The Conservatives have a significant constituency and pose an interesting dynamic for the future of NZ politics. Their constituency will mostly come from National and NZ First thus possibly letting the left in or result in them sharing power on the right. The Conservatives are fond of saying how close they got in the previous election given how little time they had worked on it.
People are looking for an alternative to National’s big business favouritism, policies that benefit the wealthy and selling of NZ either through trade agreements, share floats, or foreign ownership deals. Conserving those assets for NZ’ers is an important way this party differs from National. They will want government out of people’s lives as much as they can get it and in that way they are aligned with a National agenda. Their first $25K income tax free policy is something I like. However based on 2011 tax assessment from the Inland Revenue they will need to explain how they would supply the $10 billion shortfall the policy would create before being credible.
There is a large disaffected and disempowered vote out there which they are targeting. Do not forget that large chunks of the Pacific, Asian, South African’s and Maori populations are conservative and religious. Also small and medium business owners and farmers will like the conservative business friendly and understanding platforms. They are trying not to be a Christian party as they know that they will be crucified under that heading and it limits their constituency. They will have a strong conservative social agenda which feels as though they have been shut out by liberals resulting in the social harm witnessed by them today. They have considerable experience and social policy knowledge with Christine Rankin as the party president. They are nationalistic and internationally independent, at least while out of power.
They also have a strong supporter and worker base with a similar zeal to the Greens though older and hence with more money. They will appeal to the elderly as they value them and they are naturally conservative. The old media sometimes think they are the only means by which public opinion can be shaped but people now can communicate directly without the media mediating and the conservatives will have built a direct communications network.
The promotion of citizen democracy as opposed to representative democracy is not a dumb idea. This may well be the path for the future with the Internet as a means of participation and information for those who are wealthy enough to afford the time to be informed and participate. See Switzerland as they look to limit CEO salaries to 12 times that of the lowest paid worker by binding citizen referendum.
I knew Colin at University as we were part of the Christian group on campus. I joined the party for a year and went to their first conference partly because of my past with Colin and as I had some ideas that I thought might be easier to get promoted in a new party. I was wrong. I am a former Christian, too much of a socialist, humanist and care too much for an earthly future for humanity. On balance I decided I would not be able to support them.
Colin is charismatic, very sharp, can communicate well to most (much like John Key), ethical by conservative standards, has integrity and is hard-working and intelligent. Do not think because he has fundamentalist Christian beliefs that he is a fool. Do not under-estimate this party, his leadership ability or his resolve.
Colin like lots of Christians may see himself as a soldier and fighter in a spiritual fight and even though he does not go to church his faith is important. He will sacrifice a lot more than other politicians for his beliefs and he has a lot more vested financially in it than many politicians. Lots of people will trust those who put their money where their mouth is, unlike some politicians who seem to be determined to get as much out of the system as they can. (See the recent housing expense claims).
National is trying to scare them at the moment which may be counter-productive. Paula Bennett’s comment about eating them alive is a joke. I’m not sure if Colin will go up against her but I think she’ll choke if she tries for a piece of him. It would make for a fascinating contest and if Colin comes out on top then be prepared for a real change in the political landscape which is something I think increasing numbers of NZ’ers want. They are already having an impact without being in parliament.