The latest poll shows the National Party could govern alongside Act after the general elections. One of National’s greatest challenges has been to convince New Zealanders that despite being dominated by uber-wealthy white men, they are like the rest of us. However, the National Party to me looks like a white boys’ club - a party for stale, pale, wealthy males, and they have a track record to show for it.
The National Party has a history of attracting questionable white men as candidates. I imagined that after the selection of Sam Uffindell, National would seriously reconsider its selection criteria, but recent selections have cast doubt on National’s commitment to change.
National’s ex-candidate for the Taieri electorate, Stephen Jack, shared a video to his Facebook which included the statement, “I like my Covid like I like my women. Nineteen. And easy to spread.” Jack maintained his candidacy until another comment comparing former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Hitler resurfaced.
Days before Jack’s revelation, it was revealed that National’s Maungakiekie candidate, Greg Fleming, compared same-sex civil union to incest and polygamy.
National selecting white men with what I would describe as repulsive views is a repeat offence.
In 2004, speaking against same-sex civil unions, Gerry Brownlee claimed that same-sex couples were not the same as heterosexual couples and should not be treated the same in law.
In 2017, it was revealed that National MP Todd Barclay made a clandestine taping which allegedly included sensitive health issues raised by women constituents. In 2018 Jami-Lee Ross faced bullying and sexual impropriety claims by numerous women.
A year later, National selected William Wood as its candidate for Palmerston North. In 2020, a photo resurfaced of Wood appearing to impersonate Adolf Hitler and pulling a Nazi salute.
National candidate Jake Bezzant left the National Party in 2021 after an ex-girlfriend alleged Bezzant used explicit images of her to impersonate her to sext men. National MP Andrew Falloon allegedly sent a young woman an unsolicited indecent photo a month later.
At the end of 2021, Simon O’Connor suggested that banning conversion therapy would force cisgender gay men to live as transgender women.
Christopher Luxon concluded the year by declaring abortion is tantamount to murder. O’Connor opened the following year by appearing to celebrate Americans losing the constitutional right to an abortion.
We all know what Uffindell did.
If this is the quality of politicians National has to offer, in my opinion, New Zealanders will be in real trouble if they make government. These men, who either hold or have been alleged to have beliefs and behaviours that I consider to be dangerous to women and queer folk, have been, tried to be, are or want to be lawmakers.
I do not want people who appear not to see others who do not share their identity as equals to make laws in our country. I do not want men who joke about spreading women like Covid-19 and send unsolicited indecent photos to young women making laws about abortion, or someone who wants to keep conversion therapy legal to make laws about transgender people. I don’t want white men who pose as Hitler near our legislature.
As the world becomes polarised, now more than ever, we need politicians who lead with reason and compassion instead of fear and bigotry. National’s repeated running of men who, in my opinion, undermine marginalised people show they are either not interested in doing better or do not know how to do better. Both are sufficient reasons to keep them away from power.
Shaneel Shavneel Lal (they/them) was instrumental in the bill to ban conversion therapy in New Zealand. They are a law and psychology student, model and influencer.