The Non-Vote: the protest vote at lickspittle politicians

 The 100 Days is on its way!

It is no accident that the protest vote – using non-voting as a weapon – markedly increased in this past election.  Whereas, in the past, refusing to vote might have been regarded as wasting a vote, the tide is turning with a new perception of its importance as a highly strategic move. Our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement is a prime mover in this initiative.

For many, withholding their vote was a political protest against the thoroughly undemocratic actions not only of the present National Party, but of its preceding Labour coalition government – let alone, previous to that, Jim Bolger’s National vote-buying government. Should we forget Doug Graham, as Minister in Charge of Treaty Negotiations, ratifying the deeply flawed Ngai Tahu settlement – fronted on behalf of what has been called the White Tribe, that highly manipulative corporate body then assisted by the now present Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson?  Should we forget Graham’s instructing the Maori Affairs Select Committee to in effect ignore the nearly 400 submissions pointing out the reasons why the Ngai Tahu settlement was arguably a gigantic con – on the grounds that the bill had already been signed by him and the Prime Minister?

Should we forget the previous Labour government’s highly activist Minister of Justice, Geoffrey Palmer, who, with the bit between his teeth, was responsible for that extraordinarily ill-considered decision to turn back the clock and renegotiate the impossible – to adjudicate inter-related Maori claims dating back over a century and a half?  Its consequences? The formerly warring and now competitively jostling Maori tribal and sub-tribal claims, even down to mere hapu scrabbling for in many cases highly dubious, unjustified compensation. Where should it end?

Right here, say by far the majority of New Zealanders. The deliberate, strategic refusal of so many to vote is beginning to be recognised as a very powerful political weapon. And the turning of this tide has only just begun.

Our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement strongly advocated this tactical move before the recent election – withholding from our now thoroughly unrepresentative political parties what they most urgently want from the electorate – the party vote. This ideologically-conceived, but in practice now utterly undemocratic provision, leapfrogs into Parliament hand-picked favourites of a party leader who owe no allegiance to either the electorate, nor to New Zealanders at large.

It is the party vote which, added up over the whole country, decides how many MPs in total each party will get. After the number of electorate MPs has been settled, in theory, those extra potential MPs to which a party is entitled, supposedly ranked by loyal members throughout the country to decide the most deserving, will be promoted from the list according to their ranking.

The party vote is now regarded as far more important in determining in the next government as the electorate vote. Theoretically, the use of a party list provides for a more “representative” Parliamentary team. Theoretically.

However, what could be more truly representative of democratic outcomes than government with the consent of the people – i.e. inevitably the wishes of the majority – not skewed according to special interest or minority racial pressures?  The feel-good theory that individuals lacking in appeal to the general public can be offered a place high on the list  – to arrive in Parliament without even a smidgen  of electorate  backing – is highly suspect,  and has proved to be more than problematic.

In this recent Parliamentary term alone we have seen such individuals for whom nobody voted not only become ministers,  unanswerable to the public, but in the case of some,  such as Steven Joyce, wielding considerable power within their own parties. Joyce himself, although merely a list MP, dominated the National clique determining the list rankings even before he himself was in Parliament. Nobody doubts that the inner clique under the highly determined, aw-shucks John Key, gives the electorate MPs their orders. The latter demonstrably show no loyalty now to their electorates, but to their leader.

The proof of the pudding is in the landmark abnegation of electoral responsibility and accountability whereby every single National and Labour MP simply ignored the wishes of their own constituents – when over 85% of the country said No-No-No to the highly subversive anti-smacking legislation now casting its punitively threatening shadow over the lives and commonsense practices of good parents.

Quite simply, electorate MPs did not respect their own constituents’ – any more than they respected the majority’s – wishes on the economically and socially damaging Coastal and Marine Area legislation – nor on the extravagantly unnecessary Emissions Trading Scheme. Turning their back on those who had voted for them, they played the age old game of Follow-the-Leader. But in the case of New Zealanders who expect proper accountability from the MPs they vote for, the appropriate word – lickspittle – came to mind.

It is no exaggeration to point out that the misuse of the concept and practice of leadership by highly determined, no doubt charismatic leaders throughout history, has been very much part of what is essentially a basic underground warfare against the people of a country, used by those wielding and manipulating power for their own ends. When the same people of a country come sufficiently of age intellectually to realise that human nature does not change, and that the leopard, down through the centuries, has not changed  its spots, then at last the individuals who comprise the voting population can begin to learn to use their vote strategically.

In this respect, voters in some countries have been much smarter than others in refusing to hand over their authority – the real power and indeed the dignity of individuals – to a political oligarchy which has every intention of dominating them – and of foisting off on them policies which can be seen to be ultimately damaging – but which are useful for the hierarchy’s purposes. Switzerland in particular, taking a different and more intelligent path from that of the United States at the time, built into its own constitutional reform that ultimate safeguard against political deal-broking, damaging directions for this country, and the overweening ambitions of highly dominating, even bullying individuals, by providing for that 100 Days compulsory period of scrutiny after the passing of any Parliamentary legislation.  This allows the Swiss people to examine it – and either allow its passage – or challenge it – with the will of the people finally prevailing and binding its representatives. What could be more democratic?

And why would a thinking individual give a party vote to any political party which operates according to the dictats of its leader and his/her hand-picked advisers – a party whose policies constantly work against rather than for the positive good of this country?  What about the blatant vote-buying of those radicalised Maori iwi crafty enough to organise themselves into a political power bloc – as with the misnamed the Maori Party,  whose 1.4% of the vote shows how very few of Maori descent wanted to support them? With John Key’s compliance, the Maori party has been inexcusably allowed to wield far more influence than its very minor membership would and should entitle it to, although it is not alone here. MMP has been a system which obviously disadvantages majority New Zealanders.

Correspondingly, we have the Labour Party’s continual and cynical extension of what has equally been mis-called “social welfare” – not the genuine safety net for the truly disadvantaged and needy – but enforcing that utterly unwarranted expectation that everybody else should pay for them which is so very characteristic of an underclass of shirkers and bludgers. The number of court appearances by those on welfare benefits able-bodied enough to commit burglaries and similar crimes makes a farce out of government patronage for those who will not, rather than those who cannot, work. Ah, but they can vote. And so their vote can be bought.

 And what about the increasing burden of compliance activities and costs being loaded on the back of small businessmen, the very lifeblood of the economy? What of the requirements on employers to manage PAYE, or even the student loan deductions for their employees? Employers comprising  professionals, tradespeople, owners of businesses are required to carry out unpaid and time-consuming activities to service the government – tasks with no relationship whatever to the service they are providing. What of the unjustifiable demand that employers should be forced to donate to employees Kiwi Saver schemes? Why?  The constant war against small businesses is carried on as much by the National Party as by Labour. How many self-employed small business owners or professionals can even afford the four weeks, if not longer, annual holiday that is a requirement for them to provide for employees?

The only wonder is that New Zealanders to date have been so very compliant – some say apathetic. But no: New Zealanders are not apathetic. They may be slow to a public show of anger but they nevertheless deeply resent the radicalized part-Maori conning of government for unjustifiable extra privileges, concessions, special rights, and special representation on city councils, on boards… wherever demands can be made for special funding, special attention, special representation.

The growing push of what black American writer Thomas Sowell warned is very much with us now – the bullying of the majority by minority groups playing a non-existent, “special entitlement” card – and that of a spurious discrimination.  The furtive, essentially underhand activities of part-Maori radicals now aiming for a thoroughly undemocratic “power-sharing” written constitution by deliberately twisting the intent and wording of the treaty of Waitangi to claim a false “partnership”  with the Crown is as much a concern to many other part-Maori as to  all other New Zealanders. The manipulative invoking of the word “racist” against those speaking out about the whittling away of our democracy by these self-serving, power-hungry groups has been deeply offensive to most New Zealanders.

There is a growing realisation that it is going to be possible in future to say no to our political oligarchies attempting to wield power for their own purposes. But the only effective way of doing so is for New Zealanders to refuse to endorse legislation that they would never have voted for.

No wonder the politicians are panicking. The refusal of so many New Zealanders to vote in this recent election is an unmistakable protest – whether a passive or active one – against what has now become a thoroughly unrepresentative democracy. Any very typical reaction by politicians to force New Zealanders to vote will be vigorously contested. It is reasonable for adult New Zealanders to be required to enrol, in order to exercise their vote, should they decide to do so. It would be utterly fascist to compel them to vote – and the fact that this may happen elsewhere does not provide any justification for its happening here.

The writing is on the wall for our major political parties and the thoroughly undemocratic provisions they have inflicted on all New Zealanders. The growing intolerance of the sheer arrogance and power grab of our political groups is paralleled worldwide in the growing reaction against top-down decisions. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is too late paying lip-service to the justified resentment of the British – even of members of his own Cabinet – at his high-handed refusal to give British voters a say on the outcome of the new EU treaty being pushed by a once more problematic Germany teaming up with its old enemy, France. It is deliberately designed to remove even further constitutional freedoms already gradually taken from the people of Britain, as the price of joining the ill-conceived EU with its even more ill-conceived shared currency, the euro. The extraordinary burden of taxation inflicted on the British as a result of the edicts of supremely bureaucratic Brussels apparatchiks, unelected and unrepresentative by any democratic definition, is now seen as unsustainable – by all except those politicians with ambitions on the world scene after political life.

We would be naive indeed to think that this same ambition is by no means foreign to our own political leaders – and the question whether they owe their allegiance to New Zealand and its people  – or to the powerbrokers beyond this country who can help smooth their way onto the world scene – may well account for some of the extraordinary directions inflicted on this country by our recent and present political hierarchies.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark…. A phrase now used by the Danes protesting against the establishment of a so-called fat tax this year – invokes an acknowledgement of the corrupting consequences of self-serving ambition. I’m reminded of a hard-working small businessman’s own vigorous protest against what is happening too, in this small country, observing that there is nothing new under the sun… that “the fat cats get fatter…” while the lean and hungry Left waits its own turn to again seize power.

Something is very wrong when most New Zealanders feel that they can no longer trust any political party. And who can any longer doubt this? It is almost amusing to see John Key now attempting to flourish democratic credentials (that he certainly does not have) when noting the need for local government reform, by stating that  “further change to local authorities need to be community-led.” Why only to local authorities?  The need is equally great for central government reform – and it is equally as important for this to be community-led. But then we are simply hearing a politician playing the crowd – given the minimal attention paid to the community’s views in regard to the forced amalgamation of Auckland city – as problematic as was foreseen.

Those who turned their back on the political process at the last election in a determined protest are the tip of the iceberg.

 The growing number of those who realise that yes, something effective can certainly be done about this, about reclaiming our country, are backing our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement – www.100days.co.nz.  We are well and truly on our way, as many of you already know. 

Tell everybody!

 © Amy Brooke