Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The sham of it all

New Zealand has a new astroturf organisation trying to get voters to vote against their own best interests by choosing to dump MMP in the coming referendum. Fortunately, New Zealand voters are learning what a sham—and a scam—the group really is.

“Vote for Change” presents itself as a grassroots organisation when, in fact, it’s actually a tool of Peter Shirtcliffe, the wealthy businessman who tried to prevent the adoption of MMP in the first place (for more on the organisation of the group, see Rob Salmond’s post on Pundit, “Behind the Curtain at Vote for Change”). The group also claims celebrity supporters, including former Labour Party president Bob Harvey, which is only intended to give an appearance of multi-party support when, in fact, it’s a tool of the business elites to destroy proportional representation.

The wealthy right and business elites hate MMP passionately because it means we get governments they cannot control; instead, MMP gives us democratic governments that deliver the policies that voters, not the elites, demand. If they don’t, voters can turf them out and change direction, something that also irritates the elites.

The group’s campaign is all about harping on the supposed flaws of MMP while refusing to say what system they would choose instead. This led the New Zealand Herald’s John Armstrong to declare that the group “does not deserve to be taken seriously”. He said, “By not indicating a preference, Vote for Change can keep pointing out the flaws of MMP without supporters of MMP being able to retort.”

But what of the supposed “flaws” with MMP? We hear about them on talkback radio, in the letters to the editor columns of newspapers and in comments posted on newspaper web sites. However, those are all favoured by the right wing, and they repeat the same talking points without analysis or, one would suppose, any real or critical thought.

Armstrong highlights some of the deception in the criticisms of MMP, but writing on Pundit, Andrew Geddis pretty much eviscerates all of Vote for Change’s criticisms of MMP point-by-point. “You can Vote for Change…but why?” is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what the big deal is.

The real agenda of Vote for Change seems to be to help the National Party by minimising or slowing down the effects of gradual shift to pro-Labour Party demographics in New Zealand. As Armstrong put it, “Vote for Change looks very much like the National Party Preservation Society in drag.”

The self-interested elites of Vote for Change aren’t concerned about democracy, and certainly not about fairness in representation. What they want is government that will advance its interests—and, of course, wealth—to the detriment of the vast majority of New Zealand. Fortunately, we can see right through their scam.

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