COMMENT:

Alfred Ngaro. Learn that name. If he pulls the trigger on setting up a conservative Christian party, he may well be a force on the political landscape.

I can't think of anyone more perfect to lead a Christian party. More specifically, I can't think of anyone more perfect to lead a National-friendly Christian party.

Because there's no denying that's what it would be. It would be National's mini-me. A party set up almost exclusively to become a wee mate for the National Party.

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That's at least part of what makes Ngaro perfect. He's already in Parliament as a National Party MP. He's hardly put a foot wrong in eight years in the place. He's even had some experience as a minister.

What's more, he's a likeable, friendly, good-looking guy.

What more could you ask for?

Well, how about someone with impeccable Christian credentials?

He's got them in spades. He's a former pastor. He's a proud zionist with Jewish lineage. He practically delivered a sermon outside Parliament last year protesting the removal of Jesus from the Parliamentary prayer.

If a weird guy like Colin Craig, who's not even sure humans landed on the moon, can command 4 per cent of the vote at an election, imagine what a normal guy like Ngaro can do.

And there could well be a sizeable conservative Christian vote out there. The best indication of how high it could go is the 6.7 per cent the Christian Coalition polled in the lead up to the 1996 election.

The events of this past week would help Ngaro too. Look at the lead up to Israel Folau's sacking this week. High-profile Christians like former Australian rugby captain Nick Farr-Jones seemed to believe it was all a reaction to Folau's religion. Folau drew support from other Christians who seemed to think the same.

Anecdotally, there seems to be a sense among some Christians that their faith is under attack. Couple that with a possible liberalisation of marijuana laws, an almost certain liberalisation of abortion laws and an - overdue - recognition of the Muslim community in this country, and you might have enough to drive conservative Christians into the arms of a new party.

Plus, it helps hugely that Ngaro is Pasifika. If there were voters to steal from Labour it would be the conservative Christian Pasifika voters, who may well feel uncomfortable with Labour's progressive policies.

I'm not convinced by the criticism that voters will feel icky voting for a party so clearly set up just to support National. Why? Is the problem that it's such a blatant gaming of the system?

Come on. That is a fact of MMP. Surely we've got used to gaming by now. ACT's had a sweetheart deal in Epsom for how long? Peter Dunne got a deal in Ohariu too.

And, really, if we can accept a system that allows a party with only 7 per cent of the vote to appoint the Prime Minister, grab disproportionate power and billions of dollars to spend on their hearts' desires, then we have accepted a system open to gaming.

An added bonus for National is this party would let them off the hook on the fuddy-duddy grandad stuff. If their Christian coalition party does all the hissing at Labour's liberalising, it means they don't have to. Which surely makes them slightly more palatable to fiscally conservative but socially progressive voters.

The trick for National is not leaving fingerprints. How do they help set up a coalition partner without it looking like they've set up a coalition partner? That's probably impossible. Especially when the party leader comes from within the National caucus.

But then, maybe we're so used to MMP being gamed that that doesn't really matter anymore.