There's something weird going on with Colin.
(Yeah, I know, understatement of the campaign... but hear me out).
Back when he first flounced onto the national political stage some ways back in 2011, he was touted as a putative potential right-wing coalition partner, in the unlikely event of his little-party-that-could ever cracking the 5% threshold under its own steam. Come early 2014, this had been turned into an almost-anointment of the Cons as a viable coalition partner for the Nats; a situation National then so heavily over-invested itself in (while attempting to remain aloof) that we found ourselves collectively, as a commentariat, thinking one of the vital veteran campaign warhorses of National's caucus like Murray McCully was going to be dropped and turned into an electoral gelding so as to ensure 50 Shades of Colin actually wound up in the House.
Fortunately for just about everybody, while the Nats are stupid enough and sufficiently lacking in principle to carry out things like wildly unpopular and economically flawed asset sales ... they aren't usually thought of as being totally stir crazy, so one assumes that internal polling centered around the question "would you like us to go into coalition with Mr Moonlanding...?" has disabused them of the notion that a Con-Nat (pronounced Canard?) coalition would be electorally viable.
So what to do with the Cons now, then?
Why, recycle them, of course!
Everybody knows that the biggest single threat to National's governing prospects post-2014 is New Zealand First. We're generally their greatest headache, and it's why they went all out to try and destroy us in 2008; as well as why they specifically and explicitly ruled out working with us in 2011 to further try and constrain our support. (We noted at the time with some amusement that it was us alone who'd been singled out for this privilege - John Key didn't, for instance, say he wasn't prepared to work with or form a coalition with the Greens or the Labour Party, for instance :P )
In 2014, National's tried three things to destroy NZF's viability: they've explicitly and specifically ruled us in for coalition after the election (therefore targeting our left-wing and protest vote supporters and telling them to go somewhere else); the governing bloc's signaled preference for Colin over Winston (so telling our right-wing and pro-National supporters (yes, we have some) not to bother because there's a new horse in town); ... but most insidiously of all ... they've also tried to set up the Conservative Party as some sort of seriously viable alternative to New Zealand First in the minds of our centrist support demographic as well.
That's why I was so incredibly, absolutely, incandescently furious on Friday night watching TV3's 6 pm news.
Their lead story, framed in explicitly "ooh, look! Colin's replacing Winston!" terms, was that Colin Craig was giving a speech to a Grey Power meeting castigating the government for allowing an iconic piece of Kiwi farmland to be sold off to the Chinese. They even explicitly and repeatedly *said* that this was Craig muscling in on NZF territory. TVNZ ran exactly the same thing over on One (albiet not as a lead).
What they didn't tell you was first - that the media were directly complicit in *facilitating* said attempted takeover ("privatization" of our ethos, if you will) ... and second, that they've got powerful backers ensuring this kind of carry-on goes forward. Wonder what role the Nats played in getting Colin that information about that "secret" and not-yet-approved deal, never mind the prime time TV coverage!
For you see, National has worked out how to take its two electoral "problems" this campaign season (a Conservative party that it instinctively wants to use, but which is too dangerous to *actually* use; and an NZ First that it instinctively absolutely recoils in horror at using), smoosh them together, and come out with a greater share of the vote.
The plan is simple. Implicitly acknowledge that the Conservative Party isn't going to get more than 5% of the vote (thus protecting National's vote from allegations of letting the more-crazy-than-Jamie-Whyte into the tent), then use them to take AS MUCH OF NZF'S VOTE AS POSSIBLE via superficially or genuinely similar political positioning; then hope this takes NZF under the 5% mark ... and profit from not having to deal with either Chem-Trail Craig *or* Winston in Parliament (either as friend or foe respectively) while also reaping the benefit of a greater share of the valid vote by "wasting" all the votes of Con and NZF supporters. [as representation in the House is done on percentage of votes won, not absolute numbers of votes - so by "wasting" Con votes and NZF votes, the National Party cynically increases its share of the "valid" vote, and thus gets more seats by reducing the total number of popular votes]
It's diabolical. It's GENIUS! It's Key.
(well actually, it's most likely some ungodly combination of Nat campaign brains-trust Murray McCully and Steven Joyce, but that doesn't quite work with the triptych thing I was going for)
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