Tweedledum and Tweedledee were a bit slow off the mark responding to the news that Don Brash is looking to take over ACT. Took the Nats a while to get their lines together but have decided, on balance, they want ACT dead. And that will be a lot easier to achieve if Brash isn’t in charge.
David Farrar lists the arguments that he and other senior Nats have no doubt been advancing to Brash over the past two days:
– Key wouldn’t let him be a minister if he wins the election
A rather silly argument. It would be unprecendented if an MMP support party’s leader wasn’t a minister. If National gets less than 50% and ACT is back under Brash then Key will need him. Does Brash strike you as the kind of guy who would have his party support Key while simultaneously being humiliated by not getting a senior financial portfolio?.
Make no mistake. If Brash becomes leader, then a vote for a National-led government will be a vote for Brash in his government.
– ACT’s internal politics is nasty
Well, Brash became leader of National only after Key promised then leader Bill English that he would vote for him in the coup, then switched to Brash. (Farrar will remember this, he did English’s numbers and there’s footage of him celebrating with English’s mates the night before the vote). Then, Key spent a year undermining Brash and took over when National’s polling was already in a winning position. I think Brash knows something about nasty internal politics.
– Key will move to the centre and rule policies out if Brash is in charge of ACT
So, if Brash doesn’t lead then Key will be able to get out of ruling things out ahead of the election and smash through an extreme rightwing agenda if he gets a second term? As scary as we might find that, I doubt Brash finds it satisfactory.
– Brash is so old he would only be a temporary leader
More temporary than Hide? Under Hide the ACT party is dead in seven months.
– Brash is a convenient target for the Left
Hard to argue with that 🙂 .
The fact that Farrar decided to do an actual analytical post rather than his usual cut and paste is a sign of itself how seriously National takes this. They’re scared that Brash will grab 5% back from National, leaving National in the mid-40s and clearly dependent on Brash to govern – which would send more voters Left.
There’s another scenario. If Brash does take the leadership and stands in Epsom, he will force the Nats into standing a real candidate against him and campaigning for the candidate vote. Now, Brash has a terrible record as an electorate candidate – he lost the National-held seat of North Shore to Social Credit’s Gary Knapp in 1980 and again in 1981. He could well win a three or four-way fight in Epsom leaving ACT with, say, 4% of the party vote but no seats. That many wasted right-wing votes could be pivotal.
Whether or not a Brash-led ACT makes it back into Parliament, it’s bad news for National’s dreams of a majority government. All in all, the Nats have every reason to want Brash to go back into his dotage and for ACT to die this election.