With today’s press conference suggesting sexuality and gender identity will no longer be taught in schools, Craig Young wonders if the National/ACT/New Zealand First coalition will be a single-term government?
As Josie Pagani noted in a recent Stuff opinion piece globally, centre-right governments are on the retreat. The British Conservative government is doomed. Its recent by-elections indicated twenty to twenty-five per cent swings toward the Labour Opposition and there must be a general election before the end of next year. It is uncertain whether the Republican Party will win next year’s election, given the backlash against pandering to the Christian Right over anti-abortion policies. The Australian Liberal-National Coalition was defeated earlier this year, so apart from Canada and Aotearoa/New Zealand, centre-right parties are in decline. 
As with the Hipkins government in our own recent election, the Conservatives are being electorally damaged by their inability to contain inflation and cost of living expenses. However, given that this is a British Conservative government, a predictable populist sideshow is distracting it. That sideshow is opposition to transgender rights. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, recently sacked his Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. Evidently, her attacks on police, immigration and trans people, refugees and asylum seekers in recent media releases and conference presentations are now seen as electoral liabilities.  Understandably, these would-be divisive tactics have been ignored by voters, who want to know how the government intends to deal with rising rents, grocery prices, fuel expenses, inadequate wages and inadequate access to vital public healthcare.  The message seems clear. Pander to irrelevant populist right-wing causes and your party pays the consequences of ignoring material needs. 
The current British Conservative began well, with moderate David Cameron at the helm- as Britain’s adoption of marriage equality under his tenure indicates. Unfortunately, Cameron resigned after  Brexit and Brexit-obsessed agitators undermined his successor Theresa May, resulting in the disastrous premiership of populist Boris Johnson. Under his incompetent and negligent leadership, populist rhetoric began to overwhelm evidence-based policy. If anything, that has accelerated under his successor, Rishi Sunak. 
ACT and New Zealand First appear to have not learnt from Britain’s Conservative decline. Instead, ACT and New Zealand First want a vanity referendum against Maori co-governance, which will cost an estimated nine million dollars, at a time when National says it wants to cut ‘wasteful’ public spending. Commendably, National has baulked at this and has only committed to a single reading for ACT’s so-called “Treaty Principles Bill” As with the UK Conservative Party’s anti-transgender obsession,  this may backfire badly on the Right. As the British Labour Opposition has done, Labour, the Greens and Te Pati Maori could easily turn this vanity referendum proposal into questions about Luxon administration fiscal responsibility and undoubtedly, it will be used by Te Pati Maori to gain more Maori seats when they are next allocated through Maori mobilisation.   Which would be no bad thing. 
Pandering to tiny right-wing populist groups like the UK Christian Right against transgender rights or our own unrepresentative anti-Treaty agitators comes down to logistics, scale and priorities. Britain’s lesson appears stark- prioritise material needs, don’t indulge tiny unrepresentative pressure groups or ignore those same material needs and pay the price at the ballot box. If the vanity referendum proposal does fail, then ACT and New Zealand First may become estranged from National, which is treading the path of moderation on this issue. Otherwise, like the British Tories now, the coalition will start to resemble a rickety three-legged stool.