I've been reading various discussion on Left & Lefter and elsewhere regarding the right of electorate (as opposed to list) MPs to take a stance on "conscience" issues that differs from generally accepted party policy.
Some have argued that an electorate MP gets elected (to some extent) as a result of their own personal policy stance, rather than that of their party, and that gives them a right to vote independently.
I thought it might be useful to look up (on www-ref.electionresults.org.nz) how the election panned out last time for each of the 6 MPs who opposed the Civil Union Bill:
All votes in thousands
|MP||Majority||Votes cast||Personal vote - party vote|
All these MPs have substantial majorities, and it can be assumed that they will be re-elected (except for John Tamihere, who faces opposition from the Maori Party next election). They all get more votes than their party (I assume this is the case for every electorate MP?).
However, it is fairly certain that any Labour candidate would hold the seats above in most circumstances (again excepting Tamihere).
Thus, I don't see the argument that these MPs are in the house because of a personal following as holding much water.