Conservatives’ MacGregor quits two days before election

September 18th, 2014 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZb reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and his press secretary of two years have parted ways – just two days out from the election.

Rachel MacGregor has told Newstalk ZB she’s left the party as of this morning. …

“It’s really difficult to read too much into it given that there’s simply a very upset press secretary without giving any reasons why she resigned, so it’s really out there. She’s taking public relations advice now, and I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this story.”

It is an extraordinary time to quit, especially to do so publicly.

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Herald on Craig

July 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

National Party election strategists have made a fateful call against an accommodation with the Conservative Party of Colin Craig. On current polling, the Conservatives have about 2 per cent of the vote nationwide, enough to bring possibly three members into Parliament if one of them was to win an electorate. Now National’s decision not to hand them an electorate means they could win up to 4.9 per cent and all of those votes would not count towards returning National to office.

Not quite. If a party gets 4.9% of the vote, then it is wasted vote and the practical effect is for half of that vote to go to National.

John Key and his team would have weighed up the fact that even one seat won by a potential ally can make all the difference to an MMP election result. If Act had not won Epsom at the last election, the government would have been chosen by New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne, who could all have gone with Labour. The Conservatives, like Act, have nowhere else to go.

Again not quite. Peter Dunne had ruled Labour out prior to the election. But it is correct that without Epsom, the Maori Party or NZ First would have had the balance of power.

Spurned by National yesterday, Mr Craig raised the possibility of a post-election deal with Labour but it is not credible. His social conservatism is the polar opposite of Labour’s beliefs on just about every issue. 

And Labour has ruled him out.

National must have calculated, probably rightly, that to make room for Mr Craig in East Coast Bays would have cost National more votes than his support might be worth. 

That’s my view.

Looking to the long term, National needs the Conservatives to do well without its help. It needs another party on the right with a solid, reliable voting base, much as the Greens have established on the left. Act has failed to find such a base and has come to depend on National’s concession of Epsom. NZ First is a right of centre party but it is based on its leader’s personal appeal and will not survive him.

In an ideal world there would be both a classical liberal party and a conservative party in Parliament.

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Armstrong on why he thinks Peters will not run for East Coast Bays

July 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As captivating and entertaining as such a contest would have been, Winston Peters is unlikely to throw himself feline-like into the pigeon loft and stand in Murray McCully’s East Coast Bays seat.

The idea of putting himself up as the New Zealand First candidate initially seemed like a very cunning plan to disrupt the political footsie being played by Colin Craig’s Conservatives and the National Party in order for the former to get a toehold in Parliament and the latter to remain in power.

But the warning bells ought to have been ringing in the New Zealand First camp after Christine Rankin, the Conservative Party’s chief executive, urged Peters to “bring it on”.

It would give the Conservatives a lot of publicity, and allow them to position Craig as the natural successor to Peters.

Peters is not in the business of giving rivals who are after the same votes as him the means to raise their profile. When it comes to winning the seat, Peters is (for once) handicapped by his refusal to reveal his post-election intentions. East Coast Bays is one of National’s safest seats. Around two-thirds of both the electorate vote and party vote in the seat went to National in 2011.

Peters would need a big chunk of the National vote to shift his way. But why would National voters back him and risk seeing him install a Labour-led government?

All Craig would need to say is “Vote Peters. Get Labour”. 

Yeah I can’t see East Coast Bays voters voting for Peters if it means he may make David Cunliffe Prime Minister, and support a Labour-Green-Mana Government.

Also Peters hates losing electorate contests. He has never got over being beaten by Clarkson and then Bridges. Losing to Craig would be an unendurable burden for him.

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Craig making it easy for National to say no deal

June 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has announced he would contest the September 20 election in the East Coast Bays electorate, a National stronghold held by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully for the past 20 years.

Craig conceded at yesterday’s campaign launch, that he would lose if National did not step aside.

But he’s not prepared to accept a deal half-cooked, saying he would be grateful if National stepped aside completely, but was opposed to a situation where McCully ran but only for the party vote.

I think that makes it easy for National.

It’s one thing to stand a candidate, but to say you are comfortable with voters supporting a potential coalition partner, as that leaves the decision in the hand of the local voters.

It is quite another thing to not stand a candidate, and effectively force the decision on the electorate. It is also very unpopular with the local members.

If Colin Craig is saying he doesn’t want an “endorsement”, but a full withdrawal, then National can more easily say, “No”.

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Craig standing in East Coast Bays

June 22nd, 2014 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig will contest the East Coast Bays seat at the election, pitting him against Foreign Minister Murray McCully – unless a deal is done.

Today’s announcement came at the party’s campaign launch, which took place at Rangitoto College’s auditorium – on the edge of the East Coast Bays and North Shore electorates.

The decision comes as no surprise after recent rumours.

During the week, Craig said he expected a deal with National to give him a free run at a seat in September’s election but that has not yet been confirmed by Prime Minister John Key.

Craig expected the Conservative Party, currently polling about 1.5 per cent and well below the threshold for seats in Parliament, would be thrown a lifeline: “I think National will stand aside somewhere.”

In 2011, Craig was defeated by National backbencher Mark Mitchell in Rodney by more than 8000 votes.

I think whether National does a deal will come down to two fairly simple things.

  1. Do they need to do one? If the answer is no, then they won’t. But you can in theory lose the election eve if you’re on say 48% and Labour is on 25% if the Greens, Winston and Kim Dotcom team up.
  2. Are the Consrvatives likely to win enough seats to make it worthwhile to do.

The party also listed four key issues it would push: All referendums to be binding, tougher penalties for criminals, no more separate Maori seats and a flat tax after the first $20,000 would be tax free.

How many of those they would get, will depend on how many votes they get. The more votes you get, the more of your agenda you can get through.

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Metro interviews Colin Craig

March 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Steve Braunias at Metro interviews Colin Craig. Some interesting aspects:

  • Recently lost 30 kgs
  • Ran an accountancy firm when he was 23
  • Daughter is home schooled
  • Met his wife in the Auckland University quad
  • Shops for specials at Pak N Save and $2 shop
  • As a kid negotiated with his father for pocket money to be increased from $1 to $1.50 a week
  • Wrote poetry at school
  • Likes scifi and fantasy books such as Prince of Thorns
  • Once took part in the Diplomacy (board game) world championships

Defamation as a fundraiser

March 8th, 2014 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

After the Greens used the Craig v Norman defamation case as a fundraiser (I suspect in reality Norman’s costs will be paid for out of their parliamentary budget), Colin Craig has done the same – but with more success.

The Herald reported:

A mock fundraising campaign launched by Conservatives leader Colin Craig to cover his defamation case against Greens co-leader Russel Norman has collected $50,000 in less than a day.

Mr Craig began asking party members for donations today to mimic a campaign by Dr Norman, who was seeking up to $75,000 to cover his legal defence.

He said that it started as a joke among members, but it had “taken on a life of its own”.

The account had already collected around $50,000 including a one-off donation of more than $25,000.

Mr Craig said: “It’s not a case of needing the money. These were people who wanted to participate.”

The party sought donations in the form of pledges which would be collected once the money was required. But many people had paid the money up-front.

Mr Craig said that if the defamation claim went ahead and he won costs, he would ask donors if they wanted their money back. If they did not, he would use the money to fund the party’s election campaign.

This could become a new modern fundraiser for political parties – sue each other for defamation and both sides an then fundraise from it!

The winners? Well, the lawyers of course!

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Craig proceeds with defamation suit against Norman

March 4th, 2014 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Conservatives’ leader Colin Craig hopes to fast-track a defamation claim against Greens co-leader Russel Norman so a court hearing can be held before this year’s election.

Mr Craig had given Dr Norman a deadline to apologise over comments he made in a speech at the Big Gay Out, but Dr Norman refused to do so.

The Conservatives’ leader today said his defamation claim against Dr Norman would be split into two stages in the hope of fast-tracking a court hearing.

“After extensive discussion and advice from my legal team, I’ve decided to proceed immediately against [Dr] Norman regarding his claims about the place of women.”

I think this is unwise. In defamation cases both sides tend to lose out. Craig looks thin-skinned by resorting to defamation. Norman i associated with personal attacks that go against the Green principles. It’s a lose lose.

Conservatives’ leader Colin Craig hopes to fast-track a defamation claim against Greens co-leader Russel Norman so a court hearing can be held before this year’s election.

Mr Craig had given Dr Norman a deadline to apologise over comments he made in a speech at the Big Gay Out, but Dr Norman refused to do so.

The Conservatives’ leader today said his defamation claim against Dr Norman would be split into two stages in the hope of fast-tracking a court hearing.

“After extensive discussion and advice from my legal team, I’ve decided to proceed immediately against [Dr] Norman regarding his claims about the place of women.”

By narrowing the claim, the job is harder for Norman. He has to defend it on the basis that Craig has expressed views along the lines of women should be in the kitchen.

As I understand it, Craig is not suing for damages, just a declaration that Norman defamed him (and costs). If Craig wins he will have seriously damaged Norman and the Greens (how do you have a co-leader who has been found to be a liar by a court) but he will also have damaged himself by looking litigious. If he loses, then it is all bad for him.

Mind you Winston has sued several people for defamation, and he still makes 5%!

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Craig v Norman

February 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has refused to retract his characterisation of Colin Craig’s views on women and homosexuals despite the threat of legal action against him.

Craig, Conservative Party of New Zealand leader, has taken the first steps in defamation action after Norman claimed at Auckland’s Big Gay Out that Craig thought a woman’s place was in the kitchen and a gay man’s was in the closet.

Norman made an almost identical comment in Parliament during his opening speech for the year, but attributed it to the “conservative Right”, rather than Craig.

Craig has instructed his lawyers to take legal action and told Fairfax Media that the Green MP should apologise and retract his comments as “these are not things I think”.

“It is a defamatory thing and I would consider that somebody who thinks those sorts of things would have a lower standing in the eyes of the public … he’s crossed the line,” Craig said.

Norman’s characterisation of his views were offensive and “just wrong”.

“We … see them as defamatory, sexist, derogatory and offensive, so that pretty much sums up my view of them.” 

Norman today refused to resile from his comments, however, saying he found Craig’s comments “offensive”.

This doesn’t reflect well on either man. Russel Norman is the co-leader of the Green Party that claims a core value is “Engage respectfully, without personal attacks“. Norman tramples over that Green value all the time.

However Craig looks thin skinned for again threatening defamation. It may appeal to his support base which don’t like the Greens, but will make the media more hostile towards him as they don’t like politicians who threaten defamation. Also the comments Norman made, while false (as far as I know), are not worse than a lot of political rhetoric.

However there is one aspect to this, which the media have not picked up on. If you look at the letter Craig sent Norman, he is not threatening to sue Norman for damages. He refers to getting a declaration that what Norman said was false and defamatory.  That means it is not about trying to financially penalise your opponent – just having a court say that your opponent lied. It would be interesting to see how a court would rule, if it does proceed. Could Norman remain Green Party co-leader if the court ruled he had defamed Craig?

John Armstrong writes that Craig needs to “harden up and quickly”. It is good advice, but he also overlooks that Craig is apparently not seeking damages, just a declaration that the statements were defamatory.

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Colin Craig on fluoridation

January 31st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A Q+A with Colin Craig:

Hi Colin,

Do you support the ending of fluoridation in New Zealand?

If you do support ending fluoridation how would you go about a transparent process where all information from both sides of the debate could be heard fairly and equitably. 

I am referencing the $47k (minimum) spent by the WDHB (taxpayers money) against the $12k provided by Fluoride Free Hamilton (This amount was collected from donations from individual donors). 


Hi Kane and thanks for your questions. My view is as follows;

Water supply and the treatment of town water supplies is managed at a local level. I support councils having referendum on this issue (costs are minimised if information and forms are sent out with rates notices) to determine what the public wants. Information sent to voters should give fair and equal chance for both those for and against to have their say. In this electronic age I suggest council establishing a website to give the same equal opportunity to both sides to present their case.

People who do not have a computer can of course access the council information website at their local public library if they are interested. This approach helps level the playing field when it comes to who has the deeper pockets, as the primary information source is balanced.

Yes my personal view is that water should be delivered to households as chemical free as reasonably possible, while still being safe to drink – i.e. without fluoride. 

I support more awareness of the concerns around fluoridation. When properly informed, I do think many communities will choose non-fluoridation.


I think if communities are properly informed, most will choose fluoridation – and have been recently.

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Smart move by Craig

January 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he still smacks his children “just like two thirds of New Zealand parents”.

The party is a possible coalition partner with the National Party after this year’s general election.

Mr Craig told RadioLive today he wanted the issue of repealing the anti-smacking law to be “on the table” for future negotiations with National.

Asked if he would start smacking his own children if the law was reversed, Mr Craig said: “I occasionally do it right now”.

“Like two thirds of New Zealand parents I don’t go putting the good raising of a child behind a silly law.

This is a smart move by Craig. By admitting he smacks his own kids, he turns the issue into a more high profile one. If he is really lucky some one will call for him to be arrested and charged, and then that will give him even more publicity.

It isn’t a huge issue for most voters, but the Conservative only need 5%.

He said mostly his discipline consisted of “a flick of a finger on the back of a knuckle”.

“It’s hurts for a moment,” he said.

But the vast majority of discipline he used was not physical, he said.

As it should be.

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TVNZ loses BSA case re Colin Craig

December 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has been ordered to broadcast an apology to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig over an item it ran on Seven Sharp.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority says an item from April 24 – a short skit “lampooning” Mr Craig over his threat of defamation against a satirical website – was “childish and unfair”.

The BSA says while it recognises the value of satire and free speech, the BSA found that the comments about his personal character and attributes went too far.

It says Mr Craig was given no opportunity to defend himself.

Seven Sharp is meant to be a current affairs programme. You can probably get away with what they did on 7 Days, but not on Seven Sharp.

The key paragraph is:

However, Mr Mulligan’s remarks, “I think Colin Craig is a nutcase; I feel Colin Craig is a doofus; I believe Colin Craig is a smarmy rich prick”, had no bearing on Colin Craig’s political views. These comments offered no constructive comment on the underlying issues, but were simply personal abuse masquerading as satire. The comments, combined with Ms Mau’s introductory statement that “most of us would like to have a go at Colin Craig”, the concluding remarks from Ms Mau and Mr Boyed about Colin Craig lacking a sense of humour, and the laughter from all three presenters, turned the item into a sustained personal attack against Colin Craig that was childish and unfair, in circumstances where he had no chance to defend himself.

Note Colin Craig was not one of the four complainants.

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Colin Craig says

December 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young interviews Colin Craig:

Increasing oil and mineral exploration

It’s almost criminal to be so well vested with resources and not use them. I wonder at the logic of that. I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. I do think we should make sensible use of our resources. I’m not so keen, however, on letting foreign corporations take the lion’s share … Norway did it well.

Well said.

Labour’s target to get 50 per cent women MPs by 2017

I don’t believe positions should be picked on the basis of whether you are a man or a woman. I think it should be merit. I’m not a politically correct person. I despise political correctness because what it actually really does is just keeps people quiet. I would rather live in an environment where we could freely debate things.

Hear hear.

On the Maori seats and the Treaty of Waitangi

We think the Maori seats served a purpose at a time; that time is over. They don’t serve that purpose any more so we need to move forward and moving forward means getting rid of the Maori seats.

I think they should go, but only if Maori agree. What I would do is have a referendum every nine years on whether to keep them, amongst those of Maori descent. I’d replace them with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the electoral system to have no threshold for Maori parties to gain List MPs.

Parliament now has 25 MPs of Maori descent. I doubt there is another Parliament in the world that has the indigenous minority so over-represented in their Parliament. I don’t think it is a bad thing we have such over-representation. But I do think it weakens the case for retaining the Maori seats.

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Craig on conspiracy theories

December 4th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Craig should be talking about Conservative Party policies, but instead he is letting himself be distracted by questions about his personal beliefs.

He seems to have adopted a stance of accepting conspiracy theories may be true, as they have not been proven untrue. That is not a sensible position. The nature of conspiracy theories is you can never prove they are not true. You need to use common sense. The latest is on the moon landings:

Conservative leader Colin Craig says he has “no idea” whether man has walked on the moon, adding it’s “what we’re told” and he is “sort of” inclined to believe it.

His comments this morning came after it emerged last week he has no formal position on chemtrails – a conspiracy theory that suggests the trails left by aircraft deliberately spread chemicals.

Mr Craig was asked about the moon landing conspiracy – which suggests the Apollo moon landings were faked by the US government – by Radio Live host Marcus Lush this morning.

“I don’t have a belief or a non-belief in these things, I jut don’t know,” Mr Craig replied.

Asked again, Mr Craig said he had “no idea” whether man had walked on the moon.

“That’s what we’re told. I’m sort of inclined to believe it. But at the end of the day, I haven’t looked into it. And I know there’s some very serious people that question these things.”

He went on: “I’m happy that they can think that. I’m not going to judge any of these things without the facts.”

What Craig should have done is laugh at the question, joke about whether Marcus is also going to ask him if the moon is made of cheese, and then start talking policies.

Neil Armstrong once said, in relation to the claims the moon landings were faked, that they could always head up to the moon themselves and grab the camera he left behind there.


Colin Craig needs to stick to the real issues

November 29th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by Jadis

I’ll put it upfront that I am unlikely ever to be a Conservatives voter.  I am far too right wing economically and am a social liberal (most of the time).  However I will take it upon myself to assist the wider public and ask Colin Craig to please get some discipline.  The man who fronted so much of the pro-smacking brigade has a real problem with discipline himself.

The latest is an interview this morning with Sean Plunket Sean asks a simple question about Chem Trails and Colin gives a pretty poor answer:

“I don’t know and when I don’t know I am quite happy to say I don’t know – and apparently this is not the standard Party line that you are expected to know an have a definite view on this.

“I feel it is very honest to say I don’t.”

I don’t have a huge issue with this response.  When he was leader of the Nats Don Brash was well known for saying he wasn’t sure on an issue and that he would get back to a journalist.

The difficulty is Colin then answered Sean’s question about the Twin Towers and said

“it may be more possible (that terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers instead of a government conspiracy)”.

Interesting that he entertains the possibility of a US government conspiracy to kill thousands of Americans.

Colin then goes on to say:

“the real issue if we are talking Monsanto and other very large food corporates is that there is a real issue about food supply, about food labelling about renewable resources about food. I have some concerns about bioengineering, modification of food – I’m not absolutely opposed to it but I think it is a risky track to go down.”  I do not think our food industry should be controlled by one or two big players.”

My issue with Colin is this.  Stop talking about this fluff.  Start talking about the real Conservatives policies, learn to move a question away from the sensational to the sensible.  Please, please start looking credible.  There is a range of issues and policies that Colin should and could be talking about. Here, Colin, I will help out – try this link to the Conservative Party’s web page

And please don’t get all snippy and think Liberals (even fiscal conservatives and social libs like me) are picking on you.  We’re not… you have created all of this all by yourself.  You actually have some important stories to tell and issues to highlight but you keep missing them because, like a magpie, you keep going for the flashy stuff.

Ignore the silly fluff and focus!  You should be challenging Winston.  Instead Winston is biding his time and has no need to comment at all because you are creating vacuums and filling them with stuff that is so, so unnecessary.  When was the last time you even touched an issue that crosses over Winston’s territory?  You simply haven’t because you are asleep at the wheel.

A friend overheard an interesting comment from a neighbouring table in a café the other day “If there’s ever a time to make me vote National, it’s Colin Craig. We need to make sure Nats get 50%”

That sort of comment above  is being said not because the electorate cant take you seriously but because you don’t take yourself seriously.  Time to look like a leader and focus on the real issues, Colin.


* this post is written by Jadis so please don’t lynch poor DPF



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Colin Craig’s strategy revealed

November 28th, 2013 at 7:00 am by Jadis

I was a bit perplexed as to why Colin Craig continues to come out with support for what seems like rather extreme views.  Yes, he is a minority party leader however drip feeding his views on how wonderful Sarah Palin is, that man-made climate change doesn’t exist and now that Chemtrails could exist takes him to a whole new level.  So what is his strategy behind it?  There must be some science and reasoning as to why Colin Craig would be willing to make such public statements – and it isn’t just because he wants Ken Ring as a List candidate for the Conservatives.

I can reveal that a piece of research conducted by UMR Research in 2011 is the likely source of Colin Craig’s vote chasing and strategic planning

UMR polled 1000 New Zealanders and found the following:

  1. 61% of respondents believe there is a God or universal spirit
  2. 55% of respondents believed some people had psychic powers
  3. 33% of respondents believed aliens had visited the earth
  4. 24% of respondents believed that astrology can predict a person’s future

Colin has the first point covered.  We know that he has expressed his own belief in God, his chief executive is apparently a Buddhist and the Conservatives list from last election is peppered with committed and open Christian politicians.  61% of the population suggests to Craig that the Conservatives have an extensive pool to reach into to get to the magical 5% threshold.  That 61% starts to get really interesting when we use math in only a way Craig would know how and add 1, 2, 3 and 4 to each other – that is a potential pool of voters of 173% of New Zealanders.  Colin is on to a winner.

In all seriousness though, Colin Craig and the Conservatives have a huge opportunity.  Espousing these sorts of fringe views means that the serious positioning of the Conservatives goes to waste.  There is a real space for the Conservatives as the Muldoonists of the future and social conservatives.  As a fiscal conservative and social liberal they aren’t my people but there are a swag of voters that Craig should be reaching out to.  Those voters are in the provinces, in the cities, in Grey Power and on school boards BUT do they really want to be associated with a man who can’t shut his trap on such things as Chemtrails?  Time for Colin Craig to get some discipline.


* This post is written by Jadis – so don’t freak out that DPF would be so mean!

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Colin Craig says

November 24th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance interviews Colin Craig. He is clearly after NZ First voters:

The other – less palatable – coalition option for Key is NZ First. And Craig, at 45, sees himself as a fresh-faced alternative to political warhorse Winston Peters, 68.

He claims to be eating solidly into Peters’ core constituency of the older, socially conservative voter.

Members have switched allegiance, particularly after NZ First’s annual conference in October, he says. “We are enjoying seeing Grey Power no longer invite Winston, but invite me instead . . . there is a sort of transition. We are slowly taking over that space.”

Craig says one of the reasons Peters is in decline is that “he’s lost the mojo”.

“He’s not the Winston he was . . . and I know he thinks he is going to be here till whenever, but there is a point at which you start to lose credibility . . . my impression is that he was, last time, the protest vote. Now we have offered that opportunity in a similar policy space.”

Senior citizens appear to like Craig’s morally conservative views combined with an anti-asset sales stance.

I’ve often said that NZ First and the Conservatives are in pretty similar space.

Andrea also reveals some policies that Craig has supported over the years:

  1. Match Australia’s defence spending (an extra $1.5b to $4.9b) a year
  2. Introduce national service in return for free tertiary education, plus the right to bear arms and shoot burglars
  3. Allow visitors to choose a cup of tea over a powhiri
  4. Scrap the ETS
  5. Against fluoride being added to water
  6. Schools should teach children how to garden
  7. Wants to scrap more legislation than he approves
  8. Dump Working for Families
  9. Binding CIRs
  10. Close the Waitangi Tribunal
  11. Work for the dole
  12. Tax-free threshold of $25,000 and a flat rate of $20,000
  13. Cut Ministry of Education funding by 50% and give it direct to schools

I agree with 7 and 11. Not quite sure what he means by 12, but generally support tax-free thresholds and a flatter tax system.


Young on boundaries

October 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes in NZ Herald:

The electoral gods could well be shining on Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

One of the two biggest areas of growth in Auckland has been in his own backyard on the North Shore and that means a new electorate seat could be created virtually around him.

If National stood a low-profile candidate rather than a heavyweight like List MP Steven Joyce, and Prime Minister John Key gave voters a steer in the right directions, Craig could be well-placed to take a new seat.

That would provide National with a new potential support partner to replace or supplement the ones that have been self-destructing since the last election: Act whose leader John Banks resigned as a minister last week, United Future whose leader Peter Dunne was forced to resign in June, and the Maori Party.

As I have said before National have five potential support partners – ACT,, United Future, Maori Party, Conservatives and NZ First. What we don’t know is how many of them will make it, how many can actually work with National, and how many will National need to be in the running to form a third term Government.

Key this week dismissed New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as someone who talked in more riddles than the Mad Hatter. Hardly the behaviour of a Prime Minister who expects to be propped up by Peters after next year’s election.

Key called it straight. It is far from certain that National will change its stance on NZ First. I’m not saying they won’t change – just that it is dangerous to make that assumption at this stage. I expect a decision would be made around the middle of 2014.

There will definitely be one new electorate created in Auckland after the census figures were announced last month and Craig told the Herald yesterday that he would most likely stand in the seat if it is in his patch – he lives on the border of East Coast Bays and Rodney.

“It would be very, very nice for us. We know it’s a good area for us. It would be very nice if the seat ended up here,” he said.

“If it works out that they go for the electorate that has grown the largest, which is Upper Harbour, and put a new electorate in there, I’m going to be living in it so it’s going to be all very convenient.”

If the Conservatives are polling enough to get four or more MPs, then centre-right voters in a new seat could well vote tactically.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, too, is known to be considering standing in an Auckland seat – and the new seat would have to be a possibility or a vacancy if Murray McCully were to shift to the list from East Coast Bays – a repeated rumour.

When asked to comment on the Conservatives and the new seat Peters said: “Elephants don’t run round the forest stomping on ants.”

Peters was too chicken to stand in a seat in 2011, so I don’t expect he will risk failure.

National pollster and Kiwiblog commentator David Farrar says things are looking good for the Conservatives.

“Even before you get into any political deals, the way the census has happened, actually, is very happy for the Conservatives, assuming that’s where the new seat is.”

Farrar also believes there is no need for the “cup of tea” photo opportunity to send signals to voters.

“Generally voters, if they want a centre-right or centre-left Government, can work out what’s the smart thing to do. So if there was a seat and Colin Craig was standing for it and they are polling 3 per cent in the polls and the candidate for National is a worthy but low-profile person, you could well see Conservatives do very well there without needing any sort of arrangement.”

Centre-right voters tend to be pretty intelligent. They don’t want a Government that will tax and spend, borrow more, nationalise companies etc. They will vote for minor party candidates if that helps stop a Labour/Green/Mana Government.

Farrar believes that if Banks lost his judicial review against going to trial and then lost the trial as well, he would not only be kicked out of Parliament as required under the law, it would finally destroy Act as well.

“I think the brand would be too damaged.”

A party can not survive its leader and sole MP losing his seat due to a conviction over electoral matters. Note I am not saying I think Banks will lose. Andrew Geddis has a very useful blog post on this issue which is worth reading. The key para for me:

I can’t for the life of me see why Banks would have sat down and thought something along the lines of “Dotcom and Sky City have given me all this money, but I don’t want anyone to know that they did and so I’ll deliberately lie about where it came from in my return even though I know that it is completely illegal to do so.” He was, after all, the losing candidate  in the mayoral race. Why would anyone have cared who gave him money, and why would he feel the need to make a decision to hide its source after the campaign was over? So any sort of claim that Banks deliberately or maliciously sought to evade the requirements of the Local Electoral Act strikes me as deeply implausible.

This is key – Banks had lost. There was little, if any gain, in not declaring the donations.


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Dom Post on Colin Craig

April 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

If Conservative Party leader Colin Craig wants to pursue a career in politics, he needs to harden up. His threat this week to sue a satirical website that ran a spoof story which attributed fictional quotes to him suggests he is not yet ready to cope with the rough and tumble of Parliament’s debating chamber.

Politics is the contest of ideas, and those who practise it have to be prepared for the reality that not only will their policies be challenged and derided by their opponents, from time to time, they will be mocked.

There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is not done in a nasty way, and the purpose is to make a political point rather than an outright personal attack. Satire has been around almost as long as politics itself, and, done well, is an entertaining and humorous medium for social and political commentary.

Absolutely. The satirical piece was extremely mild, and only a moron could have thought the purported quote was genuine.

The last thing we need is MPs and wannabee MPs firing off defamation threats at anyone who takes the mickey out of them.

The Herald has a profile on Ben Uffindell, creator of The Civilian. Thanks to the publicity from Colin Craig, he now plans to turn the site into a business. Excellent.

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Colin Craig threatens The Civilian with defamation

April 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is so ridiculous that I thought the letter may itself be a parody, but it appears to be genuine.

The Civilian did a satirical piece on 22 April where they said:

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson is acknowledging that he looks pretty stupid this morning after a series of floods in the Nelson, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions appeared to contradict his assertion that nothing bad would come of the passing of gay marriage legislation. …

Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig was among the first to point out the National MP’s mistake.

“Williamson likes to talk about big gay rainbows,” said Craig, “but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means. After Noah’s flood, God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have.”

Prime Minister John Key has reportedly reprimanded Mr. Williamson for being “a big idiot” and is considering removing some of his ministerial portfolios. Mr. Williamson has said that he would accept that, but was surprised to learn he had portfolios.

The bolded paragraph caused Colin Craig to launch defamation proceedings as he thought people may think he really said the words in the article. No, seriously.

The letter from Colin Craig’s lawyers say:

We are instructed that Colin Craig never made the Statement. It is a fiction created by you to make him look ridiculous and the use of quotation marks is designed to give it the appearance of fact. The Statement cannot be dismissed as satire in the circumstances, particularly when it is published alongside quotes from Maurice Williamson which we understand may largely be accurate.

The Civilian makes everyone look ridiculous. It is a satire site. Only a moron would think Colin Craig really said those words.

The chance of a defamation law suit winning would be as close to zero as you can get. But the problem is defending such a lawsuit could cost you up to $100,000. And Mr Craig is a multi-millionaire. And Ben Uffindell is a just newly graduated student.

Colin Craig also tries to get some money out of Uffindell:

Mr Craig also seeks a contribution of $500 towards his legal costs and reserves all of his rights in respect of this matter.

It is a very sad day for democracy in New Zealand when an extremely wealthy political leader threatens an obviously satirical website for defamation, because they took the piss out of him.

The response from The Civilian is great, and is here.

And Danyl McLauchlan publishes a previously unknown interview with Colin Craig.


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Guest Post: Colin Craig on whether he would vote for “Abortion on Demand”?

March 5th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged on the 20th of February on Colin Craig’s call for MPs to vote on same sex marriage in accordance with the wishes of their electorate. He was reported as saying:

Mr Craig said that if he was elected, he would vote for gay marriage if his electorate demanded it, in spite of his strong opposition to the law change.

I asked:

Okay so does this mean if Colin Craig was an electorate MP and a poll showed the majority of his electorate support abortion on demand, Colin Craig would vote for the law to be abortion on demand – no matter how strongly he personally feels it is murder?

I’d like to see an answer to that question. Would Colin Craig vote for abortion on demand if a majority of the electorate backed it?

Colin has kindly responded to the question and sent in a guest post, where he outlines his views on the role of referenda and what should happen if an MP and their electorate do not agree. His response is:

This question, of course, could be proposed for various controversial socially liberal pieces of legislation, and is really a question of “how do I see democracy working, and how does representation happen”. So in a nutshell here is my view:

Government initiated referenda: (including general elections). The people vote and their will is done even if there is a single vote in it.  I believe these should be limited to major issues such as elections, constitutional/ electoral arrangements, and major social changes (such as redefining marriage). However, as this is at the discretion of government, it could be used more extensively if the government saw fit.

Citizens initiated referenda: Such referenda are proposed by the citizens themselves. Our party policy is that where such a referenda achieves two-thirds support from the voting public it should be binding on government.  Existing legislation needs amendment not only to bring in the binding aspect, but also to limit proposals to simple questions in the affirmative. 

Vote in Parliament by List MPs: In my view a list MP should always vote consistent with the Party Policy. If no policy exists (such as on redefining marriage for National MPs) then the best option would be for them to consult with members of the party and thereby accurately represent the membership. As our Party has three clear policies on abortion (“Proper Application of Existing Law”, “Free and Informed Consent”, and “Parental Consent for Minors”) which are all aimed at reducing the number of abortions, no Conservative Party List MP would vote for abortion on demand.

Vote in Parliament by Electorate MPs :

A challenging situation could arise if a Conservative Party candidate is elected as the MP  for an electorate. He is then being sent to parliament to represent an electorate (not a party). I do believe that an MP is required to faithfully represent those who sent him even if he does not agree with them. A simple servant-master situation.

If the electorate required the MP to vote in a way that was against his conscience (and “yes” abortion on demand is against mine), he has in my view the following options:

  1. To vote as directed by the electorate (against his own conscience)
  2. To abstain on the issue
  3. To go back to the electorate and negotiate with them. If there is an impasse then to offer his resignation.
  4. To ignore the electorate and vote as he pleases

The first and last options (1 & 4) I believe to be incorrect choices. The first, because it breaches conscience, and the last because it usurps the servant role of the representative (it would be unfaithful to those who sent him). This leaves only 2 & 3 as options in my view. Personally I would elect the third option.

To close then, “no” I would not vote for “abortion on demand” but I would recognise that as an electorate MP this might require my resignation. If so then I would be pleased to stand aside so that a representative who was “more in tune” with the electorate could take my place.

A simple case of the people wishes being done and that my friend is democracy.

It’s a thoughtful nuanced response. I understand the attractiveness of (3) but I wonder about the practicality. How do you determine what is the opinion of the electorate? Is is through random polls like my company does? Is it based on write in responses? What is the response is 51% one way and 49% the other? do you take into account intensity of feeling? And how exactly do you negotiate with an entire electorate?

But it’s good to have had Colin elaborate more fully on his views of how referenda and MPs consciences and electorate wishes should work together. Lots of stuff to consider there.

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Craig says he would vote for gay marriage if electorate backs it

February 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is using his personal wealth to make a nationwide drop of leaflets which criticise MPs who do not follow their electorate’s wishes.

His office has published and distributed 200,000 leaflets at a cost of $55,000 – a figure which Mr Craig expects to double as he ramps up his party’s electioneering.

The leaflets have accused MPs of ignoring their electorates in making changes against the wishes of the majority, such as the anti-smacking bill and asset sales.

Mr Craig was especially critical of Prime Minister John Key for backing a bill to legalise same-sex marriage – a move he felt was out of tune with Mr Key’s Helensville electorate.

“This is not an insignificant issue. The majority of people genuinely feel their MP should be guided by their own electorate and not their own opinion.”

I disagree entirely. I quote (again) Edmund Burke:

Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfactions, to theirs,—and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.

But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

As much as I would personally benefit from MPs making all their decisions based on opinion polls, I think it is wrong. Public opinion is always something to be considered and of influence. But at the end of the day decisions should be made on the basis of whether you believe an action is good or bad.

Mr Craig said that if he was elected, he would vote for gay marriage if his electorate demanded it, in spite of his strong opposition to the law change.

Really? Honestly?

Okay so does this mean if Colin Craig was an electorate MP and a poll showed the majority of his electorate support abortion on demand, Colin Craig would vote for the law to be abortion on demand – no matter how strongly he personally feels it is murder?

I’d like to see an answer to that question. Would Colin Craig vote for abortion on demand if a majority of the electorate backed it?

I doubt it.

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Not a choice

January 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

Labour MP Moana Mackey asked Mr Craig if he still believed, as he said last August, that homosexuality was “a choice”.

“I do,” he said. “It’s a choice influenced by a number of things including genetics.”

This is just nonsense. I think it is perfectly valid to not support same sex marriage. But I do not think it is valid to keep insisting that being homosexual is a choice.

My question back to Colin Craig would be when did he decide to be heterosexual. What age was he? Did he weigh up the pros and cons of heterosexuality vs homosexuality? Did he consult friends over his choice?

You can choose whom you have sex with. But you don’t get to choose whom you are sexually attracted to. I wish we could – would make life much easier!

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Fenton on Craig

October 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Darien Fenton blogs:

Last night I attended the 101st anniversary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) anniversary, along with other parliamentary colleagues, Rajen Prasad, Hon Peter Dunne and National MP Jami-lee Ross. Peter Goodfellow, National Party President was there, and Paul Hutchinson attended, but had to leave early.

This was one of those occasions when we were there as invited guests to help celebrate the community’s pride in their country’s history and their place in New Zealand. When MPs attend these kind of events, we are welcomed as an important part of the celebration. As guests, our job is to respond appropriately and join in with the spirit of the occasion.

Speakers from all sides of the political spectrum spoke respectfully. There were no party politics, just an acknowledgement of the friendship and links between our countries, the contribution of the Taiwanese community in New Zealand and the celebration of their 101st special birthday.

But one person got it wrong. Colin Craig, Conservative Leader was also an invited guest.

He chose to use his speech to try to draw links between the Conservative party’s “family values” and Taiwan. For example,  (he said)  Taiwan has lower divorce rates than New Zealand.  And then he launched into a political speech about the marriage equality bill.

Maybe he thought he was onto a vote winner. But he caused embarrassment to his hosts and other guests.

And he showed appalling judgement.

I heard about this from almost every MP that was there – from three different parties. They all said Craig showed awful judgement in thinking a national day celebration is a forum for partisan speeches.

Some people think I am against a conservative type party in Parliament. I am not. I recognise there is a segment of the population that are socially conservative and economically wet, and they should be represented in Parliament.

My objection isn’t to there being a Conservative Party (or a NZ First Party). It is to their respective leaders. I actually wish Colin Craig would stop doing so many pratfalls. But if keeps saying idiotic things like being gay is a choice, and embarrassing himself at functions, then he’s going to have a tough time of it.

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Colin Craig says Kiwis will flee to Australia to escape gay married couples

September 20th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Craig has proclaimed:

Colin Craig, Leader of the Conservative Party has responded to yesterday’s vote by the Australian Parliament that overwhelmingly quashed their gay marriage bill.

Mr Craig says “Once again Australia has made the smart decision by refusing to make unnecessary and detrimental changes to the definition of marriage. This is another example of Aussies showing us how to do it, and will further support the trend of New Zealanders leaving for Australia.”

He actually put this in a press release? Wow, does he need a better press secretary.

Lyndon Hood tweeted:

People leaving NZ because they can’t stand the idea of homosexuals marrying each other. Colin Craig says a risk; I say a bonus.

I’m with Lyndon on that one. Personally I doubt a single person will swap countries because of how Australia and NZ voted on same sex marriage. Anyway, Australia will I am sure vote the same way within a decade.

The Labor MPs who voted against include Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan. The vote was 42 in favour and 98 against. 38 Labor MPs voted for it, and 33 voted against or did not vote.

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