OPINION: ACT's future

You could reach several times around the world with nonsensical column inches written over the years about the impending demise of ACT. 

Many supposed political “experts” had numerous self-absorbed reasons for planting the spin.

Dr Brash went one step further than just talking about it and led ACT to a record thumping. A 1% list vote and barely scraping through in Epsom in a tactically contrived win where Don and John managed to almost grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

Over the election weekend, I immersed myself around hundreds of so called “experts”. I wish in hindsight I had not. All gave unsolicited advice and generally bored me into drunken submission.   

When I saw the ridiculous sight of a Young Nat loudly giving advice to a worthy Labour leadership contender, I had just about had enough. As I am sure had he after months of such sideline commentary. 

I realised I wasn’t really quite that interested in politics. I perhaps had grown up to see just how horrible it is and politics was sitting in priority in my life by Sunday evening with watching lawn bowls.

Brash mocked, ACT ignored
There are all manner of faux excuses for ACT’s performance; poor media coverage being just one of those rolled out. 

I will make it a whole lot simpler – the voters mocked Don Brash and with it ignored ACT.  

It wasn’t the usual hate. 

Having the public hate you in politics is a health and safety matter.

Having your own core voters think the Leader is a dithering fool and with it ignore the Party as relevant is terminal.

ACT has ground itself down with obsessive branding labels such as libertarian, classical liberal and conservatives.

The over-indulgence has caused me confusion such that right now even I have no idea what faction I belong to.  

Should have polled 3%
Other than political junkies, no one ponders these points.  Voters are far simpler than that.  This election more than any they voted on the front person of the Party.  And ours was somewhere in the popularity region between a parking warden and a receiver.

ACT should be able to poll at least 3% when National is doing well and slightly higher when it is not. 

For example I spoke with many well-earning stereotypical ACT voters who voted Green. 

They did so as they wanted to give National a wake-up call but thought at some stage the Greens would do a deal with National because they had not ruled it out.

Last man standing
John Banks remains as the last man standing after one of the most disasterous coups in New Zealand politics. 

A poorly executed coup without an army. 

A coup where short-sighted ACT MP’s Douglas, Roy and Calvert anointed Dr Brash but in turn the only reinforcements he dragged with him to run the Party were Lindsay Perigo and John Banks.   

Dr Brash turned out to be the old duffer most of us all feared. 

As the sole survivor, John Banks has to step up now and make amends.

These people are the future
Banks has a duty to change his politics to defend ACT core values and principles and promote a good portion of the quality candidates that were on the list with him such as the likes of Seymour, Simmons, Nicolson and Isaac. 

These people are the future of ACT in whatever form its members choose to take it and with it a whole host of younger more energetic players many of whom helped Banks. 

Conservative Party link-up terminal
A John Banks link-up with the Conservative Party would be terminal for ACT and with it ruin the Conservative Party. 

ACT must remain separate so John Key and National can do a seat deal with them similar to Epsom encompassing the religious right and social conservatives.

This is smart politics for the centre-right.

Under MMP, even the most popular prime minister could only barely scrape a majority, which proves how hard it will be for the centre-right next time if we don’t work intelligently as a collective to structure coalition partners for National on a more coherent and friendly basis.

Sprinkle that salt over Patrick Gower
In the meantime, I want to hear less from so called political analysts and experts. 

There are very few real insiders in politics.

Sitting behind a computer and a pseudonym, wheeling out former this and thats or dressing kiddies in suits parading as political repeaters and interviewing oldies whom had chairs thrown at them by Muldoon, does not an insider make.

Take all commentary on blogs and in the mainstream media with a grain of salt. Sprinkle that salt over Patrick Gower and place him in a clay pot would you?

In business media we don’t allow the unemployed to commentate.

Everyone seems to think they are qualified however to be a credible commentator on politics.

Listen to the MPs themselves and more importantly see what they are doing. Then make up your own mind. 

Politics isn’t that hard. 

The most popular person and party win.

Which is why Don Brash and ACT did not.  

Cathy Odgers is a lawyer and ACT member since 1995. She blogs as Cactus Kate.

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