Colin Craig edges toward terra firma

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 12:33 15/08/2014
	 Colin Craig
FAIRFAX NZ
COLIN CRAIG: Conservative Party leader.

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OPINION: If Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was hanging over the side of a cliff by his fingertips, he may have just pulled himself up to get an elbow on terra firma.

The latest Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll has his party neck and neck with NZ First's Winston Peters, with both on 3.4 per cent.

That's the Conservatives' highest ever register on this poll and a solid leap from last month's showing, which had it on 1.3 per cent.

But perhaps more importantly, it's marking the start of an upward trend from the party's June result of 0.9 - it's lowest in almost a year.

Certainly no-one is ruling out Peters from returning to Parliament at this point and based on these figures, if Peters has a shot, the same has to be said for Craig.

The difference however, is in the leaders.

Peters is a proven resurrectionist. His party has consistently pulled in greater numbers of voters than polls may have suggested in the lead up to any election.

Craig has insisted that the same rings true for his supporters, but with only one election under his belt it's hard to afford him the same level of confidence.

Just under three weeks ago Prime Minister John Key shut Craig out of a deal in East Coast Bays, which could have assured him a seat in Parliament.

That was considered a death knell for Craig, with Key all but ruling the man dogged by conspiracy theories was perhaps too unstable to hitch his line to.

Though Craig insisted he didn't want a deal anyway, that must have prompted some soul searching, perhaps to ask himself WWWD (What would Winston Do?)

He would break news of the Lochinver farm sale, reigniting the debate on foreign ownership, and muscle his way in on a leaders' debate - keeping himself firmly in the headlines - which is exactly what Craig did.  

Key has made it clear National won't be throwing the Conservatives a rope, but if Craig can free climb to reach that five per cent summit, he will likely be greeted with a hand shake at the top.

That's provided a well-dressed heel doesn't step on his fingers before he gets there. 

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