Will John Key and Colin Craig arrange a manky marriage?
Key was pressed by Patrick Gower to give his views on Colin Craig and the Conservative Party yesterday on The Nation.
Key emphasised that if National gave Conservatives any assistance they would be “transparent with New Zealanders and up front” (later in the day he indicated it would likely be advised about the end of July).
Patrick Gower started the interview by asking, given the level of opposition, does he really want a deal with Colin Craig?
John Key: First thing I’d say is we want to be the government post 2014 election. And I think New Zealanders do understand that involves doing deals or accommodations and actually cobbling together 61 seats. So in terms of will we specifically outline a deal with the Conservatives or United or Act, well we’ll announce that in a few weeks’ time you know, some grace time.
Patrick Gower: So yes or no to the question. Do you want a deal with Colin Craig, yes or no? Because even your own voters, one in every two National voters does not want a deal with Colin Craig.
John Key: Well I truthfully can’t answer that question. I can say there’s merits for both sides of the argument and we’ll take it through a process which will obviously include the president and the sort of kitchen cabinet. And we’ll do that relatively soon. But I can’t be absolutely sure of a definitive answer, I don’t want to mislead you but – but what I can say is realistic enough to know despite the fact that we are polling well a lot can change in an election campaign and we are likely to have to do a coalition deal.
When pressed by Gower to tell him “one good thing that he’s done this year” Key avoided the questions.
Let’s look at it this way then. Colin Craig, tell me one good thing that he’s done this year?
Well I don’t want to critique his performance because that’s just simply not my job.
No, but it’s not a critique it’s, what’s one good thing you’ve seen him do?
Well not so sure that’s really the answer that I need to look for I mean the answer is –
But it is if you want to do a deal with him you’ve got to be able to say this is – here’s something good that he’s done.
Well he has a legitimate voice for some New Zealanders. It might be a position that’s quite a far away from me when it comes to social issues but there are plenty of New Zealanders that would support his view on smacking or gay marriage or whatever it might be. It’s not where I’m at personally but I understand that position.
But you can’t actually name something that you’ve seen and then you’ve gone ‘hey that’s pretty good’.
I don’t follow everything he does but what I’m saying to you is that we live in a world where we have to put together 61 seats. Realistically could we work with him if we go into Parliament? Let’s just argue, he either wins a seat or he gets 5%, the answer is yes I think we could because we’ve worked with lots of other different parties as well.
Gower then stated “it’s not about what the Conservatives can do for New Zealand, it’s about whether they can help you win”.
But that’s true of every major political party.
In the end whether you’re Labour or whether you’re National, you’ve got to work out how you get that race of 61 seats. Now in putting together those groups you have to answer the obvious question, do we have enough in common or do we believe we’re malleable enough to actually work together for the betterment of New Zealand.
Because the other alternative is everybody gets stubborn and we say oh no, we don’t have 50-percent so guess what we’re going back for another election. Well New Zealanders don’t want that, that’s for sure. There’s a couple of problems in doing that.
Negotiating after the election to put together a workable Government is much different to gifting a safe National seat to the leader of another party who otherwise has little chance of getting into Parliament.
It’s not just on social issues that Craig is ” quite a far away from ” Key. His anti-asset sale stance and some of his other economic policy ideas would be quite far from National’s. As would Craig’s (anti) Treaty of Waitangi policies.
It’s also likely the Conservative binding referendum bottom line is quite far away from what National would agree to.
Key hasn’t given any reason how National and Conservatives would be compatible.
The Conservative web page highlights:
It’s Time To Stand for Something
Had a guts full of National’s abandoning their principles? Had enough of their arrogance? Had enough of them ignoring referendums; like the one on asset sales and the one on anti-smacking? Had enough of Bill English’s borrowing habits? Had enough of the two waka Government?
Aggressively attacking National and highlighting major policy differences doesn’t sound like it’s standing for anything positive.
National and Conservatives colluding in an electorate jack-up and colluding in coalition with such significant differences would be very cynical politics. It would look like an arranged love-less marriage between incompatible religions.
Will voters stand for this?
An interesting scenario – if Craig gets voted into Parliament after being gifted a safe electorate, but National don’t need Conservatives to make up the numbers, would Key still include Conservatives in a coalition and make Craig a Minister?
And would Craig abandon his principles and stand for nothing except getting into Government?