How easy are we?
Last week, Alfred Ngaro was some half remembered former Cabinet Minister who had slunk into invisibility in opposition. From time to time pictures came out of the opposition benches and Alfred Ngaro would catch the eye with his shock of silver hair, looking just like Mike McRoberts long lost twin brother.
But that was last week. How things have changed while we’ve been played.
Barry Soper wrote an article bringing to light the rumours that had swirled for a while. That Alfred would split off from the National Party and form a conservative Christian party.
It made sense. Alfred has always trumpeted his Christianity, called himself a Zionist and claimed to have been a pastor.
But Barry’s article went further, suggesting that National could cut a deal for Alfred and his new party along the lines of the deal with ACT. The electorate of Botany was mentioned. And this also made sense as National is desperate for coalition partners.
Now, the Botany deal has been gently denied by National but that doesn’t matter because mentioning Botany was a stroke of genius. It fired up the incumbent independent Jami-Lee Ross who dutifully went into attack mode against the party that isolated him.
Ross scanned Alfred’s social media for a weapon and he found it: Alfred lightly conflated abortion with the word holocaust. A powerful, emotionally laden word that rises heckles in many.
So bang. Alfred’s in the paper again for a second day. He refuses to apologise but mitigates the word saying he should have said the tragedy of abortion and then double downs on his long held belief that abortion is a crime. He has always opposed moving abortion out of the Crimes Act.
So bang again. Many feminists rail against that attitude and put their argument, seemingly oblivious to the fact that people whose mind is set on keeping abortion criminal will never change their view. Alfred doesn’t mind. His name is in the public sphere again.
Meanwhile, Simon Bridges is on the radio with Mike Hosking talking about Alfred.
This is all politics 101. The trick is to get other people talking about you and Alfred has done that all week long. Holey Moley. I’m doing it now!
But it’s all so seemingly calculating. It doesn’t feel as though this so called party has emerged organically from a significant sector of like-minded individuals. It feels like a political party you order from a catalogue.
While Alfred may get the 500 members needed and the organisation together in the 18 months he has before the next election, it will still seem to me like a ruse from the National Party. And if it works and three or so members of this new party take a seat in parliament, there will still be a feeling that all the other people who started parties themselves were gypped. The Colin Craigs and the Gareth Morgans. That their two or three per cent of supporters were democratically disenfranchised.
So personally, if you think a conservative party is needed and you’d like to support one, then the one I like is the New Conservatives who have done the hard yards by themselves and look pretty prepared really and are not some party you buy in a flat pack and assemble yourself or a party you buy from a takeaways.