Hum­ble ser­vants or pow­er­ful mas­ters?

Franklin County News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JOHN ALLEN

OPIN­ION:

It’s Thurs­day, the promised day - will we get to know the flavour of our new gov­ern­ment to­day?

That’s the plan of our newly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, but as Robert Burns penned in 1785, ‘‘the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men… gang aft agley’’.

As I write (Tues­day), the po­lit­i­cal par­ties are horse-trad­ing their poli­cies in an at­tempt to se­cure the power that oc­cu­pa­tion of the gov­ern­ment benches con­fers.

I lis­ten with de­spair to fruit­less spec­u­la­tion as the me­dia at­tempt to in­ter­pret vac­u­ous re­sponses to their ques­tions.

I would rather they align their prin­ci­ples and then get on with the job of de­vel­op­ing ef­fec­tive poli­cies, but that is a topic for an­other time.

Per­haps you get from my choice of words, the con­tempt I hold this whole process in?

What un­set­tles me is the sub­ver­sion of our democ­racy to ego and per­sonal ag­gran­dis­e­ment.

My be­lief is that politi­cians should be our hum­ble ser­vants and not our all-pow­er­ful mas­ters.

Kennedy Gra­ham, the Green MP taken out of con­tention for re­elec­tion be­cause he was ‘‘pale, male and stale’’, demon­strated his wis­dom in say­ing ‘‘Lib­eral democ­racy* re­quires a strong and healthy dis­cus­sion cul­ture…’’.

Where is that dis­cus­sion cul­ture now? Left be­hind in the rush to the fin­ish post.

Democ­racy by def­i­ni­tion means gov­ern­ment of the peo­ple by the peo­ple, and can be ex­er­cised ei­ther di­rectly by the peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ties, or through our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Our sys­tem of rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy is now be­ing held to ran­som by one po­lit­i­cal party that chose not to an­nounce which way it would lean in a hung elec­tion.

Had New Zealand First pre­an­nounced it’s choice of coali­tion part­ners, vot­ers may have de­liv­ered a dif­fer­ent elec­tion out­come.

Mr Peters ego­tis­ti­cally sees NZF’s po­si­tion as re­flect­ing the way that MMP was meant to work.

But these shenani­gans do not re­flect a rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy.

If he holds to his cam­paign prom­ise, of ‘‘There will be no sur­prises’’, then there can be only one out­come - his own sup­port­ers over­whelm­ingly want a coali­tion with Labour.

All this means that MMP is not a proper means to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy.

That is demon­strated also, in the ways that both Na­tional and Labour have sought to ger­ry­man­der the vot­ing pub­lic to make this an FPP-like elec­tion.

In con­tem­plat­ing an elec­toral al­ter­na­tive, the three prin­ci­ples of sus­tain­abil­ity pol­icy come to mind: ecol­ogy, so­cial and eco­nomic.

An elec­tion sys­tem fo­cused on rank­ing these three prin­ci­ples, would bal­ance the con­flict­ing prin­ci­ples of the Greens (en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism), Labour (so­cial jus­tice) and Na­tional (eco­nom­ics) in a pro­gres­sive way.

Such a sys­tem may by­pass the con­ceit of per­son­al­ity pol­i­tics and ego, in­stead en­cour­ag­ing hum­ble ser­vants. * lib­eral democ­racy a demo­cratic sys­tem of gov­ern­ment in which in­di­vid­ual rights and free­doms are of­fi­cially recog­nised and pro­tected, and the ex­er­cise of po­lit­i­cal power is lim­ited by the rule of law.

* John Allen is the di­rec­tor of Ru­ral Con­nect, www.ru­ral­con­nect.org.nz www.smal­l­Wind.co.nz www.small­block.org.nz

HAVE YOUR SAY

Let­ters should not ex­ceed 300 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. Write to Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

John Allen

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