Title: Tipping Point? Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 5th July 2012 - 12:08pm1341446880 Article: 11957 Rights
As opinion polls start to turn against the Key administration, what does the future hold for New Zealand's LGBT communities? National is the architect of its own misfortunes. It has failed to halt the impact of the current recession, abandoned controversial education 'reforms' and continues to experience headaches over mismanagement of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and the continuing controversy over asset sales. It is also prone to abuse of parliamentary urgency, which prevents adequate transparency, accountability and critical analysis of proposed legislation, leading to problems from poor drafting and hasty passage. And those problems may not go away this time. As Jon Trickett recently observed in the New Statesman about the Cameron administration, centre-right governments need to hurdle several voter segments. Amongst those who voted Conservative in the UK 2010 General Election, most are social conservatives, while smaller segments back social liberalism and progressive social reform. Problem is that the Conservative right-wing core isn't large enough anymore, and it's defecting to the far right United Kingdom Independence Party- Cameron and his centre-right social liberals are too liberal for them. However, if the Tories tack to the right to win back social conservative defectors, they risk alienating social liberal middle-class voters and that constituted one third of their voter base in 2010. Key has been hamstrung in appealing to this liberal constituency, restricting himself to purely symbolic gestures when it comes to same-sex marriage and euthanasia reform that mean nothing substantive. However, in New Zealand, the social conservative base may be insufficient to win elections either, indicating why they've similarly been kept at arm's length when it comes to potential vote losers like restrictive abortion laws and attacks on same-sex marriage or parenting. By contrast, Labour has regrouped and David Shearer has found his feet as Labour leader of the Opposition. At the same time, the Greens have been performing quite well in Parliament and have maintained their own high polling from the last election. Moreover, at least they're clear about their proposed coalition partner- unlike New Zealand First, which is prone to prevarication and fudging the issue whenever Winston Peters is interviewed on the issue. Across Western Europe, electorates appear to be turning against centre-right austerity policies, especially given France's recent Presidential and National Assembly elections. Opinion polls don't depict a bright future for either British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/Free Democrat coalition. Much like Germany, New Zealand has a weak centre-right satellite party in tandem with a dominant player, although the Maori Party has no parallel in the German version of MMP, nor does its Maori electorate base of support. ACT and United Future are in marginal electorates, Epsom and Ohariu Belmont, and all it would take would be a mere shift of four thousand votes across both seats to pitch both into electoral oblivion. That might leave the Maori Party, or it might also succumb to eroding support within its core electorates. Or, their tenure may be restricted to the perceived mana of Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, as opposed to any replacements on their retirement. This leaves New Zealand First. It is uncertain whether Labour's electoral weakness was the chief factor behind the revival of New Zealand First's electoral fortunes in 2011, and whether that recovery can be sustained as voters turn against the Key administration. It might well be the case that prior alienated voters return to Labour in 2014 and return Winston Peters and his entourage to the electoral wasteland. From our perspective, that would be welcome, given Peters' obdurate social conservatism. Finally, there is the Conservative Party. This fundamentalist microparty needs to be exposed for what it is, an opportunist stealth fundamentalist religious social conservative party at its core. Any other additional 'policies' are clip on optional extras, to be abandoned or added at Colin Craig's whim- like Craig's 'opposition' to asset sales, which became 'dispensable' in order to appear convivial to National. Now, it seems to have swung back to opposition once more, in order to legitimise binding citizens referenda. This sorry game of musical chairs is catalogued below. This is highly irresponsible and should be condemned by responsible political commentators. Counting the various versions of the Christian Democrats/Future New Zealand/the Kiwi Party, this is New Zealand's seventh consecutive fundamentalist party. It probably won't be the last, either. Its membership is an unknown quantity and its leader and membership have never held public office. There are too many unknowns for any responsible mainstream political party to rely on this straw person. From Denmark and France, the lesson is clear. If one elects centre-left governments, apart from the aberrant and dysfunctional Australian Labor Party, one is voting for inclusiveness and LGBT-inclusive legislative reform. Unless John Key realises that substance is required and not mere spin, Labour and the Greens are still the best options for marriage equality and adoption reform at the next election in 2014. Any other voting choice is counter-productive or foolhardy. Recommended: Jon Trickett: "The Conservatives are facing an existential crisis" New Statesman: 26.06.2012: Labour: Greens: Not Recommended: National: New Zealand First: Conservative Party: Colin Craig on asset sales: NBR Staff: "Conservative Party willing to stand in Epsom, ally with National" National Business Review: 07.05.2012. 3 News: "Colin Craig determined to keep National in power" 07.05.2012. Colin Craig: "Binding referenda can't come soon enough" Scoop: 26.06.2012. Craig Young - 5th July 2012    
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