Colin Craig addressed about 100 Conservative Party faithful at a town hall meeting in Orewa, reports stuff.co.nz. At that meeting, Mr Craig said the Conservative Party was on track to pass the 5% threshold and could get close to double digits. Of course, it’s usual for party leaders to talk up their level of support, but unfortunately for Mr Craig, there’s really no signs to date that his party is even close to 5%, let alone likely to get close to 10%.
Let’s look first at the Conservative Party’s current polling. This year they’ve bounced around between 1% and 2.5%. They’ve reached the 2.5% mark in three polls, all of which have been from Roy Morgan. The last Colmar Brunton poll had them at 2.3%, while the last Fairfax Ipsos poll had them at 2.1%. In my Poll of Polls they’re currently sitting on 1.9%, a long way short of 5%.
But are they trending up? In a word, no. In each of my Poll of Polls updates, the Conservative Party have been on either 1.8% or 1.9%. They’re going nowhere – balancing out the polling noise, their support has been entirely static.
Of course, Mr Craig and his supporters will tell us that 1.8% to 1.9% is still a good position to be coming from, given that in 2011 they came from nowhere as a new party just three months out from election day and ended up with 2.65%. Colin Craig and the Conservatives are now a known brand, and will argue that when the election campaign proper gets under way, he’ll likely surpass that 2011 figure. That may end up being the case, but I struggle to see how the Conservatives will come close to 5%.
The issue for Colin Craig is Winston Peters. As I’ve previously noted, in 2011 the combined small-c conservative vote of the Conservative Party and NZ First was 9.24%. Even if that constituency remains – ready to choose between Craig and Peters – Mr Craig still needs to offer something more than Mr Peters. At present, he’s failing miserably at that. It’s Peters who has the relevance, who is being talked about as kingmaker. NZ First is now above 5% in the major polls that have recently been released, and is currently sitting at 4.7% in my Poll of Polls, just a whisker away from hitting that 5% threshold. All the momentum is with Peters to mop up the remaining small-c conservative vote. If Peters hits, say, 6%, that leaves the Conservatives well short of 5%.
So what is Colin Craig offering the public? Well, Mr Craig offered the Orewa crowd “five things we should be afraid to say”, which were (as summarised by stuff.co.nz):
1. Say no to drugs, special interest groups, and don’t give added significance to Maori spirituality
2. Say yes to business opportunities, freeing up land particularly
3. Take responsibility – make people work for the dole, make prisoners work
4. Let people decide – more consultation with the public, such as referendums, particularly over issues such as the anti-smacking law, which he is opposed to
5. Don’t be afraid to be politically active – i.e tell your friends and family to vote Conservative
That’s not a very inspiring line up, and it certainly offers no differentiation from NZ First.
- Attacks on “special interest groups” and “Maori spirituality”? They’re Winston Peters’ bread and butter!
- Letting the people decide, by way of referendum? Pure Winston Peters.
- Work for the dole and hard labour for prisoners? Nothing new…
- Saying no to drugs? Apart from the Greens and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis, is there a single party out there which doesn’t say no to drugs?
- Saying “business is good”? Well, neither Craig nor Peters are really pitching for the socialist vote.
It appears that Mr Craig is losing the battle for the conservative vote to Winston Peters. And the more oxygen Mr Peters is given by the media, the harder it will be for Mr Craig to break even 3%, let alone 5%. An electorate seat accommodation from National is looking like Mr Craig’s only hope.