I won't necessarily be an election-winning policy, but Labour's plan to get rid of "coat-tailing" under MMP if it takes power is beyond due.

Coat-tailing refers to a party which wins a seat getting more than one MP into Parliament despite not reaching the 5 per cent threshhold.

A threshold seems fair enough - a party should be able to show it has a certain level of support if it is going to enter the corridors of power.

(Otherwise we'll end up with the likes of the Civilian Party and the legalise cannabis lobby in Parliament. Diversity is great but you have to draw the line somewhere.)


But that threshold is fairly meaningless if it can be ignored simply because one MP wins a seat.

Because of this rule, the system has been twisted and manipulated in all manner of ways - making a mockery of democracy.

The most obvious example is the way National promotes its support party Act in Epsom, but coat-tailing also seems to be the whole basis of the Internet Party-Mana alliance, which could hinge on Hone Harawira winning Te Tai Tokerau.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said yesterday if they won the election they would remove coat-tailing provisions in the Electoral Act within 100 days. They would also lower the threshold required to enter Parliament from 5 per cent to 4 per cent, which seems fair enough.

MMP may have delivered coat-tailing and rogue list MPs, not to mention some colourful characters, but it has also delivered on its promise of greater representation across the spectrum.

Depending on which way you lean politically, this could be seen as a great or terrible thing, but under MMP minor parties including Act and the Maori Party have been able to achieve things they never would have under the old First Past the Post system.

The removal of coat-tailing could see fewer minor parties in Parliament but that would be worth it, if it restores the electorate's faith in our electoral system.