Reports from Hawkes’ Bay confirm that the Exclusive Brethren broke its rule against voting to ensure a National/ACT victory last year.
The Exclusive Brethren regards the last of us ‘worldly’ types as sinful heathens destined for hell, so they try to avoid us by living in compounds, running their own schools, and not participating in activities such as voting. It seems, however, that not all heathens are created equal. They would rather have a government run by a bunch of right-wing heathens than left-wing ones. The Exclusive Brethren has put a lot of money into supporting right-wing election campaigns in various countries. Why do they love the Right so? Being ultra-conservative bigots they find a natural home there, of course, but there is also a financial interest – a National government will increase State subsidation for their schools, while Labour imposed a cost by requiring that kids be taught by registered teachers rather than religiously-correct amateurs.
In 2005, the EB secretly worked with National to run a parallel campaign (which was the subject of Nicky Hager’s Hollow Men, caused Don Brash’s resignation, and gave rise to the Electoral Finance Act). Of course, even a million dollars of secret support was not enough to get National into power in 2005. So, this time the EB’s leader, the Elect Vessel, visited New Zealand before the election and, it seems, gave the order that church members break their own principles and vote National. EB members were seen voting in several Hawkes’ Bay locations (HB is an EB stronghold for some reason).
Nothing wrong with that, of course. I would encourage all people to vote (although, I might encourage the EB to first join us in the post-Enlightenment world). But it is interesting to see the lengths National’s extreme religious supporters were willing to go to get them into power. I wonder what they will get from Key’s government in repayment.
[lprent: added a missing ‘not’]