Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas

Every political party in Parliament is responsible for the travesty of ignoring the Electoral Commission’s recommendations on MMP.

As National has revealed, each of them had an opinion on the major recommendations. The result was a patchwork of competing ideas.

The problem was not the differences, but that any of them thought they were entitled to views in the first place.

The views are in themselves a perfect illustration why politicians should have no role in electoral or constitutional matters. The mix of principle, ideological and self-survival is ugly. I feel sorry for the politicians – that they were even obliged to face such a conflict.

It’s ironic, because the political sector is obsessed with conflicts. David Shearer went to town on John Key’s conflicts over appointment of a head of GSCB.

Yet here they were, conflicted to all hell over whether to vote for changes to MMP that could affect their chance to govern, or even be in Parliament at all. Thus, Shearer could not commit to more than a “discussion” on the recommendations, because his Party was against, or at least ambivalent, toward some of the changes.

These are matters are for the people to decide. We decide who gets into Parliament to represent us on day to day national decisions, and we should be deciding how we do the voting.

We can’t let National off the hook by blaming the whole of Parliament for not accepting the Commission’s changes, or not putting the changes before us all to vote on in another referendum.

Judith Collins’ easy dismissal of the recommendations because it was too hard to get “consensus” (her newly invented requirement) makes a mockery of the apparent enthusiasm with which she had earlier urged the public to get involved with the review. John Key himself said the review was a chance for the public to “finally… kick the tyres on MMP”.

John Key’s ‘end of the matter’ attempt to shut down the recommendations was unedifying for a man previously so wedded to principled management to Government and treatment of public attitudes. 

We did have some clues that National was not going to like the electoral commission recommendations. For example, in 2011, John Key said he did not think it was necessary to eliminate the “one seat rule”.

I would imagine that Key, in particular, preferred the embarrassment of shutting down the whole thing, to the embarrassment of picking up some of the recommendations and not others.

It’s easier for a turkey to ban all holidays, than ban just Christmas. That’s why politicians shouldn’t be forced into the ignominy of voting on electoral stuff at all.

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