It’s getting nasty in the ACT party.
According to the NBR [not online], Rodney Hide was left stranded the other day when speaking to an ACT audience on electoral reform. He spoke in support of FPP only to find his views overwhelming rejected by his audience, which supported a democratic, proportional system. That’s a huge embarrassment for a leader,to be so completely off-side with his own party.
Today, the Herald has a strange little attack piece on Hide that has obviously originated from his enemies in the caucus. It concerns a conference of tax dodgers in Fiji that Hide spoke at in 1999.
It’s pretty weak really. I think we wouldn’t have bothered with it had someone sent the story to The Standard. But the fact that it has come out, now obviously from Hide’s enemies within , and the Herald has published it shows how nasty things are getting within Act.
Tracey Watkins suggests that all out civil war is imminent:
As for ACT, any sense of unity of purpose has long ago disintegrated under the weight of personal rivalries and dislike, a protracted caucus war that has left leader Rodney Hide increasingly isolated from his MPs, and a ludicrous and improbable desire among some to replace him with the barely visible Heather Roy.
Former ACT MP Deborah Coddington’s very public condemnation of Ms Roy’s abilities in a newspaper column recently is a sign of how desperate the struggle has become; as Ms Coddington herself admitted, she was hardly a fan of Mr Hide in her time as an MP. But her view is likely to reflect the wider impatience among rank and file over the destructive urges of the parliamentary wing.
Hide can’t last. Roy would be an awful leader. Roger Douglas has the profile and was considered in the adopted coup last year but he’s clearly fading into senility – the man who once revolutionised New Zealand’s economy now reduced to arguing for forcing student associations to be voluntary. Matthew Hooton, meanwhile, is talking up odd-ball John Boscawen. The only MP without backers for leadership is David Garrett.
Disintegration is a real possibility. The consequence of ACT’s straying from it’s economically and socially liberal roots under Douglas and Prebble to reactionism under the nihilist Hide. If a collapse does take place, Key may have to call an early election.
Whatever happens, ACT is effectively dead. It won’t survive to the election like this, and it is hard to imagine it winning a return to Parliament.