Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Cup heroes don't need knighthood Sunday Oct 30, 2011 Paul Little at large

The All Blacks deserve all the praise they are getting, not just for winning the 2011 Webb Ellis Cup but for the way in which they have handled the reaction to it.

It can't be easy maintaining your composure when whole towns start whining because you have chosen to spend time with family rather than driving down their main street in the back of a ute.
If only the French had been as gracious. Instead, they have taken a leaf from the All Black Book of Excuses and blamed the media while carrying out their time-honoured practice of spitting on people in restaurants.

Our team's triumph is being credited with everything from driving an export-led recovery to improving the weather, and have you noticed there haven't been any earthquakes since we won? It's no wonder the prospect of knighthoods for key figures has been raised again. The Government, which only recommends such actions to the Queen, must be ruing the fact it can't pull such a voter-pleasing card out of the pack before the election on November 26.

However, for those on the receiving end, a knighthood would surely be a dubious honour. The All Blacks are already members of a much more select group. There are 100 or so New Zealanders entitled to put "Sir" before their names, while only about 30 can claim to have played in a World Cupwinning team. This highlights the absurdity of orders of chivalry. When these were reintroduced by the party of Sir John - sorry, getting a bit ahead of myself there - by the National Government, critics were shouted down as being hoary old anti-elitists, clinging to an outdated view of New Zealand as an egalitarian society. Few noted how pathetic it was that someone should need a title to gain respect. Being called "Sir" or "Dame" is really an elaborate way of saying, "Don't you know who I am?"

In that least egalitarian of all societies - the United States, where success is worshipped above nearly all other gods - honours are not seen as necessary because people's achievements either speak for themselves or don't.

Most knights of my acquaintance (two, if you must know) tell me the only thing the honour is good for is an upgrade when flying overseas. The All Blacks can probably count on getting those for some time to come, anyway. How much more honourable it would be to turn down the honour.

My "Here's your guide to voting in the referendum" pamphlet has arrived.

With distractions behind us, we will be ready for the onslaught of anti-MMP advertising that is about to be unleashed and in a fit state to contemplate our electoral options.

Fortunately, whatever its faults, MMP isn't as loony as the referendum. Part A is fine: "Should New Zealand keep the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system?"

But I struggle with Part B: "If New Zealand were to change to another voting system, which voting system would you choose?"

But I've just told you I want to keep MMP. Why are you asking me to choose another system? Obviously if I don't want to change the system then I don't want any of the alternatives.
The sensible thing for anyone who supports MMP is to leave Part B unmarked. The voting form also leaves out an important detail which could have a big effect on how people vote in the referendum. If voters opt to keep MMP, there will still be a review. This will provide an opportunity to tidy up any problems, such as the disproportionate number of MPs a party can get if it wins an electorate while its total vote is still under the 5 per cent threshold.

The danger is that voters who are worried about problems with MMP but don't know there will be a review may choose the devil they don't know.

An ex-boyfriend of Amy Winehouse, whose death a coroner attributed to a blood-alcohol level five times the legal limit, has said she did not drink as much as many her age. That's consoling. Imagine the state the poor thing would be in if she had overdone it.

No comments: