People power II

10 04 2007

Jordan Carter has more on Labour’s campaign finance reform plan. Now, unlike my good friend and Smart Dude from my previous post, I’m not so sure this issue is dead in the water — so long as the message gets out there that publicly financed elections can work (are there countries/studies that can be cited?). Granted, this government has seemed ham-fisted when it comes to selling its policies, but I live in hope.

Of course, even if it loses in the policy arena, it still could win in the spin game — but it’s got to hammer the message that National gets huge amounts of money from business and off-shore interests, and that elections are already skewed towards conservatives.

I agree that the Herald seems to be in a snit about campaign reform, but it’s early days yet, and I remain hopeful. Having had a good read of Farrar’s take, I see that the only two parts of the proposal he opposes are the union/company exemption and the expat Kiwi exemption. Now, I think the union exemption is a good idea if you understand how power structures work. The sociological argument could be made that unions tend to have flatter hierarchies, unlike the trusts that funnelled money into National’s campaign coffers, so are inherently more democratic.

On the other hand, it’s not something that plays well to conservatives like DPF. He claims these two aspects of the plan are bad-faith proposals by Helen, and knowing how Helen works, I wouldn’t write that criticism off; these two proposals certainly strike a sour note. However, I think Helen is making a political horse-trading move here; by offering two proposals guaranteed to attract ire, she’s making it more likely that the basic plan without these two exemptions will pass.

Why do I say that? Because Farrar agrees with everything else in the proposal, and the only other opponents can successfully be painted as further to the right, and therefore on the libertarian, buddy-of-big-business fringe. Sounds to me like Labour have plonked a good start for discussion on the table. If they can keep the issue motoring on for a few more news cycles, we might see even the media start to report it honestly. Wait for the Campbell Live campaign reform special.

(As I mention in the earlier post, the Coalition for Open Government ( has proposed pretty much the same things that Labour has. Will DPF give it linkage love? Will John cast his deep baritone that way? Inquiring minds etc.)




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