There's something really, really stupid afoot in the electorate of East Coast Bays. You see, a specter is haunting the North Shore. A specter of Conservatism! And whether Murray McCully, or Jamie Whyte ... all those on the Right whom you'd assume would be bitterly opposed to an electoral accommodation with New Zealand's David Brent-iest new kid on the block, instead appear to be queuing up like frankincommonsense-bearing Magi to help celebrate and anoint the birth of a new political movement.
So what's going on up there?
Well, in terms simple enough for the average Conservative voter ... Colin wants to stand on his own two feet like a big-boy party, and crack 5% under his own steam. Except he also wants to try and win an electorate, because he's not actually that confident of being able to drag an additional 40,000 voters with him. Again, on his own two feet and under his own steam, rejecting Epsom style Two Parties One Cup (of Tea) deals with the National Party as "bland and insipid" (funnily enough, also the words I'd use to describe Craig). Except he would welcome such a deal, were it offered to him, because it would ensure him a place in Parliament.
So to sum up, this is the curious case of a man who wants to crack 5%, acknowledges that it's rather unlikely that he can; rejects Cup of Tea deals on point of "insipid" principle, yet welcomes Cup of Tea deals because ultimately power (or, more charitably, the ability to give effect to principle) trumps principle. Following so far?
And yet right wing commentators [trigger-warning: Failoil] had the nerve to mock the Internet Party's strategic use of the coat-tailing provision as "hypocrisy"!
The only slight fly in the ointment (apart from Colin, of course) is that voters in East Coast Bays aren't viewed as likely to play ball. Craig himself is of the opinion that he'd have to "run unopposed" in East Coast Bays to actually pull off a victory there; a statement which either indicates that his own personal polling of ECB has been *that bad* for him ... or, more likely, that even when staking out the most important make-or-break deal of his political career, he's horrendously gaffe-prone. Either of these phenomena (Craig's penchant for embarrassing flailing; right-wing ECB voters potentially having more electoral backbone than right-wing Epsomites; or even growing discontent with coat-tails deals generally) may be responsible for the National Party's sudden iffyness about a deal with Craig.
John Key's gone from what passes for reasonably strong language by his standards ("I'm not ruling it out, but neither would I say that we're absolutely going to do a deal") that appeared to indicate the Nats were seriously and strongly considering an accommodation; through to the Prime Minister's suggestion this morning that voters, pundits, and iPredict users "don't bet the ranch" on McCully standing aside in ECB. Murray McCully, meanwhile, went from "leaders and boards of parties do make strategic decisions" last week, to "I have enjoyed strong support from the people of East Coast Bays in past elections. This year I will be campaigning strongly to seek their support again" yesterday. He issued that statement direct from the Islamic Republic of Iran, so I suppose it's pretty good, given what's going on in his home electorate, that McCully's getting in some early practice working closely with theocrats with bad reputations on certain issues.
This concern about Craig's candidacy potentially doing more harm than good to National's own branding, in return for a negligible shot at Craig actually winning a seat, assumedly also explains why both One and 3News yesterday had National Party sources surreptitiously attempting to pour cold upon the idea of a deal. The fact they're even still publicly considering a deal with the Cons (or, at least, refusing to publicly rule one out) indicates just how absolutely and incredibly desperate Key is to avoid the possibility of having to do a deal with Winston.
Of course, it's also possible that National has taken frank stock of its newfound coalition "ally", looked at what they "stand" for, and decided that provided they're still above 50% in most disreputable polls with Seymour on course to nascently bonbon-snatch the electorate of Epsom ... they'd rather not have to get too close to the Cons, thanks. And given the Conservative Party is apparently the sort of organization whose number 3 candidate at the last election (Larry Baldock) professes Conservatism of a sufficiently Jim Crow flavour that he believes that "inter-racial relationships" are a social evil on par with alcoholism, necessitating censorship in the media; while their number 10 candidate last time and campaign manager Kevin Campbell [trigger-warning: Kiwiblog] apparently thought the disabled should be barred from becoming MPs, and that "John the Jew" was an acceptable way to refer to the Prime Minister ... I can well understand why the National Party would be all too eager not to get too close, thus necessitating such ... interesting courtship displays from Craig.
Besides, the position of annoying talking animal has already been filled.
So where does this leave Craig?
In possession of polling that shows he'd lose less hard in East Coast Bays than he would in Rodney, apparently. Although given Craig's previous penchant for dodgy polling - as evinced by the 2011 incident wherein he trumpeted results showing him winning Rodney ... against outgoing National MP Lockwood Smith, who wasn't even *contesting* Rodney at that election, or the 2013 incident wherein Christine Rankin managing 24% in Upper Harbour (versus 20% for "Other Candidate" and a massive 56% "Undecided") [trigger-warning: Kiwiblog; Colin Craig using the word "Catfight"] apparently made for a "no-brainer" candidacy - who knows what this would actually mean in practice.
The only things we've really got to go on about Craig's self-projected impact on this year's general election, is that he's targeting National voters, running a right-wing-and-referendums ticket of "One Law For All", being tough on crime (i.e. stupid on parole), and rather expansive tax cuts, and apparently thinks comparing himself to Social Credit is a surefire ticket out of the loony-bin also-ran section of the 21st century electorate's consciousness.
(incidentally, as a brief digression ... why is it that parties promoting a "One Law For All" agenda invariably seem to do so exclusively on the basis of race? If strict legal equality for all New Zealanders is such a desirable policy vibe, then what's the issue with extending this "one law for all" egalitarianism to other groups in society, like sexual minorities, or women? Oh. Right. That.)
Anyway, he's also taken a rallying cry ("Stand for something!") that seriously reminds me of then-FOX personality Glenn Beck's famous line "Believe in something! Even if it's wrong! Believe in it!"; and while there is a certain appeal to "Stand against Craig!" as a counter, the slogan-for-victory we should all be out there chanting in the electorate (particularly if you're in a North Shore electorate demarcated for Rotten Borough status by National) is ...
"A Vote for National is a Vote for Colin Craig!"
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