Credit where credit is due. In the past Damien Grant has received some rather negative opinions posted on this site about his articles. For instance he was awarded the doofus of the week award for his weird views about tertiary education. But his latest article deserves praise and consideration. Because he effectively sums up National’s current problems.
The headline is that he believes the National Party is a relic and should be dismantled.
He says this:
The problem with the National Party it is a broad church, covering the socially conservative MP for Pakuranga Simeon Brown and the almost libertarian Paul Goldsmith. Between these two gentlemen is a wide variety of perspectives, with most MPs and members having no clear ideology at all.
National was organised in 1936 to combat the rising success of the Labour Party. The relatively progressive Liberal Party and the conservative Reform Party combined forces to forestall what they saw as the common enemy. National governments have included the de-regulating post-war administration of Sidney Holland and the interventionist Robert Muldoon.
National has never had an underlying belief system, even if a few of its members occasionally stumble across an economic text book. They are committed to keeping Labour out of power but never really sure what to do when they find themselves in office.
I too have struggled with defining National’s primary belief system although self interest features heavily.
Grant then gets stuck into the aspiring leaders. On Amy Adams and Simon Bridges he says:
Amy Adams has proved a competent minister but has never exposed a clear ideology and Simon Bridges most significant achievement has been yelling at John Campbell.
That Bridges clip where he looses his cool completely is going to get some coverage if he becomes leader.
Judith Collins claims in a recent interview that you do not leave a meeting with her without knowing what she thinks, but I’ve struggled to find anything that indicates an ideology other than a firm belief in “strong leadership”.
Banning smoking in prisons and destroying the property of boy racers implies that Collins is an old-school conservative but we are reading the tea leaves rather than her manifesto.
She did bring in private prisons, which gets her a small tick from me, but it is small beer in what is an otherwise empty brewery.
And Grant thinks that National should split into a libertarian party and a conservative party.
Despite their recent high polling, National is a relic and it should divide into its constitute parts. A fractured centre-right collection of parties competing in the market place of ideas is what MMP demands and is the best way to combat the unrelenting ideology of an ever-expanding welfare state espoused by the current government.
This may reflect the thinking of some National MPs. The next few months will show if the Borg like entity that is the National Party will continue or if the right has learned the lessons of MMP and the need for Governments to reflect a diverse array of views.