The right’s lack of diversity

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, August 12th, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: act, conservative party, election 2014, national, nz first, united future - Tags:

(Posted earlier today at Boots Theory)

In my previous post where I talked about the diversity of policy on the left as a strength I said:

A lot of people are still stuck in a First Past the Post mode of thinking, where we have two major parties, they rule the roost, and the “minor” parties are mere annoyances who will fall in line with National or Labour as appropriate.

My point was that this isn’t the case now that we’ve got proportional representation. At least, it’s not the case for the left – but it is still kind of true on the right. There’s one big party who have the lion’s share of the vote, and a smattering of odd little parties at the kids’ table fighting for scraps and key electorates.

It’s one of the reasons National continues to poll so highly. If you’re a rightwing voter, you don’t have any other viable options. ACT under Jamie Whyte had a brief flutter at being a straight-up (if wordy and academic) “classical liberal” kind of party, but promptly descended into a race-baiting law-and-order farce again.

United Future’s day as the moderate, centrist, “common sense” party is well past its use-by, and not even the revival of the worm is going to deliver them more than one seat (and even that could be in question if a thoroughly unscientific Campbell Live poll is anything to go by).

The Conservatives are making the election campaign interesting (threatening to sue The Nation for not including Colin Craig in a debate levels of interesting), but they’re not a right-wing party so much as a collection of reactionary extremists who think not being able to whip your children is the worst crime against civil liberties of the past century.

And the Māori Party are very determined that they’re not a rightwing party, they’re just focused on getting a seat at the table.

There’s undoubtedly a lot of “centrist” or moderate voters who are supporting National too, largely on the back of John Key’s inexplicable, yet undeniably present, appeal. We can debate exactly how much of their support is truly rightwing compared to “middle New Zealand” in comments. The point is that if you are a fiscal conservative, who else are you going to vote for?

You’d think it would be inevitable that another rightwing party would be formed in this situation. There have to be rightwingers who take a different view to the National Party’s standard lines, who don’t like how (comparatively) moderate they’ve been in government. You can see from Jami-Lee Ross’ quickly-sunk strikebusting bill that there are enough peoplewithin National who want them to take a harder line.

I think they want power more. So they’re sticking with what has been a winning formula for the past two terms: an outwardly-united behemoth with a friendly leader. But there’s the trap.

ACT are becoming more and more of a sideshow with every passing day. Dunne’s grip on Ōhāriu is slipping. The Conservatives could end up wasting 3 or 4% of the party vote. And National could very well end up being the biggest party in Parliament with no viable partners, abandoned by Key the minute it’s clear they won’t be in government and with nothing to do for three years but tear themselves apart in the inevitable Joyce/Collins cage match for the leadership.

Should be fun to watch!

46 comments on “The right’s lack of diversity”

  1. Tracey 1

    even when you look at epsom, they are nolonger ACT voters but for the deal. You can see that from the party votes there.

  2. Gosman 2

    Let me get this straight. You are criticising the right because it isn’t as splintered as the left. Is that correct?

    • john 2.2

      It looks very much like a desperate attempt to make being popular sound like a bad thing.

      • Also nope.

        Since you’re both having trouble with your comprehension, this post is not actually “criticising the right” – except by way of noting that the current situation is a very precarious one for them. Without a viable range of parties competing for the rightwing vote, the right is totally reliant on National continuing to be popular with a large chunk of centrist/moderate/whatever-you-want-to-call-them voters. And unfortunately for you, John Key isn’t going to be around forever.

        The TLDR of my TLDR: the current situation of National having huge support with itsy-bitsy lone MPs backing it up is not sustainable under MMP. Too bad for them.

        • john 2.2.1.1

          NZ First and Maori Party could quite easily support National.

          Both have previously.

          • Stephanie Rodgers 2.2.1.1.1

            Oh my god, I had no idea! 🙄

            Yes, on current polling and iPredict stocks, NZ First will hold the balance of power, and if the Maori Party are returned to Parliament they are likely to support whoever forms a government. But Winston is a temperamental beast and the fact the right may have to rely on him to form a government proves my entire point.

            • john 2.2.1.1.1.1

              So Greens and Labour will be relying on who?

              Someone more reliable than NZ First and Maori Party?

              • Lanthanide

                I’ll make this simple for you.

                If NZFirst is the balance of power, then either side would need him in order to form a government. That’s what it means.

                Now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, lets talk about the future.

                In the future, the left have at least 2 credible parties, Labour and The Greens. If someone doesn’t like Labour so much, but still wants to vote left, they can vote Green. And vice versa. We are also seeing the rise of IMP, who are polling higher than the combined party votes of ACT and United Future.

                Now, in the future, if someone doesn’t want to vote National (say they can’t stand Joyce as leader), but still wants to vote right, they vote for…? Hint: you can’t say NZFirst or MP, because they might support the left to form a government.

            • Tracey 2.2.1.1.1.2

              he is so stuck in his assumption you are saying something horrid about his beloved right that he hasnt actually imputed the correct meaning to your words

              • It’s a post on the Standard! It says something about National! They must be attacking National! Quick, deploy the “well Labour and the Greens are just as bad” manoeuvre!

  3. karol 3

    As I said in my post on the Kumeu debate, there was quite a bit of controlling, disciplinary focus from the right parties – especially wanting to control people/society on protection of property rights, crimes against property, low rates, etc. They present a face of (faux) freedom, while practicing various means of controlling those who disagree with them.

    One of the more interesting questions from the public last night was to the conservative party. The policy adviser (a guy with a South African accent), spoke in support of binding referendums. The question asked, was something like: how would the Conservative Party respond to a binding referendum on legalising recreational drugs, given that polls show about 60% of people in favour of supporting legalisation.

    The guy responding saying they were for democratically enabling the majority to decide – then he said something about it being important to frame the questions ‘correctly”. Given the “anti-smacking” referendum question was so poorly worded, it could not easily be translated into law, it seemed to me that they are into manipulating and controlling the will of the people though the wording of referendum questions. So, under the guise of participant democracy, they are all for controlling the population.

    eg, the policy guy also talked about the will of the people to have children growing up with two parents (I think he specified a mother and a father) – he reckoned this would be supported by a referendum.

    Of course, democracy is also about supporting the voices and well being of the minorities – especially those with least power.

  4. Alan Wells 4

    yes there will be a new alternative right wing party option after the election – the one formed by the right wing faction of the current labour caucus, all of whom will gladly walk away from the shambolic train wreck that labour has become since the unions/Cunliffe/Matt dragged the party backwards by 30 years.
    Labour will implode.
    Happy days

    • That’s certainly an interesting perspective. I advise you to engage seriously on this topic or it might look like you’re trolling.

    • Jenny Kirk 4.2

      I guess Alan Wells you were not at the Labour campaign launch on Sunday – where a huge crowd
      (1200 they say) were buoyant and positive and not looking at all like a train wreck. In fact, it was the most upbeat Lbour event seen for years.

    • tricledrown 4.3

      Shane Jones has already left Alan Winston will be the next to join the gravy train

    • Murray Olsen 4.4

      Do you see this happening if Labour loses? Why would they start a new party rather than just joining NAct? I can’t see that this would add any diversity to the right at all.

      The Labour Party hasn’t recovered from being knocked back 100 years by Douglas and co. Sometimes I think Cunliffe wants to get back to the fire in the belly and the social conscience that was seen in the first Labour government. Other times I have no idea what he’s doing.

      You seem serious to me, but wrong. Speaking for myself, I like people turning up who can express and defend their ideas. Mostly we seem to get right wing underbridge dwellers who cut and paste rubbish from some other blog, or repeat Key’s lies. Anyway, I’m keen to see your answers.

  5. Alan Wells 5

    I am serious and I am not a troll, that is the first comment I have ever made on any political blog.

  6. Bob 6

    “There’s undoubtedly a lot of “centrist” or moderate voters who are supporting National too, largely on the back of John Key’s inexplicable, yet undeniably present, appeal. We can debate exactly how much of their support is truly rightwing compared to “middle New Zealand” in comments. The point is that if you are a fiscal conservative, who else are you going to vote for?”
    Bang on Stephanie, the only reason I moved to voting National is because Key moved them slightly left.
    Previously my only option was really NZ First as National and ACT were too far right of centre (under Brash, Shipley, Bolger) for me, and Labour/Greens were too far left (although Helen Clark almost got my vote). Key gave National a social concience that wasn’t there previously (I understand that line isn’t going to go down well on this site, but name any previous National leader that would have brought in breakfast in shools for example).
    The Conservatives have tried filling that same space with some success (~2.65% of the vote at the last election without much publicity), but Colin Craig, while a very honest man, is an idiot.
    IMO National will collapse once Key finally leaves, then you will see the likes of Labour, NZ First, the Conservatives and ACT rise again as they pick up the scraps, in the mean time it’s going to be an interesting election.

    • Clemgeopin 6.1

      “but name any previous National leader that would have brought in breakfast in shools for example’

      I am almost certain (but not absolutely) that the ‘breakfast in schools’ was brought about during the last Labour government’s period, if not in all, but at least in low decile/rural schools, along with fruits in schools. Can anyone who is or was in education confirm this please?

      • Bob 6.1.1

        “I am almost certain (but not absolutely) that the ‘breakfast in schools’ was brought about during the last Labour government’s period”
        Nope, it just sounds like something that Labour would have brought in if they hadn’t gone away from their roots http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/8726019/Free-brekkie-for-low-decile-school-kids
        At this stage Labour were still talking about policies like ‘no need to be Working For Families, we’ll just give you tax breaks anyway’ or whatever the policy was called. It is good to see them moving back away from encouraging welfare dependency and back into properly targetted policy with their latest Health Policy though (the ‘not working for families’ policy made it a disincentive for people with only low level education/work experience to move into work as the would end up with less money for their family).

    • Murray Olsen 6.2

      Key also worsened the economic and social conditions that made breakfasts in schools necessary.
      In my adult life, I think both Bolger and Muldoon had more of a social conscience than Key. Key wants to look good and be accepted. I don’t think he does much at all for decent motives.

  7. lurgee 7

    Key’s appeal is mostly a negative phenomenon. It stems largely from Labour’s lack thereof. If Labour would actually consistently show passion, policy and unity, they’d take this corrupt and ineffectual government to the cleaners. But they strive heroically to make National look good, and – alas! – succeed!

    • Gosman 7.1

      I’d suggest this is more wishful thinking on your part than it reflecting reality. A large number of New Zealanders are quite happy with a moderate right of center government and have been for much of the past 60 odd years. They aren’t waiting for Labour to get its act together to flock back to them. On that front though what apects of the previous Clark led government do you think caused Labour to lose ‘it’?

      • lurgee 7.1.1

        I agree with you, up to at point, that people want competent, stable government first, and aren’t too worried about the political flavour, as long as it isn’t too sweet or sour. I think you misread the main point I was trying to make,however.

        There are about 25% die-hard Labour voters. About the same for National (I might be tempted to go a bit higher but, you know, 2002 …).

        There’s about 25% spread out among other parties. Interestingly, the majority of this belongs to the Greens and New Zealand First – the former, at least, a reasonable partner for Labour (the latter should be burned in Hell).

        And the remaining 25% is the contestable swing vote. National have been far better at colonising it than Labour, in recent years. Right now, they’ve got a lockdown on almost all of it. So they will ‘win’ the election and probably form the government.

        But they havn’t exactly covered themselves in glory this term. They could be taken down by a Labour Party / leftwing alliance that had a bit more vision and fire about it. Not necessarily preaching shoot-the-rich stuff, but just one that seemed to have a consistent message, good ideas, wanted to be in government for the right reasons and wasn’t interested in tearing itself into ever smaller pieces.

  8. tricledrown 8

    Insider news Winston Peters has already done a deal with National for his Retirement Fund golden handshake just like Shane Jones Peters has done a secret deal to go with National after the election!

    • Puckish Rogue 8.1

      So Winnie goes with National (which lets face it is NZFirsts natural partner) and promptly retires thereby letting Ron Mark take over and build NZFirst into a viable long term National support party

      Maybe…

      • Tracey 8.1.1

        newsflash

        Former national party minister, winston peters, natural partner is the national party.

        • Clemgeopin 8.1.1.1

          [Stephanie: No, I thought about it and I’m not happy to have racist jokes about Chinese accents on this thread, even if they’re meant to be making some kind of political point.]

    • Populuxe1 8.2

      Total bullshit. Bombast Bradbury’s brain-farts do not count as “insider news”.

      • tricledrown 8.2.1

        Populaxitive this doesn’t come from those sources .
        Why then hasn’t Key done a deal with the Conservatives wasting 2to3% of the Tory vote!
        Why has Bainimarama Winston’s best mate been aloud into the country!
        McCully the same person that put Shane Jones package together!
        McCully has put a much bigger package together for Winston’s swansong!
        In the last few days in parliament Brownlee was chatting with Winston after 20 years at each others throats!

        • Populuxe1 8.2.1.1

          Key hasn’t done a deal with the Conservatives because they are insane. Key is always thinking of his own image and Craig simply doesn’t fit with Brand Key.
          Bainimarama is allowed back in because he announced the end of Public Emergency Regulations in 2010 and Fiji has full democratic elections this year under the new constitution. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group voted to change Fiji’s full suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations to a suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth, allowing them to participate in a number of Commonwealth activities. He’s out of the dog box.
          Screaming “McCully McCully” doesn’t actually make any of this real outside your own febrile imagination, and in case you haven’t noticed, the political class do actually talk to each other over partisan lines all the time outside debates and sound bites.

          • lurgee 8.2.1.1.1

            It is more likely Peters will go with National than Labour, however. Politically and strategically, it makes sense for him. And National can offer him more baubles.

  9. Alan Wells 9

    Not sour grapes and not wishful thinking, just how I see it.
    I think national will form the next government, Dc, Harre, Hone etc will form a new hard left movement which in future elections will attract maybe 18-20% of the electorate, greens continue to attract maybe 12-13%, giving the left bloc 33% ish.
    That leaves the moderate left/centre/ right with 65% of the electorate.

    I base this on what appear to be untenable differences between the hard left and moderate left within labour – how can they continue to co-exist post election??????

    • Te Reo Putake 9.1

      How can they survive? Same way we have for nearly a century. We don’t mind debate and different ideas in the NZLP. They strengthen us, actually.

      Righto, must dash … fortune finds me in Palmy where the next PM is speaking shortly at a public meeting. Good times!

    • I don’t see even a very moderate National Party (which has its own hard-right elements clamouring for attention) holding 65% of the vote on its own. Nor a long-lasting “hard left” movement involving David Cunliffe, who may be comparatively left compared to some others in the caucus but is only an extremist if you agree with his statement from back in September:

      But let me say this: if putting a warm dry home around every Kiwi child and making sure that their tummies are fed and that they have shoes on their feet is suddenly far left, well, you know, go right ahead with the tag.

      Elite media fear Cunliffe, which is actually a really good sign: Vol 1

  10. tricledrown 10

    Yeah right alan New Zealand has been a right leaning govt sinc the 1950’s where is that support coming from as even the MSM has said overseas equivalent parties such as IMP burn brightly for a short time and then get swallowed up after2 to 3years max ie alliance united future,Act, Winston’s last stand party once Winston has gone that will be NZ First so he is going to the highest bidder just like Shane Jones

  11. Ad 11

    Since 1945 National have always had three terms in power, at least, before being replaced. Their constituent supporters are from a few of New Zealand’s “tribes”, including:

    • That rapidly shrinking Balclutha tribe of super-stable Readers Digest sorts
    • The Haute-bouregoisie Remuera tribe for whom lineage to wealth defines intergenerational political interests
    • The Linton Base Tribe authority-deferent Royalists, military, Police, high church Anglicans, religious conservatives
    • The aspirant Campbells Bay tribe running from immigrant contamination and towards bi-annual real estate calibrations
    • That loyally bought bunch of mass-murderers the dry-stock and dairy farmers, and all who service them

    Despite gradual mutations, those interest bases are not going to go away fast, and that 30-35% of regular voters will rarely if ever shift their allegiance. We have seen it once with Bill English only with Helen on serious second term roll.

    Labour’s “tribes” however are mutating fast.
    – Demographics within the Otara tribe of Samoan, Tongan, and Indian subcontinent communities are fast altering as ties to cultural authority structures weaken. Helen held them because she captured their markets through League, performing arts, and immigration.
    – The Mt Eden class of wealthy urban liberals are weakening reasonably fast; academia’s liberal arts domains have long lost their societal clout, old media empires are atomising and in some parts in terminal decline, and elite arts rely now too much on sponsorship patronage to be a properly oppositional force any more
    – Unions are in permanent membership decline

    Labour’s strategy is baldly to force people to think largely with their financial interests, their costs of living, appealing to the 80% who have not done well since the Richardson et al. It’s a muffled Marxist strategy.

    Key’s magic is pretty much the same as Holyoake’s: the televisual smile of confidence and calm that transcends tribe and replaces it with a sense that New Zealand has a gradual confidence in its own progress. There are still eggs and omlettes, sure, but we have made it and we only need to operate existing structures and economic settings. We don’t need to address the content of our nation, our settings and levers, our cities, or our communities much at all.

    There’s a learning for the progressives here. New Zealanders are suckers for charisma. A nationwide march on parliament and a couple of C-grade players and Hey Presto there’s the Maori Party. A playful multimillionaire reeking of success and chutzpah, and rock and roll here’s the new playa. Anyone notice all the Indians worshipping at the feet of Bainimarama a couple of nights ago?Labour’s apparent Indian base so easily swayed? Assume the mantle of authority and every one-eyed man becomes Bishop, tropical island dictator, or King. And largely we adore them.

    Confoundingly, the Greens’ backing from the Raglan tribe of outsiders and urban neo-hippies show that clean moralistic political virtue will not ever be a breakthrough. They are grinding to 10%, but without a charismatic leader they struggle with anything higher.

    Labour will advance when Cunliffe unleashes pure political charism. Fast bon mots to camera. Cheeky rebuttals and put-downs to radio. Zingy opinion pieces – as well as the staged set-pieces. That takes time for him to trust his own leadership capacity. The real lived skin of it.

    Sure, time the progressive end doesn’t have right now (note again they’ve never stopped a National third term). But we can now see every televisual performance that Cunliffe has more ease and flow, slowly reaching towards his owen version of charm (without the Old Man and The Sea overweening storytelling ego of say Sir Bob Harvey – the Nat’s favourite leftie).

    Greens will advance when they get a leader that could do the same.

    Stephanie is of course right about those other smaller parties. They are separately in parliament with a voting base smaller than the size of Gore. They are simply fucked.

    But every one of us knows that when political charisma aligns with perfect messaging, tribal lines are obliterated. Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power beats Das Capital when it comes to gaining democratic power, every time. That alignment doesn’t happen in New Zealand too often. Even multiple national crises have failed to dent the current lot much.

    It’s still possible that Labour’s caucus will be too impatient to let Cunliffe assume that skin, that easy mantle of true leadership from which powerful charism radiates. Clinton. Kennedy. Blair’s first term. But Cunliffe already makes Key look like a fake, Norman look like the boy who always asks for too much, Peters look like Bela Lugosi, and Harawira look like a grunty thug found with someone’s stash.

    This deep into the campaign, and with most parties’ major announcements banked, it’s not your tribe, it’s not primarily policy, it’s now the person, the leader, who rises, continues to rise, and takes power’s crown from the other.

  12. Glenn 12

    I agree Tracy. Muldoon would be dismayed at the Twerps in power at the moment.

  13. Neoleftie 13

    I tend to agree with Alan wells, the left wing and right wing of labour dislike each other and if labour find itself in a position that it is on coalition with the greens and IM then this might cause a few right winger labour mp to rethink their employment. I say good riddance to a few neo lib centralist of the labour caucus and long may the rising tide of red real labour rise…

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