As United Future shuts down, its leader fears any chance of legalising cannabis will stall.
Damian Light said for him personally, United Future’s biggest achievement was the drug reform measures that were implemented during its time in government.
“It’s unfinished though, that’s the problem. It needs to be carried on, and that’s one of our concerns, is who’s going to carry it on,” the United Future leader told The AM Show.
United Future was a valiant attempt at having a moderate centrist party in the MMP environment. One more socially liberal than National but more economically rational than Labour.
But unless you are a populist, the centre can be a very small place.
United started in 1995 with the defection of seven MPs to it. Peter Dunne, Clive Matthewson and Margaret Austin from Labour and Bruce Cliffe, Pauline Gardiner, Peter Hilt and John Robertson from National.
They only got 0.9% of the vote in 1996 with Peter Dunne the sole survivor in Ohariu-Belmont. 1999 was much the same with 0.5% of the vote.
They merged with the former Christian Democrats (now Future NZ) in 2000 and in 2002 was their peak with 6.7% and eight seats.
2005 saw them get 2.7% and three seats. The christian wing mainly left in 2007 and formed the Kiwi Party, later merging with the Conservatives.
2008 saw them drop to 0.9% and just one MP, Peter Dunne. 2011 was 0.6% and 2014 0.2%. In 2017 with Dunne retiring they got just 0.07%.
They’ve hovered up a lot of minor parties over the years. Parties that have been part of them over the years are:
- Future NZ 1
- Advance NZ
- Ethnic Minority
- Christian Democrats/Future NZ 2
- Outdoor Recreation
- WIN Party