Colin Craig was a complete unknown to me and probably the very vast majority of New Zealanders when he and his Conservative Party bolted from the blue, into our midst in August 2011. Who was he? What did he do for a job? They were among many others the questions New Zealanders asked themselves.
They did not have long to find out. Although his Conservative Party failed to enter Parliament in 2011, which would have been a phenomenal achievement for a three month old party, the 2.2% of public support was probably sufficient to stop National picking up the necessary M.P.’s to make a majority Government. That said, introducing his party with just three months campaign time to get ready for the election seemed like an odd time to do so.
But Mr Craig for all his attempts to woo New Zealanders, all of his work trying to get a conservative party into Parliament, seemed to be having an identity crisis in terms of policies. Some days I wondered if he was trying to be an A.C.T. stooge with his support for gutting the Resource Management Act. But then on other days he would be touting protection for many of the components of the natural environment that the R.M.A. provided for. In terms of where he got his policies from, on several occasions it appeared that the Conservative Party had simply taken lines from New Zealand First policies.
Maybe in the absence of United Future having any more obviously Christian links, and having for the most part lost any sense of a moral compass, Mr Craig thought he was going to be leading the next Christian party in New Zealand politics. The latter was forced to shed his Christian M.P.’s by a combination of election results and some view points in far right field. On marriage and abortion, the Conservative Party was loud and clear: No. No. No.
By the time the 2014 General Election rolled around, Mr Craig had an established Party. Its policy platform was still a mish mash of other political parties standpoints, but it had some high profile people such as former Department of Work and Income boss Christine Rankin to sell them as a uniquely Conservative platform. There were however some ominous signs, such as the abrupt resignation of the Press Secretary just days before the election. The Conservative Party managed 3.97% which was still not enough to get it seats in Parliament, though it did perhaps show a degree of disgruntlement amongst right leaning voters with the A.C.T. and National Party’s.
Mr Craig and his Conservative Party seemed to disappear from the radar after the election as the public focussed on the disaster that befell the Labour Party and how National managed to maintain all of its Members of Parliament. So, when I heard that Mr Craig was resigning from the Party last week, I was surprised. Why now? Then the rumours about him sexually harassing the Press Secretary surfaced. The resignations that followed, which included his brother and Christine Rankin suggest a far deeper problem than what is being admitted to.
So now Colin Craig is gone. Will his political career survive the inevitable damage that such serious allegations can do? It seems doubtful The man who tried to give hope to frustrated conservatives not affiliated with National and A.C.T. has left the vehicle that was his brain child. The party that railed against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage)Amendment Act in 2013 is in crisis. Will this be the end or will the Conservative Party rise anew from the wreckage?