Title: November, the cruellest month for the Nats Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 18th November 2004 - 12:00pm1100732400 Article: 486 Rights
The Care of Children Act will become law from July 2005. Social conservatives failed to insert anti-abortion clauses into the new guardianship legislation. But. The National Party made a serious strategic blunder when Don Brash betrayed his party's social liberal contingent and backed Judith Collins over her foolhardy initiative. National already has a gender gap problem, and that piece of naivetie has already had an adverse outcome for the Nats. In today's National Business Review, it was revealed that Labour is now leading the National Opposition by a ten-point opinion poll margin. The NBR is mystified at this, given John Tamihere's recent misfortune, although it concedes that continued economic growth is probably favouring the incumbent. Well, yes. However, the final Care of Children Act debate occurred at the same time. Did this also affect this polling outcome? What if angered female voters turned their back on National over their anti-abortion grandstanding, which has also alienated medical practitioners from their party? And they're not the only ones. When it came time for the final vote, Don Brash did not vote for the enhancement of same-sex parenting rights and responsibilities, despite assurances that he supported same-sex parenting law reform elsewhere in the LGBT media. (ACT could be in a different situation. Unfortunately, it didn't promote their voting intentions in advance, which is a shame. Apart from Stephen Franks, they chose social liberal sanity this time, even antigay social conservatives like Newman and Coddington, when it came to young women's reproductive freedom. If Rodney Hide's leadership did this, it speaks well for the beneficent effects that change has had on his party's direction. If this continues, it could pick up centre-right social liberal female voters from the National Party. That said, though, ACT didn't vote for the bill at its final reading. However, its Section 37 vote does deserve commendation). At the same time, the Christian Right also lost at the conclusion of debate over guardianship reform, twice over. In a fit of opportunist folly, they decided to back Judith Collins, while neglecting to multitask against same-sex guardianship reforms within the Care of Children Act. Labour, the Greens, Progressives, ACT and National's tiny social liberal contingent weren't prepared to sanction this. But will this mean that pro-choice National social liberals could also ending up changing their votes when the Justice Select Committee reports the Civil Union and Relationship (Statutory Reference) Bills back before Parliament? Or are pro-choice and pro-gay social liberal votes two different social issues? Or will National's social liberal contingent realise that it has to obstruct its social conservative ideologue colleagues or face electoral fallout? Do centre-right social liberals want their respective parties to be associated with the likes of Brian Tamaki and his ill-fated August march? David Benson-Pope, our Associate Minister of Justice, cautioned us against over-optimism. He may be correct, given that there may be many reasons why there appear to be two different social liberal camps over abortion and lesbian/gay rights issues, and yet another when it comes to prostitution law reform, or a fourth when the same current Parliament considered euthanasia law reform last year. November is proving to be the cruellest month for the National Party. It only has itself to blame for embracing social conservatism fanaticism at odds with mainstream, urban liberal New Zealanders. At the same time, ACT needs to cement its newfound, praiseworthy consistent 'classical liberalism'/libertarianism. National is going to lose the next election if it continues to pander to the likes of Judith Collins, Brian Connell and their ilk over these issues. It needs to select centre-right social liberals for electorate seats and its party lists, otherwise it will pay the price. Craig Young - 18th November 2004    
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