Copeland to leave United Future
NB:post has been updated
Gordon Copeland is to have a media conference soon to announce he is leaving United Future. Apparently it is over the Bradford anti-smacking bill, more specifically, the fact that he doesn't agree with his leader, Peter Dunne, voting for it. Peter Dunne was responsible for getting Copeland into Parliament, and it now appears the catalyst for him leaving the party.
I find a decision to leave the party now, for the reasons given, a little strange for several reasons. United Future had a conscience vote on the Bradford Bill, Copeland and Dunne are free to use this vote. Does Copeland expect United Future to vote like Labour and be whipped for doing so? After all, Copeland is (or was) the United Future whip.
Copeland will be an independent MP, meaning he is the only MP in Parliament who is neither elected nor represented on a party list. He plans to form a party with Larry Baldock, who is organising a CIR against the bill.
But what this means is that Labour will find it even more difficult to pass legislation in the House, although thanks to the Greens abstentions, confidence and supply is safe. In any case Copeland is continuing to support the Govt on confidence and supply for the budget. The Government will be relying on the Greens and the Maori Party to pass legislation, when they have stronger agreements with NZ First and United Future.
It also means that Copeland may well be finding another job after the election, which will be a shame as he was a measured MP who had a good grasp of a great deal of issues and portfolios. Then again, he was probably not going to be back in 2008 anyway unless more people were to vote for United Future than current polls indicate.
However, United Future is no longer united, and its future is looking a bit shaky as well. Copeland is out, Turner is really pissed off and Dunne will be on his own after the next election - primarily because he voted for a contentious bill that his party and his supporters disapproved of. Serves him right.
I guess that's what happens when minor parties try to support the Government of the day when its conscience and the majority of its dwindling number of supporters, and constituents tell them otherwise.
Dunne could have kept his party together had he voted with his electorate preferences and against the anti smacking bill. It would not have made a scrap of difference to the passage of the bill, but a big difference to everything else.
United Future is split right open. Its three MPs voted three different ways in the smacking bill -Dunne for, Turner against and Copeland as a new Independent MP didn't vote at all. (update: he voted against the bill and had his vote recorded two hours late