Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fake it to make it

Most New Zealand voters are pretty sensible, really, which is why the extremist Colin Craig Conservative “Party” can’t make it into Parliament without help. So, the National Party is once again poised to drag an extremist party into Parliament, and Colin also seems to be up to something, um, creative.

The National Party is desperate to stay in power, so desperate that it’s now planning on doing a deal with Colin Craig to give his party one of National’s safe electorate seats in Parliament in the hope that Colin can drag in one or more people with him. National plans to do this even though polls have shown that National Party supporters don’t want anything to do with Colin and his often nutty ideas.

National needs to get in bed with Colin (so to speak…) because the other extremist party they give a seat to, the neoconservative Act Party, has become toxic after its lone Member of Parliament was found guilty of having committed electoral finance fraud. The party’s current candidate in Epsom, the electorate that National will give to Act, has said some bizarre things, but only half as bizarre and extremist as the party’s titular leader.

National’s other coalition partner, the Māori Party, could lose all its seats in Parliament as a consequence of being such a close and reliable supporter of the conservative National Party.

So, here’s National, realising that its coalition partners are in trouble, and looking around desperately for some warm bodies to take seats on their side of the House, and the only way to do that is to give seats away. If I were a National party voter in those electorates, I’d be pretty sick and tired of being treated like a chump by the National Party.

But Colin also appears to be helping his mates in National through his proposal for a Conservative Party logo to appear on the ballot (at right). The problem is that the logo confusing, misleading and illegal.

Colin’s proposed logo is confusing because it is substantially similar to the logo (at top of this post) used by the already established Combined Trade Unions’ (CTU) "Let's Get Out and Vote” campaign, which is attempting to rally voters, most of whom would vote for parties other than the Conservative Party. By using a logo that is so similar to that of the CTU campaign, the proposed Conservative Party logo could easily confuse voters, possibly enticing them to vote for the Conservative Party rather than who they intended to vote for.

Because of this potential voter confusion, the proposed logo on the ballot could mislead voters into thinking it’s related to the CTU campaign, and entice voters to vote for the Conservative Party, rather than the party the voter intended to vote for. Because the intended party of choice could have a completely different ideology and agenda from the Conservative Party, the proposed logo could mislead some voters to vote for a completely opposite ideology than they intended.

Most importantly, as Northcote Labour Candidate Richard Hills pointed out to the NZ Herald, the proposed logo, which specifically asks for a vote, is illegal because it is an offence for a party or candidate to ask for a vote on Election Day. The proposed logo is designed specifically to ask for votes, including on Election Day, and that violates the law.

A spokesperson for the Colin Craig “Party” claimed in that Herald article that the proposed logo “had received only positive feedback” and that “no one had raised any concerns about it being confusing or infringing any intellectual property rights.” Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you only talk to supporters.

I honestly don’t know if Colin and his mates are deliberately trying to confuse and mislead voters into voting for them instead of their ideological opposites; I’d like to believe instead that they simply didn’t think it through very well, because I’d rather not think that a party was deliberately trying to trick voters. Of course, if the Colin Craig “Party” didn’t mean their logo to be an electoral rort, they could always withdraw the application.

No matter what Colin and his mates think, the logo IS confusing, misleading and blatantly illegal. I made a submission to the Electoral Commission saying exactly that, along with the reasons that I outlined above, and I urged that the proposed logo be rejected. I hope it is.

We need to fix this system that rightwing parties are trying so hard to game. Labour has pledged to do that as Government. But first, we need to defeat these rightwing parties and their election rort. Let's Get Out and Vote.

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