AT THE LAST ELECTION APPROXIMATELY 77 percent of enrolled voters decided to vote. That meant that nearly a million people believed they could find something better to do than walk to a polling booth and vote for someone who wanted them to think 'positively ' or look to a 'brighter future' or vote for a kinder and greener free market economy. Or whatever.
The turnout was the third lowest for a century. This was despite the appeals by the Labour Party and its chums to turf out John Key.
Even a CTU-sponsored campaign called ‘Get out and vote’ launched in April last year, had little impact. A lot of people simply decided to stay in and not vote.
In fact Labour's share of the vote fell to a historic low of just over 25 percent, having won only 27 percent of the party vote in 2011.
There has been all manner of suggestions on how to increase the total vote, ranging from internet voting to civic education classes which would indoctrinate unsuspecting schoolchildren about representative democracy and why it is good for them.
But the Labour Party has had another bright idea; basically threatening to beat people over the head with a big stick if they don't fully participate in 'the democratic process'.
In a submission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, Labour national secretary Tim Barnett proposes threatening to cut state support such as tax credits and Working For Families to 'encourage' people to sign up to the election process.
That the Labour Party even thinks this idea is worthy of discussion is appalling but it is indicative of just how intellectually moribund the Labour Party is. Even after a heavy election defeat it is unable to comprehend that if wants people to vote for it then you have to give them something better to vote for. As I wrote last year:
There is a severe and growing disconnect between ordinary people and the political decision-making process in both local body politics and in Parliament. More and more people are now realizing that their elected representatives do not represent them. The more that they tell us that they do, the more we don't believe them.
It is not exaggerating to say that we have a crisis of representative democracy. Voting every few years for a new set of oppressors isn't democracy and it is not surprising that more and more people are opting out of this charade.
But Tim Barnett and the Labour Party prefer to believe it is our fault for declining to participate in the charade. But they only display a political arrogance breathtaking in its stupidity.