Letter: Reforming lessons from the New Zealand election

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Sir: John Smith may have taken more interest in the New Zealand election results than Mark Lawson presumes. After all, he has offered a referendum to the British people on the way we elect MPs.

There is another way of interpreting what happened. If the New Zealand Labour Party failed to win an outright victory over the National Party, but at the same time the majority wanted electoral reform, perhaps Labour should have caught the mood, understood the disillusion in politicians, anticipated the result and come out for change. Maybe then it would have had its majority.

Electoral reform is not about the Liberal Democrats, Ross Perot or Labour defeatism. It is about changing the political culture, bringing citizens into decision- making between elections, making connections, winning the arguments and instituting the new politics for the new century.

The New Zealand hung parliament, I hope, will stop the free-

market health reforms and creeping privatisation of the education system and state housing. Their referendum has said no to the old Westminster model where, just because a party has a parliamentary majority, it can impose its policies, such as rail privatisation, with the support of less than a third of the electorate.

Labour needs to recognise that there is no legitimacy or morality about this, whoever is in power. It is a good way to win trust.

Yours sincerely,


Labour Campaign for

Electoral Reform


8 November