Are Act rooted II

The Sunday Star Times gets in on the ACT, slightly behind the news cycle but covering what is going on in Epsom. What they didn?t mention is why National needs ACT.

Much and all as I like Rodney, him remaining leader of ACT means they are rooted. He will lead them to oblivion, with only an outside chance of winning the Epsom seat and perhaps one more, but the poisoned pill of a Rodney lead ACT is not going to be swallowed by the public. This reduces the coalition options for National to some seriously unpalatable ones, or relies on them getting over 50% of the vote. Or 48% and having some spoilage. This is almost without precedent in New Zealand electoral history so it would be a ballsy move from National to gamble on this.

That said, National seems to have backed away somewhat from foisting Tim Groser on the politically savvy folk of Epsom and seem to be looking for an open selection. This is likely to be announced inside the next two weeks. With more than 700 members they pretty much have to have an open selection. They will need to select someone who will campaign hard for the party vote and be prepared to take one for the team should it be needed.

Of course the wild-card isWinston Peters, though i don’t believe the true blue voters of Epsom will fall for his charms. They know only too well the evil of that particular path. I simply can’t imagine the voters of Epsom picking Peters no matter what he says.

Without ACT, and if Chauvel beats Dunne in Ohariu, National have no natural coalition partners. The uneasy d?tente with the Maori Party will end in tears, and the Greens are so far removed from National?s world view it is difficult to see them doing anything other than what Andrew Wilkie is doing to Julia Gillard.

National also need to look to 2014. By then they will be heading down in the polls and without a coalition partner they will struggle to hold power. Without ACT in parliament they have few options.

So National need to consider how to keep ACT in parliament. The obvious thing to do is to offer Rodney a job overseas so he leaves with dignity and ACT can bring in a voter friendly leader who appeals to the public to run in Epsom. A good candidate in Epsom will bring a number of other ACT MPs into parliament, and give National options for government.

All of this though depends on the polls over the next few weeks as John Key and the paymasters of Act review the numbers.