Sing the party song – and nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. Not even the slightest squeak of a different note. Even if it is based on deep personal conviction about the sanctity of human life. This is what the National Party has come to. It is why I exited four years ago.
With the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade this week, our media was awash with anguished cries of outrage from those who consider it acceptable to terminate unborn children. Socially liberal MPs in particular were unapologetic in publicly expressing their ire. The silence from pro-life MPs was deafening. That was until Tamaki MP, Simon O Connor, bravely posted on Facebook an extremely mild endorsement of the Court’s decision – “Today is a good day.”
It immediately became a very bad day for Simon. The outrage went quickly to the top, and leader Christopher Luxon was on the phone. The post had to be removed. Apparently it was “insensitive” and distressing. The conversation was constructive we are told, and O’Connor insists he was not gagged. The post was simply a “misstep” and he would apologise to caucus for creating this distraction from the Nats’ core messaging. His caucus colleague Simeon Brown MP likewise publicly apologised for the “distress” he had caused simply by liking the O’Connor post. Luxon later confirmed that O’Connor had voluntarily removed his post, but noted “it was coming down one way or another”.
All then publicly gathered behind the Luxon line that the abortion issue had been settled in New Zealand and would not be re-litigated under National. State funding for abortion services would also be guaranteed. And a private members bill from their caucus dealing with the issue was highly unlikely.
Ironic does not even come close to describing such statements coming from all of these ostensibly pro-life MPs. Bizarre is a better description. New Zealand now has some of the most extreme abortion laws in the world, effectively allowing abortion up until birth. And from our pro-life MPs in a future National administration we are not to expect even the slightest effort to tweak the laws, question taxpayer funding, or even raise a voice of dissent?
It would seem that an overwhelming fear of their opponents and the liberal media whipping up hysteria over their personal convictions has produced total moral paralysis. This is no longer the National Party being neutral, and allowing its members freedom of conscience. It is the Nats effectively endorsing the Labour position on the issue, and refusing to countenance the expression of any other views by its MPs. All in feverish pursuit of power. And all being facilitated by a leader who professes to be pro-life.
Meanwhile two pro-life Labour MPs today publicly stated why they had the courage to vote against their own party’s liberalisation of abortion in 2020. Jamie Strange and Rino Tirikatene both noted their mothers were advised by their doctors to abort them. Not surprisingly they indicated they would vote the same way if it came up again. Their frankness in the face of such abject political cowardice from their National party counterparts was refreshing.