I listened to Liam Hehir's podcast with Thomas Coughlan from the NZH and there were some very key things talked about that confirm I am on the right track. For those who don't know him, he's a commentator aligned with the National Party and the most conservative guy they let on TV (occasionally) and used to be probably the most right-wing guy they let write a mainstream newspaper column. For some reason Damien Grant now has that honour, but that's a different story. For those familiar with David French, it would be no understatement to say that Liam Hehir is New Zealand's David French—which is what makes him interesting and infuriating.
While they called this podcast the "current state of the National Party and conservatism in New Zealand" the key takeaway for me is that Liam lays out why the National Party needs to be destroyed and how to do it.
He says that NZ's relative economic stability has been key to stopping any kind of populist insurgency in politics. National and Labour agree on the direction of economics and social policy but only argue about the details. He likes this.
He rejects that conservatives are the "junior partner" in the National coalition, but describes conservatives more as the working horse for a liberal elite. At no point does he try to convey the point that this is a bad thing, other than jokingly suggesting that maybe the liberals could leave. The Act Party already exists, so it makes little sense as to why there is anything that would stop National from being actually conservative.
The current arrangement ensures the only thing conserved is progress.
I transcribed the core part of his political beliefs, as follows:
"The National Party needs to follow society. The only thing you need to do to keep socially conservative voters happy is not be on the bleeding edge and not to force MPs pro-actively to take positions contrary to their conscience. We all accept that society moves on and that politics should move with society, but be led by the culture, don't try to lead it. If you can do that and leave space for conscience votes, then that's all that socially conservative voters want. Everybody sort of respects the dignity and integrity of everybody else. It's only when one side tries to achieve dominance over the other that we have problems."
He's endorsing what used to be a joke: when conservatives win they are in government, when liberals win they are in power.
National needs a lot of votes from the 35% of the country that's socially conservative. The party is kept together because internally they don't want to lose access to the machinery and resources, much of which are controlled by liberals. Break this unholy alliance and you break National.
He says that "you can't change the country in a socially conservative direction with politics, you just can't, and you will alienate a key number of people you need to win the government." While Andrew Breitbart was a great man, his "politics is downstream from culture" doctrine has been abused by defeatists due to its incomplete nature. Politics is the expression of power, and power shapes culture.
At some level Liam must know he is wrong, because he recently wrote very touchingly about his grandma, a devout Roman Catholic who turned 100 in April and has over 100 living descendants. However, he notes that only four of her ten children are religiously observant, and only one of her grandchildren is. Now, if his premise were true, then his grandma must have been pretty terrible at building culture.
My devout Reformed Protestant great grandma (who would be over 100 were she still alive) might only have half the number of direct descendants, but the vast majority of them are in church every Sunday. Did my great grandma simply "culture harder" than Liam's, or is there a bigger factor at play? Does the fact that my great grandma's descendants wield a massive amount of residual power (both political and cultural) in the Dutch Bible Belt perhaps not play a far more important part in this story? New Zealand parents raising families were caught unawares while their culture and traditions were rapidly crushed by a far more powerful politically motivated force.
There is one point at which he almost admits he is wrong: "Labour is more socially progressive than the population, but they don't get the same heat from it from you guys [the media] for it." The media and Labour are committed to progress and dragging the culture behind them. Perhaps his subconscious has processed the real truth of politics: culture is downstream from power.
Liam Hehir spends a lot of time defending the useless Chris Luxon from media attacks. If only Luxon were half the monster they make him out to be. The harsh treatment he receives is conditioning and training on what will be acceptable for him to say or do when he's in government. We all know who will be in power.
The only way for conservatives to ever get wins in New Zealand politics will require the destruction of the mechanism that holds the National Party together. The greatest threat we face comes from conservatives being conned to party vote National in service to the eternal social revolution.