In the 2005 election, National campaigned on an anti-Maori, anti-Treaty platform, promising to eliminate even the pallid rights Maori had gained over the foreshore and seabed, remove Treaty clauses from legislation, eliminate the Maori seats, and generally attempt to roll back the growing recognition and influence Maori have won for themselves over the past two decades. Now, they look set to make the mother of all U-turns, with Gerry Brownlee expected to urge National's Northern regional conference to reopen debate:
He is expected to urge National to debate its stance on the Treaty and the constitution, including the recommendations of the United Nations' Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen.
They include issues that National opposes, such as making Waitangi Tribunal findings binding, entrenching MMP and the Treaty, and using iwi and hapu to provide customary self governance.
The reason for this sudden reversal is simple: the Maori Party. Currently they effectively hold the balance of power in Parliament, and with the number of Maori seats expected to increase, that power looks likely to grow. Currently National's policies effectively rule out any cooperation - it is difficult to work together when your policies are diametrically opposed - so if National wants any hope of power at the next election, it needs to change. Its a great example of what Maori can achieve by standing up for themselves electorally - but it will be amusing to see how it goes down amongst National's redneck supporters.
From a left-wing perspective this is a welcome move - and not just because National's policies were unconscionable. It will also allow Labour to cease its stupid pandering to rednecks, and return to openly advocating the values it is supposed to adhere to.