Garrett resigns from Act
RNZ reporting a near-tearful David Garrett has told Rodney Hide he is resigning from the Act Party and will take a fortnight's leave from parliament to decide whether he'll stay on. Friday is the traditional time in the media cycle to do these sorts of things.Garrett's removing himself from the party is the start of restoring some semblance of credibility to the Act brand that has in only half a term suffered Sir Roger's intrigues, the Leader's own perk-abusing and a diversionary romp along with the now exposed hypocrites of the Sensible Sentencing Trust lynch mob. But they have fallen so far down the well it is hard to imagine they can claw their way out.
The possibility of returning to a 5%+ party of the right that aims to represent the mainstream seemed a possibility after the better than expected showing in the 2008 election. Now it seems an impossibility with everything hanging on Rodney Hide retaining the most naturally National, Tory seat in the North Island. If the Nats don't think - if Murray McCully doesn't think - that the Act vote will be higher than 1.5% in 2011 (or enough to let in at least one other MP from off their list) then why would the Nats continue to give him a free ride? Rodney must prove he can take at least one other ACT MP in on his coattails or he is toast. The only Tory consideration is the immediate instability issues it would create in the government (and in the current parliament given the numbers) if the Nats decided they would competitively campaign for the electorate vote in Epsom with a strong candidate. That decision to stand someone against Rodney may have to be put off to the last possible date so as not to provoke any desperate shenanigans from him that could damage the image of National.
The fact is the Act leadership never expected Garrett (put at No.5 on the list behind the major donor, Boscawen) to get in. They never expected they would have to deal with him - and that's why Rodney would not have cared particularly when Garrett revealed to him that he had criminal convictions. He wasn't supposed to make it - he was supposed to be cannon fodder. Garrett was the price they were paying to get a powerful lobby group on board and they had every reason to believe on the polling data that he would not get in and that having tapped that group for support they would be burned off after the election and the show goes on as usual. In underestimating their own popularity they let the sleeper agent in and what a disaster that has turned out.
As far as Garrett goes I have never met the man, but I saw him at the Über Stadt select committee in Auckland and he did give one of the submitters the creepiest leering look I've seen in a while as he passed her. Not so much undressing her as molesting her with his eyes. Hardly a crime to be an uncool middle-aged man who appreciates the young fillies, but after reading Damian Christie's observations a portrait of a distasteful character has been well assembled. I would not usually repeat the hearsay remarks, but because they align with so much of what has been said of Garrett - and my own sense of the man - here it is:UPDATE | 2:30PM: How long before Garrett resigns as an MP? He came in on the Act list and now he's resigned from that party it cannot stack up to stay on as an independent. What remains of his pride hasn't yet let him reach the inevitable conclusion.
UPDATE | 4PM: Rodney found the technicality he needed to officially lose confidence in him. He stopped short of suggesting Mr Garrett may have committed perjury.
Mr Hide said Mr Garrett had resigned of his own volition.
UPDATE | 5:30PM: The No.6 on the list who would replace Garrett will not rock the boat.A loyal version of Heather Roy? Better hope so, Rodney. This will be a test of his management skills. No late nights with old knights for the lucky lottery-winner of Dunedin. That's one more for Rodney, but if Sir Roger resigns then Rodney's internal party nemesis, Peter Tashkoff, is going to come in off the list to replace him. Sir Roger is Rodney's whipped, dancing poodle compared with the unpredictable and openly hostile Tashkoff. It's a grenade waiting to happen if Sir Roger wants to pull the pin. Like passengers rushing through the revolving door on the Titanic.