Media promoting selected candidates

I have major concerns about how media gives selective and disproportionate coverage for some parties and some candidates.

Media often pre-selects candidates and gives them favourable publicity while they ignore or dismiss others. This is common with the selection of which candidates or parties feature in debates.

This is doing a disservice to the public and to democracy.

In part it is probably little more than headline hunting. The amount of political oxygen they give Winston Peters is probably a major factor in his success, as is media failure to hold Peters to account adequately. They seem more interested in his story creating potential and forget their fourth estate responsibilities.

Media can also have a negative effect, often blowing problems and potential things up out of proportion to their importance.

One simple example is renewed media attention given to dildo news. Journalists like to snigger and promote offensive attacks and threats against politicians without caring about the implications of attaching dildo imagery with the targets. I doubt that media outlets would be so salacious if they were the targets.

Selective reporting can lift lucky candidates out of obscurity. This happened in the boring Auckland mayoral campaign, which was everyone thought was a foregone conclusion with a boring Phil Goff. So the media switched their attention to promote Chloe Swarbrick, seemingly for novelty value and to put some interest into their coverage.

As a result Swarbrick did unexpectedly well in the election, and has since been given more media attention when she became a Green candidate.

The media have also been prominent in the rise of Jacinda Ardern to deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

It’s unclear whether media promotion pushed Andrew Little into pushing Annette King and installing Ardern, or whether Labour or Ardern operators manipulated the media to help orchestrate the coup. Whichever it was it was democratically suspect.


The Spinoff is a new media alternative to the old school ‘mainstream’ media. They describe themselves:

The Spinoff is a New Zealand online magazine covering politics, pop culture and social issues. We also have a custom editorial division which creates smart, shareable content for brands.

There seems to be a confusion there between editorial and brand promotion. I thought that news and advertising were supposed to be kept separate.

Yesterday “Politics editor for The Spinoff” Toby Manhire drew my attention to something via Twitter:

That was an odd call for three new candidates. it referred to a this post:

‘Let’s be honest, I wanted to throw up’: Kiri Allan on taking the Labour message from the doorsteps to the TV studio

In her second candidate diary for the Spinoff, Labour’s candidate for East Coast describes door-knocking in the electorate, meeting fellow diarist Chlöe Swarbrick, fronting a press stand-up after that controversial list announcement, and a big TV appearance.

It seems that Allan (Labour), Stanford (National) and Swarbrick (Greens) are being given an ongoing opportunity to promote themselves and their election campaigns via The Spinoff.

There is no suggestion that money is involved but this looks like a selective promotion of “shareable content for brands”.

Sure, media play an important part in allowing the public to learn about political candidates and parties – but a sound democracy requires this to be reasonably fair and balanced rather than picking winners and giving them disproportionate promotion opportunities.

I sought clarification from Manhire about how their ‘candidate diary for the Spinoff’ thing worked and asked “Is giving all first time candidates the same opportunity to promote themselves? Or just a select few?”

Manhire seemed to be deliberately unclear in his response.

All candidates arefree to comment here at Your NZ, or to submit guest posts or inform me of items of interest, but I’m not going to give special preference to any.

@TheSpinoffTV later also simply answered “No”. It seems like another evasive fobbing off.

Last month Manhire detailed The Spinoff versus the 2017 election: our campaign plans exclusively revealed

Generally that sounds quite good, but…

Candidate diaries

We have enlisted a stellar bunch of first-time candidates to write regular posts documenting their experiences as newbies. We begin today with the first pieces from Erica Stanford, National’s candidate in the electorate of East Coast Bays, and Kiri Allan, Labour’s candidate for East Coast.

Not all of our candidates have East Coast in their constituency names, however; we’re also welcoming Chlöe Swarbrick, the insurgent runner for the Auckland mayoralty, Green candidate for Maungakiekie and 13th placed in the “initial” party list. And, with a bit of luck, someone from NZ First, too.

“Enlisted’ sounds like The Spinoff are recruiting – selecting – a handful of candidates to give them special attention. Just candidates from the four largest parties, who already get substantial campaign advantages.

The three already chosen are all youngish and female. Geographically two electorates are in Auckland, one in the north east of the North island. So these selections are not very representative.

Perhaps all three of these candidates will become MPs and may even eventually become Prime Minister as Manhire proposes. And The Spinoff may pat themselves on the back for successfully picking winners.

But in a fair democracy I don’t think the media should be pre-picking winners and providing them with special attention.

Media has to make enough money to sustain their operations, and to do that they have to provide news and information that interests and attracts readers and listeners and viewers.

But if a democracy is to function fairly the media also needs to meet it’s responsibilities. There are growing signs that they are straying from fair and balanced coverage.

We are nowhere near the media and political mess that the US is in, but the power and ability of media to swing an election is certainly there. They need to be as aware of this as they are aware of the need to make money and look cool by selecting a small number hip looking candidates.

Fair and balanced coverage can be difficult to achieve – but it should at least be given priority.

Trump v. US ‘intelligence’ agencies

I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.

US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.

There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.

And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.

There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.

Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.

The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.

“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald is more even-handed: “Trump presidency is dangerous,” the Intercept columnist tweeted Wednesday. “CIA/Deep State abuse of spy powers to subvert elected Govt is dangerous.”

And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”

The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”

They describe ‘Deep State’:

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.

The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.

There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.

As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:

  • Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
  • There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
  • Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.

As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.

It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:

Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.

It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.

It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.

More on ‘Deep State’:

Is voter turnout a problem?

Voter turnout has been trending down for decades. Is this a problem? Or should we not care about people who don’t care about voting, and just work on having better informed people who have an interest in voting?

The Opportunities Party has just released policy on democracy – The Opportunities Party – Democracy Reset – and has a detailed look at voter turnout data.


1. The Data

deomocracy-reset1.jpg

Source: http://www.elections.org.nz/events/past-events/2014-general-election

Fewer and fewer people have confidence in our democracy. They simply don’t see voting as something that impacts on their lives. This is illustrated by the voter turnout.

In addition there’s a difference in the enthusiasm to vote between the age groups. The babyboomers are the most enthusiastic voters. In the 2014 election, 85% of eligible Baby Boomers or older voted (81% of that total cohort).

But for those under 50, only 70% of registered (or 51% of that total cohort) voted and it gets a lot lower for those under 30. For this cohort – weighed down by student debt and the prohibitive cost of getting on the first rung of the property ladder – only 62% of the registered (45% of the number of under 30’s) bothered to vote.

This alienation from the democratic process is not just a New Zealand phenomenon – right across the Western World, people are increasingly frustrated that their democracies are not serving them. There is even a significant difference in opinion on the value of keeping democracy between young and old. In the US 43% of oldies see it as illegitimate for the military to take over if the government is incompetent, yet only 19% of millennials feel like that. And in Europe the numbers were 53% and 36% respectively. The generation divide – wherein younger ones feel our so-called “democratic” government is not serving their interests – is stark.

Such a dichotomy between young and old can be seen from the following graph.

Percentage of people (identified by birth year) who believe it is “essential” to live in a democracy

democracyreset2.jpg

In our view there are three issues to address;

  1. the absence of an independent body that holds the government of the day to account on long term issues
  2. not enough empowerment of communities and direct participation for voters
  3. the lack of a well articulated and widely valued Constitution that makes it clear what all New Zealanders’ rights are

“Democracy is about choice”

One of the stupidest criticisms of Bill English’s decision not to stand a National candidate in the My Albert by-election is that it is undemocratic.

I’ve seen that said in social media, but nonsense is to be expected there.

But veteran journalist Barry Soper also spins that line in Mt Albert byelection waste of money

It’s hard to envisage John Key chucking in the towel in the way English has done on this one. Democracy is about choice and the people of Mt Albert are now being denied it.

Yes, democracy is about choice, and choosing not to stand a candidate is just as valid as choosing to stand a candidate.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the Northland by-election last year, and while Labour chose to stand a candidate they also chose to not campaign for votes for her to help Winston Peters win.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in last month’s Mt Roskill by-election to help Labour’s Michael Wood. NZ First chose not to stand a candidate (I don’t know why).

National choose not to stand candidates in Maori electorates and I haven’t seen Soper condemn them for that.

Democracy is about choice, and an important choice for parties is whether to stand candidates or not.

Media an extension of established power

There is an obvious and major current example of media and journalism working with and enabling established power, in the US election.

It’s nothing new that media both had close connections with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and tried to influence the outcome. Or that other media had close connections with the Donald Trump campaign and tried to influence the outcome.

What is unusual and more complicated is that media, including those who promoted Clinton’s interests, also gifted  exposure to Trump, and enabled his rise and his momentum, and ultimately his success.

There was a clear conflict between what the media wanted – their choice of candidate as president, but they also wanted the headlines and clicks that Trump kept giving them.

A lot of the time it was difficult to separate Clinton’s and Trump’s campaigns from the media coverage.

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The US presidential election was a big event, but on a smaller scale the New Zealand media also works hand in hand with established power, and actively excludes those who challenge established power.

I’ve experienced this myself, and it was a public broadcaster that was involved. In the 2013 Dunedin mayoral campaign Radio New Zealand profiled just four of the nine candidates – that is. gave exposure and publicity to less than half the candidates.

I complained to RNZ in Dunedin and was told they selected the candidates they thought had the most chance of success. Of course this favouritism reinforces the advantages of established power, and makes it virtually impossible for challengers of that power. Ironically I was campaigning for better democratic processes.

I also complained to RNZ in Wellington. They were very dismissive, when pushed said that more candidates “didn’t fit their format” and effectively told me to get stuffed, they weren’t interested in fair democracy.

Similar things happen in every general election, where big media give big exposure to big power, and exclude others. This is common with leaders’ debates.

And the same thing is happening in the Mt Roskill by-election right now. Fairfax has already run a candidate debate that only includes established power, the Labour and National candidates.

On Wednesday: People’s Party threatens legal action over exclusion from Mt Roskill debate

The newly formed People’s Party is considering taking legal action because it’s been excluded from a Mt Roskill by-election debate on Wednesday night.

It’s being hosted by the Central Leader, which has only invited the candidates from National and Labour. 

People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria says he’s not being petty; he just wants a fair go.

“We were trying to talk to them and convince them that you need to give us equal opportunity,” he says.

Fairfax Media brand and communications manager Phillipa Cameron told Newshub that “Fairfax is comfortable that the Central Leader will provide appropriate coverage of parties involved in the Mt Roskill by-election”.

“This particular event is a one-off live stream involving the two major political parties, which is typical of a debate style event,” she said.

Typical of a debate style event where Fairfax are favouring established power. It is a corruption of fair democratic practice.

There was a follow up – Fairfax apologises for Mt Roskill debate snub

Fairfax has apologised to New Zealand People’s Party candidate Roshan Nauhria for excluding him from a by-election debate it is hosting in Mt Roskill on Wednesday.

But he’s still not invited.

Mr Nauhria says Fairfax told him it made the call to only include the candidates from Labour and National because both had polled above 10 percent at the last election.

A very hollow apology – effectively ‘we are sorry, we set the ten percent bar to favour established power and if you challenge that power and our power you can get stuffed’.

All candidates are equal, but some candidates are made far more equal than others.

Newshub points out:

The People’s Party held its official campaign launch on Saturday night drawing a crowd of around 300 people. In comparison, the National Party candidate’s campaign launch held on the same day, with the Prime Minister in attendance, attracted a crowd of just over 200.

That’s an impressive crowd for the People’s Party, but even that shouldn’t matter. What if a candidate does most of their campaigning online?

On a smaller scale than in the US, but this is exposure of New Zealand media being a corrupt extension of established power.

Clinton v Trump, round 1

There has been massive coverage of and commentary on the first US presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Will it change anything? We wil have to wait to find out.

Clinton sounds like a PC electronic checkout; Trump like a drunken uncle from a side of the family you try to avoid.

I didn’t watch the debate and have only seen small bits of it, but from what I did see and hear Clinton was a practiced, smug and smarmy establishment candidate. She won’t have lost committed support but I don’t know whether she will have won many over either.

Trump emphasised his boofishness and what must be a deliberate strategy to lie profusely.

One bizarre aspect of the debate was that Trump denied having said something (I can’t remember which brazen lie it was), and it was shown shortly afterwards that tweets from him that prove he was lying were being deleted from his Twitter account.

Prior to the debate there was interesting string of tweets from @gtiso on the Italian election of Silvio Berlusconi in 1994.

Berlusconi’s secret weapon leading into the 1994 elections was he worked out he could just lie all the time. The whopper the better.

He worked out that the state media would be paralised by the imperative to provide balance and powerless to correct him, while his opponents were left in a state of permanent impotent outrage, both at being lied about and at the fact that he was getting away with it.

So they, and the portion of the non-state media aligned with the left, just spent the campaign repeating “this man can’t be prime minister”.

Result: he won in the closest thing we could get in our system to a landslide. Hey, does any of this sound familiar?

To give you an idea of the caliber of lying: he said over and over that the communists had been in power in Italy for the previous 50 years.

This was, obviously, the opposite of the truth. But in no time at all I started hearing people repeating it in my neighbourhood.

The Brexit campaign adopted similar tactics, now Trump. But I’m shocked it took so long for such a simple idea to be exported.

How many Americans don’t care about politicians lying? Enough to turn their politics and their presidency upside down?

I’m not a US voter but I think I share a common sentiment – I don’t particularly like Clinton, nor what she stands for in politics. But I fear for the effect that a President Trump would have on the United States, and how that would flow on to impact on the world.

Credible democracy is already the loser, but perhaps we ain’t seen nothing yet.

The US election may hinge on how many of those who despair at what they are witnessing turn out to vote versus how many turn away from the election .

New party welcome to try

Two editorials on the rights of New Zealanders to start up political parties versus the rants of people who oppose new parties.

NZ Herald: An Asian political party would be welcome if migrants feel they need it

A new political party aiming to represent Indian and other Asian immigrants ought to be welcomed by all New Zealanders. Our electoral system has been designed to give a voice to minorities. Oddly, the “People’s Party” has not been welcomed by Winston Peters, an enthusiast for MMP who exploits its fragmented politics at every opportunity. “No country is going to progress if we have political parties accentuating their differences,” he said, probably with a straight face.

It is a daring move to form a distinct political party. Newcomers to a country are naturally unsure of their right to assert themselves in its decisions. They know there will be many like Peters, who calls it “an extraordinary demand”. If they elect their own party it might confine itself to issues of particular concern to migrants. That would be a pity.

It is a strength of this country that it has a place in its politics for minorities and it is not for others to tell them how they are represented.

A key aspect of a health democracy is participation, something that New Zealand has a growing lack of.

So more parties and more options for representation should be welcomed by those who value democracy rather than their own narrow self interest.

Dominion Post (Stuff): New party welcome to try for Parliament, but the task will be difficult

The New Zealand People’s Party aims to have its first candidate ready for a by-election in Auckland’s Mt Roskill, if current MP Phil Goff leaves to become the city’s mayor.

Not surprisingly, NZ First leader Winston Peters is agitated. “A whole [lot] of New Zealand people are getting sick and tired of people who think they can walk into our country and now demand to have a say in the political system,” he says.

This is typically gutter-level stuff – “our country” and the fight to protect it from uppity outsiders who “demand a say”. No need for the dog-whistle here.

It’s nonsense. Those who live in New Zealand as residents or citizens are New Zealanders. This is their country and they don’t need to demand a say: they have it as of right.

Yes, it is everyone’s right, including the 25% of New Zealand residents or citizens who were not born in this country but have chosen to live here. And a lot more are children of immigrants – the population of our country is built on immigrants.

Political representation is part of the deal. If a party wants to pitch its tent as a voice for minority communities that it believes are often ignored, then that is fine and no-one should be troubled by it.

An entirely different question is whether it will be successful.

Success will be very difficult to achieve if their aim is to get seats in Parliament, but publicity given them by Winston Peters’ dog whistling may help.

 

Worst designed government in the world

David Farrar summarises an old post at Vox (January 2015) on 3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world.

Does NZ have the best designed Government in the world?

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House. He argues Upper Houses tend to be useless and undemocratic.
  3. NZ’s Constitutional Monarchy which provides a Head of State with no legitimacy to interfere in domestic politics

I’d don’t agree with all his arguments but he makes a good case. I’d add a 4th. No state parliaments. No disputes over what is the role of central government and state governments, and no duplication of multiple police forces, education ministries etc.

I don’t think the Constitutional Monarchy matters, we could do without that without noticing much difference, but the first two are valid.

Our system of Government is certainly a lot better than the US version of State, Congress, Senate and President.

In comments there’s a few other suggestions so I’ll start a new list.

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House.
  3. No State parliaments.
  4. No constitution.
  5. No Supreme Court that overrules the legislature.
  6. We are a small country with a small population.
  7. We are a geographically isolated country.
  8. We have a Bill of Rights.
  9. We are well educated.
  10. We have an Ombudsman and an Official Information Act, and a Privacy Act and a Privacy Commissioner.
  11. Social institutions and sound traditions of democratic rule and good governance.
  12. Low corruption.
  13. Little social tension.

There’s a few contrarians but their arguments don’t stack up.

New Zealand has more of an evolved system of Government rather than being designed, and there is certainly room for improvement in the structure of government and the implementation of government and opposition (who politicians use and abuse it), but our form of democracy is in practice better than most.

S.Russell remodels an old quote:

Ridiculous! New Zealand’s system of government is terrible. Its only redeeming feature is that all other systems implemented anywhere in the rest of the world are worse.

 

 

Democracy compared

Anthony Robins posted on Democracy vs efficiency  at The Standard:

Events in England really highlight the different processes of the two main parties. The Conservatives have completed their leadership transition, Labour’s contest has barely begun. Which model is best?

Nor surprisingly Robins thinks Labour is best.

I believe in the Labour model – both here and in the UK – as I think anyone who believes in democracy should.

It depends on what sort of democracy you believe in. Most democracies have some degree of representative democracy – where you elect people to represent you and make decisions for the people – and relatively limited options for direct democracy (where the majority of people make the decisions via votes) beyond occasional elections.

Two little say annoys the hell out of people, but too much say too often can bog down and even paralyse the functioning of a government.

Labour have barely started the challenge process in their (largely) democratic but cumbersome manner – an open selection, with real input from the members.

But there is no doubt that it is cumbersome, it paralysed (and will continue to paralyse) UK Labour at a time when it should have been moving decisively.

Robins understands the problems with a cumbersome democratic process (he doesn’t mention the game playing and manipulation of the processes going on with UK Labour).

There needs to be a counter-narrative. As the UK accepts the “democratic” Brexit vote, it should also accept and celebrate the democratic Labour process. Yes it’s cumbersome, but it involves we the people in politics, when it is obvious that the Tory “closed doors” model has been undermining democratic participation for decades.

This is naive inaccurate partisan bollocks.

Missy commented on Robins’ post yesterday:


I braved the swamp, and dipped my toe (figuratively, not literally) into The Standard. Anthony Robbins has done a post on the differences between the UK Labour leadership and the Conservative Leadership change.

His post however shows exactly how little he has either followed – or understood – the differences. He (naturally) extols the virtues of Labour’s way as being more democratic in that the members can vote, whilst the Conservatives did it behind closed doors quickly in an undemocratic manner (by inference, he didn’t actually state it was undemocratic). Anthony also seems to have overlooked the fact that of the final two candidates Leadsom dropped out, leaving only one candidate, which made it more efficient in terms of getting a new leader in place this time around.

Whilst he acknowledges the Labour party system is cumbersome, he doesn’t seem to think of what may happen if they have to run one of these leadership elections if they are ever in Government.

So lets look at the two ways (as I understand it) that these parties vote for their leaders. (disclaimer: I haven’t read the party rules on either of these parties, and therefore am getting my knowledge from how the media have reported it, so could be wrong on some facts).

Nominations:

Labour: Leaders are nominated to the NEC, requiring a certain percentage of support from the Parliamentary Labour Party, (in this case it worked out to be 50 MPs), so essentially they need to have some support to be nominated.

Conservatives: I am not sure how this happens, but from the way it was done this time it doesn’t look like they actually need to be nominated by anyone, they can just nominate themselves – or rather they declare an interest in standing.

Voting:

Labour: I am not sure exactly, but I believe that Labour run a one member one vote system, so there is no weighting like in NZ.

Conservatives: The Conservatives have a two part vote, the MPs get to vote on the candidates, and after their vote the two that are left go to the membership. This means that the MPs get a say in who their leader will be. I am not sure how many times the MPs vote, this time it was twice, but I am not sure if they would have more if there were more candidates, or less if there were less.

Keeping in mind the leader of the party is leading the MPs it seems eminently sensible that the MPs get a reasonable say in who may end up being the leader, the members after all do not have to spend all week with the leader, nor do they have to work for or with them. Based on this I think the Conservatives have a better system for the election of a leader in that the MPs get a say in who may be the leader, but the membership gets the final say.


 

There are different ways of doing democracy, some better than others, and which is the best may vary in different circumstances.

If a country is in chaos or crisis decisive leadership on behalf of the people can be a far better bet than trying to get thousands or millions of people to understand complex situations and make complex decisions.

 

Farrar on why Brexit won

David Farrar makes good points (despite the hammering he gets from the left he is still an astute political observer) about why he thinks the Brexit vote won in the UK in  Three reasons Brexit won

1. Democracy

The EU overall has been a force for good with many benefits for many people. However it is not what most would regard as a democratic government. The heart of democracy is that the people can sack a Government they have got weary of.  There was no real way for the people of Europe or the UK to sack the EU Government when they think it has got it wrong and needs to go. Without such a pressure release valve, discontent grows and grows.

The concept of an EU is good. The structure of the EU is bad. It may have worked when they had nine members, but not for 28.

A particularly good  point. Voters in the UK or any other member country can’t kick out the EU governors if they don’t like what they are doing.

2. Borders

The whole point of nation states is to have control of your borders and your population.  This is not racist or xenophobic. The elites who think it is, are out of step. You can be pro-immigration, but against uncontrolled immigration.

The UK as part of the EU has almost no control over who can live and work in the UK. 500 million people in the EU all have the right to move to the UK and work there if they wish to. Of course it also gives UK people the right to work and live in the EU – and that was a great right for many UK citizens.

Immigration – and a lack of control over it – has become very contentious.

3. EU regulations

A decade ago most of the angst against the EU was the endless regulations coming from Brussels that were ridiculed and resented. However I think this was a minor factor when it came to the vote. The Tories in 2005 campaigned on these, and lost. While people agreed with them, they didn’t think it was as important as issue as the economy, the NHS, schools etc. For the hard core activists, this was red meat, but less important to the majority of the public.

The bigger the governing body the bigger the bureaucracy.