Is ACT Rooted?

There has been a lot of talk about how ACT is doomed at the next election. They have appalling Party Vote poll numbers but they always do in non-election years, and Helen Clark would be a shoo in to beat Rodney in Epsom. In fact this is probably a little unkind on Helen, as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Goofy or Keith Locke would probably beat Rodney.

Mathew Hooton talks about this and what it means in his NBR article. What he overlooks is that the reason for ACT’s unpopularity is not because of their policies, but because of their leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Rodney but friends have to sometimes be a little frank with their opinions and only true friends will be truly honest. Rodney Hide has done his level best to alienate the voter base. He has been proven to be a hypocrite on spending. He was a little indiscrete with his new relationship with a woman 20 years younger than him, but at least he has married and made an honest woman of her now. Politicians’ personal lives are often messy, but they are not usually played out in the media. Rodney has emerged from his Local Government portfolio with little credit, and a big negative for his poor implementation of the Super City part of his portfolio, the latest black mark being the fuss and bother over the Maori Statutory Board.

Private polling in Epsom shows that Rodney will lose heavily to John Banks, Colin Craig or Don Brash. He would lose to any National candidate no matter what National’s campaign manager tells the PM to say.

This lack of popularity is a vote against Rodney, not against ACT. Rodney is leading ACT to oblivion. It is still a party with substantial backers, and policies that resonate with many in New Zealand, especially with the National Party moving so far to the centre. It is easy to imagine the new leader of ACT saying that their bottom lines are abolition of the ETS, real cuts to the overpaid, bloated Wellington bureaucracy, and clear end to Treaty grievances. Additional policies of ending middle class welfare and interest free student loans would provide a nice contrast with the fuzzy, not really standing for anything much National Party.

The question for ACTs backers is do they let one man’s ego wreck a party they have spent nearly two decades and millions of their dollars building? Or do they cut him adrift and place a good politician in Epsom to save the seat and save ACT?

With the increasing likelihood that Winston Peters will stand in Epsom this issue is one that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Meanwhile National too has decisions to make regarding Epsom.


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  • Mr Blobby

    Yes it is indeed sad to see.
    The one big defining Act. To sort out the multiple cities within a city mess.
    And what did we get the most undemocratic mess you could ever imagine. You couldn’t have fucked it up this bad even if you planned to.

  • mediatart

    ACT was started out as a right wing labour party. Douglas Prebble Shirley et al.
    Virtually every additional no labour MP has been hopeless from ‘Check book ‘Donna to ‘Birther’ Garrett
    Hide has merely commandeered it for his own personal advancement. It follows from the time he was plucked from well deserved obscurity as a Lincoln university tutor to make sense of Alan Gibbs utterances.
    What you lot need is a right wing national party with say Banks , Brash and others that suit persons like yourself Whale.
    ACT is beyond saving with a ‘new’ direction. Time to ditch the lot and start a new party with say Banks leading to give a profile .

  • That’s a bit naughty even for you, Tart. Banks couldn’t beat someone as hopeless, crooked and corrupt as Looney Len Brown in the mayoral election, and you’re expecting any credibility in a new party fronted by him?

    It’s pretty obvious ACT are rooted with Rodney at the helm, just as it’s equally obvious the National Party has been taken over by Useful Idiots like English and Key. The demise of ACT, without a credible replacement, will be a disaster for New Zealand and could well result in NZ finally falling off the bottom of all the important OECD charts (except of course the ones related to welfare dependency and child abuse).

    And incidentally, I know the SuperShitty is ultimately Rodney’s accountability, but he was over-ruled by the racists in the National Party on the issue of apartheid-based representation, so if you’re going to have a go at anybody on that one, look no further than Quisling John Key.

  • kehua

    The very last person we need in Parliament is the Idiot Banks,he is a total waste of skin.

  • whafe

    It is a fact, Hide has the popularity of a goat. But agree wholeheartedly with Whale, ACT has a good many supporters, with National being so center now, those normal thinking people gravitate more to the right, at present there is virtually no representation for us….

    ACT does need a new leader, this goes without saying, who would it be though… Banksie, Brash… I would say more people would be in favour of Brash over Banksie…..

    Set Hide free and remove him from ACT….

    • Whafe, I reckon the only possible way to save ACT now is for them to beg Muriel Newman to come back. An ACT with a Boscawen/Newman leadership will have some chance of survival and would, in all likelihood, attract a huge number of National voters disillusioned with National’s brazen efforts to be Liarbore in a blue cardie.

      • whafe

        Cant disagree, just need to see a change in Leadership now, 6 months out and then go hard…. because as a good many of us righties dont want to vote in the Blue Cardies (great wording Ganntt Guy) again..

  • hagues

    Act may not be performing up to their potential, but they are still the only party that looks remotely like a right wing party. No way I’ll be switching my party vote to Blue-Labour.

    • reid

      Depends what they say in the campaign, I would have thought.

      One thing I’d hate to see and that’s a Parliament without ACT.

  • reid

    Yes sadly Rodney has taken ACT and made it into a circus.

    That’s the impression.


    Can’t be allowed, isn’t justified, yet there it is.

    My ideal candidate would be someone unknown like Graham Scott (I don’t know him, I’ve never met nor spoken to him, I don’t know what his affiliations are, etc. So in summary, I don’t know the man and I don’t know what he thinks.). I just think he would be good and what ACT needs is someone younger than Brash who can do that for the next decade or so. And there are very few.

    • reid

      As an afterthought, possibly Key’s behaviour is in part an outcrop of how the public reacted to Brash.

      If it is, then IMO he underestimates his own ability to differentiate himself.

      • reid

        Key’s “Labour-Lite” behaviour I’m meaning.

  • gaskranken

    You would assume, given the present debt levels in this country, the constant attention given to the obscene levels of govt spending, and the spineless direction being taken by the present board that there has never been a better time for the ACT brand to get some traction in the marketplace. However having political poison on very short legs means the brand is losing relevance on a daily basis, I agree wholeheartedly with the Whale on this one, the violent torpedo of lies definitely has to go.

    • reid

      I think he has huge talent but he hasn’t been well deployed.

      He isn’t a leader for rule one of a leader is to act like one and newsflash: that means be a role model, not a laughing stock. Those are the two extremes and while Rodney isn’t a laughing stock, he’s far from a role model, with his personal life changes over the last five or so years. Leadership = stability. It’s a bonus if you get the other things like intelligence, virtue and wisdom but at the least it’s stability. Rodney hasn’t demonstrated that not in his personal life nor in his professional, what with Roy and all not to mention the SuperCity Maori seats.

      Another thing a political leader as distinct from corporate leaders MUST have is the ability to shout their results from the rooftops. The way to do that is to prepare people for them as you are in the process of re-structuring: less time for a planning approval, less etc. But no, he didn’t.

      And he still doesn’t. So trivial issues like the Maori Seats becomes the lasting memory of the SuperCity implementation, which is mental, for it is in fact not the case, I think the SuperCity EBITDA will simply improve and what he should have had already is universally distributed simplified summaries showing costs before and after laid out just like the ‘Catch Australia’ election pamphlet was laid out – simple, clear, explicit.

      Rodney is a brilliant number two but he, like many others, should never be put at the top. They just don’t have the right qualities.

      • “He isn’t a leader for rule one of a leader is to act like one and news­flash: that means be a role model, not a laugh­ing stock”

        You mean like not mincing about like some middle-aged poof on a catwalk, or putting on a stupid hat & coat to advertise some regional town, or striking quite frankly fucking moronic poses with some Young Nats?

        You mean like having some actual gravitas?

        Other than that I completely agree with your comment. Incidentally, the Catch Australia pamphlets were Douglas’ brain child, not Hide’s.

        • reid

          Inci­den­tally, the Catch Aus­tralia pam­phlets were Dou­glas’ brain child, not Hide’s.

          I’d always assumed they were Ansell’s brainchild.

          The interesting thing to me is, is that ACT is a very smart political operator and this problem has been on the board now for years.

          They can’t, apparently, crack it.

          This to me is serious, for the ACT voice adds value, like no other.

          Obviously, with my single party vote in a particular electorate one votes to keep ACT alive. I think what ACT needs to do is show us its still a force to be reckoned with.

          ACT lost its way beginning with the ignominious and less than gracious departure of Stephen Franks and since then polls have been heading one-way.

          Why has ACT – a party of rationalists – done this to itself?

          • whafe

            Why has ACT – a party of ratio nal ists – done this to itself?

            I would say fear to do something different, pat the cat fur backwards… At times it is needed, ACT need to put there best foot forward and take the plunge….

            I may well be wrong, but I think Hide supplements his ego with leading the ACT party, even if he is doing a fucked job of leading…

  • As someone with a long involvement with ACT in a previous life, the whole thing went off the rails under Catherine Judd’s presidency. Backing Brash just drove the (large) part of the party that were the ‘won’t national grow some balls’ crowd into National. When Brash went, ACT failed to grab those activists and voters back.

    That’s the challenge that Hide has failed because of his strategy of campaigning on a narrow range of issues. In the meantime, those ACT voters are being cuddled by Judith Collins and (to a lesser degree) Paula Bennett – straight talking with anti-liberal message of tough on crime and welfare reforms.

    Other issues were the board not managing the party structure, although they did a better job than the current National board.

    • reid

      Thanks FR. Very insightful.

  • mediatart

    When you had Key telling ACTs MPs, drop Hide and you wont get a single ministerial job. Its time for the children to be sent out of the sandpit.
    And now they are playing games in Epsom, do they have someone like Groser who wont even campaign since he will be out the country as Trade minister
    Or if Peters runs do they yank in Nikki Kaye or Paula Bennett ?
    Hone was pushed under the bus by the Maori Party on nationals orders, yet Hide is still encouraged to stay on board ?
    Key has only to say the word and Hide would be dropped by ACT in 5 mins. But of course the reverse is true, ACT is too scared of what Key would say

    • I think Peters is the wildcard. If he chooses Epsom, his message will resonate and could do so sufficiently to allow him to take the seat.

      Bennett won’t resonate – she’s far too much of a westie and will be seen by the Epsom voters as beneath them. There’s no way National will pull Nikki Kaye from Auckland Central. ANy other candidate in there simply gifts the seat to the communist horse.

      Groser on the other hand? Maybe.

      One thing I’ve never understood is ACT’s strategy of targetting only one electoral seat. There must be plenty of others where National has a slim majority and where ACT’s message would resonate? Where is their party vote largest – how about targetting it and putting Boscawen in there? Just a thought.

    • reid

      If Peters runs in Epsom he’ll lose massively. I therefore hope he does.