Rodney Hide: Here's telling Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan started his own party and made sure it's his. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Gareth Morgan started his own party and made sure it's his. Photo / Mark Mitchell

One of the great joys of politics is being accountable to, well, everyone.

There are voters, party members, the board, the campaign committee, your electorate committee, the caucus, the media and everyone and anyone who wants to buttonhole you in the street or who has access to a phone or email.

It's mad and it's wonderful. It's democracy.

It's what the Colin Craigs and the Gareth Morgans don't understand. They want a party to boss about rather than have to suffer everyone else's opinion.

As Morgan says: "I've never really enjoyed the prospect of joining a party - you know, 'Oh, God, I can think of nothing worse'."

So he started his own party and made sure it's his.

Three years ago Morgan motorcycled through the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to declare the country's economic achievement "magnificent" and the people "wonderfully engaged, well-dressed, fully employed and well informed".

They were poor but happy under despot Kim Jong-un.

But it's not just North Korean economics that impressed Morgan: the politics, too, weaved a spell.

As a result, his Opportunities Party is very Democratic People's Republic. His party's constitution declares Morgan "Initial Party Leader". As such, Morgan appoints the board for a term he decides. The board then chooses the party leader.

The board also chooses the party's list. And the party's policy.

The board also decides who can - and, more especially, who can't - stand for the board. There's a members' vote but their choice is constrained by the board. Once elected, board positions are for life. And to cement the board's power, the board has the power to vote board members off.

Morgan's Party is called The Opportunities Party but provides no opportunity for party members to stand against the board. It's as democratic as the Democratic People's Republic.

I will be amazed if the Electoral Commission registers the party, given the legal requirement "to follow democratic procedures in candidate selection".

Notwithstanding that legal hurdle, Initial Party Leader Morgan is about to have his first political lesson: politics is not telling everyone what you think; it's everyone telling you what they think.

- Herald on Sunday

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Rodney Hide

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