WHILE IT HAS BEEN correctly highlighted how politically advantageous it was for the Labour Party to suck Willie Jackson into its orbit, little has been said about how this whole affair has highlighted again just how routinely shabby our whole notion of "representative democracy" has become.
I don't recall the original campaigners for MMP advertising it that it would allow MP's to have jobs for life or, as in the case of Willie Jackson, waltz on into Parliament merely because it suits the strategy of a political party in its bid shut out a couple of its competitors.
Juts a few short months ago Willie Jackson was telling his Radio Live audience that he was a firm supporter of the Maori Party. Now, thanks to Labour leader Andrew Little and backroom boy Matt McCarten, he's jumped on to the gravy train and - Choo! Choo! - he will arrive in Parliament on September 23, ready and willing to pick up his big fat salary and generous expenses account. Who knows. If Labour manages to become the government, there's nothing to say that Jackson won't be a cabinet minister. Perhaps that's part of the 'understanding' he has with Little.
And, if you are a taxpayer, you are contributing to the cost of helping to revive Jackson's political ambitions - despite the fact you've had no say in the small matter of whether you want him back in Parliament in the first place.
Of course Jackson comes from within New Zealand's political elite, which Bryce Edwards has referred to as " politicians and their advisers, public officials, and activists that are in the milieu of power". Jackson is not about to rock the boat. He knows his place.
When our politics desperately needs new faces and new ideas that aren't beholden to the market, Labour presents us with a wealthy businessman and an ex-MP who has already been around the block a few times. He's already stated that he's not a socialist and that he doesn't really consider himself left wing. This is true. Last time I looked Jackson was opening up charter schools and attacking RNZ National, New Zealand's last bastion of public broadcasting.
Indeed, back in 2009, Jackson declared that Labour's '... stance on partnership schools won't get a pass mark from me. And as far as Maori are concerned, Labour's Education spokesman Chris Hipkins' Private Members Bill to scrap partnership schools rates an E."
But criticisms of Jackson's rise to political prominence have been few and they have been muted. The political elite, in the end, are not about to criticise one of their own. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters made some throwaway remark about "free willy" but he can't afford to be too critical since he is also about to heave some more political deadwood, ex-Labour MP Shane Jones, back into Parliament.
But the mainstream media, which has largely become integrated into the political elite, have had little to say either. No one seems particularly concerned that we now have a democracy all but in name only which can be manipulated at will by the political elite for its own mercenary ends. Is it little wonder that nearly a million people can no longer be bothered to vote?
The editor of The Daily Blog editor, Martyn Bradbury, who regularly attacks the mainstream media for its political docility, has seen fit merely to criticise Labour MP Poto Williams who has questioned Jackson's political suitability because of the controversial 'Roastbusters' interview. It seems that a media that often promotes itself as the 'alternative' to the mainstream is only alternative in the sense that its supports Labour - and that's no alternative at all.