Conservative leader Colin Craig is planning to contest the East Coast Bays seat.
He hasn’t made a formal approach but he’s keen for sitting MP Murray McCully to stand aside in the hope that people who voted for the National MP would back Craig instead.
There are several flaws with this, not least being there is absolutely no guarantee the people of East Coast Bays would vote for him in sufficient numbers.
The outcome is even less certain now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is talking about throwing his hat in that ring too.
Craig’s case hasn’t been helped by his party’s chief executive Christine Rankin saying the Conservatives could go right or left and work with National or Labour in government.
Voting for Craig would be difficult enough for National supporters in East Coast Bays if his party was committed to supporting a National government,. Few, if any, would countenance it if they thought there was any chance they’d be helping Labour cobble together a coalition.
The Conservative’s case for an electoral accommodation is even weaker now that Craig has said binding referenda would be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.
At the Conservative Party conference today, leader Colin Craig had a clear message to Prime Minister John Key.
He won’t do any type of deal with National unless it agrees to binding referenda. . .
There is absolutely no way a major party would agree to that policy and even if they did, Andrew Geddis points out that a cconstitutional change of such magnitude should not be passed by a bare majority.
It’s constitutionally improper to even suggest that this happen – it would be like the Maori Party saying that their price for supporting a Government would be for that Government to legislate via a bare parliamentary majority to make the Treaty of Waitangi a “higher law” constitutional document that could be used to strike down other laws. I don’t care whether you think that would be a good outcome; it would be a bad way to bring it about. . .
But even if it did it wouldn’t work under our system which gives parliament sovereignty:
. . . How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?
Even if a National/Conservative Government were to use their majority in Parliament to pass a referendum law that says that if the public vote in the future for or against some measure Parliament “must” follow that vote, exactly how would this law be “binding”? If a future Parliament were to just ignore the result of such a referendum – as is the case with current Citizens’ Initiated Referendums, for which no apparent political price gets paid – then what could be done about it? How, given our system of parliamentary sovereignty, could a court order today’s Parliament to do what a past Parliament said it must do? And what could a court even order in such a circumstance? What odds a judge saying to Parliament “because an Act was passed a few years ago saying that you had to make a law if the public voted for it, you now have to draft, debate and enact this particular Bill on this particular issue.”? . . .
Craig is demonstrating his ignorance of constitutional niceties and his own political naivety by making binding referenda it a bottom line and in doing so has ruled his party out of government.
It’s the sort of policy which might gain votes from the disgruntled.
But the party is a long way from the 5% support needed to get into parliament without the safety net of an electorate seat. Thankfully the chances of him being gifted one were already low and this bottom line will ought to have killed the idea completely.