Editorial: Political pragmatism

Last updated 09:53 07/12/2012

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Brendan Horan needs to go.

Mr Horan is a list MP who got into Parliament on the New Zealand First party ticket, but party leader Winston Peters sacked him this week and so he should go, just as any list MP should go when they are thrown out of, or leave, the party who put them there.

The former television weather reader is refusing to go, but he has no mandate to stay. His leader, who says he has lost confidence, has the right to replace him with an MP who can work within the party.

What can Mr Horan possibly hope to achieve as an independent MP? He has no electorate and no party to represent. He needs to go so the people who voted for New Zealand First, and thereby gave the party the list seat he has occupied, can be represented by the next person on the party list.

This ain't necessarily fair, but it's the MMP system we work with.

The kerfuffle began with allegations by members of Mr Horan's extended family that he had taken money from his dying mother. Mr Peters at first told him to get the situation sorted, but then on Tuesday made a statement in Parliament that he had received further "substantive" information and no longer had confidence in his ability to remain an MP. He was booted from the caucus, forthwith.

Mr Horan has said through his lawyer that he has done nothing wrong, that he welcomes an inquiry into his mother's affairs and that he will not go just because Mr Peters has said he should.

No-one professes to have seen the information the party leader was given that drove him to his decision.

The announcement is not a huge surprise, though.

Mr Peters is a seasoned political battler who will know the damage caused by a caucus member with allegations hanging over them. The claims may be unfounded but it could take years to arrive at that result and the party does not have that much time.

Perhaps it is time to revive the "waka-jumping" law introduced in 2001, under which a seat became vacant if the member holding it jumped, or was pushed, from the party. The rationale was to maintain the strict proportionality of parties in the House under MMP, and that reasoning still applies even though the law was dropped in 2005.

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- The Marlborough Express


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