Rodney Hide has finally conceded and Don Brash has taken the ACT party. Now National has a dilemma.
National’s control-freak driven campaign team have run into chaos theory in the form of former leader Don Brash. Don is not a man they can easily denigrate as too many donors, National Party members and voters like him for his clear and principled stand on issues. There is little doubt in what Don stands for, and the same cant be said about National.
The problem for National is they can’t go after Brash because as a minor party leader air time means votes. Don’s issues are issues that will win votes for him if he is given air time, so he will not fear confrontation or conflict with National as it will mean more MPs for him to point to when it comes to coalition negotiations.
Don is also a man of principle. His principles are known, clear and the principles of a good number of New Zealanders. He will not mind being attacked because he has shown he will stand on his principles in the past.
A man of Don’s stature causes problems for National because of the people he brings with him. The ACT that went into hibernation when Richard Prebble retired is rousing itself, flexing its muscles and looking out for a good feed. Whispers of a strong ACT candidate running in both Tamaki and North Shore have been coming through the tipline, and while winning these seats is a long shot there is little love for Alan Peachey in Tamaki or the likely candidate in North Shore, Maggie Barry, among National supporters.
National missed a huge opportunity to remove Don from the playing field after the last election. Sources inside the beehive say this was pushed hard by certain board members, but Bill English wanted utu, and Simon Powers prissiness meant Don was left in play.This shortsightness is unfortunately typical of the dithering of the National strategic team, demonstrated by the improbably late candidate selections and the lack of any plan for the 2014 election.