Tape Gate

I thought that Nick Smith’s observation that the covert taping of MP’s at functions after asking leading questions would lead to a less relaxed contact with party activists, and that this was bad for democracy, had some truth to it.

In the fuss and blame (and counter blame) that has seen this indident blown out of proportion, that rather thoughtful point was lost the the white noise.

I thought it was actually a very interesting observation and not because it was aimed at the Labour Party who are being blamed for the setup, presumably in retaliation for the same thing happening to them.

When I first got involved in politics way back when I was first elegible to vote I remebered being quite impressed that I was able to meet and often very briefly, chat to politicians (one of them being our current PM). As a young political ‘activist’ that made a big impression on me, I had joined the party and here I was being able to talk to the people who lead the country.

As politicians have become more unpopular, and political parties not a very cool thing to be involved with (if indeed it was ever cool), it becomes more important that to attract the interest of young people and the influx of their ideas and views into politics. Whether it is of the Left or Right easy access to elected officials is a very important part of maintaining a participative democracy.

Anything that erodes the appeal of politics and involvement in political parties surely must be a bad thing long term.

Nick Smith is right. I should imagine now that if a reasonably high profile MP or Cabinet Minister was approved by some young bright eyed activist and quizzed about that parties more ‘hard line’ policies, that MP is going to be very reticent to have a very deep discussion about it.

The tricky thing is that I’m not sure that now that ‘genie’ is out of the bottle, that there is any going back. A code of conduct for how MP’s and political parties conduct their campaigns is not going to work and there have always been dirty tricks. I just it’s just a sad progression that eventually these things will happen and each time it will erode the relaxed attitude our politicians have to the public and their supporters.

Whether or not the latest ‘tape gate’ episode will affect National’s election chances (and I don’t think it will make a difference or that the supposed revelations were very enlightening), it has achieved one thing, and that will be a subtle change in the way MP’s interact with the rest of us. And that can’t be a positive thing.

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