- Date published:
12:00 pm, September 18th, 2010 - 81 comments
Categories: act, labour, maori party, nz first, Politics - Tags: david farrar, david garrett, heather roy, hilary calvert, john boscawen, john key, Rodney Hide
Now Garrett has resigned from the party things are really going to get interesting. As far as I can see there are a few ways this can play out.
1) Garrett stays as an independent and Hide stays leader of ACT – I’m picking this is unlikely
2) Garrett stays as an independent and Boscawen rolls Hide (This seems to be the way John Armstrong thinks it may go, I’m not so sure.)
3) Garrett resigns from parliament and Hide stays on (highly unlikely).
4) Garrett resigns from parliament, Hillary Calvert comes in and Hide is rolled (this would be my pick and it would effectively make Douglas the power behind the throne)
I note that DPF has tried to claim Calvert would support Hide but I find that highly unlikely. I recall having a conversation with her in the 1990’s and being struck by just how much of a Douglas disciple she was. More recently, she’s also spoken well of Roy and just yesterday told the Herald:
I think it is important, particularly in a small party like Act, that the leader has everyone’s total support.
A comment that has been interpreted by the Herald as support for Hide but is notable for the total absence of the words “I support Rodney Hide”. She is a lawyer after all.
Then there’s Epsom. A few months ago I saw a little bit of polling that had been conducted there that showed Hide’s support was collapsing and I doubt that recent events have done much to help that. If Hide is rolled as leader, however, that will be beside the point as he would be unlikely to gain candidacy for the seat and it is even more unlikely that John Key would ease the way for a Douglas-backed ACT candidate.
If Hide struggles on as leader I doubt very much he’d win Epsom regardless of the signals sent by Key and his party.
Which leaves ACT with one opportunity for survival – the 5% threshold. It’s an open secret that a substantial number of ACT supporters believe that there’s 5% of voters who would tick the ACT box if they saw the party returning to its strictly neoliberal roots (i.e. ditch Hide for Roy). And, although I’d like to think that the voodoo economics of the 80’s and 90’s was as dead as Stalinism, there is a chance that they’re right. In fact right now it’s looking like that’s the only shot they’ve got.
Of course there’s also the bigger picture to think about as well. An ACT-less parliament would have significant ramifications for National’s plans for pushing further right in a second term (the privatisation agenda, for example, would have to be shelved) and that would piss off a lot of their backers (but possibly not as much as “centrist” John Key cuddling up to a Douglas-run ACT would piss off a lot of voters)
And if National is looking like it would be hamstrung in government Labour may find it harder to instil a sense of urgency in its activist base (who right now are most motivated by the fear of the irreparable harm a second term of National/ACT would cause).
The Maori Party would gain more power in a National-led government if ACT disappeared but would also have to take more responsibility for policies their base didn’t like.
And then there’s the 800lb gorilla in the room nobody wants to talk about – Winston Peters.
As I said, this is going to be very interesting.
On a more personal note I’ve taken an interest in Garrett ever since I announced his candidacy for him in 2008. Like an old comrade of mine says about the political game: “I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go”.