|Right, it's high time that Christian Right pressure group Family First had a reality check, and I intend to be the one who provides it.
Firstly, Family First claimed that their pro-belting activism somehow produced a favourable election result for the National Party. Really? Remember, there was a net outflow of nine social conservatives- Judy Turner (UFNZ), Gordon Copeland (Kiwi Party), Taito Philip Field (Pacific Party) and the seven New Zealand First MPs- five of which voted against the final reading of the Section 59 Repeal Act. Turner, Copeland and Field voted against it as well.
The Pacific Party, Family Party and Kiwi Party all argued that Section 59 Repeal was the major election issue, but the Family Party and Pacific Party got less than 0.33 percent apiece, and at 0.56 percent, the Kiwi Party was only just in front of the avowedly satirical Bill and Ben Party (0.51 percent) at 0.56 percent of the total party vote.
As well as that, Family First's own 'value voters' website indicates that United Future and New Zealand First were the most socially conservative parties in Parliament, yet apart from Peter Dunne, they were almost completely annihilated. Moreover, defeating Harry Duynhoven, Labour's New Plymouth MP and outspoken social conservative, does strike one as somewhat of an own goal. It means that Maungakiekie's Peseta Sam Lotu'Liga is the only real social conservative gain that wasn't unambiguous.
So, no, social conservatism was not responsible for the election result. It was probably a combination of National's larger tax cut bribe, Labour's negative campaigning, and concern about global economic turmoil, as well as the albatross that was the New Zealand First confidence and supply arrangement. Bread and butter issues always outrank 'post-materialist' concerns like the belting debate. Added to that, there's the incumbency fatigue variable. Since Keith Holyoake stepped down in 1972, no Labour or National Prime Minister has served a fourth term in New Zealand politics. Third terms tend to be recessional phases when a resurgent Opposition prepares to take office, and the last three years have been no exception.
Secondly, I want to deal with the Electoral Finance Act. It is absolute nonsense to state that the Electoral Finance Act somehow stifled democratic debate within New Zealand. The EFA did not stop Family First from establishing its Value Your Vote website, and probably saved them money, given that they didn't have to distribute the pamphlets which the website was based on. Obstruction? Denial of free speech? Where, exactly? I see Russell Brown agrees with me on this one.
As for the Sensible Sentencing Trust's claims to the contrary, I'm getting rather tired of their partisanship. They are cutting their own throats in the event that a Labour/Green coalition takes power in 2011, and have become a social conservative pressure group, rather than the nonpartisan victims rights advocates that they once were. It's a shame, because I support most of their core objectives.
Earth to Bob. Sorry, guys- the rumours of your political influence are much exaggerated... Not Recommended: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz http://www.valueyourvote.org.nz Craig Young - 18th November 2008