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ACT and The Greens – some thoughts

5 November 2011 2 comments

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I’ve been thinking…

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ACT

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Throughout this election campaign – and even prior to Don Brash’s coup d’état – ACT has been polling well under the 5% MMP threshold, that permits a Party to win seats in Parliament.

With such low voter support, ACT has relied on the electorate seat of Epsom, which Rodney Hide won in the 2008 General Election with a handsome 21,102 electorate votes. National’s Richard Worth came a distant second with 8,220 electorate votes.

Since then, ACT has suffered several set-backs;

  • A very public coup, which saw Don Brash seize the leadership of ACT – despite the fact he was not even a member of that Party when he took over.
  • A serious mis-calculation in advocating legalisation of marijuana. Whilst this would be reasonable policy for a quasi-libertarian Party – it did not go down well with the conservative folk of Epsom.
  • John Banks reportedly “reigning in” his own Party leader on the cannabis issue.
  • Deputy leader, John Boscawen, resigning under circumstances that were less than clear.
  • Brash attempting to resuscitate anti-Treaty sentiment with a newspaper advert attacking “maori privilege“.
  • Brash not focusing on core, economic issues, as he said he would at the time he took over from Rodney Hide.
  • Nominating John Banks as the new candidate for Epsom – something that Epsomites seem less than enthusiastic about.
  • John Key stating publicly that he was voting for the National candidate in Epsom, Paul Goldsmith.

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Prime Minister John Key will not vote for ACT's John Banks for the Epsom electorate, instead giving his vote to National's Paul Goldsmith

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With ACT practically falling apart before our eyes, it seems unsurprising that it barely registers in public opinion polls. It polls usually 1-3%.

Meanwhile, Banks is trailing behind Paul Goldsmith, despite the “unspoken arrangement” between National and ACT, the Epsom National Party supporters give Banks their Electorate Vote, and National their Party Vote. The idea being that if ACT scores over 1.2% of the Party Vote nationwide; and wins Epsom*; then Banks could pull one or two extra MPs into Parliament with him, as a Coalition partner for National.

So far there seems little chance of this happening. If current polling translates into votes on 26 November, then ACT is out of Parliament – another small party “bites the dust” under MMP.

One part of me views this possibility with a shrug and a “meh”.  Considering ACT’s harsh right wing policies that most certainly favour the rich and corporate ‘elite’, it is hard to muster any sympathy for such a group.

But another part of me is… uneasy. Uneasy at the prospect of ACT’s demise.

Though I have no truck with that Party and it’s hard-line right-wing, neo-liberal, free market ideology – I cannot help wondering what will happen once it fails to return to Parliament.

What will happen to it’s supporters?

Where will they go, in terms of finding a new political “Home”?

Remember that ACT was founded by Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble – one-time Labour Party MPs. Douglas, Prebble, and other hangers-on had colonised a supposedly social democratic, left-wing party – and between 1984 and 1989, had managed to gain control of Labour. Like some parasitic organism, they had managed to take over the Host, and turned Labour into a precursor of the ACT Party.

A party of me shudders at the imminent demise of ACT.

Where will the ‘parasites’ end up? In which new Host?

The obvious choice would appear to be National.

If ACT supporters colonise National and become a viable, albeit invisible, faction within that Party – it will happen out-of-sight, and without the elecorate’s knowledge.

Voters in 1984 believed they were voting for a traditional Labour Party. They were badly mistaken.

National, with an agitating ACT faction vying for power and influence, could be a re-run of history.

Let’s not be too keen to see the end of ACT. Let’s keep the buggers where we can see them; out in the open.

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+++ Updates +++

ACT polls at wipeout low in Epsom

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The Greens

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There has been some discussion recently  about the (extremely remote)  possibility of a National-Green Coalition, post-election.

The Green Party leadership seems frosty at the idea, and List candidate, Catherine Delahunty, has stated that she will resign if such a Coalition deal eventuates.

Most recently, this issue was canvassed during an episode of Statos TV’s “iPredict Election Show”, with Green MP, Gareth Hughes.

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Personally, I have no great love for this notion either.

My first preference would be a Labour-Greens-Mana-(Maori Party?) Coalition. (And yes, I think such a notion would work. They all want similar things for their constituents, and despite some asteroid-sized egos at work, their party policies are not as divorced from each other as they like to make out.)

However

In saying that…

Part of the rationale for MMP is that small parties act as a “brake” on the executive power of governments. Most recently this worked well when ACT voted – along with Labour and the Greens – to seriously amend  National’s outrageously draconian, Police Video Surveillance Bill.

MMP is not just an electoral system – it is an extension of the Will of the Voter to prevent any one party from having total control over Parliament. The days of unbridled power by the likes of Muldoon, Douglas, Bolger, and Richardson, are long gone.

If the Greens can act as a “brake” on National – should it win the largest number of seats in Parliament – but not sufficient to govern  on their own – then this option should be explored. With all due respect to Ms Delahunty – a principled person who does not appear to brook political shenanigans easily – let us at least look at what the Greens might achieve in Coalition with the Nats…

  • No asset sales. Not 49%. Not 25%. Not 1%. End of story.
  • No more demonisation and attacks on unemployed and other beneficiaries. Enough of the victim-blaming of this recession.
  • Re-focus the next government’s attention on job-creation policies. This has to be a priority. Without jobs, we are sentencing a couple of hundred thousand of our fellow Kiwis to rot on welfare.
  • Raise the minimum wage. Yeah, I know this is Labour Party policy – but somehow I dont  think they’ll mind if you nick it and use it.
  • Begin the re-building of Christchurch, in earnest. Enough with the messing around. As a famous sweatshop-operator-and-maker-of -footwear sez, Just Do It!

A Green-National partnership would be handy to achieve all of the above. But more than that – much more importantly – the Greens could pull National away from the Right, and back to the middle ground in politics.

That, in itself, would be a worthy achievement.

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* Note

If a Party wins an Electorate Seat, then they are not bound by the 5% threshold, and can win as many seats as their Party Vote allows them, regardless of whether or not they are at 5%.

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John Key – Show me the jobs!

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At a time when New Zealand’s construction sector should be moving into Warp Factor 9.9, it beggars belief that we learned yesterday that Fletcher Challenge – New Zealand’s largest construction company – is shedding jobs,

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Source

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This is a follow-on from a previous media story, which I remarked on in my piece, “How can this possibly be?”,

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Full Story

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We have a shortage of housing in this country; we have a lengthy waiting list for State Housing; and we have our second largest city waiting for reconstruction – and the building industry is in a… slump?!?!

Never mind this government not being able to organise a piss-up in a Brewery – they can’t seem to organise a nail-up  in a building shortage.

Let’s play a simple game,

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Even Business NZ, the former Employer’s Federation and close ally of the National Party, has become exasperated at this government’s do-nothing, hands-off approach to our stagnant economy and lack of job creation,

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Full Story

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As I pointed out at the beginning of August, investment in housing and a building reconstruction would have vastly beneficial flow-on  effects for our economy.

I even presented ‘ball-park‘ costings for what a construction programme to build 10,000 new state houses would cost the country, and how much would be recouped through normal taxation revenue; savings in welfare payouts; and rental-income from the new houses.

As I explained here, in some detail: Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

On top of that would come even more jobs and economic activity by speeding up reconstruction in Christchurch.

On Stratos TV yesterday (4 November), political commentator, Chris Trotter made a pertinent observation about this current government: they are timid. Too timid to embark on bold, radical initiatives (beneficiary-bashing is not bold – it’s formulaic for center-right wing governments), they are doing very little that might antagonise the far-right and conservative elements of their Party,

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The last thing Key andf his strategists would welcome would be a flight of party-support to ACT, or Colin Craig’s new Conservative Party.

Which suggests that Key is waiting to win a second term before possibly implementing something more radical.

Let’s hope that Key is planning something more enterprising and visionary. Selling assets and re-labelling benefits is not creative – it is lazy, sloppy government, that (a) takes the easy route and (b) panders to low-information voters to whom the ills of the world can be sheeted home to welfarism.

Beneficiary-bashing has to stop when electioneering is completed.

If the msm polls are correct, and if the Horizon Poll is out-of-kilter, then it appears that despite the spectre of asset sales, that New Zealand voters are inclined to give National a second term.  If so, a repeat of the last three years will simply draw out the recession,  high unemployment, and growing wage-gap with Australia.  We will have voted for another term of timidity and hands-off Do Nothing.

Is that what New Zealanders are voting for?

In which case, we may as well vote for SM in the Referendumn. But in this case, SM will stand for sado-masochism. Because it seems we have a deep streak of that tendency running deep with us, as a society.

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