Friday, 25 November 2011

How I'm voting

So in my last election related post before the polls I thought I'd describe my plans for tomorrow. 

Electorate Vote
As I live in Wellington Central I can't use the ridiculously complex analysis I did of electorate seats. On top of that familiarity has certainly bred contempt when it comes to the parliamentary parties' candidates.  

As it happens I can more easily make a case for voting for Paul Foster-Bell the National candidate than either Grant Robertson or James Shaw.  If the polls were swinging differently Paul Foster-Bell could be a tactical abortion vote, but they're not so he's not. James Shaw appears to have been grown in a lab to personify everything those on the left criticise the Greens for.

Then there's Grant Robertson - who gets a lot of support round Wellington.  I don't like him - not just because other people do - I think I sometimes come across as more contrarian than I am. But for actual good policy based reasons on an issue that is important to me.  Grant Robertson was involved in designing the PBRF (performance based research fund) system that is currently doing such damage to tertiary education (and was always going to do damage in exactly the way that it did).  And I am a little bit contrary so any time people on facebook are nice about him I mutter PBRF and get a little more entrenched.  Plus my second rule of voting is "1984: Never forget, Never forgive." - and I take that very seriously.

So who am I going to vote for? I have two choices: Kelly Buchanan - the Alliance candidate I know and broadly agree with (she posted her responses to the Right to Life on The Hand Mirror).  Or the Pirate Party candidate - because I believe new episodes of Joss Whedon TV shows are a fundamental human right.

I will probably vote for Kelly - mostly because I'm very good friends with her partner - and they're going to drink a shot every vote Kelly gets.  It's been a hard year and it's time for my friend to have fun.   Also I don't know the Pirate Party Candidate's position on abortion - and a girl has to have standards.

Party Vote
A few days ago my facebook status was "I think I'm a reasonably unprincipled voter; all I want is to vote for a left-wing party, where no-one in an achievable position on the list is anti-abortion or a rape apologist."  So obviously I've been having trouble figuring out if I can vote at all.

Rule 2 obviously rules out Labour (and I'm looking for a left-wing party).

I've written at some length with my problems with the Greens in general and Russel Norman in particular.  But my not voting for the Greens this time is more fundamental, because my first rule of voting is "Tories are evil": 

I don't care it's a 1 in a 100 chance that the Greens will abstain on confidence and supply for a National party government after the election (and I think it may be higher than that) - it's still astronomically too high. 

So if I'm voting with my party vote I'm voting for Mana.  I was doing a pretty good job of convincing myself to vote for the lizards so the wrong lizards don't get in.  But then I read their policies.  Now some Mana policies are great - the disability policy is radical, and clearly addresses many of the problems with the current system in a way that takes disabled people's lives and liberty really seriously.  And (as you'd expect) their Te Reo and Te Tiriti policy are awesome.   They released their Industrial Relations Policy today and it's very impressive (I am a little worried that a 25% loading which made casualised labour a legal category would entrench casualisation - but since it's not going to happen that's of rather minor concern).

However, their education policy is just weird.  In some places it is strangely specific, but it ignores or is unclear many of the really important education.   So it's very clear that every school needs a community garden, but doesn't mention the level of the operation grant.  It appears to be promoting a work for the student allowance system (but that isn't really clear).

Then there's their National Standards policy:
Abolish National Standards and replace with information that lets parents know how well their children are doing compared to other children, nationally, without the bad effects of the current direction.

On one level the statement is so incoherent to be laughable: abolish National Standards, but standardise where children are nationally in a way that would magically get rid of unspecified 'bad effects'.  This is such a damaging attitude to what education is for.  The point of education should not be measuring children against other children - but about learning.  Children differ so much in what they find hard and what they find easy, what they love and what they struggle with.  I want an education system the values in every child what they are good at, and but also values learning and improving from where a child is.  Measuring children with other children is the antithesis of that.

Their policy to make NZ tobacco free is so ridiculous that it's hard to know how to respond.  The failure of prohibition is pretty well documented when it comes to alcohol and drugs.  Criminalising marijuana has hardly been liberatory for anyone.

On one level it doesn't matter because it's never going to happen.  But I think it shows a fundamentally problematic attitude towards working-class people's lives.  Working-class people are making complex choices about their survival strategies and the path towards liberation involves fighting for more resources and more choices.  Taking away the chance to find a break, breath deeply, and get a hit of nicotine so they can keep going from those who feel like they need it is not liberatory.*  They're ignoring all that and instead asking how can we use the power of the state to get people to behave how we want them to behave?

With National Standards and Tobacco in particular - my problem is not just that the policy is bad, but that it shows a way of thinking about society and state roles that I fundamentally disagree with and makes me distrust the way they are thinking about politics.  

See writing this I have almost persuaded myself not to vote for them.  But I really do want to vote for the least worst option, and they are it.  Unless something dramatic happens in the next 24 hours I'll party-vote Mana.

Referendum Part 1

(I can on occasion be brief)

Referendum Part 2
I think I've decided to vote for STV.

STV is the least bad of the four options.  It also has the added advantage that it'll struggle against MMP, because then it'll be seen as just as (if not more complicated).  In general I don't like it, because I think it kind of formalises protest votes and encourages (or forces in Australia) people to vote for candidates who will win, and it has a high threshold for minor parties.  Although it  would make voting on abortion easy.

If SM was in the picture at all, I would consider voting FPP - but as the choice is between STV and FPP - it's pretty simple.

I'll be live-blogging the election at The Hand Mirror.   Expect mostly mockery, bile, depression, and obsessive attention to who is in parliament and where they stand on abortion.

* I guess I should be clear here that I addiction isn't liberatory either.  I totally support any moves that makes it harder for people to get addicted to ciagerettes and assistance towards quitting.


Hugh said...

I know the Pirate Party candidate personally and he is pro-abortion, although that may not be reflected in his party's policy.

Anonymous said...

As a feminist, how do you feel about Sue Bradford standing by her son through his rape trial?


Maia said...

I wasn't aware of that until two day ago and still haven't fully processed it (which is why I haven't written about it although it is one of the reasons that my vote for Mana was looking shaky for a while). Here are some disjointed thoughts.

I think it's perfectly possible to support someone you care about through court when they're charged with rape in a way that is completely compatible with feminism. However, it is something that you have to work at doing.

My analysis is based on the understanding that he used the consent defence - which is obviously the defence that is most problematic from a feminist point of view. (From what I understand at least in the US a significant number of people get wrongly convicted of rape on the based of wrong identificiation - and an identification defence isn't based on rape myths). If I'm wrong about that then nothing I say below stands.

I don't criticise her for supporting her son. The nature and terms of that support are not our business, and not public, and we should not make any assumptions about them.

However, when he was found not guilty she said: " I'm really pleased that following the . . . trial, the right decision was made."

If she was quoted correctly (which she may not have been) - then that is a political statement - particularly 'the right decision was made'. And you can't quarantine the statement out - it's not just a statement about this case - a political statement about a rape case is a political statement about rape trials more generally. And it's an appalling one.

But then I find it hard to judge her too harshly. Because she'd just learned that her son wasn't going to go to jail. And having someone you love in jail is so very, very scary.

I do think that she should know enough not to have said anything to the media.

It was almost enough to stop me voting for Mana.

Ron said...

Couple of points I think I saw that the Pirate party failied to get registered as it did not have enough members and second if you vote for STV you will never get a chance to get improvements to current system. Only by voting MMP do we get a chance to overhaul it and get rid of some of the more obvious rorts

Graeme Edgeler said...

I understand that Mana does not propose making possession of marijuana illegal, just its sale. People buying or using it would not get in trouble with the law.

As for your vote overall, do you look at the whole list, or just the marginal value of your vote? e.g. Labour is going to get at least, say 25% of the vote, and maybe up to say 35%. You could look at this and think, this might be between 30 and 42 MPs, you could look at the people who are likely to get in in this window, and ask yourself "would I be happy if my vote was the one that meant Labour got 33 MPs instead of 32?, or 40 MPs instead of 39?". If all the people in that window favour pro-choice positions, you could be happy in your vote, even if someone in the top 20 you hated.

e.g. in thinking of the Green Party, I'm not be a fan of Catherine Delahunty, but I know that was I to vote for the Green Party, my vote would not help her get elected. My vote could potentially be the difference between the Greens getting 11 MPs or 12, and I'd be happy if I helped Holly Walker get elected so that's cool. Or a Green vote might help Mojo Mathers be elected, which could be a worthwhile vote. Unless the Greens fall below 5%, the marginal value of a Green vote cannot help Catherine Delahunty be elected, so someone who is not a fan of her can still vote for them, knowing they didn't help return her to Parliament.

Maia said...

Graeme - Do they have a drug policy? I don't think I've read it. Their tobacco policy is from memory pretty vague and aspirational and not even specific about how they'd make tobacco illegal. But whatever they did there's very little evidence that there's a way of banning a substance that people want to consume that'll stop them consuming it. There is lots of evidence that trying to ban substances people want to consume leads to bad things.

In terms of party voting - except for abortion it's mostly based on policy history and intentions more than individuals.

There is no-one standing for parliament where I'm like "Oh Wow she'll be great I must vote for hte party to get her in" (Annette Sykes is the closest). But there are a number of ways MPs make me think less of their party - Russel Norman is the most obvious example.

Although if I hadn't historically ruled out Labour and the Greens and was choosing between the two (which I'm not) I'd vote Labour, because of the abortion advocates who are marginal.

Maia said...

Ron - There are actually two parts to the referendum. First you vote either to keep MMP or to put it up to another vote. Then you vote for which system is going to be in the referendum against FPP.

As I said I am voting to keep MMP, but then I'm voting for STV in the second part.

It's really important that people who support MMP know that they can also vote in the second part of the referendum.

The pirate party is not running a list but it is running a candidate in Wellington Central, where I live.

Graeme Edgeler said...

I'm basing my comments about Mana's tobacco policy on public statements by Hone Harawira, not any official policy statement.

And I reiterate that people can certainly vote in both part A and part B of the referendum. That's an all too common error.

Anonymous said...

When I said 'standing by her son' I meant 'making statements implying she believes he is either innocent or doesn't deserve justice' - my bad, I should have made that clear. After having decided to vote for Mana, I too was shocked to find out - about a week ago. And having read details of the case from the ODT from before Joe Bradford's name suppression was lifted, I am sickened that he was acquitted (I can tell you more if you would like to know). Yes, he used the consent defence. But more pertinently I cannot understand why someone of the feminist pedigree of Sue Bradford would say the things she said - glad it's over? Who is it over for??? Some will not be so lucky.

Your post alerted me to that horrendous Russell Norman blogpost regarding Clint Rickard. Thank you - I think - it would be nice to still be unaware, but at least I go to the polls tomorrow with my eyes wide open. Whatever decision I make will be an agonised one.


The up yours vote said...

Oh yay! I voted Mana in advance today, was the best of a weird bunch. You seem to be an exceptionally harsh critic, but I pretty much always agree with your uncompromising positions.

I voted Mana to bring a bit of fight to parliament. I think Act will go tomorrow, and if the extreme left comes in as the extreme right goes out, don't you think that would declare a change of political direction for Aotearoa?

The up yours vote said...

Okay, so I just looked up the stuff about Sue B's son. The best case scenario - she should not have said anything.

From what I just read, I believe the victim, but that's unsubstantiated, and just my reflexive position.

Sue B is probably not ideologically pure in all circumstances. Who is. On the other hand, if you stand for parliament, you better be ready for a dissection of all your previous statements.

It's not enough to regret my choice, didn't go for the teal deal!

Maia said...

Zeedoo - If you have links to ODT stuff or information I would be really interested (capitalismbad[at] is my e-mail address)

I absolutely agree with you about the implications of what she says - and why those were things that cross the line.

(although I am a prison abolitionist - which complicates my position slightly. Assuming he did rape a woman (and from what little I know that seems entirely likely) I still could not support him going to jail. I support guilty verdicts as they are a way of affirming women's experiences. I don't believe putting rapists in jail fights rape in any way.)

The Up Yours Vote - Thanks! The thought of ACT disappearing is hte only thing holding a glimmer of hope for what's looking like a depressinng night.

Anonymous said...



Trident said...

"I support guilty verdicts as they are a way of affirming women's experiences. I don't believe putting rapists in jail fights rape in any way.)"

I think most rape victims would disagree with you, and I for one am not about to disrespect a rape victim's experiences by telling her her attacker needs to walk free.

But hey, you have been promising to explain how these contradicting values work for you since 2007 so I'm not holding my breath. Makes it hard to take anything you say on the matter seriously, though.

SimonD said...

" can we use the power of the state to get people to behave how we want them to behave?..."

A surprising intellectually incoherent rhetorical question given your propensity in advocating the use of state power at every opportunity.