A very dumb policy from Cunliffe



According to today’s NZ Herald Labour is promising to make it a priority to get rid of ”coat-tailing” under MMP if it leads the Government after the September election.

He says that within its first 100 days, Labour would remove the coat-tailing provision and lower the MMP threshold required for a party to get MPs without an electorate seats from 5 per cent to 4 per cent.

This is a very, very very dumb policy. It means that Labour cannot make a tactical decision to support the election of an MP in an electorate when the party the MP represents may be getting less than the threshold because that would be “coat tailing”.

However the Labour Party has formed coalitions with parties in that position in the past. Labour even recommended a tactical vote for the Green Party leader in Coramandel when the party looked like it might fall below 5%. Labour has also supported coalitions with United Future, NZ First, and Jim Anderton’s Progressive Party when they may have brought in extra MP’s from their electorate seats.

There is nothing undemocratic about “coat-tailing”. What is undemocratic is the 5% threshold. A party can get over 100,000 votes and still not make the 5% threshold. Their votes are in effect given to the major parties under this system. That is undemocratic. “Coat-tailing” simply means that the votes for a party actually get translated into seats for that party.

This is also a very dumb policy for the Labour Party to announce before the election because they have completely removed any possibility of advising people to vote tactically in electorates where it could make the difference as to whether the Labour Party is able to lead the next government.

This could be a close election. Both major blocs are on around 45%. Labour’s problem is that they are simply one of three parties that make up the left block. They are polling about 30%. The Greens 12-14%. Internet-Mana we can expect will get at least 2-4%.

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If the Maori Party gets an electoral seat they may bring in one or two others. That could give the National Party the majority it needs. The Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell the MP for Waiariki is the most likely one of their candidates to win a seat. Last election the candidate who almost beat him was the Mana Party’s Annette Sykes. Labour came a distant third. But the Labour candidate votes would have been more than enough to put Annette into parliament. Assuming the same or similar situation this election, it would make complete sense for Labour Party voters to vote for Annette for the electoral seat while keeping their Party vote for Labour. The added bonus of that smart choice would be the elimination of the Maori Party from parliament so they got no additional seats from their party vote.

The same principle applies in Te Tai Tokerau with Hone. A win there for Hone guarantees that up to 4 strong left wing voices will go into parliament pledged to remove National from power. Electing a Labour candidate there will not add one seat to the total number that Labour gets in parliament. Every electoral seat a party wins simply reduces the number of seats they get from the list. It makes no difference to the total if they are above the 5% threshold. So if Labour take the seat off Hone it will mean the left bloc in parliament will be reduced by at least three or four seats. In a close election that could make all the difference. Tactically it makes sense for Labour to put thir candidate hight enough on the list to ensure he doesn’t need to win the electorate to get into parliament. A nod and a wink (or a cup of tea) would ensure Hone could win the seat comfortably and strengthen the left presence in parliament. Don’t you want to be Prime Minister David Cunliffe? Don’t you know how MMP works?


  1. It is dumb policy but it also isn’t. Cunliffe needs to show himself as a leader. We said this about this policy and that is what we are going to do. I don’t make different rules for different people, that is what John Key does. Labour presumably believe, that message is very important,and I kind of agree with them. There are lots of ways to signal vote splitting. I have to assume that Matt and Laila are not that fucking stupid that they can’t sort this out.

  2. Makes sense what you say Mike, at the same time it also makes sense for Labour to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to get rid of this evil government and it’s “hangers on” parties i.e. Maori and United Future.
    I can’t understand why Labour are acting so negatively towards IMP, then again it has been a very long time since the Labour Party has shown any honour towards the principles of the original Labour Movement.
    Even Walter Nash made the comment in the Auckland Town Hall back in the 60’s, that there was very little difference between the National & Labour Parties.
    When you look back to the 80’s with Douglas, Prebble and the rest of the gang – some of who are still hanging in there – NOT A PRETTY SIGHT.
    We are going to see some very interesting dramas over the next few weeks and the National Party may not take complete Centre Stage.

    • I strongly disagree with this, why should people be forced to vote when they feel there is nothing worth voting for. Absolutely no compulsory voting!

  3. I’m HOPING this is a cunning plan (and no, there is no Captain Blackadder and Baldric in the wings)……………..
    ……….when JK obviously turns down DC’s offer and has another ‘cup of tea’ in Epson, DC can then say, well if the Nats are abusing the system then we’ll have to as well (or we’re disadvantaging ourselves and the voters of NZ), but REST ASSURED we’re only doing this in self defense. BUT when we get in to Government we’ll ban this rort.
    This way he has the moral high ground……or something like that????….otherwise I’m at a loss why DC would be so stupid !!!!!!!

    I think banning coat tails is a good idea, BUT ONLY if the threshold is ONE MP, i.e. about 0.6% of the vote.
    WHY on earth would we choose a random figure like 4 or 5%.
    Surely if a party get’s enough votes to equal one MP, no matter how their voters are geographically spread around the country, then given them an MP !!!
    That’s TRUE MMP

  4. Not as dumb as announcing tighter immigration controls just before JK heads off on his “Pacific Island smile-bribe-and-wave, dance-like-an-overweight-white-fafafini, kiss-a-brown-baby tour” !

    What’s next? Perhaps sending out a pamphlet on raising the pension age to 67 to the about-to-be-a-gold-card-holder Grey Power mail list ?

    F F S !!!

    • Do you mean Labour should have realised that Key would treat the Samoans as unsophisticated idiots who could be easily be lied to? That’s not Labours fault that somehow the PM of NZ can bare face lie to the population of another country whilst he is supposed to be there for genuine good reasons. How bloody patronising of Key and how typical.

      Key has done what he always does. takes a grain of truth, that being Labour has an immigration policy that is part of many others to deal with the housing bubble, then makes the rest up. In other words talks unsubstantiated shit knowing its at best misleading but probably just plain lies.

      New Zealand should apologise to Samoa and tell them we don’t think them fools and most of NZ is not like John Key and take what he has to say with a grain of salt!

      Nice shot too by the way of Shane Jones with his nose in the trough over there with Key.

      • “Do you mean Labour should have realised that Key would treat the Samoans as unsophisticated idiots who could be easily be lied to?”

        given that he made cannabilism jokes to tuhoi – i would have

        like you said “how typical”

  5. Both the coat-tails provision and the 5% threshold are undemocratic.

    Voters in electorates where the likely winner’s party will be under 5% effectively get two party votes. In the previous election, Epsom right-wing voters got to bring in a party with their electorate vote for Act and party vote for National. In Te Tai Tokerau the voters there will have the opportunity of two party votes – bring in IMP with their electorate vote and whatever they choose for the party vote.

    The fact that the coat-tails anomaly is going to be used by the left doesn’t make it democratic. It’s just pragmatic to do so.

    Coat-tailing is undemocratic because it gives voters in some electorates two “party votes”. Democracy means one man (person) one vote.

    A further reason to drop the coat-tails is the issue of counter-intuitive voting. At the last election if you lived on Mt Eden Rd and you were a Labour supporter, depending on which side of the road you lived you should have voted electorate vote National or electorate vote Labour. A lot of people can’t get their heads around that – and if they can’t do that then we can’t have any confidence that the result at the ballot box reflects the voters’ intentions i.e. undemocratic.

    The 5% threshold is undemocratic because as you rightly point out, almost reaching 5% without representation is unjust for a significant number of voters. I think the threshold should be lowered to 3% or 2.5% to minimise that problem but also to guard against tail wagging dog if the threshold is too low (1%). The Royal Commission recommended 4% and while I think that’s too high, it’s better than 5%.

    Another problem with the threshold is that under MMP it creates “wasted votes”. The problem with “wasted votes” isn’t that they’re wasted, it’s what really happens to them that is bad news. At the last election if ten of us had voted for ALCP (which didn’t reach the threshold) then effectively our ten votes got divvied up as 5 to National, 3 to Labour, 1 to Green and 1 to NZF. Votes effectively go to parties the voters wouldn’t want to vote for.

    The next tweak to MMP (or preferably switch to STV) needs to deal with wasted votes e.g. allow parties to transfer their votes to another party if they don’t reach the threshold. And, why for god’s sake are electorate seats still decided under FPP? That’s undemocratic too.

    Coming back to David Cunliffe, I think he’s done the principled thing – and these days that’s good to see.

  6. I don’t agree with coat tailing. It has been used mostly by the right to gain political advantage. I think IMP using it this election while it is still within the rules is a stroke of brilliance, but once the election is won (hopefully by the left) the rules should change. Labour is being consistent about this.

    IMP need to have more faith in Hone and that they will get more than 5%.

    I think the 4% threshold is about right. Anything under that means getting fringe parties, mostly the likes of Act and Conservatives.

  7. The problem is, you cannot have Labour and Greens blame the ACT Party and UF to coat tail (for years), and then suddenly turn around and do the same.

    So while Mike may have a point somehow, he must realise, that this smells too much of hypocrisy to the average voter.

    That is the risk with all this.

    The same applies to “rich donors”, now Labour may be confronted to work with IMP, but that means the Nats will hammer them for hypocrisy, as IMP has now a rich donor.

    It is all not that easy, I am afraid. We want a change of government, but it comes at a price.

  8. With this policy Labour are asking all left voters to ditch labour and vote GREEN or MANA INTERNET to ensure the defeat of NATIONAL all they are doing is showing how damn dumb they are.

    This is why I have switched to the green party 6 months ago AND I AM A LIFE TIME LABOUR VOTER.

    With this sort of policy announcement it is easy to see why on here internet / mana and greens outrank Labour.

  9. Completely disagree. Coat tailing needs to go. Electoral Commission recommended it go along with bringing the threshold down to 4%, but current government rejected this. To try and argue that ‘labour has used it in the past to form governments’ is a silly argument. Of course they have, because those were the rules which they had to play by. It doesn’t mean they cant come out now and say those rules need to change, especially after the electoral commission recommendation and public polling which shows 70% of kiwis don’t support coat tailing. Good on Labour, bold move. You also need to give voters more credit. They know how to use their votes and dont need to be guided by political parties to be strategic.

    • Absolutely, and when Ian Lees Galloway’s bill comes up for its first reading, and the National party don’t support it and it doesn’t pass, then Labour has every right to play the game according to the rules.
      Best of luck to them, though, as I think it is a cynical rule and need to go.
      The one thing I didn’t agree with many with was how they thought that those contesting electoral seats should not be able to appear on a party’s list at the same time.
      I think that rule is a very important one and means that very competent candidates can go head to head in a seat, and a fair fight can be had, without the party putting up the losing candidate having to lose of a good MP. Example, Jacinda Adern in Auckland, a good close contest with Jacinda losing narrowly but we still have her in parliament.
      It would eventually shake down the whole safe seats things, a real nasty under FPP

      • I put an idea to the electoral commission (during the recent ‘ask the public then ignore their ideas’ debacle), suggesting that the LIST MP’s should be decided upon by how closely they lost !!!………. AND NOT the present rort of ‘picking favourates, that don’t under go the public scrutiny of an election’.
        e.g. Rank candidates from #1, the person that was the closest looser, down to the last, being the least successful candidate.
        That way a candidate that ‘only just lost’ would be AUTOMATICALLY at the top of the list (and thus get into Parliament) WELL before a person the electorate ‘didn’t like’ (i.e. they weren’t even close in the vote), but the party ‘power brokers’ decided (behind closed doors) to put high up on ‘the list’.

        i.e EVERY (future) MP would have had to stand up to the public scrutiny of an election and ‘passed’ to some level or other.

        • Personally I like the idea of open lists where you can rank candidates, gives you the chance to put the ones you hate most right at the bottom. Trouble is it makes voting very complicated and time consuming. Some people can’t even cope with two simple votes in our present system let alone having to deal with huge candidate lists in which they need to rank each one.

  10. Might also be a clever political stance by Labour. The coat-tailing provision is clearly the most unpopular part of MMP and by drawing a line in the sand it puts National on the bad side of popular opinion. If National’s hypocrisy on this issue could be laid out for everyone to witness then Labour could make a few gains here. Expect the MSM to give this minimal coverage and instead they will concentrate on Labour and the Greens “terrible fall out” over Carbon Credits and the ETS scheme.

  11. Clearly you admire the many ways National do business.

    John Banks, former true blue National cabinet minister, in an era where he was much more left of the Ruth Richardson’s of the Nats than most, the former mayoral incumbent who had the backing of National in 2010 all of a sudden became the “leader” and candidate for ACT when ACT was finally in its death throes . Any fool could see he was a convenient stooge to get National another seat and moreover he was happy to be that stooge.

    And seriously who would vote for Peter Dunne if National didn’t allow it? They own him and in return he gets some crappy ministerial portfolio, a company BMW and a healthy salary for the next 3 years.

    Who the hell wants a voting system that does this?

    What is very, very dumb is allowing any politician the ability to have direct input into effecting the outcome of an election. Do that and we are 9/10th of the way to any other despot led shit hole where “democratic” elections are held but somehow the despot always wins because they are able to manipulate the vote.

    We voters already have to put up with lies, deceit, and if we are very lucky with National something approaching a half truth, so why give the likes of John Key those odious cups of teas/games of golf/lunches to slip in another National MP when the rules say they can have only one MP per electorate!

    The coat tailing that is part of MMP corrupts the voting process and it must be axed.

  12. @ dwnats . I absolutely agree .

    Perhaps Labour must deliberately and covertly throw yet another election to allow the complete and total colonisation process to be completed ?

    I know , I know . But before you all spit your morning coffee over your key pads think about how much Labour has been given to smite mighty jonky-stien and all Labour seem to do is fumble the ball and kick own goals .

    What the fuck’s going on here ?

    I get emails from Labour ( And how the fuck did they get my email address ?? ) addressing me , somewhat patronisingly as ‘ friend ‘ , then the usual blah . Well , I’m not Labours fucking friend . Not yet anyway . If they prove themselves then just maybe , but until then Labour like the Neo Fascist regime that is the neo liberal infection that is National is no fucking friend of mine thanks all the same . Labour must think I’m fucking brain dead ? I remember the stinking freak show that fell out its arsehole back in the 1980’s to go to do this to us and when I see cunliffe cooing his way through the tax payer funded , via stevie joyce , tv smooch and snuggle fest that is Aunty John’s hug-a-thon known as Campbell [barely a – ] Live I get just a little bit of sick coming up .

    We Kiwis are too polite , too nice . We’re lovely people being ravaged by well educated sociopaths Hell bent on selling us out for a dollar .

    cunliffe should be brawling with jonky-stien whenever they meet . Literally ! The Debating chamber should be erupting into chaos ! David carter , the deviant little shit should be pelted in … well shit actually .

    What do we Kiwis get ? In free fall with shit wages and falling services like health and education while the rich cunts give themselves OUR stuff and make millions from that then blame US for getting pissed off then chuck us in prisons when the dysfunction born of poverty lobotomises us to commit crimes which only effect the very same dysfunctional ???

    Cunliffe rises to the challenge and is cracking down on coat tailing ? I see .

  13. Reduce the entry cut-off to 3.4% (4 seats).

    Increase the number of electorate seats required to make party lists effective (coat-tailing requirement) from 1 to 2.

    Introduce preferential voting (instant run-off; ranking with numbers) for the electorate seats.

    Also, there should be an option to vote for blank seats, that is to say that for each 0.833% (assuming 120 seats) that the blank seats “party” gets, the number of total MPs in parliament reduces by one. The remaining seats are distributed among the other parties as normal.

    If an electoral system doesn’t get at least a 90% turnout then it isn’t doing it right.

  14. Great results for National in the latest Roy Morgan up7%. Labour now trapped under 30%. Greens under 10%. Believe the Labour / Greens connection with Kim Dot Con, and clemency for cash is going down like a cup of cold sick with New Zealanders. Russell Normans save the world policies failing to attract any traction. Public can see through them

  15. What’s really dumb is portraying Labour as a left-wing party. In fact it’s worse than dumb, it is demented.

    Labour have long been an unashamedly capitalist party – look how proudly they are leading the charge to push the pension age out further, how they are committed to keeping restrictions on the right to strike, how they are happy to play the anti-immigrant card, how they back imperialist wars – plus lots more.

    It’s long past time people on the genuine left stopped peddling myths about Labour.

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