Crime And Punishment Is Not An Election Issue

Do we want to reduce crime in this country? If so, electioneering politicians should butt out. ‘Getting tough’ on criminals, such a popular election year mantra, is nothing like the same as reducing crime. To mete out a tough punishment means waiting until a crime is committed – a bit late for the victim of the crime.

Crime has been trending downwards for the past decade or so. Despite that, most people having the impression that crime rates are going up. We are wasting money on more prisons – and now Boot Camps. They are just vote catchers for the National/ACT government. Continue reading

Sometimes “The Law Is An Ass”

One of the most persistent cries this week – from even nice, well meaning people – has been, “the law is the law, you’ve got to obey the law.” But sometimes, to quote Charles Dickens, ”the law is an ass”.

The rule of law is important, but not an end in itself. Laws are supposed to serve the people. Not vice versa. Good law empowers everyone. Good law does not oppress anyone.

Laws are a product of society at a snapshot in time, more particularly the dominant sector of that society. There are plenty of laws that are or were designed to protect the interests of that dominant sector at the expense of other sectors of society. Continue reading

Focusing On The Big Picture, Asking The Hard Questions

Soon the election year lolly scramble will begin. Politicians of all stripes will throw out handfuls of the sweets they think people like the most – that will get them the most votes. Nothing wrong with that. No votes no power, after all.

But a good government needs good policies, not just charismatic popular politicians who give the sound bites people want to hear. To avoid Brexit/Trump style disasters, voters need to be a lot more savvy than the politicians that seek to represent them. Continue reading

We Don’t Need Another Hero

The Labour Party leadership contest is hotting up. Far be it from the Alliance to give Labour advice on choosing leaders. However, the Centre/Left is coming off a crushing election defeat, and crushing election defeats are something the Alliance does know a thing or two about, unfortunately. We have been crushed by Left, Right, and Centre over the past decade.

We believe now is a golden opportunity to take stock and perhaps change direction. One thing that has emerged from the election is that the Centre/Left needs to work together, or at least work out ways to rub along – not try to run each other into the ground. Trying to get enough votes to govern alone is counter-productive. Continue reading

Put the Kettle On

The centre right won again. What’s new? The centre right have won every election since 2004 no matter what party is in power – give or take a bit of tinkering here and there. The post election analysis overheard from a couple of petrol station attendants the morning after probably makes the most sense of any put forward so far. “It doesn’t make any difference. They all say one thing and do another when they get in anyway.”

Barring outrageous gaffes, the New Zealand voter always gives a party three terms. Next election will likely see a change of faces in power. Whether that will translate to a change of direction for the country is entirely another matter. Continue reading

The Small Party Problem

The Conservatives and Internet Mana are out, but there are still too many small parties. We’ve come up with a novel new solution to the problem: why not institute a six-seat threshold for electorates? Any party that wins fewer than six electorates shouldn’t be represented in Parliament. If an electorate vote is won by a candidate from a party that doesn’t reach the threshold, the seat in question should be awarded to the nearest runnerup from a major party instead. Brilliant!

Oh, wait, no, that’s a terrible idea.

But it’s exactly the same principle as the threshold for the party vote. Continue reading

Mary O’Neill to Stand for the Alliance in Napier

The Alliance Party has confirmed Mary O’Neill as the Alliance candidate in the Napier Electorate for the 2014 election.

Party co-leader Kay Murray says that the party is delighted Mary is willing to stand for the Alliance this election. Mary is very creative and hardworking. She has been a long-time Alliance member and enthusiastic supporter of the party. Mary is extremely concerned about the environment and social issues such as unemployment, inequality, and fair treatment for the elderly, particularly as they relate to the Napier electorate. Continue reading

New Zealanders Don’t Like Inequality But They Vote For It

New Zealanders don’t like inequality. Nigel Latta’s programme on inequality on TV1 recently drew so many donations for the people featured on the programme that he has had to start a trust to deal with the excess funds. Every time Campbell Live on TV3 runs a programme about someone down on their luck the donations come pouring in. The programme raised many times the amount needed for a young boy’s orthodontics; a family whose house was attacked by termites were given enough for a new home. The list goes on.

When confronted by concrete examples of the effects of inequality on people’s lives i.e. people not able to afford the necessities of life out of their own income, New Zealanders dig into their pockets and try to make things right. We want everyone to have a fair go, to have a decent life.

What gets lost, though, is the connection between politics and inequality. Continue reading

Are We Having an Election or a Game of Trivial Pursuit?

Are we having an election or a game of Trivial Pursuit? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

We had the fixation with scarves and men who say they’re sorry. Apparently it’s not manly. Though most women would argue that men don’t say ‘sorry’ half often enough. And red scarves are an unforgivable fashion faux pas – who knew? Continue reading

Flushing Out the Non Voters

Voter turnout is predicted to be even lower this election than the previous two general elections. Understandable. When the election is portrayed as a Mr New Zealand contest, who cares who wins?

But a general election is not a popularity contest. Political parties should have to do more than thrust their leaders in front of a camera. There are important issues at stake. Continue reading