It's almost as if Gareth Morgan has never met a human.

The man who called for cat genocide - petnic cleansing - in a country where many humans quite like cats; certainly has a knack for, shall we say, laser-focusing his appeal, to an ever more select audience. When it comes to votes, TOP, it seems, prefers quality over quantity.

Even from the outset, TOP was restricting itself to dog-lovers with a Trademe account and a head for economics.

This week, in a further cull of voters, Gareth Morgan decided to eject fans of pigs too. Given the number of voters who've grown up thinking of their own toes as little piggies, this was brave politics indeed.


His sentiment was that Labour's change of leadership was cosmetic, not substantial. But that's not how he chose to say it.

He said, in that infamous tweet: "Jacinda should be required to show she's more than lipstick on a pig."

It certainly achieved cut-through. But sometimes, you can be trending for the wrong reason.

He insisted it wasn't a pigwhistle. Or was he Chicken Little, crying wolf? Maybe he'd have scored more voters by insulting a wallaby instead.

And in the resulting firestorm, precisely no-one has discussed anyone's policies. Not the policies of Labour, not the policies of TOP. So that's worked a treat.

Meanwhile, Gareth Morgan is gobsmacked why nobody is admiring his graphs, cooing at his correlations, or kissing their fingertips at the accuracy of his algorithms.

I've been wondering who Gareth Morgan would be in the Wizard of Oz. He clearly has a brain, and he clearly has a heart. The connection from the heart to the tongue, however, might benefit from a stent or a bypass.

But why is it sexist to talk about lipstick on a pig?


First, it reduces Jacinda, a woman, to lipstick.

Second, the pig - a perfectly intelligent, delicious creature in its own right - is being harshly judged, as being a failure by the measure of (human) female sex appeal. The pig didn't ask for this. The pig was working hard enough just to be attractive to other pigs.

But crucially, this expression judges women as if in a beauty contest. Men are above the fray. Doing the judging. Notice we're talking about lipstick on a pig, not a toupee on a pig. Or Viagra in a pig. Or a midlife sports car, holding taut the belly of a pig.

But perhaps Gareth Morgan has a point. How many elections have been swung by the messenger, not the message? Or by pandering to emotions that aren't even relevant? All of them?

Elections are literally a popularity contest.

How would elections change if policies could be divorced from the personalities espousing them?

It would be like The Voice, the singing contest where judges face away from the contestants, so as not to be swung by looks.

In a debate, every party's policies would have to be spoken on stage, by the same person.

That way, attractiveness, polish, charisma, race, gender, age, energy, crookedness, would remain consistent.

As each policy was announced, the party's name would be kept secret, so that branding bias couldn't kick in. Each party would simply be known by a code, such as Contestant Number Three, etc. In effect, the election would be a blind wine tasting, on a grand scale.

In the polling booth, voting papers wouldn't display the names of parties, or their logos - which most people had simply ticked by reflex for generations.

Instead, the voting paper would list parties by their anonymous code numbers. Voters would vote blind, having been trusted to perform due diligence on policies, and policies alone. Only when results were announced, would everyone find out for certain which party they'd actually voted for.

Now that would be policy-based democracy.

An added bonus: this would eliminate the media frenzy of scandals. Metiria's past, or her character in spilling the beans about it - however you look at it - would have no bearing on whether her party's policies make sense. Nor would wealth, celebrity, or professional experience, be used as a proxy for whether policies make sense.

But until that happens, we're stuck with the present situation. Humans. Humans weighing every conceivable issue, whatever shiny thing catches their eye, whatever bee floats under their bonnet, and reducing the infinite blob of everything, to the blunt instrument: two ticks of a felt pen, once in three years.