The Spinoff on ‘Christian’ Parties in 2020.

By John Stringer.

Alex Braae at The Spinoff has a good piece on the Christian parties, in “The Bulletin.” GREAT opening line…

Christian political parties are like Wellington buses – you wait for ages and then two turn up at the same time. Bishop Brian Tamaki has confirmed he too will be launching a political party, reports... It follows months of high profile stunts which hinted towards further interest in politics. Bishop Tamaki says he will outline his plans at a press conference today, and says his party will focus on values that are being eroded by politicians. He also said it is a “privilege and a responsibility to seek to represent the New Zealand people,” which certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of him being a candidate.

The attempt to distance the new party from Destiny Church made the press conference farcical. Most of the questions, naturally, went to Brian Tamaki, instead of the party’s new leader Hannah Tamaki, who said she didn’t want to discuss politics at the launch OF A NEW POLITICAL PARTY. That’s an entrée of the political naivety that will abound around this latest christian’ political iteration.

That would be in contrast to Destiny’s last effort at getting a political party off the ground. Destiny NZ, which stood in 2005 and got 0.6% of the vote, was always kept slightly at arms length from the general business of the church...

The problem for “Coalition NZ” –as it’s called, an obvious play on the 1996 “Christian Coalition” the most successful attempt of this constituency to get into parliament (4.33%)– is, even Christians keep Destiny well-and-truly at arms length. They consider it unrepresentative of what most Kiwis consider Christianity to be (in any of its NZ forms). A case of Westboro v Waitakiri.

...Given a large share of Destiny’s congregation is Māori, it stands to reason that will be an electoral focus. However, as Mr Tamaki is an intensely polarising figure, he might struggle to attract pretty much any votes at all from outside his church.

Interesting, like NZF’s commando raid on Maori seats? Will Shane Jones make a tip for a Maori seat with Labour acquiescence to maintain NZF post-Winston? So, compression amongst Maori voters as well as Christians. It’s ever diminishing slices of minority voting cake.

The timing is remarkable, given National MP Alfred Ngaro’s heavy hints he is planning on launching a Christian values party as well. While a large number of New Zealanders hold various Christian faiths, most of them don’t necessarily vote for religious parties.

This is a disaster for Alfred Ngaro, timing wise. And with Simon Bridges cold waterboarding any Botany coat-tailing this week, it seems this baby is well and truly stillborn before any immaculate conception. But, it’s early days yet. There will be plenty of chats around Last Supper tables, yet.

… The Spinoff, conservative columnist Liam Hehir absolutely savaged the idea as “more likely to lead to the complete political marginalisation of conservative Christianity within New Zealand politics.”

This is the real threat of Brian Tamaki II (2005, 2020), the electorate will have had Capill, Craig, Tamaki. Three strikes and you’re out.

It also leaves the New Conservatives somewhat out in the cold. Their deputy leader Elliot Ikilei said he wasn’t concerned about the new entry taking their turf. “Despite not being a Christian party, we are the only party who has universal values that Christians hold to.” But for a party that is aiming for the 5% threshold, a few thousand votes could make a big difference. 

That is the same HUGE mis-assumption conservative groups always make, that they hold the monopoly on “christian values;” that people of that perspective will vote according to their particular party branding. Even in 1996, many Christians did not support the Christian Coalition despite being a reasonably broad coalition of conservative voters made up of two quite different Christian parties (Christian Heritage, Christian Democrats) forced together by NZ church and christian leaders. The pool has to be grown over time around a core of distinctive issues of moment. ‘Smacking‘ is done and dusted. Abortion is on the rise as a social human rights issue (tick); euthanasia is hot (tick); gay marriage has flown the coop; religious freedom (Folau) coupled with free speech is hot (tick); legal prostitution is done, cannabis reform is hot (tick) etc. What’s left? State funding for Religious Schools?

...Despite all three parties (well, one party, one soon to be party and one highly possible party) having significant struggles ahead to get a few percent, they each have something advantageous in their favour. Alfred Ngaro has an MP’s resources. Brian Tamaki has a congregation. And the New Conservatives already have a party infrastructure in place. So each has elements that could push their vote into the thousands, rather than the hundreds...

You actually need about 130,000 votes, depending on the voter turnout (ie 2017 was up 6.5% on 2014). This makes it harder for niche parties as they are drawing from a finite pool. 2,605,854 votes 2014; 5% would be 130,292

It could also leave National, once again, left bereft when it comes to support parties.....

That’s what makes Simon Bridges’ comments re a Ngaro accommodation somewhat bemusing. One understands he has to stand by brand-National, but if he does so, 2020 is simply a repeat of 2017, National bogged down on a plateau of 42-44% and no ally. OR if NZF trips below 5%, a fist fight between National v Lab/Greens. An ally of some description makes sense.

The rest of Alex Braae’s The Bulletin is here:

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