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Scoop Column: Wellington Weather Report

Where is the elation?

Scoop is not having a good week. The weather is crap.

If this is the weather we get under a Labour government then they are in for a short stay.

For this Scoop the election has been an enormous let-down. In theory it is great that the left have won - that we have a change - that we are about to get some fresh thinking.

But in practice what does it mean? Jim Sutton gets to meet President Clinton. Will he tell him that, no, we don't want the F16s now? When will Te Kaha be recalled from the gulf?

These questions matter. But now instead we have to watch while Labour and the Alliance negotiate to re-write the constitution on a yet to be declared mandate of a six-seat majority - achieved with 47% of the popular vote.

We have in New Zealand a system called "Representative Democracy". The proposed party-hopping bill we are hearing so much about amounts to an attempted constitutional coup. With the intention of removing the word "representative". It will set a bad example for the commonwealth.

There is no point in debating and voting if you are not freed as a "representative" of the "house of representatives" to vote as you wish. The Labour Party has long had a rule that it can boot you out of the party if you don't vote with it - that is bad enough.

Allowing a constitutional abomination such as that proposed would allow the Labour and Alliance party the ability to enforce a party agenda for three years without even having to convince their own elected members.

Last term the Alliance was given a unanimous rebuke from the Privileges committee when it attempted to enforce a contract it claimed bound Alamein Kopu to resign.

We are also led to understand that a rewrite of the Cabinet Manual is underway. Are we to be consulted on this? Advised? Will they keep collective responsibility or is this to be a Northern Irish style coalition?

We are told we are going to get fresh thinking. What is proposed is more akin to Stalinism.

"What do you mean you don't want to nationalise Air New Zealand? You know if you vote against us we can biff you from the party? And that if we biff you out of the party then our biffing out bill will hop you out of your job? Good. So what exactly was your complaint then?"

This week we also see the unseemly spectacle of cabinet seats being doled out before the election result has been declared. The Greens lost Coromandel by 114 votes. It should be recounted.

They need 12,500 votes out of 210,000 special votes to make it. I hope they do. The party probably cannot afford a nationwide party-vote recount even though it looks likely to be no more than 2000 odd votes of the 100,000 vote target.

Scoop remains hopeful the Greens will make the target. If they don't then we have just seen another phase in what I am inclined to think of as "The Great MMP Ripoff".

Last time round it was Christian Heritage's turn to miss out on representation and this time - so far - it has been the Greens. Winston narrowly averted it. And everybody seems to be giving the impression that this is just a case of "them's are the rules".

I object. These rules are stupid. Part of the objective of MMP was to get rid of the electoral jerry-mandering at an electorate level that gives politics such a bad name and which makes it at times appear corrupt.

The way MMP is panning out we have created a new kind of super-marginal seat the results of which are hugely significant and which serve to confuse the public about the purpose of their second vote.

I was pleased Winston won. Had he lost it would have been unfair for him to have lost representation for his voters. Ditto the situation facing Green voters. Ten per cent of the voters of Wellington Central and 13.3% of the voters in Auckland Central may have their votes chucked in the bin as a consequence of this. This is not giving disenfranchised youth any confidence boost in the system.

And what happens? The beneficiaries of the Green's misfortune all feel pleased with themselves.

On election night - Scoop is reliably informed - the PM is reported to have said she was unlikely to get anymore criticism over her strategy against the Greens in Coromandel.

And what was that?

For the record the PM implied in her statements in the Coromandel that for a party to get four extra MPs by winning a seat was somehow cheating the system. Funny then that National has done it twice in both Wellington Central and Ohariu Belmont.

Do we need a threshold or not? I think not. If the Greens - three Christians and an ALCP candidate were allowed into Parliament we would have a more representative Parliament - and that would be better for us all.

In addition the broad center left would also have a majority of 10 seats rather than 6. The forces of Environment, Labour and Capital would all be represented, and balanced, and I doubt there would be any talk of ramming through a party-hopping bill.

Instead we appear to be experiencing what will hopefully develop into an unsuccessful attempted constitutional coup by a new government elected with a minority of the public vote.

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