Conscientious Policy

DPF over at Kiwiblog disagrees with Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns that alcohol should be party policy. Interestingly he suggests:

I respectfully disagree. I think more issues should be conscience votes, not less. I love conscience votes – you get true debate. MPs lobby each other, amendments are considered on their merits, you get great passionate speeches etc.

Respectfully DPF I disagree. I feel that in an MPP environment where parties have to negotiate to get their policy though that this process can happen with party policy. An example of this that springs to mind is the Green MPs private members bills like the Waste Minimisation Bill.

When you vote for a party I think that you should be getting that parties policy not the policy of the people that the party has chosen to work for them in parliament. In cases where party policy is not available the Party’s MPs should debate how the issue aligns with other party policy and party principles.

Electorate MPs when faced with an issue that is not a clear party of the policy platform they were elected should attempt as best as they can to judge the mood of the people of their electorate.

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5 thoughts on “Conscientious Policy

  1. ‘Alcohol’ usually comes under ‘Health policy’, specifically the bit that deals with weekend staffing of trauma units & A & E;
    and ‘Police policy’, specifically the bits about cancelling all leave over NYE and shifting metropolitain police to patrolling Mt Maunganui et al, to handle brawls, rapes and disturbances caused by unabated alcohol consumption. Plus the usual rostering of extra WPC’s to central city club-strips every weekend, to sort out the brawls, rapes and disturbances we tolerate on a routine cycle.
    Oh, and under ‘Justice policy’, ensuring adequate staffing levels to manage the Monday morning call-overs at District Courts around the country, after the brawlers have dried out in the cells of the local Police Station overnight.

    Perhaps DPF thought his consumption of his favourite tipple at home, as he surfs the net, was under threat, and was unaware of the more usual concerns of those who deal with the effects of alcohol abuse?

  2. I agree myflathasmould! The implication of conscience votes seems to be that other votes are somehow less conscience issues. A tax policy, the effect of which is underfunding and, eventually, homelessness and poverty is not an issue that should weigh on MPs’ consciences but a deciding on the legality of the sexual preferences of people is. I want to know where the party I vote for stands on all issues. I’d certainly be pissed off if I voted for a party that I thought was liberal and then it used the wormy ‘conscience vote’ excuse to allow significant proportions of its MPs to vote for illiberal policies.

  3. The Green Party already has very clear policy re a number of issues related to alcohol. You can find it here, and Green MPs are expected to vote in accordance with it.

    Unlike other Parties, the Green Party acknowledges that alcohol is a drug; that a drug-free lifestyle is the healthiest lifestyle; that people will use drugs regardless of their health implications or legal status; and that alcohol should not be treated any differently from any other drug that has similar potential for harm.

  4. Personally speaking I think all issues outside of confidence or supply should be conscience issues. Might actually make electorates into an interesting contest.

  5. Ari, I would have agreed with you completely under FPP where MPs were elected as electorate representatives.

    But under MMP they are elected in numbers proportional to their party’s electoral support, so I think they should be obliged to follow their party’s policy when that policy had been developed at the time of their election.

    That obligation, however, is one that should (and is) enforced by internal party processes, rather than by law.

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