Democracy hacked

I fear that our democracy is being hacked to bits. There are likely to be ongoing frenzies of attacks. It is making a mess of the election campaign.

As we acknowledge the hundred year anniversary of the Great War we seem to have launched into a great war of political attrition with mustard gas levels of nastiness that will bring more than tears to our eyes.

Effects of Mustard Gas

After a mustard gas attack, you might think nothing more about it for a few hours or even a day. But eventually you would see red spots forming on your skin that quickly turned into painful blisters. If you underwent a direct attack and inhaled mustard gas, it wouldn’t take long to feel pain and swelling in your nose and throat as the blisters developed, sealing your airway.

The longer the exposure to mustard gas, the greater the damage it causes. Conversely, if you had a brief encounter, your body would heal faster, giving you a greater chance for survival. In some cases, victims experiencing multiple exposures develop hypersensitivity to the deadly chemical agent.

Unfortunately this encounter has already surpassed being brief.

Our democracy has already been hacked, we just don’t know how long it will keep bleeding.

National, Conservatives and democracy

Reposted from Politicheck.

National, Conservatives and democracy

In There Will Be No Deal in Rodney Cameron Slater details at Whale Oil what he knows about or wishes will happen with an arrangement between National and Colin Craig and the Conservative Party.

For Colin Craig though he can forget Upper Harbour, there is no way that Paula Bennett will give up that for Colin Craig. Likewise in Rodney. Mark Mitchell has stared down terrorists, thugs, drug dealers and general scum so a knock out fight is something he would relish.

He rules out any chance of helping Craig in the North Harbour or Botany electorates.

That leaves McCully, frankly he is in his last election, and if he doesn’t bail before hand with the promise of Washington then he should go list only and East Coast Bays can be gifted to the Conservatives.

While East Coast Bays could be “gifted” to Craig that would be dependent on the voters of the electorate.

And as far as democracy goes it would stink.

One comment at Whale Oil:

But if leading up to the elections and the Nats and Conservatives keep telling us how to vote, I will dig my heels and might go off in a tangent or not even vote.

Another:

If National offer a deal to Craig, I am unlikely to vote for either.

And another:

Gifting a seat is not giving democracy a chance, its a cynical manipulation of a flawed MMP system. Being told to vote for a party I don’t support in order to play the system is not democracy

Despite debate and expert recommendations National have chosen to not change the way our MMP works. This leaves in place a 5% threshold that favours large established parties and makes it extremely difficult for small and new parties to get representation. The initial recommendation in 1986 was to have a 4% threshold. That was increased by politicians. Last year’s recommendation was to put it at 4% and that has been ignored by National.

(I believe for fair representation the threshold should be much lower or removed altogether.)

National also chose to leave the coat-tailing provision in place.

The Conservative Party failed to make the 5% threshold last election so failed to get representation for those who voted for them.

A gifted seat would (if voters allow) give them representation that in itself would seem fair to voters – but only Conservative voters. Other small parties who fail to win an electorate and fail to make the 5% threshold would be unfairly excluded.

It would be reprehensible if through self interest National gifted an electorate seat to a selected party to avoid the threshold and enable coat tailing when they have left in place a very high hurdle for other parties.

It would be an outrageous abuse of democracy.

I hope John Key and the National Party will rule out giving themselves a blatantly unfair advantage in the upcoming election.

Pete George

Greed for power versus democracy

The current use ( some say misuse) of our MMP system is only partly the game rules’ fault – thresholds and coat tailing are fiddles designed to benefit the larger parties.

But any democratic system will only ever be as good as what the players (in particular) and the voters make of it. The desperation for power will corrupt any system.

The biggest problem is that there is no provision for a ‘pox on all their houses’ vote. More and more voters protest by withdrawing from the game but that doesn’t punish the manipulators and the corrupters of democracy.

It’s a huge irony that the IMP circus thinks they can pick up the votes of the disillusioned (or the never illusioned).

There’s a huge opportunuty for a principled party but there’s no sign of getting one. the system and the turn off is against it. The two latest political incarnations are attempts by rich people to buy power.

We are seeing what happens when greed for power shits on democracy. Even what appeared to be sensible and reasonable people have been sucked in to the sewer.

Brown affairs: Who watches the watchdog?

A comment by blokeintakapuna at Whale Oil.

Why the Governor General needs to investigate Auckland democracy issues…
and whilst there, look at the political / media corruption issues also.

Our form of democracy is a 2-sided coin. Firstly, we all get “free” elections on a regular basis where all of us are free to choose who we wish to vote for and in a transparent, credible manner and with correct over-sight, the winner is eventually announced soon after voting finishes. That winner then needs to uphold the laws and expectations from the mandate they created for themselves by the values and virtues of who and what they campaigned and crusaded on as an individual.

They are supposed to not only help create the by-laws to help our societies function better, they are required by virtue of being the elected office holder, to actually up hold the laws, ethics and standards of those laws, rules and expectations.

The other-side to our democracy coin, is the checks and balances. Keeping the elected officials and politicians honest, corruption free and being held to account. The so-called mandate of the 4th Estate – the traditional media.

However – when the “watchdog” traditional media become complicit in assisting an elected official to maintain mass subterfuge on all of the population… even aiding and assisting with the façade, through rate-payer funded personal using rate-payer funded resources, to launch coordinated smear campaigns – by the watchdog 4th Estate – on the messenger that revealed the political corruption – well then it really is time our entire democratic systems were investigated… independently. For the sake of “Perception” if nothing else.

…and the coordinated smear campaigns are easily proven too. The Press Council can just review the likes of the Herald’s coverage and that of some of their captured journalists and their attempts at character assassinations of the messenger that spoke up about the corrupt practises by the Mayor elect. For these so-called journalist professionals have nailed their colours the masthead by the tone and calibre of their “articles” ..and it’s that same masthead from which they have hoisted their own petard.

When the democracy Watchdog has been captured and lulled into more of a lapdog of the Left, it’s an ugly stain on the political sofa in the Mayor’s office. When the Authorities can see our democracy and democratic processes being subverted for secret agenda’s of a select few and then elect to sit on the side-lines whilst the messenger gets attacked for exposing the political corruption to the disinfecting qualities of dazzling sunlight…

Our democracy can only function correctly with proper checks and balances. The checks it seems are in the post… and the balances are somewhat MIA.

The Governor General needs a microscope, rubber gloves, and the stomach to lift up the rug in the Mayor’s office and see what’s been swept under there…

Who watches the watchers when the watchdog has become a drooling lapdog? …and a willing, complicit component of coordinated subterfuge upon the Auckland population and NZ’s democratic freedom?

Super city clusterfuck

The Auckland super city mayoralty is a major clusterfuck.

Len Brown has failed badly, and more failings are being revealed and alleged.

Bevan Chuang has been used and abused, but she is responsible for her own actions. She appears to be a political prostitute.

Brown’s main mayoral rival John Palino claims to have no knowledge of the Brown affair – with what appears to have been going on within his campaign he should have. If he didn’t have control he is tainted by association.

Luigi Wewege appears to have discredited himself big time, and at the very least by association he has discredited Palino. If Chuang is a prostitute Wewege can be likened to a pimp if claims made by Chuang of coercion are accurate.

Cameron Slater (Whale Oil) had a right and perhaps a duty to publicise news, but the manner of the revelations, the degree of detail provided and the disregard for collateral damage especially of Chuang are highly questionable. And while he claims to have had no collusion on this with Palino’s campaign manager – his father John – it was obvious that possible links would be presumed and alleged.

While the focus is on local body politics in Auckland there are a number of interconnections with national politics.

This super city clusterfuck is a super sullying of democracy in Auckland and New Zealand.

No wonder more and more people are turned off voting and participating in democracy.

If Brown stood down and there was another election for mayor of Auckland would any decent, capable people want to be involved by putting themselves forward?

Any re-election would more likely be a cluster of vultures scrapping over the carcass of Auckland’s democracy.

Whale scale fail for democracy

The biggest news following the local body elections was abysmal turnout with record low numbers of voters bothering to have their say.

Then the news spotlight turned to the Len Brown affairs. Today these stories got more complicated and dirtier, with claims of coercion of Bevan Chuang from Luigi Wewege who was closely associated with rival candidate Palino’s campaign, and a new revelation that Brown helped Chuang get a job at the council’s art gallery.

(Affairs as plural is deliberate, this involves both an indiscrete personal affair and murky political affairs).

This dirty political business is getting dirtier, and we may not have seen the worst of it yet. People are being and will be hurt by this.

It looks like Chuang’s life is being tossed around on a storm of political players. She has to take some responsibility, but it appears as if she has been used by Brown, by journalist Stephen Cook and Whale Oil, and by Wewege. She is significant collateral damage.

Brown’s wife and family are also major collateral damage.

On a wider scale democracy is going to be hurt by this too. There’s a lot more interest in the unravelling scandals than there was in the election campaigns, that’s the nature of media and public attention.

This is unlikely to translate into increased interest in voting – more likely it will be a whale scale fail for democracy.

Radio NZ’s travesty of democracy

A media release addressing a very concerning exclusion of some mayoral candidates from a mayoral debate on Radio  New Zealand.

I am a mayoral candidate in Dunedin after years of being a strong proponent of better democracy and giving ordinary people a voice in politics.

I found out yesterday that Radio NZ have recorded a Dunedin Mayoral Debate last Monday, to be aired this Sunday, but they chose to invite only four out of nine candidates, those who they deemed worthy of public scrutiny and exposure on national public radio.

This is a travesty of democracy, but complaints have been largely brushed aside – this is especially ironic since the main thrust of my mayoral campaign is to enable a voice in council for the many people of Dunedin who are disenfranchised from politics.

My message won’t be heard on Radio NZ because they are actively shutting out my voice and the people I represent.

I think it is disgraceful that our national public radio broadcaster chooses to play god in our democracy, selecting who they think the voters should hear from and dismissing the other candidates as virtually irrelevant.

Two other candidates, Andrew Whiley and Kevin Dwyer, have also expressed anger about being excluded.

After several phone calls to Radio NZ Wellington yesterday and waiting for replies I talked to Gail Woods. She was quite dismissive. She said they weren’t able to cater for all candidates so had to select those they thought would be of most public interest. In effect they are taking away the right of voters to have a fully informed choice.

Woods said it wasn’t a debate, just a programme of candidates and points of interest about the election in Dunedin. This is contrary to how it was presented to the selected candidates:

Thanks for agreeing to our Dunedin Mayoral debate.

…please prepare a one-minute pitch on your mayoral bid to be delivered during the programme.

I talked at length to Dunedin reporter Ian Telfer late yesterday and he went through a number of points and excuses, but acknowledged that if they only chose to air candidates that were better known that would accentuate the imbalance of exposure.

He said there were too many candidates to fit their format.

Democracy is not something that should be simply modelled to fit media convenience. It is the cornerstone of our way of life. Fair, open and inclusive elections are an essential component of democracy.

Telfer at least heard me out and acknowledged my concerns, but said that it was too late as the debate was already recorded.

I followed up by email requesting an announcement alongside the broadcast (and replay) saying that some candidates were chosen to be excluded by Radio NZ. I also asked for an equivalent opportunity to pitch my mayoral bid.

I hadn’t heard back by this morning so rang Radio NZ in Wellington and talked to someone in the news room who didn’t identify themselves. He was dismissive of my concerns, said it was too late to do anything about it, and then hung up.

I think it is a fundamental principle of democracy that elections be an even and inclusive playing field, especially when our national public broadcaster is involved.

Radio NZ have a responsibility to the voters of this country to remedy this travesty of democracy.

Pete George

Dunedin candidate – Mayor & Council
Mobile: 027 327 3468
Home: 03 471 2122
Twitter: @petedgeorge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petedgeorge
Blog: http://yourdunedin.org/

Campbell Live poll and deceitful democracy

Campbell Live is running a poll on the GCSB bill which will run until the results are announced on Monday 19th August. This coincides with a “Fill the Town Hall and Stop the GCSB Bill” campaign meeting in Auckland.

Whale Oil has had a dig at the poll – Is the Campbell Live GCSB Poll a piss-take or what? Whale points out the irony of capturing of private data in a poll about the capturing of private data.

More significantly a pollster points out obvious deficiencies in the poll – Campbell Live GCSB poll commits the ultimate sin of survey research which points out a@CampbellLiveNZ tweet:

In the next week we’re aiming for the biggest opinion poll in NZ history. Do you support the GCSB Bill? Vote here.

Andrew explains what anyone familiar with polling will know.

Here’s a really important point for anyone wanting to judge the accuracy of this poll –big numbers do not provide representative data!

Here’s why…

This poll commits the ultimate sin of survey research – it uses a self-selecting sample.

People choose to take part based on the topic. This means that the poll only represents the New Zealanders who feel strongly enough about the GCSB bill to take part in the poll.

The only way to attempt to gain a representative result is to take a random sample of New Zealanders, and to ask them the question. Preferably, the topic of the poll shouldn’t be given to people in advance, so their decision about whether to take part will not be based on the topic in question.

He then shows how self-selection with polls can “make an enormous difference”.

But it’s worse than simply self-selection.

It takes a bit more effort but it’s still possible to vote multiple times in the poll.

And there are active campaigns to distort the poll to try and achieve a particular outcome. There is a major effort to make the poll a PR device which is a distortion of democracy.

And it is likely to be promoted elsewhere.

Ironically a commenter ‘geoff’ at The Standard complains about the results being skewed by National.

Why put any merit in an online poll? Sure the GCSB bill will attract a lot of people who are legitimately against it but it is also going to attract the attention of National’s ‘Research Unit’ who, no doubt, will have a room full of people working day and night filling out the form and skewing the results.

The results will be skewed for sure, but it will impossible to tell how much and in which direction the most skewing has occurred.

And this is becoming common. And skewed results are being used in PR campaigns to try and create deceitful perceptions.

It’s a common practice now to use a protest, a poll, a petition or stack submissions to create a perception of democratic opinion. This is deceitful democracy.

Campbell Live should know better. Unless they do know what they are doing.

A party model of representative democracy

There is currently a unique opportunity in New Zealand to establish a modern party model of representative democracy.

Policies are important. The People are paramount.

It’s essential for a political party to have a good range of policies that reflect the character of the party and signal the intent of the party if they get in a position to implement any of their policies.

But the key component of a democracy, and of a democratic party, are the people.

In New Zealand, as in most of the democratic world, we have a form of representative democracy, where we elect representatives who make decisions for us. It is generally accepted that it is not practical to govern a country by referendum.

The people get to vote in an election every few years, and they usually get to express their opinion albeit on a very simple base via occasional referenda.

While in theory direct democracy is the best way to rule by the will of the people (usually via  referenda) it  can be too slow and cumbersome, and it can overrule fair treatment of minorities. The impracticalities of direct democracy are demonstrated by the limited adoption of direct rule by the (majority of) people.

Representative democracy is the common compromise, but it also has flaws. One of the biggest of these is the disconnect that develops between the government (and the parliament) and the people.

To feel included in a representative democracy the people need to be able to speak in a way they are listened to. And they need to be seen to be taken notice of.

The established parties in New Zealand have systems of interacting with the people (especially the party members) to varying degrees and with a variety of systems of communication. Most of this has developed in the old world of politics.

The modern world, with modern rapid communication systems, offers the opportunity for a revolutionary new approach to representing the people, being seen to represent the people – and enabling the people to feel like they are a party of the political process.

United Future is a party that has been through recent turmoil. But from those dark clouds there have been silver linings – a key one being a surge in new membership.

Another potential positive for United Future is that the party structures need to be rebuilt. This is an ideal opportunity to put in place a model of representative democracy that rewards the party members for their commitment.

The tools are already available to enable this. The Internet provides a rapid and extensive means of communicating within a party, between elected representatives, party management and the members.

If United Future establishes an effective modern system of communication with it’s members it will:

  • make members feel an integral and essential party of the party
  • encourage members to stay with the party
  • encourage members to become more active in the party
  • provide a bigger pool of prospective candidates
  • be more willing to promote the party
  • encourage more people to become members
  • be more willing to donate

I believe that if United Future sets itself up as a modern communicative and responsive party it will grow and thrive. It will better represent it’s members.

And New Zealand’s representative democracy will be better for it.

United Future has the opportunity to become a party model of representative democracy.  It’s sensible centrist reputation and a solid range of policies provides an ideal platform to represent ordinary New Zealanders effectively and inclusively.

Better options than referenda?

There was a big discussion on Whale Oil yesterday on government and on the Conservative Party, including on one of Colin Craig’s key policies – binding referenda.

Whale was anti referenda, anti Craig, anti Conservative Party, anti MMP. He is into old school politics, wanting one party rule (the party he prefers of course). He was also anti me:

There is no old school or even new school, just politics. It is blouses like you Pete who think there is another way, and it is people like me who run over the top of you.

But I agree with one thing he said.

The answer isn’t to change the system, it is to use the system more effectively.

I got involved in politics to look for better ways to do democracy. I had favoured more direct democracy including more use of referenda. But I now think referenda have limited benefits and a number of problems.

I think our use of binding referenda about right, having them occasionally on constitutional issues like MMP.

But our system of Citizen’s Initiated Referenda is a farce – designed by politicians to be ineffective and they can ignore them anyway. There are significant problems with referenda.

The petition/referendum system takes far too long. The current asset sales petition has taken over a year, and the referendum hasn’t been scheduled yet. That will take a few more months. In the meantime the Mixed Ownership Model legislation has passed through Parliament and the first share float has just taken place.

Referenda are far too simplistic for complex legislation, one or several Yes/No questions are often inadequate.

And it isn’t a good idea to have referenda – majority determination of legislation – for things that affect minority rights. It would be possible for the majority to disadvantage minorities.

Systems of representative democracy have become the dominant way of doing democracy for a reason – it is the most effective and practical way of doing democracy.

We elect representatives (MPs) and parties to do the decision making.

Our legislative process revolves around MP votes in Parliament, but it includes an opportunity for public input via submissions during the select committee stage. This is an important aspect but has limited use. The number of submitters is not a democratic measure, opposition to bills is often organised by parties or special interest groups who can inflate the number of submitters on one side of the argument.

But the public wants to have more say in what our Parliament decides. I think we should have more say.

If Committee submissions are too limited and referenda are too lengthy and limited how do we achieve this?

The Craig/Conservative bottom line of binding referenda is very unlikely to be accepted by either National or Labour, nor by Parliament – MPs tend to vote against reducing their power. And if it was put to Parliament it would take years to be agreed to and implemented.

And who would decide what went to referenda? Anyone wanting to oppose legislation they didn’t like would try to have it go to a referendum.

I think there is a much better way, a much quicker way – quicker to implement and quicker to operate.

I have a good idea on what I think could work, what would be more effective at giving us, the public, a better say in our politics and our legislation.

It would work with the current system. And it would be designed and used by the people, not by politicians (who generally try to increase their own power and reduce the power of the people they represent).

But I’d like to find out what other people think.

How can we, the people, use our current democratic system better? What do you think?

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