Conservatives open to both Labour and National

  • Breaking
  • 07/11/2011

By Chris Whitworth

Polling higher than expected, the Conservative Party is now becoming a viable coalition partner for both National and Labour.

But on cutting deals leader Colin Craig has just one answer for both parties: Not till after election day.

“That’s a discussion to have after the voters have spoken - I’m very clear on that,” he says. “The voters need to decide this, not politicians by convenient arrangement.”

The latest Herald Digipoll put the Conservative Party at 1.1 percent, ahead of ACT, United Future and Mana.

It’s the first time the three-month-old party has broken 1 percent. Mr Craig puts their success down to a “broad support” base.

“People don’t see behind the scenes but we’ve got memberships coming through every day and we’re heading up towards 2000 members now. And if you look at United Future and ACT they’ve only got 6-700 members.”

He says this base allows the party to consider a range of coalition options.

“We’re not going to rule out anybody because I think it’s really important to have a conversation and a dialogue with all the parties, so there are no favorites if you like.”

However, many of the party’s policies clash with both National and Labour.

The Conservative Party opposes selling state assets – in direct opposition to National – and has traditionalist views on marriage, abortion and child discipline – putting them at odds with Labour.

So where does the Conservative party fit in?

Mr Craig says they best identify with the Conservative Party of Canada.

“Canada is a nation in many ways not dissimilar to New Zealand,” he says. “The Conservative Party there was started by a businessman who just said, ‘Right, that’s it. We need to do something different.’ Now they’ve been the governing party in Canada for [six] years.”

He sees the party as a measured form of conservatism, and is quick to distance himself from the American right.

“I think probably conservatism in America has some pretty strong elements that most New Zealanders wouldn’t identify with, and I certainly wouldn’t myself.”

The party’s website makes no mention of gay marriage, abortion, or any other divisive issues associated with conservative politics.

Mr Craig says his personal views on the subjects have been widely reported in the media, but the party has no official stance.

“I don’t think discussion around these things is actually that beneficial or helpful for our nation," he says. "I’m not sure that you can legislate morality, I’m not sure that works well."

But with plans to revoke Labour's changes to Section 59 of the Crimes Act – the so-called anti-smacking law – and reform prostitution laws, many would say Mr Craig plans are to do just that: legislate morality.

Mr Craig refuses to make any moves until after the election. He is banking on his "broad support" and policies cherry-picked from both ends of the political spectrum to gain support from everyday New Zealanders.

If the Conservative Party wants to help to form the new Government they will eventually have to stake their claim and choose sides – whichever way they go, there will be concessions to make.

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source: newshub archive