The Standard – sigh…

Tim Watkins had a post up at the Pundit site called “Does the Labour-National gap even matter under MMP? You bet“. He made a number of good points, which I’ll paraphrase below:

  • No party under MMP has formed the next government when they have been on the losing end of a 15% gap between the major parties.
  • Volunteers and MPs are more likely to work hard when the polls are closer.
  • It’s hard to get the “missing million” out when there’s a huge gap between the major parties, and Labour doesn’t look like winning.
  • If NZ First holds the balance of power, and Labour is 15% behind National, it will be hard for Winston Peters to justify to his supporters any decision to go with Labour.
  • Likewise, if the Maori party were to hold the balance of power, Te Ururoa Flavell has made it clear they will go with the larger party.

Over at the Standard, Ben Clark has put up a post entitled “Tim Watkin is wrong“. The gist? In all of the MMP elections that have occurred worldwide, there has been one example of the losing party (by a 15 point gap) forming the government – the 2011 Baden-Wurttemberg state election.

That’s great, Mr Clark, but it somewhat misses the point. For a start, I’m fairly confident that Tim Watkins was talking about NZ MMP elections when he wrote that “[n]o party has had [a 15 percentage point] lead under MMP and not formed the next government”. And even if he weren’t (and had, horror of horrors, failed to account for the 2011 Baden-Wurttemberg state election), his major point is that a 15 percentage point gap between National and Labour will have a number of flow on effects, both in terms of campaign enthusiasm from MPs and activists and in terms of the coalition negotiations that follow.

Unfortunately, Mr Clark hasn’t bothered to address any of Mr Watkins’ substantive points. The 2011 Baden-Wurttemberg state election is Mr Clark’s talisman, and nothing shall divert him from its complete inconsequentiality to NZ MMP politics, where voters (admittedly, for no good reason) have a fundamental dislike of the idea that the “winning” party doesn’t get to be the government.

It seems typical of the left these days to seize on one arcane point and completely ignore the important points that are everywhere else around them. Can’t see the wood for the trees, and all that… And just drink the Koolaid – it’ll be good for you…

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