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Gareth Morgan on Epsom Electorate

Statement From the Opportunities Party Leader Gareth Morgan

There has been some media speculation about The Opportunities Party’s approach to the Epsom electorate.

The Party has had this matter under active consideration for some time and as support grows and more and more people apply to be candidates for us we are constantly evaluating our position.

The outcome of that consideration will be finalised by the time I hold my TOP campaign rally in Epsom on August 1st.

The gerrymandering of the Epsom electorate has certainly got us thinking about how under MMP, gaming the electoral system has become such a political tactic by establishment parties. They endeavour to maximise the number of party votes that either directly or indirectly are counted as theirs. National has done this for a few elections now – encouraged their Epsom voters to give their electorate votes to the far right, neoliberal ACT party in return for the undertaking by ACT to be cannon fodder for a National-led coalition. And of course in Ohariu the Nats don’t stand so that United Future’s Peter Dunne can rule there in perpetuity, while the Greens haven’t stood a candidate in Ohariu so that Labour’s candidate can have a chance.

The games are all totally logical of course but do abuse the democratic rights of voters to have a full and free choice for both their electoral and list votes. Rather, the Establishment parties rely on tribalism to persuade voters to vote for what benefits the party as opposed to their principles, and we wonder why voter cynicism in our democracy is rising. People simply feel less and less empowered, their choices have been shut down, and increasingly, we see elected governments serving the interests of their constituents rather than of all New Zealanders. It’s a turn off.

Centre-right voters in Epsom have to swallow a rat by supporting ACT for that seat. That must be particularly galling for centre-right liberal National voters who are expected to dump their principles for the ‘good’ of their party.

Those who aren’t supporters of witch hunt welfare, have a genuine social conscience, want to protect the environment, care about clean rivers, and believe in smart immigration must have to hold their noses as they enter the polling booth, even as they tell themselves the ends justifies the means.

So, I am considering whether or not to give the reasonable centre-right people of Epsom a real choice, so they don’t have to line up with the neo-fascism of the Hard Right that is ACT, since Don Brash and company contaminated its ranks.

Given that TOP’s agenda is purely best practice policy that champions the free, fair, and competitive markets of old-fashioned democratic capitalism and eschews the oligarchic market and political dominance that is the altar of ACT’s neoliberal scourge – maybe the good folk of Epsom deserve an alternative to fascism as a means to their ends.

TOP after all, will work with either a Labour-led, or a National-led government to achieve the policy progress that all New Zealanders deserve. We don’t favour political Left/Right factions at all; political tribalism is a form of brain decay as far as we’re concerned. An electorate victory for a TOP candidate in Epsom would ensure that a National government would have the support of TOP’s total vote (looking to be significantly higher than ACT’s) – although it would not be via a coalition member, but support from the cross benches on supply.

It assumes of course that a National coalition can win without the seat of Epsom – remember TOP will work just as readily with a Labour-led coalition should it be asked to form the government.

More importantly it allows the National voters of Epsom to vote for what they believe in, rather than have to swallow the repugnance of supporting the hard right, self-centred, libertarian values of the contemporary ACT party. The Blue/Greens of Epsom must throw up when faced with the need to vote for ACT.

The question then becomes whether TOP should put up an electorate candidate in Epsom. We can certainly find a candidate keen to take on the challenge of offering the centre-right party voters of Epsom a principled choice.

What say you Epsom – would you like your democratic rights back?

TOP of the day to you.
Dr Gareth Morgan
Leader/Founder The Opportunities Party

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