Liam Bateman writes.
2008 was a dreadful year for the left. In November that year, nine years of progressive government in New Zealand which saw the lowest unemployment in the OECD, a huge shrinkage in national debt and some of the best years for the New Zealand people came to an end. And with that, Helen Clark resigned. This left a huge gaping hole for Labour. Too much focus had been placed upon the Clark-Cullen team and barely any effort was made to develop an heir apparent to Helen Clark. This is a very dangerous thing for any political party, major or minor. If too much focus is put on the current generation than the next, the future will not look good for the movement. This is especially true for one man political parties such as ACT and United Future, as their leaders are the only ones who can be focused upon. This situation is also clear in National. A cult of personality has been created around John Key, and the 2014 election campaign focused heavily on John Key, especially with regards to their Twitter hashtag. When John is eventually defeated, the Nats will have no clue who will take his place. Of the four candidates who have been targeted by media, only two would have a good chance of becoming leader. Those being Paula Bennett and Steven Joyce. However, I very much doubt they would do very well against Andrew Little if he ever became Prime Minister. But that is not the only problem a post-Key National Party will have to face. One that will probably be the thing that makes a recovery for them very difficult.
The fact of the matter is that National is going to need a new coalition partner to prop them up if they want to get back into power. National has a huge disadvantage in elections, and that is the fact they lack a strong right wing ally. Labour on the other hand, has allies in the forms of the Greens and New Zealand First. Both parties are capable of crossing the 5% threshold to gain representation without having to do Epsom style electorate deals with Labour. National on the other hand is being propped up by two one man parties, which is pretty much like an elephant being propped up by a pair of sticks. Peter Dunne, who only retained his seat by 710 votes and David “Hi De Hi Campers” Seymour are both kidding themselves if they believe their parties will survive 2017. There is no way either party could swing back from their worst electoral result in history. National’s only real support party is the Maori Party, but even they wouldn’t be able to prop up National by themselves. It’s an eventuality the Nats don’t want to even think about. If they want to form a new government, they need Colin Craig.
Colin Craig has been labelled by David Cunliffe as the Sarah Palin of New Zealand politics. And it’s not hard to see why. His views on climate change, child poverty and social policy are enough to make left wingers and right wingers alike cringe. It’s not a good look either when he sent 20,000 leaflets into Helensville claiming Key was too gay to be their MP. The Nats may not want to go into coalition with them, but if they want to form government again, they’ll need to. Gone are the days of ACT and United Future. John is, to use a biblical metaphor, building his house upon the sand. And eventually, the rain of public opinion will come pouring upon him and the house will be no more. The Conservatives are by no means a rock, but they would be National’s only chance if they wanted even a whiff of power again after Key is gone.
There may be a plus from this. A National-Conservative coalition will keep their terms nice and short.