Rationalists Say Vote Early, Vote Strategically
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Vote Early, Vote Strategically
Our election coverage begins with news that a website called NZ Votes (http://www.nzvotes.org.nz/) has been created. According to a press release ( http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0507/S00332.htm), "it will be a leading election resource, giving voters all the information they need on policy, parties and people, in one place." This seems very public spirited until you read to the end and find that the site is "a non-partisan, non-profit community service provided by the Maxim Institute to inform and equip New Zealand voters." Read that again: non-partisan... community service... Maxim Institute; the words just don't make sense together. Read the press release again and you see the catch: A major feature to be added next week is an electorate section that will profile candidates in every electorate in the country. In their own words, candidates will outline their political background, their interests, and notably where they stand on six conscience issues likely to arise in the next term of parliament. Since the media release was released, this major feature has been added; here are the issues: euthanasia, decriminalising marijuana, defining marriage in law as being only between a man and a woman, allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, criminalising hate speech , amending the Human Rights Act 1993 to include transsexual and transvestite people as a specially protected group.
So does this matter? Consider, gentle reader, how Maxim's fan club of bible-believing bigots will be able to use this information: to target candidates who give the wrong answers, and make this election one about personal morality rather than politics; just like in the good old US of A. Yee-hah.
So you think I am paranoid? Maybe, but consider this: Vision Network is an information 'clearing house' for Evangelical churches (see their organisational diagram at http://www.vision.org.nz/index.php?id=27) which has a keen interest in political matters. Here is an item from the February edition of the Vision Network Newsletter:
MAXIM INSTITUTE UPDATE 2005 got off to an exciting start. 100 young people attended the Compass summer conference in January, learning about the Christian worldview www.compass.org.nz and over 3,000 people attended the political forum at Parachute music festival in February. Maxim is developing an election website which will profile accurate information on candidates, party's and policies www.nzvotes.org to help voters know who stands for what.
The big issues we see approaching in 2005 are a possible Hate Speech Bill, the Relationships Statutory References Bill, the Charities Bill and trends in education. This year we hope to streamline our direct communications with churches by establishing a contact person in your church office. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to keep your congregations and constituents up to date on the social/political issues in a timely and relevant way.
-Amanda McGrail, Communications Assistant
Leaving aside Ms McGrail's novel use of grammar and punctuation, as well as the Compass and Parachute references, what we have here is a rather clear statement of purpose, involving churches and votes.
Not bad for a start, but there's more. Maxim have made a DVD for NZ Votes which they are happy to send to community groups. We asked and they sent us a copy. It stars a man with a bad hair cut and an appalling shirt with diagonal stripes that make it look as if he has been run over. He wanders round Takapuna telling us all about the voting system. His message: that votes for parties that poll under five percent are wasted under MMP. The message is reinforced on the NZ Votes website, in a section on discarded votes, which says:
Under MMP, if you vote for a party that does not win an electorate seat or gain 5% of party votes, your vote will be discarded. This is because votes for parties that fail to qualify are excluded from the calculations to work out the proportional share of list MPs.
As a result parties that are entitled to list MPs receive an increase in their percentage share.
In the 2002 election 4.8% (99,388 votes) of the total party votes were discarded. The effect of this benefits the larger parties most. For example in 2002, Labour received 3 extra MPs, and National 2 extra, based on the proportional allocation after parties that didn't count were excluded
If you did not get the message, this page also says:
Expectations of a party's success, particularly fuelled by polls, can also affect strategic voting. For example if a party is polling below the 5% threshold and isn't likely to win and electorate seat, some voters may decide strategically not to support these parties, even if it is their first choice on principles.
You still haven't got the message have you? That's because you are not considering voting for a Christian party. The message is: DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE ON A CHRISTIAN PARTY. That is, if you vote for Christian Heritage or Destiny, who will not pass the five percent barrier, you will be giving your vote to the larger parties.
Vision Network have got the message. On its website there is a PowerPoint presentation which you can download at http://www.vision.org.nz/index.php?id=167. It says, over and over again, that it is the Party Vote that counts and that it can be wasted on minor parties.
Sandra Paterson has got the message. Sandra is a NZ Herald columnist who conveys the Maxim party line in almost everything she writes. In an article published in May, for which the Herald eventually had to issue a retraction and apology (more of that in a later Fundy Post) Sandra said (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?ObjectID=10125395):
But the trouble for conservatives is that there is a critical aspect of MMP which most voters do not understand.
It is this: if you vote for a minority party which does not make the 5 per cent threshold or get anyone into Parliament, your vote could end up helping a party you would not wish to support.
At the last election there were about 99,000 votes for parties such as Christian Heritage and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis.
These votes were discarded from the total pool, thus boosting other parties’ shares. On the night, for example, Labour won 41.26 per cent of the votes, but after the "wasted votes" were eliminated, that share went up to 43.28 per cent.
Big deal? Well, it gave Labour three more seats, which enabled it to pass the Prostitution Reform Bill, for example. So whether they realised it or not, everyone who voted for an unsuccessful party effectively gave Labour more power.
Radio Rhema has the message. The fundy radio station has its own powerpoint presentation, ( www.rhema.co.nz/downloads/2005%20Voting%20Help.ppt) made by Jim Stowers, Auckland South Regional Co-ordinator for United Future. Not only does it make the point about discarded votes, it also records the voting records of parties on 'civil society' issues.
The message is being spoken in the churches, in their draughty rented halls and their vast multimedia-infested barns. They have another message as well. One of my contacts wrote to say "My mother has been told by her church that Helen Clark is a lesbian, and that everyone knows this; that Labour's Hate Speech law reform will put preachers in jail simply for speaking out on what the bible says; that similar laws have led to arrests of this nature in Sweden. She showed me a church newsletter which rated the parties' morality and implied who they should vote for too."
Oh, by the way, did I mention that the Maxim Institute is an educational charity, which means that it does not have to pay tax on its income?
And they're off
As the election race heats up, the Fundy Post will be mixing metaphors and bringing you all the important political stories. Of course, following time-honoured practice, we will be ignoring the major parties (unless they do something really silly) and concentrating on the parties that make us laugh.
Our election coverage begins with a trenchant statement from Christian Heritage leader Ewen McQueen, who said his party "would not enter any coalition or supply and confidence agreement with another party, unless they agreed to ring-fence abortion funding and have it voted on separately from the rest of the budget." It seems that CHP believe they will win some seats. The party's website confidently says that if they get 5 percent of the vote, they will win six seats; at the time of writing, CHP has five candidates.
Meanwhile United Future has announced its candidates for the election and they what a nice bunch they are. As we observed in a previous issue of the Fundy Post, United Future is not a Christian party; so it is of no consequence that 24 of the party's 51 candidates mention church links in their biographies. Perhaps that makes them only half-Christian. The Vision Network PowerPoint mentioned above describes UF as a "quasi-Christian" party, which is damning with faint praise, if ever I heard it. Since announcing their candidates, UF have lost Paul Adams, the fasting pastor, as well as his lovely daughter Sheree.
It would be difficult to single out one candidate for attention but we cannot but help notice that Steve Taylor (http://unitedfuture.org.nz/team/showCandidate.php?id=1) is standing for Auckland Central. He is described in his bio as a "published writer;" indeed he is, for this is the artist formerly known as Stephen D Taylor, the man of ten thousand letters to the editors of every paper and magazine in the country, the Maxim letter writing wizard's best friend and the man who said Tim Barnett MP should be put down, as featured in the Fundy Post Issue One. Mr Taylor's letters to Craccum, the Auckland University student magazine, were recently given a feature of their own, such is their profundity and their numerousness. He is also known to the editors of other student papers and to music magazine Rip It Up. I know they are to polite to say it, Steve, but I think you are beginning to bore them.
Another candidate worthy of note is Mr Kyle Chapman, who is standing for the Christchurch East seat on behalf of the Direct Democracy Party. This might come as a surprise to some readers, because Mr Chapman was, until recently, head of the National Front. He had promised that the Front would be fronting candidates in the general election, but it looks as if they could not muster enough members to register as a political party. Mr Chapman's biography on the Direct Democracy website (http://www.directdemocracy.net.nz/kylechapman.htm) does not mention his previous party affiliations but does say: "His ability to get the job done was well known at street level - his qualifications being social work based. Through the years he has been part of other types of work within the community. This has, at times, led to a high profile. His various positions of responsibility and leadership have brought him much insight into the peoples' needs and how to assist them to make a success of their own future."
Finally, Richard Worth, National candidate for Epsom (I said we would mention the major parties if they do something really silly) sent out an edition of his newsletter with an article about the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill. This exciting piece of legislation was sponsored by Larry Baldock of the aforementioned United Future Party and supported by the aforementioned Maxim Institute. It was designed to ensure that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, but it died in Parliament. For some reason, Mr Worth's article was entitled "Sex with Horses." (http://www.richardworth.co.nz/2005/NW%20-%2029%20July%20-%20No.%2038.htm). No doubt this means something to the residents of Epsom, which has equestrian traditions.
And he's Here
The bad news this week is that Abdul Raheem Green has been banned from visiting Australia. This is bad news for us in New Zealand because Mr Green is here already and has promised to spend another week here.
For those of you who have not made his acquaintance, Abdul Raheem Green is a British Muslim who was flown out here to be the star turn for Muslim Awareness Week. As it turned out, he has unwittingly sabotaged the entire event, which was meant to make New Zealanders more friendly towards Islam, but instead has reminded us that it nurtures creatures like Mr Green. Wherever he went, Mr Green excited justified loathing; now we will have to put up with more of him because the Australians have taken the very wise decision to keep him out of their country.
You see, Mr Green is just a little extreme. Here is one of his more moderate statements:
Actually, the whole British middle class are brought up to be extremely arrogant, as though they are the pinnacle of human development.
Mr Green, of course, is British and middle class; not surprisingly, he is extremely arrogant, but it would be unfair to attribute these qualities to his Britishness and his middle-classness. Mr Green, of course is a convert to Islam; his real forename was probably something like Keith or Derek. Doubtless Mr Green feels really good about calling himself Abdul Raheem: it makes him exotic and interesting. Yes, he is yet another insignificant hippy who took a train to Marrakesh and found authentic religion, which he has now become an expert upon. Like so many converts, he is an extremist. Muslims who were born Muslim in Muslim countries must groan inwardly when these converts turn up and behave embarrassingly: first Cat Stevens, now this tosser.
Of course, Mr Green has various theories about the Jews, all of which are unpleasant and implausible. He also believes in Jihad. Apparently, he thinks war is a good way of spreading his religion's beliefs. Of course, one look at Mr Green and you can see he is not exactly a street-fighting man. Pasty faced, long-haired and flabby he is the epitome of the sort of Imam who makes pronouncements about the holiness and justness of war. You can be pretty sure you will never see Mr Green in combat uniform; you will never see him fighting; you will never see him risk his life for his cause; but you will hear him telling others that they must fight. You can also be sure he will never strap some explosives round his corpulent belly and blow himself to bits, along with a few dozen innocent bystanders. You can be sure, however, that some other Muslims will do just that, ones who are much less middle class and much less sure of themselves than Mr Green. They will do it because men like Mr Green tell them how holy it is to die for Islam and how decadent are the infidels. So innocents like those on the London underground will die because of bastards like Mr Green.
Why we accepted him here is a mystery. We don't need to import these people: we have our own great white convert in the unpleasant shape of Abdullah Drury, who objected to Hon Chris Carter MP visiting a mosque, because Mr Carter is gay, and who objected to the media referring to the London bombers as Islamic terrorists, because Islam is the religion of peace . Perhaps Mr Green came so he could offer refresher courses in odiousness. Perhaps our own mad mullahs are not nasty enough to meet international standards. Whatever the reason, we are stuck with Mr Green for yet another week.
Following the last Fundy Post, I had the honour of being invited to talk to Mr Simon Pound on his radio show, The Thursday Wire on 95bFM (quick quiz: what does the b stand for? I'll tell you next time). I will keep you informed of future broadcasts. Mr Pound's own writings can be found at In For a Penny (http://inforapound.blogspot.com/): I recommend his musings on opinions that cannnot be voiced in Grey Lynn. Meanwhile, the Fundy Post can also be read on About Town, (http://www.aboutown.blogspot.com/) the blog of the Grey Lynn Croquet Club, where I have loitering rights. Whilst in a blogging mood, you might also want to look at Wildebeest Asylum at http://wildebeestasylum.blogspot.com, the work of a man who has the good taste to link to the Fundy Post and who enjoys the music of Jordan Reyne.
Website of the Week
President Bush has supported the teaching of 'Intelligent Design' alongside evolution in school science classes. There are also those who argue that equal time should be given to the theory that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you forever be touched by his noodly appendage.
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