John Key showed a certain amount of political courage in supporting Louisa Wall’s Marriage Equality Bill – and it was a real windfall to conservative opposition MPs, who could vote against it knowing that the government would wear most of the backlash from conservative constituents. The only thing Labour could do to turn this triumph into a defeat was to have the caucus publicly split on whether they should withdraw their own bill, so that’s what they’ve done. The Herald reports:
MPs from the Labour Party’s South Auckland strongholds are divided over a bill which would legalise same-sex marriage, with two concerned it could seriously hurt the party’s support in its heartland electorates.
Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio said he would oppose fellow MP Louisa Wall’s bill when it came up for a conscience vote, and called for it to be withdrawn.
Mangere was one of three crucial Labour electorates in South Auckland, and he felt the wide opposition from constituents to the bill, particularly from Pacific Islanders, could cost the party at the next election.
The ructions over the bill will put Labour leader David Shearer under pressure to make sure the issue does not cause damage or split the caucus. Mr Sio’s timing meant the issue overshadowed a major speech by Mr Shearer yesterday aimed at winning support from rural and provincial New Zealand.
Mr Shearer said yesterday MPs should not be “assassinated” for their voting choice, because a conscience vote allowed people to vote according to their beliefs or the will of their constituency.
(I note with interest that Bob McCoskrie has co-byline credit for that story.)
Anyway, MPs shouldn’t be ‘assassinated’ over opposing this bill, but it is a Labour bill, it’s (presumably) been debated and voted on by caucus. If an MP publicly condemns their own party’s legislation and predicts an election loss as a consequence (on the same day their leader is trying to raise his own profile), then they should probably receive a bit of firm assassinating.