idea for whom to vote at the last election.
- Nor at the election before that.
- Very many now express distaste at the prospect of voting for either of the major political parties.
- Some have used a protest vote for a minor party, but are unhappy doing so because of the distortions inherent in the tail-wagging-the-dog syndrome.
- In many cases, individuals who simply didn’t want to vote previously did so, because they felt guilty about “wasting a vote”.
- However, deliberately withholding a vote to achieve the long-term goal of claiming back this country for democracy is a different matter entirely.
- It is aimed at ensuring that individuals themselves win a place in Parliament on the strength of their commitment to keeping their word to the electorate – not being entrapped in the present arguably corrupt party vote distortions of a democracy.
As New Zealanders begin to appreciate the possibilities of refusing to exercise a party vote, and of insisting that their local candidate is answerable to them, and has been elected for that purpose, then the tide will be turning back towards at least a representative democracy.
However, the pull of party allegiances, of behind-the-scenes deal-making and accommodations will still be very strong.
The only possible way forward towards re-establishing a genuine democracy, the only practicable way – is now endorsed by the highly distinguished Australian constitutional expert, World Oustanding Legal Scholar, Emeritus Professor David Flint, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Flint lending his support to our 100 Days initiative. David has written to say he has come to the conclusion that the only way to control politicians is through our proposal.
The crucial element of major political reform now needed in this country, to restore the rights of New Zealanders to have a genuine say in its directions, is this 100 days period of scrutiny after any legislation is passed, before it can be put into operation.
The 100 days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement is not politically affiliated, supports neither the Left nor the Right in politics, and has been founded for one purpose only – to restore the right to New Zealanders of having their vote count, and to remove the distortions of the political party system and the non-elected, non-accountable, undemocratic list membership.
As a grass roots movement, it will initially grow slowly, as word spreads. It will not achieve its aims by this coming November election, but it will be gathering momentum. All those who follow its strategies of deliberately withholding a party vote for this coming election will not be wasting their vote, but contributing to its eventual success.
By the following election it will be gathering strength, but its greatest possibilities and promise of success will be by the third election from now. As the movement becomes better known through its grass roots promotion by supportive individuals subscribing to our e-mail postings and through donations to help with media publicity, advertising, posters, meetings, etc. it will be time to look ahead towards a Private Members Bill which will eventually achieve a place in a parliamentary ballot.
Although the opposition of by far the majority of MPs under the present system can be relied upon, some, more principled than others, who have already become uncomfortable at being unable to exercise a conscience vote and to separate themselves from the parliamentary party vote where they cannot in good faith support it, will understand and welcome the importance of bringing all New Zealanders into the decision-making that affects all our futures.
Such MPS will deserve our support. Their chances of attracting electorate votes will be considerably enhanced when voters in their area know that they have pledged their support to this proposal, and are willing to keep their word, as individual MPs, to their electorates.
Those individual MPs refusing to support the 100 days movement, and therefore inimical to the very idea of a genuine democracy, will lose electorate support.
We will in due course be approaching every Member of Parliament to ask whether or not they support this proposal, and will post the results for New Zealanders to see for themselves.
Asking your present MP to support our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand initiative is a good start. It is up to individuals whether they want to then award their vote to their electorate MP, or to withhold it, on the basis of this response. Withholding it and saying why, is a very good strategic move.
Most importantly, those New Zealanders who have in the past voted with no enthusiasm or commitment, because they felt that to do otherwise would be to waste their vote, can now withhold their vote as part of a deliberate strategy to return this country to democracy.
They can now be assured that to deliberately refrain from using a party vote, and to exercise their electorate vote only if their MP supports the concept of restoring our democracy by including New Zealanders themselves in the decision-making which affects us all, will be a very positive strategic move – and no longer a wasted vote.
A word of caution.
- There are undoubtedly groups of concerned individuals who have argued strongly and worked hard in recent years, not on behalf of the 100 Days Facultative Referenda which we are promoting (and which is the most crucial and positive chance of all for recapturing this country from the political class now dominating at) but for Citizens Initiated Referenda.
- These are not the same thing. The latter is where a proposal arises from among the public and individuals lend their signature to it – to establish or to object to a particular law.
- Our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement is not affiliated to, and nor does it support any political party or any politicized grouping. Nor are we backed by any other group, whose aims and whose membership we cannot answer for.
- A recent and new political movement in the shape of a right-wing reform party not yet established, but apparently aiming to operate and to contest the election to seek a party vote, is now under consideration, if not in the process of being established.
- We do not support it – first because it will be aiming for a party vote.
- Party politics are essentially tribal and hierarchical. However, Western civilisation and democracy were not built on the principle of subjugation to a hierarchical authority, but on the principle of individual freedom, enterprise, initiative and discovery.
- Secondly, although its initial membership is well aware that this initiative of the 100 Days scrutiny – the moratorium period after Parliament passes legislation has already been well and truly launched – it appears to be appropriating the thinking of our movement with no acknowledgement of its already well-established launching and background.
- Moreover, for a minor party to claim to be operating on the basis of our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement, would polarise it, in the eyes of the public at large. To allow our movement to be hijacked by an ambitious political party as such would be to allow its principles to be challenged and risk modifications, amendments and compromises which have nothing to do with the integrity of the simple proposal we are advancing.
- No political party as such has or will have our endorsement. Our invitation is to New Zealanders, as individuals, not as a collective – and no matter whatever end of the political spectrum they favour, to endorse the principle that the Swiss recognised as essential for a flourishing, stable and successful democracy – that all our people should be involved in having the opportunity to oversee legislation – to either accept or veto the actions of what has become an unsatisfactory, unaccountable political overclass.
© Amy Brooke