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Big News: Now You've Dunne It

Big New with Dave Crampton

Now you've Dunne it

United Future may well have been the most irrelevant party in Parliament during the last term but it is currently the party everyone is talking about. One of the talking points will be how the eight new United Future MP’s – all but one of them Christians - perform as Parliament’s fourth biggest party.

Many Christians switched their vote from Christian Heritage Party (CHP) to United Future in their desire to get Christian representation in Parliament. But most of the 124 000 voters who cast their party vote for United Future didn’t vote for Christian values they appreciated the family values and the common sense approaches taken by Peter Dunne, despite not knowing much about other United Future candidates.

Prime Minister Helen Clark suggested the rise of United Future came as a result of the collapse of National, who had its worst election night result ever, polling 21 percent to Labours 41 percent.

The main new National face is Don Brash, being fifth on the list, and a Baptist. Many voters felt a CHP vote was a wasted vote – they were right, as it happened - and so the United Future was the party that benefited from former National and CHP voters.

United Future may, as a coalition partner, would be a tough call for Labour as all but Dunne are inexperienced as MPs and Miss Clark’s views of the religious flavour of the party are well known.

She earlier warned voters about the candidates’ religious backgrounds, adding that some candidates were defections from the CHP and thus people to be wary of.

Voters ignored her.

TABLE 1. CHRISTIAN VOTE 1999 AND 2002 ELECTIONS

2002


(2002 VOTES FULL TABLE...)
12,025 6.84% United Future
24,623 1.36% Christian Heritage Party
TOTAL 36,648 8%

1999


(
1999 VOTES FULL TABLE..)
49,159 2.4% Christian Heritage Party of New Zealand
23,034 1.1% Future New Zealand
11,065 0.5% United NZ
TOTAL: 83,258 4%)

CHP candidates were also ignored. High CHP hope Merepeka Raukawa Tait was never in the Wairarapa race, coming in a distant third. Had she opted to represent United Future, she may be packing for Parliament.

Now she is considering quitting the CHP, questioning whether the party has a future. But with a reduced party vote of 1.3 percent, from 2.4 percent in 1999, CHP are still the highest polling party outside Parliament.

So what does this mean for Christian politics? Well more Christians in the house leads to a greater political influence but new MP’s will be wary of unnecessarily airing views on moral issues such as prostitution law reform and gay rights legislation, as such legislation is primarily decided by a conscience vote.

Although there will be many who say that the CHP is the only Christian party in this country, clearly an overt Christian party is not what this country wants in Parliament – and never has wanted.

But many Christians long to see a greater Christian representation in Parliament, and for the first time in New Zealand’s political history there is a political party in Parliament full of them.

Despite United Future /Labour being the coalition preferred by voters, irregardless of United Future’s religious flavour, it’s not Labour’s ideal.

Still, Helen Clark has not yet closed the door on a coalition including United Future.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

ENDS

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