From the Ashes: New Conservative Public Meeting in Botany
Since the New Conservative Party was holding a public meeting in anticipation of contesting a possible Botany by-election, I thought I'd go have a listen as I live in the area. When they re-launched last year, I wrote them off with harsh criticism, but the deputy leader contacted me and said "you made some great points, want to sit down over a coffee to discuss them?" That's not politics as usual, and as I've found out, I'm not the only sceptic who's been drawn in with intrigue.
The turnout was a near full house, with almost every one of the sixty-odd seats filled. As I expected, and had seen at previous public meetings of other parties, the overwhelming majority were older folks, but I was surprised by a sizable minority of young people — a positive sign for the New Conservatives. Several I spoke to after the meeting revealed they were former Green, TOP, or NZ First voters. Perhaps an odd switch to be making, but it proves that you shouldn't write people off, even a Greenie can come to see the light.
As I arrived, Casey Costello, a new party board member and spokeswoman for Hobson's Pledge, was just starting her speech. I missed the opening speech by party leader Leighton Baker, thanks to Auckland public transport failures. Casey focused on unity between Maori and non-Maori. She was at Waitangi with Don Brash and Elliot Ikilei earlier this month and saw the self-perpetuating anger that's been taught along with reliance on handouts for economic success. She highlighted the unelected Maori Statutory Board on the Auckland Council and her desire to see it removed, along with changes to the Resource Management Act and Foreshore and Seabed legislation — all of which put property rights and public land at risk of being spuriously claimed, regulations heaped on development projects, and continued fostering of resentment. She finished up with "What I'm asking for, as a Maori, is to be treated the same. To not have to choose between my ethnicity and my citizenship."
Elliot was up next and said that he doesn't like to write speeches. He speaks from the heart. It shows, and he is a gifted and charismatic orator. He started off by saying that the old Conservative Party had been burnt down through scandal and internal strife. It should have stayed there, as most utterly destroyed parties do, but a handful of faithful kept the lights on. In 2018, they emerged from the ashes and became the first registered party to speak out against Phil Goff's deplatforming of right-wing speakers (the blame for which Goff later shifted to Auckland Live), and since then they've taken the forefront in the culture wars. He took the claim to them being the only pro-life party and the only party opposing gender ideology and perversion in public schools. Last week they revealed the contents of the "Mates & Dates" programme in a 4 part series. Elliot said they also showed via an OIA request last year that sexual offenders are being released into the community under home detention sentences. He noted that there has been a 2% increase in sexual assaults last year.
A party member, who works for the Department of Corrections and wishes to remain anonymous, later told me that they're sorely underfunded and understaffed as Labour is attempting to empty the prisons by shifting these high risk offenders into the community and that they simply can't keep an eye on these criminals.
Elliot mocked the "most transparent government in history" by revealing that NC members are sometimes being asked not to reveal the contents of their OIA requests to the public. He predicted that this will indeed be the "year of delivery" for Jacinda, not of economic delivery, but the delivery of ideological "progress". Last month, Andrew Little promised the barbaric savages on the UN Human Rights Council that Labour would look into amending our Human Rights Act to suppress unwanted speech against transgenderism. (Many of the countries telling us to do this either execute transgenders or run concentration camps for political dissidents. Go figure.)
"This is the stuff that the media won't tell you," he said, and he wrapped up to applause by affirming that "we are not the establishment."
No question time would be complete without an audience member going on an off-topic rant or two, and this happened on the subject of transgenderism which could really have been summed up with a clip of Alex Jones yelling "I don't like it when they put chemicals in the water and turn the friggin frogs gay!" (All of it true, by the way.) The MC learned quickly on the job, but in the meanwhile Elliot took it graciously and brought everything back to how the New Conservative Party would implement policies to treat transgenderism as a straightforward mental condition that can be healed.
Leighton Baker took a question on whether the "Every Transaction Tax" policy had been costed. (The policy would replace GST, and possibly income tax, with a small tax on every single financial transaction.) It turns out that it can't be costed as the numbers needed to do so are sealed in the government books. He stressed that the policy is something that they really want to have a look at when in government and they're not committing to implementing it unless it can be costed. I spoke with the questioner after and he wasn't quite satisfied. Not that he didn't like the policy, but that it's a hard sell when you can't back it up with numbers.
As I missed Leighton Baker's opening speech, I took the opportunity to speak with him before I left. He's got that seriousness you'd expect from an old-school conservative and it pairs nicely with the charisma of Elliot Ikilei. He expressed his desire to avoid the nastiness of politics, including unnecessarily going on the attack against their opponents directly. This explained the lack of public comment on Jamie-Lee Ross during the meeting. Leighton appeals clearly to the lifeblood of the party, the older and more reserved members who keep the party financially solvent. While his social media presence is just about zero, it doesn't appear to be a big liability at this point with players like Ikilei and Moffett filling that void. Leighton is the man on the ground that the base can relate to.
Leighton and Elliot are not politicians, not well known, not backed by big money, and under normal circumstances wouldn't stand a chance. Yet going into 2020 and beyond, things will be anything but normal.
The views and polices of the New Conservative Party are what the media would call "controversial" and "provocative" perhaps even "[buzzword]-phobic". Were anyone else of note promoting these views, the media would have a camera crew out and it would be front-page news, but they was nowhere to be seen.
Something that should strike you as rather odd.