It is clear this week that National has a major factional problem and resolution of this issue will require National to do some soul searching and work out what it actually stands for.
It’s basic problem is that it does not really stand for anything. It stands against trade unions, workers, collectivism, intellectualism, social liberalism and change. At different times it has stood against Maori, Pasifeka, Homosexuals, and Women. It had to be dragged kicking and screaming around to the realisation that these are actually good people and deserve our arhoa. And it only did this when it recognised that there may be political benefit gained by respecting these groups.
It does not really stand for anything. Except individual benefit for its participants and supporters.
It has cobbled together this really awkward coalition which when you look at it is internally contradictory. At different parts of its history different factions served a useful purpose. But now they just fight each other.
The factions are irreconcilable.
The urban liberal faction, highlighted by Chris Bishop, Nicola Willis and Erica Stanford are superficially not too dissimilar to distinguish from their urban Labour equivalents. Except for a hatred of trade unionists and an unerring belief that they are superior to the rest of us. They recognised the benefit in respecting the rights of women, ethnic minorities and gender diverse people a while ago and have been solid supporters of at least some progressive ideals. And when it comes to issues such as climate change they tend to respect the science, at least to a degree.
The christian conservative faction is currently in the ascendancy and includes MPs Simon Bridges, Chris Luxon, Simeon Brown and Chris Penk. They find the idea of supporting women’s rights, particularly in relation to rights over their bodies, problematic. And they tend to rely on the old testament guidance when it comes to dealing with homosexuality. And when it comes to climate change they again seek guidance from the old testament and are happy to leave handling of the issue up to god. It is hard to imagine what they have in common with the urban liberal faction and the bruising debate National went through when the End of Life Choice bill was going through Parliament highlighted how little they had in common with the urban liberal faction.
And then we have the country faction. Good old salt of the earth farmers who over recent years have increasingly sold out to farming conglomerates. People thinking that in the face of the pending global environmental catastrophe we should do nothing, that the old way is the best way.
A major part of the problem is the way the factions have conducted relationships between each other. There is no sense of behind the scenes discrete discussions to try and find a middle ground. Instead they still seem to be drinking from the Dirty Politics kool ade. Leaks and media briefings are the methods most used to conduct inter faction negotiations.
When you boil it down the only thing that National MPs have in common is a belief they have a god given right to rule. With no faction in dominance the chances of a continuation of its current internal war are inevitable.