Hard News by Russell Brown

100

He even has his Baldrick

Gordon Copeland's departure from United Future and consequent bid to revive a failed conservative Christian party is likely to end in obscurity, which is a shame given that, on secular matters, Copeland is a thoughtful and well-regarded member of Parliament.

He's presently the deputy chair of the Commerce select committee, and when I gave my submission on the Copyright Amendment Bill, he was notably engaged. Perhaps his performance on the committee will save his deputy chairmanship from being re-allocated along party lines.

If the United Future split presents some tactical challenges for Labour, it might also be extremely unhelpful for National next year. If Future New Zealand pulls 3% of the vote without winning an electorate, that's 3% unavailable to any centre-right coalition. If Taito Philip Field's party pulls a further 1% of the conservative Christian vote, so much the worse. National could win a clear plurality and still not make the Treasury benches. I think they'll have to be careful what they say about the Maori Party from here on.

Of course, it is faintly possible that Future New Zealand might make 5%. In which case, Copeland represents probably the most capable leader such a party could hope for. He even has his Baldrick - sorry - Baldock. I still find something a little tragic about a party whose flagship policy will be to restore the "right" to hit children.

So Michael Cullen picks quite the week for his Budget … there probably won't be a whole lot of Budget coverage from me tomorrow. I'm off to Wellington again in the morning, for various things.

Vanity Fair has an interesting meditation of on the Londonistan theme from Christpher Hitchens, and an explanatory interview.

Iraq's universities near terminal collapse.

The Fundy Post compiles some of Jerry Falwell's greatest hits, another blogger has a timeline, and Alan Wolfe at Salon observes that "Jerry Falwell expressed great hate for a lot of his fellow Americans. It is no wonder that so many of them will greet his death with something less than love."

And here's something handy: New Scientist rounds up the 26 most common myths and misconceptions about climate change. All the denier faves are there.

Oh, and a little shakeout in digital music sales: reader Steve King reports that CokeTunes is closing down on August 10. Can't complain about a lack of notice, then …

There's also another interesting news story to come about digital downloads in NZ. Under embargo at the moment, but I'll tell you when I can.

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