There is this strange process occurring in New Zealand politics whereby right wing parties are clearly entering into accommodations and understandings but are denying that negotiations are happening. The latest example of this involves the Conservatives.
Colin Craig was interviewed on Radio New Zealand this morning. He and senior ACT politicians have this very frustrating habit of refusing to directly answer questions put to them about potential electoral accommodations. It is blindingly obvious that deals are being done but in a classic keep the information away from the leaders way so that they can plausibly deny anything is happening.
It seems that not only Craig is in the dark. Guyon Espiner said that Key had stated that he had not discussed the issue with senior colleagues but clearly National is contemplating a deal with the Conservatives. Maybe the current state of the National Party is that John Key decides all important issues by himself.
Key has claimed that he is being open by stating that an accommodation is possible with the Conservative Party. Well he is but he is clearly willing to push current electoral laws to the edge in his pursuit of an advantage.
National’s electoral success is also its weakness. The failure of any other right wing party being even close to becoming viable means that an accommodation of sorts is almost inevitable if National wants to regain power. There is a strong sense that National is gaming the system. And to achieve success National will have to sacrifice one of its Members of Parliament.
Colin Craig says that there have been no official discussions between National and the Conservative Party. It seems strange that there should be no understandings this close to the next election given the importance of a deal.
Espiner stated that rumours are rife that a seat on Auckland’s North Shore will be offered to the Conservative Party. Craig said that his party are not relying on a deal. Oddly enough he has not decided which seat he will stand in as yet. Craig confirmed that the Conservatives are polling in three seats, Upper Harbour, Rodney and East Coast Bays.
So who will be the sacrificial lamb? Will previously proud to be a Westie Paula Bennett’s desire to become a Shore Girl be thwarted? Will Maggie Barry be put on permanent gardening leave? Will
Mike Sabin Mark Mitchell be perfed out? Or will Murray McCully’s long career be over?
I hope that it is East Coast Bays that National decides on. McCully is not called the Dark Prince for nothing. I do not expect that he will go quietly and a battle over his seat could be fascinating.
But this highlights an issue where well funded puppet parties are being given deals by National in an attempt to game the system. National clearly is willing to risk undermining support for MMP so that it can hold onto power. I trust that the good people of the North Shore can see through this charade and refuse to go along with an arrangement that will see extreme conservative values represented in Parliament.