Colin Craig and the Conservative Party Are Left Wing
Not Right Wing
Note: This takes a in-depth look into New Zealand’s Central Politics. Auckland issues will resume in the next post
It is rare Talking Auckland will take a look a Central Government politics in New Zealand. However, owing to our shallow depth (and knowledge) of actual political mechanics in NZ I am going to take a look at one particular angle.
Over the long weekend just gone there has been plenty of chatter about the current National-led Government possibly striking up a deal with Colin Craig’s Conservative Party. The gist being the Conservative Party would be a natural “ally” to National owing to what people perceive as The Conservatives being “Right Wing.”
This example from One News illustrates our lack of depth in actual political mechanics in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world:
Added: 6:33PM Sunday October 27, 2013
Source: ONE News
The right-wing Conservative Party is eyeing up a place in a National-led coalition next year.
Major mistake right there by One News. The mistake is also made often by other media outlets as well as others in New Zealand. Colin Craig and The Conservative Party are NOT Right Wing as National, ACT, United and even Labour (currently until it lurches left again) are. Craig and his party are Left Wing – the same as NZ First and belong in the Social Conservative department.
How is Craig and the Conservative Party actually Left Wing? Let me explain starting with the brief article on the Conservative Party.
|Conservative Party of New Zealand|
|Headquarters||5 Triton Drive, Albany, Auckland|
|International affiliation||(Not affiliated)|
|Politics of New Zealand
The Conservative Party of New Zealand, a political party in New Zealand, dates from August 2011. It advocates fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, the repeal of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and of the child discipline law, and the use of binding referenda. Colin Craig, who polled third (with about 8.7% of the vote) in the 2010 Auckland mayoral election, leads the party.
Fiscal and Social Conservatism = Social Conservatism on the 4-way political compass. Social Conservatism is Left Wing (as its oppositional counterpart – Social Liberalism).
This is the definition of Social Conservatism:
Again from Wikipedia
Social conservatism is a political ideology that focuses on the preservation of what are seen as traditional values. The accepted goals and ideologies related to preserving traditions and morality often varies from group to group within social conservatism. Thus, there are really no policies or positions that could be considered universal among social conservatives. There are however a number of general principles to which at least a majority of social conservatives adhere, such as support for morality and traditional family values.
Social conservatism and other ideological views
There is no necessary link between social and fiscal conservatism; some social conservatives such as Mike Huckabee, George W. Bush, and Michael Gerson are otherwise apolitical, centrist or liberal on economic and fiscal issues. Social conservatives may sometimes support economic intervention where the intervention serves moral or cultural aims. Many social conservatives support a balance between fair trade and a free market . This concern for material welfare, like advocacy of traditional mores, will often have a basis in religion. Examples include theChristian Social Union of Bavaria, the Family First Party and Katter’s Australian Party, and the communitarian movement in the United States.
There is more overlap between social conservatism and paleoconservatism, in that they both have respect for traditional social forms.
Karen Stenner has argued that social conservatism is seen as a form of authoritarianism, in contrast with traditionalist conservatism. This position was echoed in John Dean‘s Conservatives Without Conscience. Social conservatism is often associated with the position that the government should have a greater role in the social affairs of its citizens, generally supporting whatever it sees as morally correct choices and discouraging or outright forbidding those it considers morally wrong ones.
The point I highlighted in bold above illustrates the difference between an actual Social Conservative (someone who is conservative in both Social and Economic policies) and a Neo Conservative (socially conservative but typically economically liberal – the National Party as of current). Just a point of difference – Neo Con’s in the USA are typically different to the Neo Con regimes throughout the world – bit of a long story behind that one.
However, you can see what Social Conservatism is and how Colin Craig and his Conservative Party would fit into that particular Left-Wing Box. This piece from the Herald shows Craig wanting to interfere in the urban development market – something Winston Peters and the late Sir Robert Muldoon would do:
From the NBR:
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says the compulsory acquisition of land would help solve Auckland’s housing problem.
Colin Craig told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that he would move ‘artificial boundaries’ and buy up land to address the supply issue.
“I’d be writing a letter to all those developers who have locked up all that land and be saying, ‘Look, you’ve got five years to build houses, otherwise we’ll be buying it off you under the Public Works Act.’
Mr Craig is confident the party will have a stronger showing at next year’s election than in the 2011 campaign.
“We got nearly three per cent last time with a seven week campaign and we feel we can do a lot better,” the Conservative Party leader says.
Followed by this featured comment:
“Conservative Party or Socialist Party? The State shouldn’t seize land, even with some form of compensation. The answer is to open up more land for development”
Spot on with that comment.
What Craig is proposing is similar to actual Socialist policies seen in parts of Latin America and the former Soviet Bloc. Last time I checked Socialism (which is a form Social Conservatism) is Left Wing with that kind of high-end economic intervention policy (coupled with Craig’s high-end social intervention policies).
National being of the Centre Right (so economically liberal at the minimum) would be more leaning towards market levers and minimising State hindrance to address the housing issue in Auckland. Ironically something the Unitary Plan AND the Resource Management Act are meant to be in their purist of forms – liberal planning documents (with safeguards attached).
Some more analysis of actual political mechanics on how Left and Right does not work at all:
From Political Compass
In the introduction, we explained the inadequacies of the traditional left-right line.
If we recognise that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.
That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.
Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper political analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. While the former involves state-imposed arbitrary collectivism in the extreme top left, on the extreme bottom left is voluntary collectivism at regional level, with no state involved. Hundreds of such anarchist communities exisited in Spain during the civil war period
You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.
The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)
The usual understanding of anarchism as a left wing ideology does not take into account the neo-liberal “anarchism” championed by the likes of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and America’s Libertarian Party, which couples social Darwinian right-wing economics with liberal positions on most social issues. Often their libertarian impulses stop short of opposition to strong law and order positions, and are more economic in substance (ie no taxes) so they are not as extremely libertarian as they are extremely right wing. On the other hand, the classical libertarian collectivism of anarcho-syndicalism ( libertarian socialism) belongs in the bottom left hand corner.
In our home page we demolished the myth that authoritarianism is necessarily “right wing”, with the examples of Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot and Stalin. Similarly Hitler, on an economic scale, was not an extreme right-winger. His economic policies were broadly Keynesian, and to the left of some of today’s Labour parties. If you could get Hitler and Stalin to sit down together and avoid economics, the two diehard authoritarians would find plenty of common ground.
A Word about Neo-cons and Neo-libs
U.S. neo-conservatives, with their commitment to high military spending and the global assertion of national values, tend to be more authoritarian than hard right. By contrast, neo-liberals, opposed to such moral leadership and, more especially, the ensuing demands on the tax payer, belong to a further right but less authoritarian region. Paradoxically, the “free market”, in neo-con parlance, also allows for the large-scale subsidy of the military-industrial complex, a considerable degree of corporate welfare, and protectionism when deemed in the national interest. These are viewed by neo-libs as impediments to the unfettered market forces that they champion.
Where do I fit? Well I fit here:
I am a Social Liberal and a Social Liberal is:
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include a social foundation, implicitly on a collective basis. Social liberalism seeks to balance individual liberty and social justice. Like classical liberalism, it endorses a market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights and liberties, but differs in that it believes the legitimate role of the government includes addressing economic and social issues such as poverty, health care and education. Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II. Social liberal ideas and parties tend to be considered centrist orcentre-left. The term social liberalism is used to differentiate it from classical liberalism, which dominated political & economic thought for several centuries until social liberalism branched off from it around the Great Depression.
A reaction against social liberalism in the late twentieth century, often called neoliberalism, led to monetarist economic policies and a reduction in government provision of services. However, this reaction did not result in a return to classical liberalism, as governments continued to provide social services and retained control over economic policy.
By definition I am also in natural opposition to Social Conservatives thus Colin Craig. However social wise I would be best of mates with Neo Liberals – just not economics. It is also probably why I get along at the moment more with the liberal wing of National (that comprises of the Social and Neo Liberals) than other Parties (including The Greens (banning and/or taxing a heck load of stuff is something I expect from Social Conservatives like Colin Craig)) as those particular parties tend to be more authoritative – something I often oppose.
And so where am I going with all this?
Looking at more in-depth political analysis and mechanics – rather than New Zealand’s tendency to be shallow at such things, Colin Craig and his Conservative Party ARE NOT Right Wing as National and current Labour are. Craig is in-fact Left Wing in the Social Conservative Box thus oppositional to a Neo Conservative and Liberal National Party.
Unless National are really wanting to lurch left economically and more so socially thus alienating its strong core base then I would advise National to stay WELL away from Colin Craig and his Conservative Party. Look; heading back to opposition for three years to recharge and reorganise to allow a strong fight in 2017 (and most likely return to Government) would be a good thing compared to going for a third term thanks to a partnership with Craig then being booted to the opposition benches for another long cold nine years owing most likely some serious internal ructions because of the partnership with Craig.
- Our society is Secular with a mix of economic and social liberalism and conservatism. Craig’s “religious” politics would go against the grain of what this nation currently holds and sees
- Craig is a Social Conservative while National are a mix of Neo Conservative and Liberals (and a mix of Social Liberals as well). Unless you are planning to do a Grand Coalition type of deal as Germany has done then 3 years of opposition for a recharge might be the better deal for National compared to a chance of 9 long years in opposition
- As this NBR featured comment said: “Conservative Party or Socialist Party? The State shouldn’t seize land, even with some form of compensation. The answer is to open up more land for development” – National are not Socialists. And what Craig proposes is something I am dead against – high-end Socialism. My vote would swing away from National and to the opposition to make sure something like what Craig is proposing would not happen…
So remember folks: Colin Craig and his Conservatives are in the same boat and faction as New Zealand First. Oppositional to National and the Centre Right – and even the Left Wing faction of Social Liberals. I think history shown a few things about Winston and National (NZ First is again mainly opposition to my Social Liberal beliefs as well) as an example of a Social Conservative party partnering up with a Neo Conservative/Neo Liberal Party…
Vote 2014 is going to be interesting indeed…