What strategy should the parties pursue ahead of the election? This series of posts will attempt to answer that question, party by party, starting with ACT.
ACT must gain support from hard-right voters who are dissatisfied with John Key’s wishy-washy centrism. They’ve made a good start of it by getting back Roger Douglas, the Dalai Lama of big business. He must be the centre-figure of their campaign. ACT needs to lay claim to the true right, without going so extreme that National has to disown them, by articulating a series of classic right-wing policies including: tax cuts, spending cuts, asset sales, and deregulation. Spending cuts, in particular, would put clear space between them and National.
This won’t win the centrist vote. It won’t bring ACT support from the swing voters or Labour. But it will bring in the financiers, libertarians, businessmen, and the young, wannabe tory-boys in their $500 suits that don’t fit them. That’s always been ACT’s base. They were lost to Brash but now they don’t see Key delivering much in the way of the policies they want. They are ripe for the picking by a de facto Douglas-led ACT.
If ACT can pick up 5% of the vote from the hard-right, they will be in prime position to demand Cabinet posts in a National-led government, perhaps even Finance for Douglas. Then, ACT will once again be able to say, to quote an ACT supporter in the documentary Campaign after they won Wellington Central in 1996: ‘this must be how the Nazis felt at Nuremberg’.