It’s a story of political judgment.
Last month, a leaked document suggested the US Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. Last week, it happened.
Last weekend, our politicians, along with millions of others around the world, reacted. One MP’s reaction has filtered into New Zealand’s political discourse, dominating a significant portion over the past few days.
It was Tāmaki MP Simon O’Connor, whose five-word Facebook post decorated with pink love hearts forced National Chief Christopher Luxon to answer several questions over several days about his pro-life stance, reassuring the public that nothing will change.
In the midst of a cost of living crisis – this is the exact opposite of what Luxon wants to talk about.
Luxon is trying to appeal to centrist voters, so they will vote for him to be prime minister in the 2023 election.
His biggest obstacle is coming across as too conservative and too religious for the average New Zealander. It’s not rocket science.
So when a major international abortion story breaks, the political instinct of a pro-life national MP should be to shut up and protect their leader.
It’s no surprise that some MPs are pro-life, especially O’Connor, who trained as a Catholic priest.
O’Connor circled the block, but it was a mistake. Not helped by the fact that he was unreachable for a few hours on Saturday because he was throwing water.
Yes, he performed well on Tuesday, speaking his mind and answering questions from the media in a genuine way (it could have been a train wreck), but those kinds of stories disrupt the momentum of a party.
He will have to be careful not to rock the boat too much and lose the support of his Tāmaki election committee.
This was the first big test for Luxon and his new team. They could have been quicker to get the party message out on the weekends, but they get points for putting on a show.
We asked to interview O’Connor and Luxon on Monday, however, only Luxon showed up. But on Tuesday, they made no attempt to get O’Connor into the caucus room, placing him in front of the press gallery. This bodes well for future issues.
Labor was lucky the Prime Minister was overseas and didn’t have to get involved in this story, but the Deputy Prime Minister didn’t hesitate.
Labor know this is a weakness for National, so sat back as the ball rolled slowly into its own goal.