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Murray will take one for the team

LATEST: Key responds to poll that shows most National voters oppose a deal with Colin Craig

Prime Minister John Key says Murray McCully would stand aside in Auckland's East Coast Bay's electorate, if he asks him to.

Mr McCully has held the safe National seat since 2007. Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has said he can't beat a sitting National MP (a reasonable assumption in the Bays, where National received 21,079 list votes in 2011 to the Conservatives' 1254).

The Conservatives are polling at a level that should see two or three MPs, at least, enter Parliament on Mr Craig's coat-tails if he's gifted East Coast Bays. 

The PM has promised a decision on East Coat Bays soon. It could come at this weekend's party conference, which will see around 600 delegates gather in Wellington.

Mr McCully — who lured Shane Jones out of Parliament — is regarded as one of the party's leading strategists. Now he finds himself at the centre of events.

Mr Key told reporters on Friday that the decision would be made with select cabinet ministers, including Mr McCully. 

National is expected to release its candidate list at the conference. If so, it will necessitate a decision on whether Mr McCully stands again in his Auckland seat, or joins the party's MMP list.

Current National Party allies ACT and UnitedFuture, both polling within the margin of error, will be looking on nervously. National giving a leg-up to the socially conservative Mr Craig would be felt especially keenly by the fiscally conservative, socially liberal ACT.

Beyond list speculation, delegates have been told to expect a major policy announcement Sunday afternoon.

Guarding against complacency is expected to be another theme of the conference as the the party continues to ride high in the polls.

Delegates might be reminded that the final polls ahead of the 2011 election all over-estimated National's support:

National Party support, November 2011

  • Election result: 47.3%
  • UMR: 48.6%
  • One News Colmar Brunton: 50.0%
  • Herald Digipoll: 50.9%
  • Roy Morgan: 49.5%
  • TV3 / Reid Research: 50.8%
  • Fairfax / Research International: 54.0%

See more party poll results vs 2011 actual election results here.

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Comments and questions

Make no mistake, Mr McCully would dance down the main street in a pink tutu if he thought it would help keep his baubles of power.

So would you John!

I do not have any "baubles to keep" and you are very wrong.

The only differences between prostitutes & politicians is price & pleasure

Clearly National now sees democratic process as superfluous

What's undemocratic about a party that gets 4.5% of the vote, getting 4.5% of the seats.

What is undemocratic is 4 parties who got less votes than the Conservatives getting into parliament ahead of them!!!!!!

Shows how much truth is in the polls!

Oh..the power of media! A potential force/source of evil. If only we had more balanced reporting.

At least with Campbell Live, there is some semblance of balance and hope. Perhaps Campbell should run for PM.

"At least with Campbell Live, there is some semblance of balance and hope."

Is that meant to be the new Tui advert ??

If McCully doesn't stand National voters will not vote. That means a big loss in part votes for National in one of their strongest seats. Huge risk.

Oops - that should say party votes; not part votes.

Mr Craig is already calling himself a politician a la facebook page. His sense of entitlement knows no bounds. So the man with no mandate, nutcase policies and a dire selection of candidates is OK to gift a seat or 3 to. The shallow men are getting shallower by the day.

Did you vote for MMP, I didn't? You get what you pay for, buddy.

Queston: If Act takes Epsom again, how many National voters around the country would need to give their party vote to Act in order to get another Act MP into the house?

That depends on the number of enrolled voters who actually vote, so it's an unknown.

The only things we know about Colin Craig are his extremist views. apart from that all he does is litigate and posture. Why would National want to go to bed with this idiot?

Could you elaborate on the extremist views of Colin Craig?

He wants referendums to be binding for one thing. That's dopey and dangerous. I'd rather trust the politicians to make laws than a bunch of numbskulls roaming the streets.

So true. But I'd still prefer looney to the greens

The numbskulls roaming the streets are common in Wellington, just after the house rises.
I'd trust the people first.

You may be a numbskull but is inappropriate to speak on behalf of other people.

The average voting person has a lot more commonsense than you think, especially when it is a specific topic that they are given the full facts of. Voting on Election Day is a lucky dip ( or unlucky dip ) because you don't really have any idea how the politicians will conduct themselves when they get in.

At least with a referendum we have the opportunity to overturn or hold to account the actions of politicians.

Many make the mistake of thinking their own opinion is the overwhelmingly popular one; probably because their friends and associates largely hold similar opinions. But the key to it is your comment, 'especially if they are given the full facts...' etc. Once many voters have formed an opinion they will ignore any argument to the contrary - fact! As other posters have pointed out, listen to talk-back radio for a few hours, and ask yourself what percentage of the callers you would rely on to cast sensible votes on the various topics that arise daily. And ask yourself if any of the callers have ever caused you to change your mind. that should tell you how futile it is to expect voters to familiarise themselves with both sides of an argument. At least a select committee will study and debate all aspects of the subject, with members I am sure bending from their original opinions. Governments are there to govern. Your neighbour is not.