Beware Maxim bearing gifts
Friday 31 October 2008
Beware Maxim bearing gifts
Maxim Institute, that high-minded "think tank"that claims to stand for democracy and justice, showed Wednesday night in Tauranga that they are not above using their power to try and manipulate the outcome of the general election.
At the last meeting of a series, the Maxim moderator spoke sanctimoniously about democracy, presented a patronising lecture about MMP and then proceeded to run a "debate" that was a sham. There were only eight of the parties represented on the top table, seven of them already in Parliament. Two other candidates present (I was one, representing Democrats for Social Credit) were graciously allowed to speak at the beginning for two minutes, but were not included in the "debate".
When I challenged this ruling I was told: "This is a meeting about the party vote." I was certainly seeking the party vote, but I sat through the meeting and was appalled. The questions were loaded, the candidates were rushed through their answers, and worse, we were treated to "entertainment": "McCain or Obama?" and "Sarah Palin - hot or not?" Excuse me? Questions like that were sexist, irrelevant and a pathetic waste of time.
There were people who had come to support their candidates, which is fair enough. However, many of them were booing and catcalling throughout an answer - and the moderator made no attempt to control them in order for candidates to be heard.
When it was over, I went up on stage and asked again why I and other bona fide candidates from registered parties were not included in this debate. The moderator said, "With respect, your party is not likely to get into Parliament."
Is your jaw dropping? Mine did. I said, "That's not your call. It is up to the voters." He gave me a disdainful grin, but I carried on. "You have done a disservice to all the people who came tonight. Don't they have a right hear from all the candidates?"
"But then," he whined, "we would have twelve people on the stage."
"So?" I snapped. "Isn't that the democracy you went on about tonight? Maybe you couldn't be bothered. Maybe you're too busy trying to get through the eye of a needle." He murmured that we would have to agree to disagree, but I was stomping off by then - smiling! I had my say in the end.
All the way up the aisle and out through the foyer, I was stopped by people who wanted to congratulate me and say "Good on ya!"I wasn't the only one who thought the whole thing was a jack-up. And if it was meant to push one former MP, it didn't do him any favours.
If it was me, I would have been embarrassed.