ACT and Brash

David Fisher has an article in the HoS about the current ructions in ACT.

Act leader Rodney Hide’s brand is “toxic” and “people don’t like him”, says the man who wants his job – his old mate Don Brash.

The former National Party leader upset his usual mates yesterday when he described Prime Minister John Key as “mooching” the country into debt then saying he wanted Hide’s job.

Brash also raised the stakes for Act by saying he might launch his own party if he doesn’t get Hide’s job.

Brash’s enthusiasm for the job also brought speculation that former MP and Auckland mayor John Banks might challenge Hide for Act in the coveted Epsom electorate. Banks did not return calls yesterday.

Ever since the news broke about Brash’s move the tipline has been running hot with information about the ACT leadership, and some very interesting information has come through.

Apparently Rodney has already been taken into the mythical smoke filled room where he has had ACT’s financial backers tell him his personality is the problem, and that with ACT polling at the margin of error he could destroy the party. What was intended to be a session where Rodney resigned ended up as a session where Rodney negotiated and stalled for time.

The problem for Rodney is ACTs backers are most unhappy with him, and could easily withdraw financial support for him. He also has to face the distinct possibility that a strong independent or member of another party will stand in Epsom, against him, either winning the seat or allowing National’s candidate to win. Rodney?s negatives are so high that any credible centre right candidate is likely to beat him.

More visits are expected to the smoke filled room, and with them more bad news for Rodney in the form of additional polling information confirming what every other poll has said, that an ACT party led by Rodney is doomed to irrelevancy.

National?s initial response comes direct from Bill English (see Farrar’s couple of posts) as the PM is travelling. Bill has promised all sorts of retribution on ACT and Don, perhaps in payback for Don rolling Bill. Bill English is one of the most spiteful and grudge-holding politicians I’ve have ever had the displeasure to encounter. Sources close to the PM are hosing this down, as it is nonsensical. A strong ACT is a party that will allow National to have a decent coalition partner to the right, and allow National to campaign more towards the middle ground. It is hard to believe that National would turn on Don because this would mean moving to the right, leaving space in the centre.