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The murky manoeuvrings of MMP

The election is still three weeks or so away, but yesterday two sitting MPs effectively lost their seats. Coolly and ruthlessly Winston Peters (well, technically, New Zealand First) dispatched Jenny Bloxham and Robyn McDonald into political oblivion by placing them somewhere in the twenties on the party list.

In the understatement of the year, Ms McDonald said, "I now question their loyalty to me". It was savage blow administered to two of Peters' few loyalists. Barring an electoral miracle, they stand no chance of returning to Parliament. Women scorned, they muttered that their three years of loyalty had been shamefully overlooked in the party's enthusiasm for "new and bright" candidates.

Mr Peters, to be fair, was obviously concerned to ensure that talent dominated the higher ranks of the New Zealand First list.

Gilbert Myles came in at number ten.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Marion Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle quietly extinguished months of moral outrage at the "sleazy, backroom deals" carried out between National and ACT in the Wellington Central electorate, and embraced the "reality" of MMP politics.

Ms Bunkle stands aside, leaving voters to decide only between Ms Hobbs and Mr Prebble.

It was an effortless backwards somersault worthy of the nimblest of Russian gymnasts. Ms Bunkle was left alone behind a huge desk to contemplate one of Leninism's deepest insights, that the ends justify the means. Never mind that it contradicted everything she said these last few months.



They are well trained, these Alliance MPs. Two days ago, Ms Bunkle's leader, Jim Anderton, was equally poker faced when he demanded on TVNZ's leaders' debate that party-hoppers be cast out of parliament. His own party hopping was, of course, different. The Labour party left him, not the other way round.

Upton-on-line doesn't like to harp on about the Alliance, but mention of Mr Anderton does beg the question, "what planet does this man live on". At the leaders' debate he ran the line:

"a young person can sit home, do nothing and receive the dole. Why then, would he want to go to polytech to gain a skill when he gets no money while studying and runs up a student loan?"

In Jim's world people who believe in working to support and improve themselves are unusual and need to be explained.

Upton-on-line appeals to any psychologies out there to explain Jim.

Campaign diary:

upton-on-line travelled with the Prime Minister through the Waikato yesterday morning and saw how the nature of her office took things up a level. We were treated to over a hundred children from Aberdeen School all playing recorders in unison.

Upton-on-line never gets this kind of treatment.

Next on the itinerary was the Livestock Improvement corporation, where the Prime Minister was acquainted with a large Jersey bull. Upton-on-line's rural upbringing has led him to be instinctively distrustful of the male of this species. No such thoughts apparently went through Mrs Shipley's mind, she had the measure of the animal and persuaded it to behave for a gaggle of paparazzi.

ends

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