We were reminded today of the minor parties and their role in our political system by a press release headed New Conservative – from Strength to Strength.
The announcement of two new board members, David Moffett and Casey Costello, would make New Conservative a serious contender in the 2020 election, chairman Simon Gutschlag declared .
“With the growing success we are seeing, our Board has been keen to add specific skills that will be necessary to take the Party forward towards the next election,” says New Conservative Board Chairman, Simon Gutschlag.
“The 2020 General Election is likely to be the most crucial election in NZ politics for the past 30 years. We will fight for every New Zealander, not just those that support us, and we will do that with a highly skilled, energetic and professional team, dedicated to putting people at the heart of every policy and decision.”
The press statement includes brief notes on both new board members.
Wikipedia refreshed our memories on the party’s turbulent history: it was founded as the Conservative Party in August 2011 by businessman and political activist Colin Craig, who led the party from its foundation until his resignation in June 2015.. It contested the 2011, 2014 and 2017 general elections, without winning any seats; it had two members on a local board in Auckland from 2013 to 2016 and the party leader (since January 2017) is Leighton Baker.
- opposition to same-sex marriage
- the first $20,000 of earnings being free of income tax
- cutting the number of members of the New Zealand Parliament from 120 to 99
- repeal of the ‘anti-smacking’ child discipline law
- the use of binding referenda
- abolition of the separate Maori electoral seats in Parliament
- opposition to sales of rural land to foreign interests
- abolition of New Zealand’s emission trading scheme
- clean air and drinkable water (we assume they are in favour)[
- oppose abortion
- oppose Sharia Law
The party gained 2.65% of the party votes votes in the 2011 election, 3.97% in 2014 and (after controversy and upheaval resulting in Craig’s resignation in 2016) 0.2% in 2017.
This puts some perspective on the chairman’s confidence that the party is going from strength to strength.
Andrea Vance, at Stuff, has written about 71-year-old David Moffett in an article headed Former NZ Rugby boss David Moffett now tackling populist politics.
Almost two decades ago, David Moffett radically restructured Welsh regional rugby, kindling a bitterness that still lingers in the valleys north of Cardiff.
Now he’s bringing the same oppugnant approach to New Zealand politics. On Thursday, he formally announced his appointment to the board of the New Conservatives.
The party is trying to rebuild out of the ashes of Colin Craig’s political career. Moffett, now a management consultant, is devising a new strategy, to distance the party from Craig’s Pharisaic fall-from-grace. He is also considering running for Parliament next year.
Vance recalls that Moffett burst on to the political scene late last year,
… raging on Twitter at “traitorous” Jacinda Ardern, and calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel “a thoroughly detestable excuse for a human being.” He’s been trolling both sides of the discourse – baiting ACT leader David Seymour and left wing blogger Martyn Bradbury. His profile – he is a former Sport England, NZ Rugby, NRL and Welsh Rugby Union boss – saw his insults generate headlines here and in Britain.
He is primarily concerned with migration, climate change and gender politics, Vance says. These are all touchstones of the populist right-wing movement sweeping the Western world, a backlash to political establishment thinking.
Actually, Moffett has called both Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters “traitors“, and warned he was coming to get them.
“Yes we’ll see whether you 2 traitors are still smiling when we are done with you next year,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Have a good break coz you’re going to need it. Next year will likely be your Annus Horibilis because we are coming to get you.”
An article in the NZ Herald in December tells us something about Casey Costello.
It says she is of Maori and Anglo/Irish descent and
… believes passionately that the future lies in acceptance that all who live in this country are equal, with equal opportunities and obligations. She delivered this speech, on behalf of the Hobson’s Pledge Trust, in Tauranga on November 22
She said (presumably in the speech):
I am so proud of our nation, our place in the world and our melting pot culture. We are not without history, both good and bad, but it is time to focus on our future, on the path that New Zealand is taking in the years ahead …
We have reached a point where we are being asked to identify by ethnicity and not citizenship.
I am a New Zealander, Maori and a descendant of Anglo/Irish settlers who came here in the 1860s, but firstly a New Zealander.
Regardless of when we or our ancestors came here we have always known that our citizenship assures us equal recognition and representation before the law – but our government, our nation’s leaders, are not allowing us to be one people.
We are being delivered separatism and an erosion of our democracy on the basis that this will redress historical issues and achieve an equality that we are expected to accept has not previously been available to Maori.
This is not true.
The party’s Deputy Leader, Elliot Ikilei, was upfront to Maori Television about the party’s no-nonsense approach to prisoners.
Their policy has a three-stage process for serving prison time, and if they don’t participate in any of the stages, then they will be staying in prison, indefinitely.
Ikilei says, “If you don’t want to join the program then fine. You stay in prison.”
Ikilei said yes, when pressed on whether a prisoner could stay in prison for a lifetime, regardless of the crime, for simply not wanting to participate in the rehabilitation program.
We may suppose the party isn’t anticipating much support from prisoners, should the law be changed to allow prisoners to vote.