Here it is folks, the chart we’ve all been waiting for.
I have finished my survey of the submission of the Electoral Finance Bill. By my count, 567 people, groups or organisations made submission, (81 Organisations and 15 Joint individual) and overall they are very clear: we do not like this bill.
That little slice sticking out is the “unconditional support” column. It makes up only 5% – 29 submissions. If that sounds good, consider this: half – 14 of those are from Labour’s “form letter” campaign. That means that only 15 people actually wrote their own thoughts on how good this bill actually is. “Own thoughts” is an interesting term to use though – I’ve found two pairs of married couples expressing support in separate submissions so far, along with at least one unionist.
That is not to say that plenty of people didn’t agree with the bill’s goals. Many did. But many either went on to say that the bill accomplishes the opposite of those goals, or by other means indicated that they were actually not completely happy with the bill (e.g. they asked for trusts to be made illegal).
Lest opponents scoff at that 53%, we also have the “General Oppose” group. These are ones who also looked like they opposed the bill, but just failed to say so. Also a few who might have supported a less draconian bill along the same lines, but see the massive flaws with this one. This group makes up another 74 submissions, or 13%. That makes 66% – 2/3 opposed in some way.
Then we have the “General Amend” group (working title: “Not clear, oppose Nat”), who were basically supporting the bill and/or asking for amendments but not clearly saying so. Well, maybe not even that – but they certainly weren’t asking for it to be thrown out. A lot of people wrote in, making statements on how electoral law should look (generally disliking the National party, though few said so) but never actually said what they thought of the bill, and what should happen to it.
Considering what many in this group were asking were all going to favour the National Party – caps on individual donations, a ban on trusts and anonymous donations, bans on corporate donations, greater enforcement of electoral law – I was seriously considering placing these submissions in a “center-right” classification, but I’m quite certain these people are mostly people on the center-left, who are not interested in supporting what Labour is trying to do, and who just want to set out their ideas. Let’s fact it – at this point, there’s not much Labour can do in the area of election law that doesn’t favour the National party. 111 – 20%
Amends– 47 – 8%. The line between this and the previous category is a bit blurry. Not many people actually clearly asked for amends, but I stuck some people in here for the heck of it. Most of the rest were academics who had an interest in electoral law and had ways of improving the bill, or organisations whom were too polite to say “kill the bill”.
I’m not really happy with the classification between these last two groups. Very few people actually said “the bill should proceed with amendments”. I would review this more carefully, but frankly I don’t think the time it would take would be justified. I suspect that if I did review this, that half of these submissions would be moved to the previous category.
Not Classifiable. These guys were people who couldn’t be placed in any of the other categories. Some proposed completely fundamental changes to the entire way we elected our MPs, some just never actually came out with anything firm that they wanted to say. Some I just couldn’t read or make sense of. 7 – 1%.
So overall, there’s a 2/3 1/3 split. But that’s not really telling the full story. One third don’t seem to mind the bill but want certain things from it. The other 2/3 hate the bill, and are not afraid to say exactly what they think of it or what Labour is trying to do.
No wonder politicians are starting to get jittery…
Update: Fixed spelling on the chart.