Me, Myself, I: If Colin Craig's Conservative Party was a book we'd call it a vanity publication. The question New Zealanders need to be asking the National Party is: "Why is this country's second oldest political party contemplating an alliance with the purpose-built political vehicle of a disturbingly reactionary millionaire?"
IF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY was a book we’d call it a vanity publication. Born of successful Auckland businessman’s, Colin Craig’s, decision to enter politics, it was never meant to be anything more than a reliable vehicle for its creator’s messianic ambitions.
At the 2011 General Election Mr Craig’s Conservatives outspent the Labour Party by more than $100,000. In spite of this lavish expenditure ($1.8 million!) the party garnered just 59,237 votes (2.7 percent). Putting that another way: Mr Craig and his followers spent a staggering $13.71 for every Conservative Party vote!
Now, in normal circumstances, that information would probably have been filed under “A fool and his money are soon parted”. But in the political circumstances of 2013, Mr Craig’s 2.7 percent of the Party Vote is not so easily dismissed.
Not when the Prime Minister, John Key, fears losing the 2014 election because his government’s current support parties attract insufficient support to carry him across the finish line. What the Prime Minister needs is a new support party – one with considerably more electoral energy than the largely spent political forces currently keeping him in office.
Enter, Stage Right, the Conservative Party. If Mr Craig could somehow be assured of winning an electorate seat, he would, on current polling figures, bring with him up to four additional MPs. These would more than compensate for any decline in the parliamentary contingents of Act, United Future and the Maori Party.
Small wonder, then, that over the past week or so the Prime Minister has been doing his best to talk-up Mr Craig’s self-published electoral book. If enough “punters out there in Punterland” (as his predecessor, Dr Don Brash, dubbed the electorate) can be persuaded to vote Conservative, Mr Key’s electoral bacon may yet he saved.
This prime-ministerial promotion of Colin Craig raises a number of disturbing questions about the health of New Zealand’s democracy. Not the least of these is why a responsible Prime Minister, the leader of one of New Zealand’s oldest political parties, would make the slightest effort to encourage Mr Craig’s political ambitions?
The Conservative Party is Mr Craig’s personal creation, and like the creations of the Christian God he worships, it bears a more than passing resemblance to its maker. Now, were Mr Craig blessed with the wisdom of Jehovah that would be no bad thing, but, alas, Mr Craig is very far from being the fount of all wisdom. On the contrary, both he and his party present an amalgam of some of the least respectable political ideas on offer.
It is Mr Craig’s view that parents should be at liberty to assault their own children. That all citizens should possess firearms and be entitled to use them with deadly effect against intruders. That our daughters are the most promiscuous in the world. That anthropogenic global warming is neither a significant, nor even likely, cause of climate change. That homosexual attraction is a matter of personal choice. The list, lamentably, goes on and on. A noxious political potpourri uplifted from the more disreputable elements of the American Religious Right.
Why would a responsible, twenty-first century New Zealand prime minister have anything to do with a person whose political philosophy is so antiquated that calling it “medieval” would pay it an unwarranted compliment?
Were the Conservative Party the legitimate offspring of New Zealand’s long-standing conservative traditions; and were it peopled by ordinary, decent defenders of the values and institutions upon which New Zealand was founded and which have underpinned her prosperity, then the prospect of it entering into a workable political alliance with the National Party’s nascent liberalism would not be in the least bit daunting.
But the Prime Minister knows that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party is no such thing. Indeed, if Mr Craig is to be believed, his creation isn’t really intended to conduct itself as a political party at all. The Conservatives’ role, rather, is to facilitate government by binding citizens’ initiated referenda.
Can it really be the case that the National Party is contemplating an electoral alliance, and even entering into a governing coalition, with the vanity project of a man who is seriously advocating the abolition of our representative form of government and its replacement with the crudest form of plebiscitary democracy?
Has Mr Key not asked himself why Mr Craig favours government by referendum? Does he not see that it is by such means that the Conservative leader hopes to erect a system which renders impotent all the virtues of parliamentary discussion and debate; all the persuasive power of social and scientific research; all the sage advice and collective wisdom of the many interest groups and institutions that comprise our pluralistic society?
Mr Craig’s Conservatives intend to bring our representative democracy to book. The book which Mr Craig has written, unaided and alone.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 26 November 2013.
Our Colin is a nasty bit of goods and should not be allowed anywhere near the NZ political scene.
It wouldn't be half as bad if he had made his money by starting st the bottom and working up but our Colin inherited his wealth and he's a "Poor Little Rich Kid".
I have no problem with some-one's religious beliefs but I do oppose their imposing those beliefs onto others. As a friend once remarked, "God protect me from born-again Christians" I feel the same.
The Maori Party is on it's way out and Peter "Wind in the Willows" Dunne is too. ACT has past it's use-by date.
The forced-through asset sales is going to come back and bite our Johnny on the behind and the sooner we see that behind the better.
I become amused by New Zealanders continued vilification of christian based parties. Especially when I look at the $10 note in my pocket; the leader of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Not just a christian, but a wowser with it. Christian based parties have had their place in the past, and they will be there in the future.
As regards the Women's Christian Temperance Union; I am reminded of that famous left wing (for those times) politician William Pember Reeves who said that he thought the invention of the pneumatic tyre did more for the freedom of women than any universal suffrage would do.
Chris, please do not villify the christian parties; it does your image no good.
Chris I don't think you can ignore the fact that there is a part of the NZ electorate which favours Mr Craig's policies, or at least enough of them to give him their vote. Perhaps as many as 5 or 6 percent. They don't have to subscribe to all of his beliefs or opinions, just enough to give his party their vote. Most of us, at some stage, end up voting for a broad direction rather than a specific policy or the entire policy collection of the party in question. I imagine that you might have voted Labour or the Alliance at some point without agreeing with everything in its manifesto. Colin Craig is the focus and the funder but he will attract support from people who do not necessarily agree that everything he espouses is right. Just enough to give him their vote at least once.
Craig might try to resist Key in his (ie Key's) continuation of the ugly maorification of NZ
What specious nonsense.
All minor parties are nutters by definition. Single Issue Fanatics.
And Labour would and will sign them up as partners to get in power too. Even the Winston party.
Take the Greens for example. They too are a religious party, worshiping Natura the nature Goddess. Barking mad indeed. They have grown like didymo slime and now will be a toxic partner for Labour to suffer. Tough luck.
And the racist M parties. Yuk. But if they have seats, they will be courted.
So some boring bible bashers are no big deal but under MMP we have to be polite to minor parties, if they fall on our side. Horrible, but that's MMP for you.
I'm sure there are national party MPs who don't believe in global warming, it's a common trope amongst business people. Bullshit though it is. But what is key going to give the Conservatives? That's the interesting question. I doubt if Key will be able to go back on any of the social policies that have entrenched themselves in New Zealand society by now, because these are supported broadly by a fair majority of New Zealanders. I doubt very strongly for instance if he will be able to get rid of gay marriage, or raise the age of consent :-). He might, if he is very lucky be able to get away with abolishing the anti-smacking bill. But there are economic policies to around so-called land banking which I doubt somehow Key would be very keen on implementing. So it might be a marriage of convenience, but it certainly not going to be a marriage made in heaven :-)
You mean like the Greens are trying to do with the taxpayer financed asset sales referendum.
'It is Mr Craig’s view that parents should be at liberty to assault their own children'
- Yep, a petition showed a vast majority supported disciplining their children, not assaulting them in criminal fashion.
'That all citizens should possess firearms and be entitled to use them with deadly effect against intruders'
- Yep, that would work.
'That our daughters are the most promiscuous in the world'
- Its a puzzle that hookers can make a wage there's that much competition from the amateurs.
'anthropogenic global warming is neither a significant, nor even likely, cause of climate change'
- Tax me more, I'm sick of the weather I've been getting.
' homosexual attraction is a matter of personal choice'
- How come pedophiles and rapists can't claim to be victims of their repugnant DNA?
Your fear is that Key's entente with someone of principle will perpetuate his lousy term. If the alternative Labour/Green bloc had a principled backbone they might get in without sliding in by default. Relying on the politics of a rainbow rabble deconstructing civilisation is not a winner.
C Craig is a christian version of an islamic mullah.
I hope Key and the Nacts ally themselves with him.
It will make for some glorious mayhem.
At least it will make the media happy, it will provide endless chatter posing as news or necessary information.
I am sure this a media plot to keep their advertising revenue flowing.
"How come pedophiles and rapists can't claim to be victims of their repugnant DNA?"
Because there such a thing as informed consent. Sigh.
Colin Craig is not vain, he is just one of a sector of society, who has a firm belief, he is right, and must take action, to do things that see the country "right".
There have been many individuals like him in history, and many have been a bit "deluded", to say it kindly.
That is where I put dear Colin, he feels he has a "mission", and he sincerely believes in what he says and stands for.
Of course, for many he will be viewed as being a gullible fool, misled or whatever, but then again, NZ if full of people like that, so there lies the true challenge and danger.
Ingnorance is a virtue to many Kiwis, I am afraid, and go a bit down the suburbanite line, the Waitakere Species are, and especially the countryside, Colin will appeal to very many.
Do not discredit him just like that, he deserves to be questioned and challenged, but hey, every idiot can stand for Parliament, as long as they had no serious criminal convictions.
Welcome to NZ 2013, where Tea Party and Palin have certainly arrived!
"How come pedophiles and rapists can't claim to be victims of their repugnant DNA?"
Because Surgeon, it's a lifestyle choice, like Homosexuals, according the the gospel of our Colin.
Whether we agree with him or not, he has the right to express his views.
what an ugly opinion piece this is. The left truly is worried.
Craig is principled, unlike Labour and the Greens.
Parents want the right to lightly smack their children, speaks a thousand words.
I thought Chris, you were of Christian mettle.
I'm sorry, where did I suggest he couldn't express his views?
How about this for a headline.
The Green party, Labour's future coalition partner, a noxious potpourri , consisting of ex and current communists, pot smokers, and tree huggers
Neither of the major political parties stand for racial equality-quite the contary and for this reason and possibly no other the Conservatives are liable to poll well. End the racial favouritism we currently have. I laughed out loud today when Peter Dunne said the conservatives were a weird bunch!
I think we are more than entitled to disagree here Chris. I really don't understand why do you would believe Mr Craig's position that binding referenda are in aid of his causes (at least the causes you highlighted) is a matter of fact.
Its as if you think that being out-flanked on the left is unusual for a political party, but its really not.
@Surgeon; You misunderstood what I said.
I never meant to imply that you said he couldn't express his views. The last paragraph of that post was simply my own comment.
@Anon 16.02; Are you implying that we should have a theocracy here? That is what I read in your post. There is more behind Craig's views than the BWBB (Bradford's Whack a Brat Bill).
Key is getting desperate and is looking for potential coalition partners to stay in power.
Don't worry too much, Chris - Colin Craig will no doubt be like Sarah Palin and, given enough time and enough rope, will show himself up for the inadequate pseudo politician he really is.
Looking at some of the comments above, I see that some of the Conservatives and their supporters have been told to hit the blogosphere, same as talk back radio this morning, where Sean Plunket delivered one of the most entertaining mornings I ever heard!
I smell a "chem trail" somewhere here!
Watch out for those "Cons" amongst us, no, I do not mean "con-men" or "con-women", I mean those ambushing Conservatives, now very active, trying to get profile, attention, headlines, and to protect dear Colin from all these evil-doers, trying to ruin his political dream.
Great post, Chris, did you notice it's been a lightning rod to NZ's diehard Whalespewtarian Right? It reminds me of the scene when the Righties appeared on Red Alert in its prime.
Must have been linked through NZ's StormFront or something...
Oh, shiver, I just had a nasty colon cringe!
I will pray for New Zealanders seeing the light and vote wisely in 2014.
No more Trader Johns and Dealer Keys, thank you NZ!
Why does everyone assume that the National and Conservative parties are two completely separate entities. My belief is that the Conservatives are a front for the National party designed to exploit a weakness in the MMP system, just like ACT is. Why is it that the National party refuses point blank to close the flaw? Because they need it, not for ACT which is dead, but for the Conservatives, which came into existence only two months before the last election, fully fledged with 500 members. I wonder how many members were former National members.
I wrote the following to the ODT a month ago but it didn’t want to print it:-
“Reading that Bill English will give up his Clutha-Southland Electorate and become a List MP instead reminds me that Lockwood Smith did the same thing for National in the ultra-safe seat of Rodney at the last election. He was replaced by a lowly regarded candidate (ranked 49th on the National List. Lockwood Smith was ranked three) but even that assistance did not enable Colin Craig, Conservative leader and candidate for Rodney, to win.
Lockwood Smith subsequently was given the plum-position of NZ High Commissioner to the UK and knighted last June. I am sure that all these events were purely coincidental and only a cynic would say otherwise. I am sure that any similar events in Clutha-Southland will be coincidental too. However I cant help wondering what Ambassador’s position Bill England has been promised.”
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