Matthew Hooton in the NBR explores what Act must do to climb back into relevance.
John Key’s government has become as addicted to interventionism as Muldoon’s, as bad as Helen Clark’s and should be kicked out. But a Labour-Green nightmare is unthinkable.
The most likely alternative to the current near-monopoly National regime is a coalition with NZ First but, for the intrinsically linked sins of interventionism and venality, that would be even worse. It’s therefore vital Act re-emerges as a serious small player rather than a one-seat National plaything.
Act’s rump is very aware of just how dreadful the government it supports has become but also its lack of leverage. Epsom MP David Seymour is forced to vote for corporate welfare and poll-driven electoral bribes that are anathema to his values but he knows he has no choice while he remains its sole MP and his party’s poll ratings below 5%.
This is no criticism of Mr Seymour: after one disaster following another, Act has ended up quite by accident with a leader well suited to relaunching the party. At just 32, Mr Seymour is the first genuinely Gen X party leader on the right, and second only to Greens’ Metiria Turei across the wider spectrum.
He has been a believer in free-market economics and social liberalism all his life and has never flirted with other parties.