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Title: Those 'ol third term opposition blues? Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 4th February 2005 - 12:00pm1107471600 Article: 597 Rights
 
Don Brash has recently demoted Katherine Rich, one of the few palatable members of the current National parliamentary caucus. Is this a sign that the 'skippies' are running amok within the party? It would seem so. Leaving aside their policy divergence over solo mums, the DPB and employment strategies, Rich has been a capable shadow portfolio spokesperson. In terms of performance, she doesn't deserve this. Granted, I'm opposed to National/ACT's anti-welfare stance, but it has to be admitted Rich is one of their rising stars. Even better, she's a much-needed social liberal. Unfortunately for her party, the Dominion Post reports that the current parliamentary party hierarchy consists disproportionately of social conservative ideologues, who are unrepresentative of New Zealand society as a whole. National already has a gender gap problem, and it can only get worse if it doesn't snap out of its current social conservative anti-abortion and anti-gay pandering. I can't think of a better way to alienate younger or female voters. Meanwhile, has-been hacks like English and Nick Smith, and the odious Judith Collins, a rabid ideologue, clutter the front benches. As Bill Clinton once said, it's the economy, stupid. And if it's a competently managed economy, then the incumbent government has a natural advantage. If National persists in alienating younger, female, social liberal and gay voters, then it will be doomed to a third Opposition term. Perhaps even longer, given that National and New Zealand First look set to continue their fratricidal squabbling. Australian Ross Fitzgerald wrote a recent biography of conservative Catholic activist, B.A.Santamaria, which detailed his National Civil Council's role in splitting the Australian Labor Party, and the conservative Catholic Democratic Labor Party kept the ALP out of federal government for two decades or so. Are we headed for a mirror-image version of this situation on the centre-right? New Zealand First plays the role of the DLP in this scenario, and might conceivably deny National government in its own right for the duration of Winston's parliamentary tenure, or the survival of his elderly social conservative constituency. If so, then LGBT rights are safe. We will achieve adoption law reform and trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws and the Opposition will be stranded out of power for long enough to become entrenched. If fundamentalists dislike this, then they might want to consider relocation to somewhere that meets their ideological purity standards. Recommended Reading: National Party: http://www.national.org.nz Ross Fitzgerald: The Popes Battalions: Santamaria, Catholicism and the Labor Split: St Lucia: University of Queensland Press: 2003. Craig Young - 4th February 2005    
 
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