Only the most naive NZer would have thought for one milli-second that National would change the only feature of MMP that has benefitted them. The coat tail was ALWAYS staying.
National gets penalized enough by MMP compared to the security of victory the old First Past the Post system provided them with so they were always going to be on the look out for any element of the voting system that protected their interests.
As NZ diversifies in culture, an old white rich boys club like National can’t maintain political hegemonic dominance when the electoral system is representative so they are going to take their advantages where they can find them and in the coat tailing provision, National have their gerrymander of choice.
Coat tailing gives them options with ACT in Epsom, but with that Party drained of any political credibility, the reality is that ACT can’t guarantee enough Party vote to bring in a second MP leaving National short of possible coalition partners.
What keeping the coat tailing does do is open up Rodney as an electorate if National wanted to throw the Conservative Party a lifeline. Strategists will be working out if a cup of tea with Colin Craig in Rodney is necessary to bring them a majority.
There will be two schools of thought within National about whether this is a good idea. Those reactionary forces inside the Party who want to enflame and engage with ‘Crusher’s Crowd‘ will oppose anything that attracts votes to the Conservative Party. Those forces want that reactionary religious right alive and well within the National Party, those strategists who want the Party to be more inclusive and less divisive will want that vote attracted away from the Party towards Colin Craig where it can’t influence policy.
These darker influences are understood inside National. Judith Collin’s pet, Cameron Slater and political mercenary Simon Lusk were holding National Party candidate camps which concerned the hierarchy enough to prompt this response…
National Party had high-level concerns over member’s influence
Confidential minutes of a National board meeting in March reveal high-level concerns over the influence of party member Simon Lusk in the party.
But Prime Minister John Key, who was absent from the board meeting, suggested he did not share that view: “I don’t have any great concern.”
Mr Lusk, who is based in the Hawkes Bay, has been a campaign strategist and adviser to MPs at various times and runs his own private candidates college that is not sanctioned by the party.
In an embarrassing leak, the March minutes have been obtained by Labour MP Trevor Mallard, who in the past has accused Mr Lusk of having orchestrated the Act leadership coup against Rodney Hide.
The minutes reveal that senior whip Michael Woodhouse reported to the board he had spoken to MPs with “an involvement” with Mr Lusk.
“He [Mr Woodhouse] has let them know that it is not appropriate for any MPs to engage with any alternative candidates’ school that is not sanctioned by the party,” the minutes said.
“He said this has been understood by all.”
It also said Mr Woodhouse had had a”disturbing discussion” with Mr Lusk and that Mr Woodhouse believed that it highlighted Mr Lusk’s motivations and “a very negative agenda for the party”.
…by legitimizing the Conservative Party and allowing those less tolerant voters to find a home outside the National Party lances this boil. Of course the proponents of Crusher’s Crowd won’t want the Conservative Party to gain any traction and such a sacrifice of Rodney will be actively resisted.
Expect to see Cameron Slater lift his attacks on Colin Craig.
It’s not all tears before bedtime. My belief is that the left can compete with this MMP loophole and it was a lack of imagination on behalf of the current crop of left wing political generals that hadn’t thought of it that was the only thing holding back a change of Government.
MANA with its one electoral seat can use the exact same tactic, and needs only 1.4% of the Party vote to get a second candidate off their list. In an election that will be as tight as the 2014 one will be, those two MANA votes can be the difference between a truly progressive Government comprised of Labour, Greens and MANA or a watered down pull-me-push-me mutation of Labour, Green and NZ First.
The largest impact of the 2008 free market global implosion is that it has splintered the NZ political spectrum and burned the middle ground. There is no more political centre that every party will try and fight over, 2014 will be a battle of extremes. It will either be a National, ACT, Conservative Government or a Labour, Greens and MANA Government.
If you want any idea of how ugly this will get, visit the Campbell Live facebook page and view the vile, venomous hatred spat out at parents unable to feed their own children. That is a reactionary social redneck movement that elements within National are actively feeding and want to unleash next year.
The country’s very centre of gravity is what will be fought for in 2014. Are we an innately self-interested and anti-intellectual people or are we egalitarian and progressive?