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.
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.