Free Press 9/10/17
A Big Thank
This fortnight we are touring the country. Our members, supporters, candidates and donors who put so much into ACT’s campaign deserve thanks. By the numbers, we stood 41 candidates, delivered 580,000 addressed direct mail letters to the letterbox, raised over $850,000 and reached 400,000 people per week on social media. ACT now remains one of only five parties in parliament.
So, What Happened?
Even opponents accept that we ran a technically good campaign. There were no scandals or obvious mistakes, yet we did not get the party votes. A partial explanation is that all smaller parties suffered. Minor party support went from 28 per cent down to 17 per cent, not a good time to grow a small party. United Future, gone. Maori Party, gone. Greens, halved. New Zealand First lost their only electorate seat and a quarter of their support. Too many people (wrongly) thought that they had to vote National to keep Labour out.
So, What Happens Next?
We must accept that, while we got some things right, ACT’s approach has not worked. After our national tour the ACT Board will be surveying the membership and formulating a plan for the next three years that builds on the things we’ve got right and changes the things we’ve got wrong. If you are not a member and would like a stake in this project, you can join here: http://www.act.org.nz/join
Innumerate journalists have reported that ACT will not be in Government because Bill English/Winston Peters do not want ACT in Government. They are even reporting that Bill English ‘told’ David Seymour he would not be in Government. No such thing happened. It was obvious on election night that no possible coalition would require ACT for a majority. No coalition that already has a majority has ever shared power and resources just for the hell of it, so ACT is out of Government due to simple arithmetic and laws of politics. Sadly, with only a few exceptions, this is the state of New Zealand journalism.
Various predictions have been made, but the following facts remain true: 1) Epsom voters on the left and right regard David Seymour as a good local MP. 2) His majority increased by a healthy 1300 votes this election. 3) Epsom voters get the logic: electing a National MP would mean one more National electorate MP, one fewer National list MPs, and only one centre-right party in under a system that always requires coalitions. With that in mind David Seymour will now be working even harder to increase his majority again in 2020.
James Shaw is a nice guy. He needs 75 per cent of the Green membership to ratify a deal with National. Shaw should write to his membership and say: “I have spoken to Bill English, he is prepared to make me Minister of Climate Change with a mandate to pass a carbon neutral 2050 Act like they have in the UK (the wets in National would love this). This will be our first achievement after 20 years in parliament. It will also position us as the real power broker in parliament, able to break left or right. If you don’t want to ratify this deal, don’t call me, because I’ll be back in London with a different number, and you guys will have another 20 years to think it over.”
The first thing students learn about Game Theory is that threats must be credible. Shaw’s threat would be credible. He is a talented guy with better options than sitting on the sidelines with angry former communists in colour-clashed rainbow anoraks who hate National more than they care about the environment. Sadly for him, we all know where nice guys finish. He has missed a big chance.
Winston's Number One Enemy
ACT is Winston's number one enemy. We intend to continue to oppose Winston's reckless populism and predict that while Winston may be our enemy we are about to gain many new friends. Every other party is courting Winston so it falls on us to let you know what is really going on. This is the latest.
What Winston Wants
The only thing Winston has never had is to be immortalised, and that requires being PM. Most Free Press readers can tell you that Norman Kirk was Prime Minister, but who was his Deputy? (Hint, not Bill Rowling who is known because he became PM). The coalition that offers him the Prime Ministership will form the government.
Winston will drop all his bottom lines for the baubles of the ninth floor. Nearly half of his bizarre manifesto, more promises than any other party, were for Northland. For some reason Winston no longer cares whether Northland ever gets another bridge.
What is the
Actually the position of Prime Minister carries very little power. The Prime Minister's office is tiny, the Prime Minister is in charge of the Cabinet Office which just handles the paperwork for the cabinet and has no power. The PM is usually in charge of the SIS and The GCSB but the truth is we have no secrets. You learn more watching CNN. The Minister of Internal Affairs has a bigger budget and more real power. The PM chairs Cabinet and the power comes from allocating portfolios. Under a coalition the parties would agree on the portfolios. This would mean the Prime Minister would really be just the front man for the government.
David Lange was a show captain. The real power was with ACT co-founder Roger Douglas. Winston has always just been a show.
Press conferences by Prime Minister Winston Peters would be a hit. Jacinda has no experience. Her Captain’s Call on tax has shaken her colleagues. Winston has over forty years’ experience. Her front bench who would do anything for a ministerial car are willing to trade her for the Beehive.
National will do
The only thing that holds National together is the belief that they were born to rule. While Bill is raising objections that he won the election the rest of the Cabinet thinks to keep office Bill should become Foreign Minister. National now needs Minister of Maori Affairs and who better than Shane Jones? Steven Joyce would run the Government like he does now, so where is the problem?
A Slight Problem
Winston is showing his age. He filled out no fewer than nine false declarations when claiming his super. The Ministry of Social Development tries to make the forms easy for the elderly so it cannot have been easy to get it wrong. As his departing MP has revealed, Winston's behavior is increasingly odd.