Sunday, November 11, 2007

Liberal democracy under further attack?

The NZ Herald reports that a deal between Labour, the Greens and NZ First may mean that spending by government departments on advertising are to be exempt from electoral spending limits - and no amount of two-faced swarminess by the government or its sycophants is going to disguise what this will mean - more government department advertising promoting the benefits of policies of the government.
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Labour has already started using government department activities to promote "the government". I noticed it on signs used by Transit New Zealand associated with road projects, no longer is it simply a fact that project X is underway costing $xxxxxxx, it now has a sign saying "a project funded by the New Zealand Government" as if it is directly linked to Ministers and MPs. Ads for Working for Families also are contentious.
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However as the Herald editorial reports, there is one point that Labour and its supporters don't get " When is the Government going to get this message: democracy is not a device to keep the Labour Party in power."
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The Electoral Finance Bill has been criticised by plenty who would otherwise be supportive of Labour politically - the Human Rights Commission and PPTA are unlikely opponents of a Labour government measure. As the Herald says:
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"It was staggering enough last year that Helen Clark and her lieutenants could not understand why nobody else regarded their electoral pledge card as innocent information. Now, having grudgingly repaid the public purse, they are hell-bent on giving themselves the right to raid it again."
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It is this complete disconnect with the truth that is the hallmark of the ruthlessness of Labour to remain in power. Elections should be campaigned on the basis of people voluntarily promoting and supporting political parties.
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The Herald concludes:
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"Parties have different advantages. If National has more well-heeled donors, Labour probably has the more committed and articulate foot soldiers. National's supposed advantages were of less urgent concern to Labour when it was polling well. Now in desperation it wants to screw the scrum. It has succumbed to the old conceit of the Left that the interests of the people are identical with its own. The interests of any healthy democracy lie in unrestricted debate, not laws that favour incumbents with public finance and suppression of free speech. If these bills pass, they will be Labour's epitaph."
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One can only hope, and it will put paid to any claim of neutrality and belief in democracy that the Greens and NZ First purport to support. What it would show by all those parties is that power is more important than principle.

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