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Rotten borough

datePosted on 22:39, July 18th, 2011 by Lew

This evening Paul Goldsmith won the Epsom candidacy for the National party. Goldsmith is was until 2010 a Citizens & Ratepayers Auckland city councillor, and has a long-standing National party affiliation.

He will be standing against ACT candidate John Banks, who is the subject of a hagiography by Goldsmith titled “John Banks: A Biography” and published a few years before Banks stood for his first term as Auckland mayor, which he won in 2001.

ACT is led by Don Brash, who is the subject of a similar tome — I haven’t read this one, so I will refrain from calling it a hagiography in such specific terms — titled “Brash: A Biography”, also by Goldsmith and published as Brash was whipping up race hatred as leader of the National party in order to win the 2005 general election, which he did not.

So unless someone can explain to me again how National is going to contest Epsom strongly by standing the hagiographer against his subjects, this is simply a renewal of the Hide-Worth electoral rort, where a nod and a wink permits National to elect Banks and exploit the free-rider loophole in MMP; all the while campaigning against MMP due to flaws such as the free-rider rule, and the ‘back door’ rule which will in all likelihood get Don Brash back into parliament despite his having been rejected in 2005 — not only by an electorate, but by the whole nation as leader of a failed National party bid for government.

And fair play to them. If the electorate won’t punish them for doing so they’d be rude not to.


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24 Responses to “Rotten borough”

  1. Arthur (AmeriNZ) on July 18th, 2011 at 22:53

    You’re absolutely right, Lew: this is another game by National. It seems to me the whole point of selecting Goldsmith specifically was to make it as easy as possible for Banks to win the seat so that Act gets back in. This is a strategic move under the existing flavour of MMP.

    If Labour and Greens voters in Epsom—and there are a few—have any sense, they’ll join the game and give their electorate vote to Goldsmith. Had they done this in 2008, Hide still would’ve won, with a greatly reduced majority. But that was then, and there will be different dynamics this year.

    However, it seems to me that the left doesn’t get strategic voting under MMP, so we’ll probably see Act back after the elections.

  2. Cactus Kate on July 18th, 2011 at 23:10

    It took three ballots.

    You think it would have taken three if they whole thing was rigged? No.

  3. Lew on July 18th, 2011 at 23:19

    Kate, I’m agnostic as to whether the thing was rigged; it may or may not have been, but it’s irrelevant. Only remarking on the outcome as it happened.

    Arthur, a good strategy if they can make it fly, but I doubt they can. It is extremely hard to coordinate that many people to do something so antithetical to their instincts.

    Key is in the only no-lose position here; one way he gets a young, experienced and loyal MP; the other way he gets ACT on his flank again (and possibly Goldsmith in on the list). He would brutally mock Labour if they publicly endorsed a Nat candidate, and rightly so. The greens could do it, but would anyone listen to them?

    A better play for the left here is to take the lumps and use the exercise as a demonstration of how easily MMP could be fixed to be fairer and less rortable.


  4. Cactus Kate on July 18th, 2011 at 23:28

    And when will Labour stand a strong candidate against Peter Dunne? Come on you can’t tell me Labour try to win that?

  5. Lew on July 18th, 2011 at 23:36

    Against Dunne, presently a minister in the National government and very strongly opposed to several core planks of Labour’s policy agenda? It’s hardly comparable. And in any case, Charles Chauvel is a very strong candidate, who in 2008 came a close second in a crowded field.


  6. felix on July 18th, 2011 at 23:42

    Not sure you can say Brash was rejected by the whole nation. A fairly large chunk of the country did actually vote for his party after all. Course that was before he really let the crazy out.

    Arthur: they were a long way short in 08, but if Green and Labour voters had figured it out in 05 they could have easily – with thousands of votes to spare – seen Hide and ACT gone from parliament by lunchtime, and quite likely for good.

    The point is there are plenty of Nat voters in Epsom who prefer to actually vote Nat – about 12,000 in 05 and about 8000 in 08 – and there’s no reason to assume that Banks is going to automatically inherit the share of the vote that Hide built up over several elections.

  7. Lew on July 18th, 2011 at 23:47

    Felix, you make a good point about Brash. Hide, though, was a compromise candidate for Epsom voters. Banks is not. Although he wears the ACT flag, he’s a National man through and through, and an Epsom local, and a former Tory mayor who was widely regarded as having been the rightful mayor of the supercity, only having been rejected by West and South Auckland.


  8. felix on July 18th, 2011 at 23:58

    Yes, very true. Will be interesting to see some polling in Epsom, I suspect he’s still strong with people of a certain age but I wonder if younger voters find him relevant.

    Also, some of ACT’s vote is actually actual ACT vote. I wonder what actual ACTies think of voting for Banks.

  9. Sanctuary on July 19th, 2011 at 08:57

    “…If the electorate won’t punish them for doing so they’d be rude not to…”

    I love it. The “most intelligent electorate in the country” gets to pick between an planted Tory – an ancient, twice rejected mayor, haranguing homophobe well past his prime Tory at that – running for a party of convenience whose very existence now relies on an electoral rort and the largesse of the National party and… His hagiographer and a no-name non entity.

    Meanwhile, those dumb Maaaaris of Te Tai Tokerau somehow managed to get Hone Harawira and Kelvin Davis.

    No more of this “most intelligent electorate bullshit” please! The voters of Epsom are taken for granted by cynical Tories and dumped with has-been candidates from a collection of cranks, kooks and single issue fringe merchants. And their response so far is to meekly do as they are told.

    It is time to face facts. politically, the most intelligent voters in New Zealand are Maori, and the voters of Epsom? On the evidence, they are as thick as pigshit. And these idiots are the “winners” Cactus Kate so loves to hang with!

    Surely, a better parable of the hubris of those who dare presume to see themselves as the ruling elite couldn’t be found than in the twin tales of Te Tai Tokerau and Epsom.

    let us hope Guyon and Duncan get this new reality right in their reporting.

  10. ak on July 19th, 2011 at 11:49

    let us hope Guyon and Duncan get this new reality right in their reporting.

    Har har! Nice one Sanc!

    But let’s be fair, there’s not a lot for Dunc and Guy & co to criticise the tories for: all National’s really done, with their help, is rise from the gutter on the back of deliberate racist and misogynic hatemongering, gained power on the back of blatant electoral corruption in Epsom, and are preparing to do the same again.

    Jeez – it’s not as if they sat in the back of a speeding car, signed a painting for charity or allegedly fibbed about a donation, for God’s sake…

  11. Gavin Long on July 19th, 2011 at 12:56

    “free-rider loophole” – you mean the electorate waiver rule that allows party to get the number of seats in parliament which is proportionate to their party vote?

    “‘back door’ rule which will in all likelihood get Don Brash back into parliament despite his having been rejected in 2005” – are you serious? I’m a greens voter, but can honestly admit that Don Brash was not “rejected in 2005”. He took a party from 20% to 40% support. He nearly beat Labour. No way was he rejected.

  12. Lew on July 19th, 2011 at 13:06

    Gavin, yes, the rule which permits a party that wins one electorate and < 5% to do what no other party winning an equivalent share of the party vote can. As to Brash, by the logic of those arguing that an electorate MP who loses their seat should not be permitted back in on the party list, Brash certainly was rejected. By that logic -- to which senior ACT and National personnel publicly subscribe -- if you get 49.9% in your electorate and still lose, you should be gone. I should be clear: I don't subscribe to this logic. I think if 40%, or 4% of the country wants you in Parliament, you have a mandate to be there whether you win an electorate or not. National and ACT, however, predominantly do not agree with either of these views. Except when it delivers them an electoral advantage to do so. L

  13. helenalex on July 19th, 2011 at 15:30

    widely regarded as having been the rightful mayor of the supercity, only having been rejected by West and South Auckland.

    Unjustly robbed of the mayoralty due to the technicality of getting fewer votes than another candidate…

  14. mickysavage on July 19th, 2011 at 15:41

    widely regarded as having been the rightful mayor of the supercity, only having been rejected by West and South Auckland.

    Westies are far more discerning than to select a washed out has been idiot like Banks to be our Mayor ….

  15. Gavin Long on July 19th, 2011 at 18:18

    Ok – so you’re a fan of MMP (generally) but don’t like the electorate waiver? Fair enough if so.

    But are you also uncomfortable with the so-called “back door” problem or are you just using that as a tool to criticise the actions of National/ACT? Cause personally I think the “list MPs sneaking in the back door after being rejected by electorate” argument is one of the worst and least logical anti-MMP arguments.

  16. Gavin Long on July 19th, 2011 at 18:22

    I would also point out that Vote for Change, on their facebook page, linked to your article and tried to draw out anti-MMP meaning from it.

  17. Lew on July 19th, 2011 at 19:01

    Gavin, indeed — I think MMP is on balance a very good system, and change to prevent manipulation via the threshold (preferably by removing the threshold) is the most pressing priority.

    And yes, I also think the “back door” is an absurd objection. I recently outlined my main argument on this point at the Dim-Post (and the rest of that thread is worth reading; some smart people further demolish the argument with actual real-world examples). Nevertheless, it is an objection that senior ACT and National members have publicly endorsed, so there is a matter of hypocrisy here.

    As for Vote For Change; what they say is up to them. They’d try to turn anything around to an anti-MMP viewpoint, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I would note, though, that their facebook link has driven a risibly small volume of traffic here.


  18. Inventory2 on July 20th, 2011 at 11:14

    How long is it since Labour stood a credible candidate against Jim Anderton (under MMP rules)?

    What goes around comes around, does it not?

  19. Lew on July 20th, 2011 at 11:31

    That’s a daft equivalence, IV2. Anderton won his seat as a Labour MP, resigned, won, and has held it since with unassailable majorities on his own merits as a local MP with deep support among his constituents. Moreover, he’s never — not once — brought anyone in on the free-rider rule.


  20. Socrates on July 20th, 2011 at 15:09

    “Moreover, he’s never — not once — brought anyone in on the free-rider rule.”

    Ummm Matt Robson 2002 elections 1.7% of the vote…

  21. Lew on July 20th, 2011 at 15:21

    Gah, today seems to be my day for being corrected on things I should have checked. Thanks.


  22. […] piece up, calling the ACT-National deal in Epsom a shameless power grab. I wrote about this topic a few days ago. Their analysis is pretty good, particularly the argument that National may have difficulty […]

  23. Inventory2 on July 21st, 2011 at 11:54

    Actually Lew; as the leader of the Alliance, Jim brought a whole bunch of MP’s in with him; New Labour, Greens and Democrats amongst them. He only became Jim the Progessive late in the 1999-2002 term when the Alliance imploded.

    It suited Labour to have Anderton win Wigram (formerly Sydenham), so much so that he was Minister of Agriculture, and sat on Labour’s front bench during the last term.

  24. Lew on July 21st, 2011 at 11:58

    Come off it, IV2. In both the 1996 and 1999 elections the Alliance received more than 5% of the party vote. All those MPs were elected from the list as they would have been without Anderton’s electorate.


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