Home > The Body Politic > Maori Party and the new Conservative Party – some thoughts

Maori Party and the new Conservative Party – some thoughts

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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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  1. Red
    10 November 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve looked at the Conservative party website and I’m not keen on some of their policies. I think Ill stick to the greens!

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