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What are National’s constituent tribes?

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, October 23rd, 2022 - 25 comments
Categories: national, same old national, uk politics - Tags:

Russ Jones, who is always a pleasure to read, came up with a really succinct description of the five tribes of the UK Conservative Party.

His description of the problem is a joy to read.

The problem – and I use the word entirely incorrectly – is that there’s no such thing as The Conservative Party. There are five, each with massively different goals and ideals, artificially crammed together because of the FPTP system.

Then he set out the five different tribes which include the following:

  • One Nation Conservatives, who would be recognisable to Ken Clark, and are – at the margins – interchangeable with some Lib Dems. Mercer. Wallace
  • Xenophobic English nationalists, basically UKIP, obsessed with immigration and sovereignty, eg Braverman, Patel
  • Wild-eyed libertarians who believe in the Sovereign Individual, and all the madness Liz Truss just unleashed. Drax. Raab. Kwarteng.
  • Scatty populist bullshitters, who say and do anything to remain in power but have no plan or ideals – Johnson, Dorries and that sordid crew
  • Machine politicians attempting to hold all this together for no reason better than: they have nothing else in their lives, except for a psychotic belief that they alone deserve to rule. Gove or May, essentially

This made me wonder.  What are National’s tribes and how many of them are there?  And how many replicate what is happening in the UK?

  1. There is the pro farming almost groundswell sector of the party.  They think we should trust farmers to get us out of the climate change crisis and leave it all up to them.
  2. Christian conservatives obviously feature very highly.  It is interesting that one of the most conservative, Simon O’Connor, has a challenge to his continued occupation of his seat.
  3. A vocal but shrinking urban liberal but anti worker cult.
  4. And our own versions of machine politicians.  John Key and Steven Joyce spring to mind.

I could not find an equivalent for xenophobic National members although the mere mention of Nanaia Mahuta’s name seems to send a few of them into a frenzy.  Here in Aotearoa the vast majority of us relish in our ethnic diversity and our respect for Te Ao Maori.  But there is a deeply conservative vein to their politics, and people who are angry about, and essentially deeply terrified by change.

For wild eyed libertarians you have to go to Act and for xenophobia see New Zealand first.  MMP has allowed some of our tribes to form their own party.

When things are going well the cracks become invisible.  When things get tough, like from 2018 to 2022 they become very clear.

Nowadays things are much more settled and tribe four appears to be in control.  But for how long?

Anyway I am interested in the collective wisdom of Standardnistas.  What are tribes of National?

25 comments on “What are National’s constituent tribes? ”

  1. Roy Cartland 1

    Is the 'sport at any cost' bunch, like the old pro-springbok-tour cabal still a thing these days? Yachting, motor-sport, the rowers in that old national ad?

  2. 1 I don't know if the automatically anti every good idea that comes from the centre left is a tribe of its own or part of the machine politicians.

    2 Where do the 'good old boys' fit in? Uffindell et al? Emphasis on boys ie male?

    My dad was a Nat through and through, my ex husband also though he has now switched to Labor in Aus. In those days Nat was a a broad church. It was comfortable with having a wider group of people in it and around it than now. Whether this was because there were few other parties so people had to sit where they felt more comfortable but now can feel more comfortable in ACT, NZ First or the Maori Party as you say.

    3 I don't know if the let them eat cake is part of the machine politicians? A stark staring lack of knowledge of how others live, and an unwillingness to find out or give credence to these views? So we get an idea that philanthropists will become part of Govt so Govt does not have to? Max Rashbrooke on Willis' plan for social investment. I call these ones the let them eat cake brigade


  3. Stephen D 3

    MMP makes the difference.

    Under FPP, which GB has, a broad church usually works. But under MMP factions can split, but still be a coalition partner. If we still had FPP David Seymour, and possibly Winston would still be in the National Party.

  4. What about the 'Sleepy boys at the wheel tribe', like the guy in the picture?

    These are kin to those who would vote for a dog (NB in deference to Patricia B I have not put the breed in this timewink) sitting on a letter box if it had a blue ribbon around its neck……or like John Key would have voted for Trump or Bolsanaro ie no discernment to see if the person was a 'good' person or an evil person (Bolsanaro) or just a nut job (Trump) as well as being right ring. My Dad, a fervent Nat, did not vote for nut jobs even if they were right wing) .

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Wild eyed libertarians is a bit tame for ACT – the original swivel-eyed loons is punchier, for all that they may lack an ornithological connection.

    A fairly new National tribe is the Pollutocrats – wealthy neocolonial dairy intensifiers and aquifer drainers employing sub-minimum wage foreign peons to operate CAFO style megafarms. Notable members are the Shipleys and la perfide Anglais – the English tribe. Might be a few seth aefrikans among them too.

  6. What you uncharitably label as "xenophobia" I would call localism, or concern for the wellbeing of the people of Aotearoa ahead of the demands of international corporations or businesses predicated on the exploitation of cheap foreign labour.

    And there is sadly little of that. My perception is that a large part of National come from the corporate world and they are working on behalf of international capital – and would gladly sell their grandmothers if it meant a pat on the head from their masters. John Key being the worst example. But Judith Collins and Christopher Luxon have the same globalist perspective.

    Josh Van Veen called this class the "Anywheres", i.e. the transnational professional managerial class.

    As opposed to the "Somewheres", often portrayed as bigoted reactionaries, but are simply expressing the human need for a turangawaewae (place to stand) of their own. And this dream is increasingly being taken away by the behaviour of the Anywheres and their floating capital causing an escalation in housing costs

    • swordfish 6.1

      Josh Van Veen called this class the "Anywheres", i.e. the transnational professional managerial class. As opposed to the "Somewheres"

      The theory & terminology didn't actually originate with Van Veen … he was explicitly referring to the ideas of British journalist & social commentator David Goodhart.

  7. The Farming/ Groundswell/ VFF lobby is playing to the darker Trumpist tendencies of the electorate and I expect National to try and hoover up some of the resentful conspiracy addled antivaxx crowd. It will be a horrendously racist fearmongering election using all the tricks of Dirty Politics

  8. Alan 8

    I've noticed another tribe, the "get rich easy" brigade.

    They study Political Science at University, join the Young Nats, become a party hack, get nominated as a candidate, become a backbencher and then after a couple of terms as Minister, quit politics and find a lucrative Company Directorship in some related area that will give them a lifelong income – all before the age of 50.

  9. X Socialist 9

    Yep, action beats whining hands down.

  10. Anne 10

    I'm not a policy geek like many standardistas and I value and admire those of you who are so well informed in this regard. But given the various "tribes" it seems to me there is one thing they all have in common:

    The Nats are so one eyed! They seem unwilling to differentiate between the competing sectors of society and appreciate that situations are not all the same and require nuanced policy decision making. It is always a one size fits all approach from them, and that side invariably favours their own kind with scant attention to anyone else. In short they're selfish and self centred.

    Hence we end up with an uneven populace where some get it all and others get nothing. Labour then has to come in and try to sort it out, which leaves the haves up in arms because they have to share the pie with the have-nots.

    A never ending vicious cycle which not even MMP can resolve.

    • roblogic 10.1

      and they are born to rule toffs who resent the lower classes and hate paying tax

    • Shanreagh 10.2

      Good points Anne.

      I used to wonder at this given that many are quasi religious.

      But then the religious belong to the 'prosperity at all costs church' that makes a virtue out of acquisition of wealth and then forgets about any obligation to share or to reflect

      'there but for the grace of God go I …..' about one's fellows.

  11. Martin C 11

    Federated Farmers

    Business New Zealand

    Union of Taxpayers

    NZ Police Association [?]

  12. bwaghorn 12

    old money

    new money

    wants money

    god botherers

    repressed haters

  13. UncookedSelachimorpha 13

    Not sure about the tribes.

    The people I know who actually vote for National are usually "admirers of wealth and success" – with definitions of "wealth and success" being measured in shallow economic and "winning" terms (e.g. being a billionaire or an All Black).

    Often these voters aren't as wealthy or successful as those they admire – but they are in the fan club.

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