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Maori Party and the new Conservative Party – some thoughts

8 November 2011 1 comment

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I’ve been thinking…

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Maori Party

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On the issue of state asset sales, Maori Party opposition appears to be luke-warm,

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Maori Party not keen on asset sales

Tuesday 11th October, 2011

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is trying to create some electioneering difference from her coalition partner by coming out against state asset sales.

National is campaigning on selling off stakes in the state-owned power generators and Air New Zealand if it’s reelected next month.

Mrs Turia says pressure to support the plan is coming on the Maori Party from iwi who want to invest in assets.

“We’re not going to stand in the way of iwi but at a personal level, a political level, we don’t support asset sales because what we’re fearful of is that overseas big buyers will come in and in the end our assets will be owned by them,” she says.

Tariana Turia says there are already protests against Chinese companies buying up farmland although Maori are always conscious that more than 94 percent of land in Aotearoa is now owned by non-Maori.”  Source 

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Three weeks later, the Maori Party position on asset sales to Iwi became clearer, if only fractionally,

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Maori Party give iwi exemption on asset sales

Tuesday 1st November, 2011

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says her party doesn’t support state asset sales, but it won’t stand in the way of iwi who want to buy in.

The party’s manifesto released at the weekend said any privatisation must be managed in a manner that is consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Mrs Turia says the party is aware that many iwi want a chance to buy shares in companies like Solid Energy and Mighty River Power.

“We’re not saying that we support asset sales. What we are saying is we’re not going to stand in the way of those iwi who believe that if they can buy in to those assets, to hold them in New Zealand, we support them,” she says.

The party is also pushing for a Treaty clause into the overseas investment legislation so iwi are given first right of refusal on any land being considered for sale to foreigners.”  Source

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I would suggest to the Maori Party that a   more hardline rejection of asset sales  would put additional pressure on National to reconsider their deeply unpopular policy. Key has already stated today (7 November) that SOE sales could be postponed – supposedly because of the deteriorating state of the global economy. But I suspect it  more to do with public opposition to asset sales, and that focus-group testing has shown that Labour’s campaigning on this contentious issue is gaining traction out in Voter Land.

With the likely demise of ACT, and Peter Dunne probably losing Ohariu to Charles Chauvel, National would have  only one potential ally remaining.  As such, the Maori Party could easily  “flex” it’s collective-muscle and put the brakes on this unpopular policy.

With 68% of voters opposed to asset sales, according to one recent poll, the Maori Party could be tapping into popular public sentiment on this issue by adopting a “me too!” oppositional stance to National.

Once the election is over, and the dust settles, the Maori Party may be the only force in Parliament able to stop the sale process.

The irony of this should not be lost on us;  Maori preventing the alienation of state assets; promoted by a minority; against the wishes of the majority. Oh, the karma.

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Conservative Party

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Colin Craig’s Conservative Party appears to be gaining some traction with voters, and is actually beginning to register in the polls. Not bad for a new party, led by a relative “unknown”, that was registered only on 11 October this year. (Unknown perhaps outside of Auckland.  Colin Craig stood as a mayoral candidate for Auckland in 2010, and finished a credible third-placing.)

Amongst their policies is a mixture of 1950s-style social conservatism; appeal to nationalist sentiment; and economic liberalism. In some ways, they are a more user-friendly version of ACT. Conservatism/economic liberalism with a human face, to borrow a phrase from the 1968 “Prague Spring” uprising.  Or, as TV3 put it,

The Conservative Party opposes selling state assets – in direct opposition to National – and has traditionalist views on marriage, abortion and child discipline – putting them at odds with Labour. ” – TV3

A recent Herald-Digipoll has the Conservative Party at 1.1% – higher than ACT, United Future and the Mana Party, in some polls. The Conservative Party could conceivably  replace ACT as a credible alternative.  Indeed, their Party List appears more diverse in terms of gender and  ethnicity,  than ACT’s Middle Aged White Men’s Circle-Jerk.

Analysis by Guest Commentator,

 Historically Christian parties in New Zealand have struggled to achieve mainstream credibility because the appeal of underlying Christian values has been overshadowed by fears that they will go rabid on abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality. Colin Craig appears to understand this, as his recent comments that the state should not make moral judgements on behalf of individuals would indicate an intention to avoid positioning the Conservative party as a traditional Christian party in order to have a chance of eventually rising to MMP’s 5% challenge.

Alastair, “Political Antagonist”

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Curiously, Larry Baldock (List #3, Tauranga Candidate) and Gordon Copeland (electorate candidate only, Hutt South) appear to be “re-cycled” from Peter Dunne’s United Future Party, under whose banner  they were elected as MPs in 2002.

If the Conservative Party attracts votes, it will most likely be from practically all centre-right  parties; National, NZ First, and ACT, as well as centre-left Labour. The Conservatives appear to offer a bit of everything to everyone, and in some ways are not dissimilar to United Future in 2002, with a bit of NZ First thrown into the mix.

The real danger with this approach is that Craig runs the risk of making the party appear watered down, with questions about moral issues on his Facebook page often met with conservative personal views qualified by reassurances that the Conservative party are not jumping over themselves to enforce abortion laws or turn back the clock on homosexual law reform. That sort of response works well on social media as it has Craig coming across as a nice bloke who has firm social values and respects the views of others, but it simply won’t work in traditional media. If the Conservative party really does start to strengthen their profile then eventually a confident interviewer such as Duncan Garner will pin Craig down to aggressively and repeatedly ask the question “will you or won’t you” while Craig awkwardly dances around his weak and ambiguous policy position. The involvement of hard line Christian politicians such as Larry Baldock and Gordon Copeland look likely to further jeopardise Craig’s “too controversial, keep mouth shut” approach to formal party policy.

Alastair, “Political Antagonist”

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As the Conservative Party matures, and it’s policies become more embedded, electoral support will settle and it will attract mostly… well… conservatives.  With a hint of raw nationalism in the form of opposing state asset sales. It will be the ideal home for disaffected “soft”  National Party and disillusioned NZ First supporters.

After ACT’s demise, it’s supporters will most likely migrate to National, which they see as a potential home for colonisation and eventual “conversion” of the Party to orthodox neo-liberalism. An invisible ACT faction/ginger group will want to do to National what they accomplished in Labour in 1984-1989.

Will the Conservative Party win seats in Parliament? Perhaps, more importantly, the question should be: would the Conservative Party survive Parliament?

A part of me believes that the Conservatives have the potential to do well and chip away support from various parts of the political spectrum, particularly given the backlash towards the anti-smacking legislation, but another part of me worries that they may be spreading themselves too thin.

Alastair,  “Political Antagonist”

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National and ? – some thoughts

8 November 2011 3 comments

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I’ve been thinking…

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National

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That National is higher in the opinion polls than Labour is undeniable.  Even the Horizon Poll – which has supposedly more accurate methodology than the other polling companies – has National at 36.8% and Labour at 25.7%. (Source)

Other polls have National at an unfeasibly high 56% – unheard of in an MMP environment, where up till now the highest Party Vote was National’s 44.9% in 2008.

If National is anywhere near 50%-51% of the Party Vote – enabling it to barely form a government – then it will have made history in MMP elections.

Assuming that National’s vote on 26 November will be somewhere in the high 40s – it will not have sufficient seats in the House to govern alone. It will need a coalition partner.

Which is where things start to get interesting…

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ACT?

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It is apparent to all but the but die-hard fan of ACT that Don Brash’s coup d’état in April  has not achieved a single desired outcome for that Party. Brash’s toppling of Rogney Hide was done on the premise that Brash would re-focus ACT on economic matters and change it’s “brand” from a “chapter” of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, to it’s more traditional role of a neo-liberal party, espousing free market ‘reforms’; user-pays; asset sales; minimalist government; and the Cult of the Individual.

Brash has achieved none of those policy-goals.

ACT is polling well under the 5% MMP threshold (5%). It’s 1% – 3% poll rating rating is not sufficient to win seats in Parliament. It must therefore rely on winning an Electorate Seat, at which point the 5% threshold is set aside.

John Banks’ candidacy in Epsom has also seemingly failed to ‘fire’. Banks is trailing well behind the National Party’s candidate, Paul Goldsmith. Banks’ position is not helped by John Key stating publicly,

I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.” – John Key

Which makes a mockery of the unspoken “arrangement” between National and ACT, and seems to be an insult to Epsom voters that whilst they are expected to give their vote to John Banks – the Prime Minister refuses to lead by example. Charming.

If, as seems likely, John Banks does not win in Epsom then, like Winston Peters losing Tauranga, ACT is out of Parliament.

Strike 1 for National.

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Peter Dunne?

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Since the height of United Future’s popularity in  2002,  their electoral support has declined to margin-of-error polling,

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Source

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United Future, as a political entity, is all but dead except in name. Peter Dunne is essentially now a one-person band – and even in his electorate of Ohariu-Belmont,   is experiencing waning support with each election,

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Peter Dunne, Electorate Votes 1996 – 2008

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199615,915

1999 – 20,240

2002 – 19,355

2005 – 16,844

2008 – 12,303

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In 2008, Dunne’s electorate majority over his nearest opponant, Charles Chauvel (L), was a bare 1,006 votes. At the rate that Dunne has been losing electoral  support, and if even half the Green electorate vote shifts to Chauvel, then Peter Dunne will lose his seat in Parliament.

Strike 2 for National.

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Maori Party?

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National’s only remaining life-line; the Maori Party. Polls indicate that Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, will most likely win his seat, Tamaki Makaurau. Whether he is join by other successful candidates from the Maori Party is anyone’s guess, and with their low overall ranking in the polls, the Maori Party is unlikely to approach the 5% threshold, much less cross over it.

In 2008, the Maori Party won five out of the seven Maori Seats.  With the advent of the Mana Party, formed by  breakaway MP Hone Harawira, and supported by many disaffected Maori Party members/activists, these seats are now contested in a three-way battle; Mana, Maori, and Labour.

As an indicator, Hone Harawira won his seat Te Tai Tokerau in a by-election, earlier this year,

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Source

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If  the Maori Party beat Mana’s challenge and  win sufficient seats; and if  they enter into coalition with National, then John Key is faced with the real prospect of having no counter-balancing Party on the Right. Unlike the 2008 election result which gave him ACT and Peter Dunne on the right, National will be governing at the “pleasure” of just one coalition partner.

Considering that the Maori Party has stated it’s opposition to asset sales (albeit lukewarm opposition), the partial-privatisation agenda may not go ahead as John Key and Bill English anticipated. (*whew!* The ‘family silver’ is saved till another day!)

John Key recently stated,

I think it is important to understand if the Greens hold the balance of power it would be a Phil Goff Labour-led government and I think they would be quite upfront about that.”  Source

The same could be said of the Maori Party. National’s re-election prospects now depend solely on the success of their Coalition partner.

National’s strike 3?  We will have to wait till 26 November for the final result.

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