Why the left likes MMP
If you want to know the reason the left are solidly in support of MMP, then listen to Laila Harre on Kathryn Ryan's show this morning [audio here].
The ostensible reason the left supports MMP is because First Past the Post is "undemocratic," delivering government too often to parties that didn't receive the majority of votes cast. "Under FPP, plurality and majority were synonymous ... thanks to the distortions of the undemocratic election system," says No Right Turn, "we live in a proper democracy now, under MMP." "Pro-FPP respondents" are "less inclined to show any sympathy for the principles of broad-based majority government than [are] supporters of MMP," says political 'scientist' Jack Vowles. "What is the problem with MMP?" asks the Green Party. "Could it be the way MMP means everyone’s votes count rather than just those in swing seats?"
The clinching argument for many people supporting MMP was this idea that FPP was essentially undemocratic, that, for example, in 1978 and 1981 "Muldoon retained power ... despite National receiving fewer votes than Labour in both elections." A commenter at the Double Standard sums up the unspoken feeling, that "in the last 36 years, the only occasions National has really beaten Labour are 1975 and 1990. National’s other wins have either been with fewer votes than Labour (1978 and 1981), the result of extreme vote-splitting (1993), or betrayal (1996). And even in 1990, an MMP election would have resulted in a hung parliament..."
And there you have the real reason the left supports MMP, and why the red blogosphere reacted en bloc when John Boy raised the trial balloon of a referendum on MMP -- a referendum that voters had voted for back in 1993! It's nothing to do with democracy at all, it's because MMP is more likely to keep the Tories feet from under the Treasury Benches. (And remember, any corruption is justified in doing that job! After all, to a certain type of mind, ""Freedom of speech and political association and action is subordinate to the class war.")
Hence Harre on Nine to Noon this morning, eagerly doing her sums this morning to show everyone scared of Tory Government that if Labour can pull down 35% of the vote in November and if National gets less than 50% then with a little bit of overhang courtesy of the Maori Party and Anderton's Progressives the Red Team could still form a government.
Based on previous criticisms by the left of how FPP helps parties retain power despite them receiving fewer votes, one would think that such a situation would outrage them. One might think that, except that it is transparently clear that the reason for MMP (and the Electoral Finance Act)has nothing to do with delivering "democratic government," and everything to do with keeping the Tories from the Treasury benches.
UPDATE: I should point out two things here that I"d have thought were obvious, but a couple of emails have suggested otherwise:
- The fact that the left are terrified of the Tories getting the Treasury benches doesn't mean there's anything for them to to be terrified about. The fact is that the difference between a government led by Labour and one led by Labour-Lite is like the choice between Fosters and XXXX. However you slice it, it's both unpalatable and indistinguishable.
- That the Greens co-leader person says comparing National and Labour is like comparing Coke to Pepsi, and that the Greens can "work with either," doesn't alter the truth that it's the Tories they see as the Great Satan. As Vernon Small said yesterday in The Dom's headline, "Greens' fears of old enemy colour views." Says Small “However they slice it and dice it, there is no real chance of the Greens ever preferring National over Labour. Pretending otherwise defies the policy reality," and every Green supporter knows that. Green posturing now is more about creating pre-election illusions of "independence," and a pre-negotiation position of being nobodies lapdog -- but everyone knows in which lap they'll be basking once the blocs start forming.