Labour's Paranoia

Inside the Beltway –

Oh dear oh dear, you know you have lost the argument when the hackery from the gallery think you are bonkers. Tracy Watkins gives it to Labour. Add her name to the shit-list of unofficially blacklisted media hacks and she may even get called a Right Wing Blogger like Fran O’Sullivan.

A wise old man probably once said that you should never try to write a law while you?re feeling angry and paranoid.

And if he didn?t, then he should have.

Because all Labour?s problems over the Electoral Finance Bill stem from its decision to rewrite the rules for the next election campaign while it was still angry over 2005 and paranoid about 2008.

Yes, the Exclusive Brethren had bags of money to throw at the last election ($1 million-odd) and yes, its sole purpose was to get National elected.

And yes, National was itself flush with cash itself at the last election.

But there are two points to make here.

Democracy worked just fine in the Brethren case – they tried to get away with a well financed campaign in secret, got caught out, and both they and National suffered the backlash.

Meanwhile, just being the National Party doesn?t in some way automatically entitle it to a bulging campaign chest. The party was decidedly down at heel in 2002, for instance, when the money went elsewhere – a.) because a lot of its backers were reluctant to throw good money after bad given the state of the party?s poll ratings and b.) they didn?t like the party?s direction under Bill English.

Labour?s electoral finance reforms might have been more convincing had it had tackled anonymous donations and secret trusts from the start – but its failure to do so for fear it might cause some of its own funding to dry up made the legislation look even more serving than it already was.

It may even have stayed on the side of the angels if it had kept its eye on the prize, tackled the most disturbing aspects of what groups like the Exclusive Brethren can get away with once they set their mind to it under the current law, and disdained to sweat the small stuff.

Instead it produced a piece of legislation which looks suspiciously like a scratch for every itch that?s ever bugged it or the select committee members on the campaign trail.

Megaphones? Hell yes. Let?s throw that in there as well.

Placards? Yup. We better spell that out.

The rewritten bill is an improvement on the first. But National will use it to kick Labour with every step of the way to the next election. Which is what you get when you abandon the long standing principal of bi-partisanship around electoral law. And in case Labour forgot, that bipartisanship existed for a very sound reason. It was to avoid tit-for-tat law.

Watch out for National?s rewrite if it wins in 2008.[/quote]
Yes and if it wins in 08 it will be against the massive odds that labour and its poodle have stacked against it.

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