Where do social conservatives go?

September 29, 2014

Wesleyan minister writes:

Dear New Zealand Labour Party,

I’m not sure if this is the best time to be offering any thoughts to you as I’m sure it still hurts after Saturday night – especially since you have lost some good colleagues, but I wish to share some thoughts. I am not affiliated with any party so this is not coming from a winner who is gloating or a loser who wishes to play any sort of blame game. Please hear this with the generous heart it comes from and the desire to see the current opposition strengthened.

On Saturday New Zealand spoke. In so doing, our nation declared the National Party to be their preferred governing party by a clear margin while your party suffered one of the worst defeats ever. There will be much dissecting going on to work out what happened. The worst of it already involves some talking about vote rigging and vitriol about the nature of New Zealand voters such as not caring about the poor, being selfish and it goes on. There’s blame of the media happening and, inevitably, Kim Dotcom is being held up as the reason for the left’s poor showing. Some will dismiss the Labour defeat by pointing to the MMP system and the ‘left block’ but even that did not fare so well. Others will point to Labour’s recent revolving leadership and talk about factional fighting – political blood may well be spilled with this in mind. There will be those that point to a lack of working more closely with the Green Party and others will point to working too closely with them. In among it all I would like to offer my own humble thoughts – simply because I think that in the interest of our nation, it is important for you to be a strong party. New Zealand needs a functioning, cohesive opposition in order for our democracy to be healthy and to keep the government accountable to working in the interests of all New Zealanders, and the facts are that National won’t govern forever so you need to be a healthy party for that time when you are, again, the government.

I’m going to begin with a bold statement and then make my case from there. I believe New Zealand is more socially conservative than many in the political and media realm realise. I believe that was reflected in the vote. Putting aside economics, social conservatives could vote for National, New Zealand First, Conservatives, United Future and the Maori Party and not feel like they were acting contrary to their value system. Whether those places are truly socially conservative is a matter for discussion, but the perception is that if you are socially conservative, there is a place in those parties for you.

National has done a good job of creating a broad umbrella where social conservatives and social liberals can live side by side and both feel validated within the party. The same goes for their economic conservatives and liberals. Labour used to be able to do the same – that is no longer the case. Labour used to be a place where social conservatives and social liberals could co-exist around an agreed economic direction in terms of welfare and job creation. They also largely agreed on health and education direction. It was a party for the working class and the working class combines both social conservatives and liberals. But ask yourself, where does an economically center-left social conservative who agrees with things like free access to health and education now go to find a political home? The answer is that there is no such place. . .

Whether it is palatable or not to those within the party and whether it is accurate or not, Labour is seen to be the party who drove through prostitution law reform, civil unions, gay marriage, the so-called ‘anti smacking law’ and it is seen as the major party that has and would liberalise abortion policy. Accurate or not, it is also perceived as the party that would push other things such as euthenasia and gay adoption. Now, each of these represents contestable ideas and I’m not offering an opinion in any direction on any of them, but ask yourself, if you were a social conservative on any of those issues, how comfortable has it been to exist within Labour? None of those issues are the ‘core business’ of Labour but they are the very things that have driven away social conservatives. Labour MPs who have spoken out against those issues or expressed their unease over them have seemed to be the odd ones out and very often maligned even though those MPs completely align with Labour’s roots. . .

Reverend Francis Ritchie

I have deliberately stopped part way through in fairness to the author to encourage people to click on the link and read on.

The comments make interesting reading too.

When Labour got so little support in the election the Green Party would have expected to pick up quite a few of its votes.

But it too did worse than it had hoped.

Instead of migrating left, many voters disenchanted with Labour moved to the Conservative Party and New Zealand First which are socially conservative and National which is a broad church that accepts divergent views along the social spectrum.

Hat tip: CoNZervative


Learning to be leader

November 12, 2013

As  backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.

On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.

That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.

For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.

Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.

It was only one week ago  that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.

For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.

I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.

I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.

As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.

The letter has been picked up by CoNZervative, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock.

When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.

An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.

This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.

The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.

I covered that here and the story has also been picked up by Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog.

When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.

This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and  it makes him look like a lesser leader.


Rural round-up

March 13, 2013

The big dry – Groping Towards Bethlehem:

We’re in a drought. Pastures are drying out, stock are stressed, and Wellington now has water restrictions (very mild water restrictions, it must be said).

The costs are being toted up. The figures being tossed around are in the $1 to $2 billion range (0.5% to 1.0% of GDP, roughly), which compares to agriculture being ~10% of GDP. If it hits lambing or breeding stock, the impacts could go on past this season. Given the weak economic recovery, there are concerns about moving back into recession.

The drought is, of course, a lack of water. But really, it’s a lack of insurance. By insurance, I mean information and infrastructure that protect us from downside risk. There isn’t enough of that around water in New Zealand, and no wonder. We haven’t needed it. But this year we do, and climate change is expected to increase the variability of weather and make ‘insurance’ more important. . .

Water governance and the RMA – Steve Couper at Waiology:

Deteriorating water quality is consistently rated by many New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern. Their concern is well placed. Some of our lowland waterways are now so badly polluted that the ‘clean green’ brand we promote is being actively challenged.

The evidence for declining environmental health in these waterways is strong. Monitoring 77 sites along 35 rivers, the National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) shows an overall decline in water quality since its inception in 1989. While the bulk of this deterioration has been caused by diffuse pollution from intensification of agricultural land use, the waterways running through our urban environments are the most degraded. Urban dwellers are in no position to point the finger at “dirty dairying.” . . .

Drought backdrop to disaster research seminars:

Farmers digging in for the reality of a long drought will also have to face the implications of such dry spells on their lifestyle off the land too.

Massey University clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal, from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research says the likely recurrence of drought conditions in future farming seasons would not only cause a transition in the management of land and water use but also in the way farmers mentally handled challenges set to affect everything from economic productivity to leisure time.

Dr Johal is among other emergency management specialists gathering at Massey Wellington campus this week for a series of seminars addressing issues around preparing for and responding to natural disaster. . .

Drought could push farm businesses close to the wall – James Houghton:

After meeting with Ministry for Primary Industries representatives on Friday, I am pretty confident that a medium-scale adverse-event drought will be declared for Waikato and much of the upper North Island soon. While any drought declaration would be a relief for farmers, the reality is we need rain, stat.

Some of us have been reluctant to call for an official declaration, because farmers do not want to be seen as bludgers. In fact, we do not get any more help than any other sector struck by a natural adverse event.

There is enough science supporting that this weather is out of the ordinary. However, with this being the third drought declaration since 2008, we could be seeing the start of a worrying trend. . .

NZ wins tri-nations:

The 2013 Pure South Butchery Tri Nations has been taken out by New Zealand’s Wedderburn Sharp Blacks.

The team beat last year’s champions, Australia, and newcomers, Britain, to take the winners spot.

Taking a side of beef and a whole lamb, each team had to use the product to create a butchery display within a two-hour timeframe.

“The pressure was definitely on. We’ve put a lot of work into this competition and it feels great to walk away with the result we were after,” Wedderburn Sharp Blacks Captain Corey Winder said.

“Being on our home turf created the perfect setting for an unforgettable experience.” . .

Young Farmer time again – RivettingKate Taylor:

Okay now I am starting to feel old.

There was a time when I knew everyone (technically, not EVERYone) in Young Farmers, not just in my region, but around the country. Now, as the press releases roll in with the 2013 finalists, they’re just too young! I spoke to a young farmers meeting the other day with another hat on and some of them probably weren’t alive when I joined!

Not just from national conference, but the Young Farmer Contest.. I remember (just to name drop a bit….) when a friend Warwick Catto won in Hastings in1995 (Thomas and I were on the organising committee as well and Warwick is now high on the management list at Ballance Agri-Nutrients), our farming friends Shaun Baxter from the mighty East Coast in 1997 and Callum Thomsen in 2007. Some of them I don’t remember as such but the names are familiar to many in agribusiness in NZ – Young Farmers CEO Richard Fitzgerald was third in 1995, Philip Reid of Southland radio fame won in 1996, Waikato Federated Farmers chairman James Houghton (I think) was second in 1998 (yes Steve Hines, I’ll mention you too cos you won that year!) Paul McGill was in two Grand Finals – he’s just finished a stint as Wairarapa Feds chairman. . .

And Hat Tip CoNZervative:

Image

Townie: “What are those filing cabinets in the field?

Rural hick: “We need to keep accurate records of every sheep.”


So God made a farmer

February 5, 2013

Each year the ads which play during the Superbowl generate as much interest as the game.

This has to be one of the better ones.

Update: CoNZervative has some background on Paul Harvey who does the commentary.


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