Saturday, August 15, 2009

A basic misunderstanding of politics

Colin Espiner has written an interesting column saying that although Labour should be critiqing the government, this does not mean it has to take a different position on every issue.

I agree. But No Right Turn doesn't. He believes that Labour's stance should flow from Labour values and the values of its supporters - or as he says - the people Labour represent - meaning these values, and the values of all its supporters, are not aligned to those espoused by National. By implication that means National's stance should also flow from National values and the values of its supporters and the people it represents. The only time both parties should agree is if they genuinely agree on the issue - in which case the positions of the respective parties and the majority of their supporters would be aligned.

The problem is that many of Labour's supporters are now National supporters and voted National. Labour has a diminishing support base, but this does not mean that non-Labour voters are not represented by their local Labour representative.What if a National voter seeks assistance of their electorate Labour MP - should the constituent not be represented because his or her values are different to that of his representative? Representation by representatives who are aligned to an opposition party is not just about reflecting party values that oppose the Government in every way - it is also acting on behalf of the interests of constituents,according to their wishes, in matters that concern them, and it is about time people who are interested in representative democracy recognise this.

The same applies to representatives in the governing party. But that is something that Labour and National have forgotten recently. Their party positions change without reference to their supporters and voters, which is why Labour has lost support of Maori as well as other groups and people vote National because they are teh lesser of the two evils. If the Opposition is to oppose the Government in everything - except things they genuinely agree on - Idiot Savant would do well to question the values of political parties. He would do well to explain why National supported the smacking legislation that many of its MPs and party supporters were opposed to.

As representation is a democracy is of a kind that reflects the wishes of constituents, Idiot Savant may well consider the principled stand of Georgina Beyer in voting in according to her constituents wishes, but against the wishes of her party in the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. He may well ask why Labour supported the undemocratic Electoral Finance legislation that even some of its fervent supporters and candidates opposed - but then quickly supported its repeal when National took office.

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