CK and the Act Party list
She's back. Blogging properly now she isn't standing for candidacy:
It's girl-on-girl action with more take-downs than a roller derby, more scratching than a sack of cats and more bitchiness than a pack of female werewolves at that time of the month. A heady mix of napalm and estrogen. Basically everything we love :)
And if Catherine Isaac gets run over by a bus between now and the time the Act list is filed our Kate will be #3 whether she likes it or not. There are so few women left in the party the board would be forced to put her in. That doesn't necessarily make her the best candidate it just makes her the only candidate. No other female candidate is even on the radar.
I took that photo on the night of the 2008 election - at the National Party celebration at Sky City. (The other two are David Farrar and Cam Slater if you didn't already know: The short fat ugly guy is Farrar, the less short fat ugly guy is Slater). What isn't visible is her other hand which is clasping a bottle of champagne - she gives the impression in her blog that she is never beyond 10 metres or so of a bottle and I can confirm it is more like ten feet. I had planned a slow, day by day strip of the Cactus image to reveal her face should she be on the list, but as I said in an earlier post her reluctance is no put-on. She is an Act Party loyalist - from the very first years - and it is out of pure desperation to save the party that she entered the fray. Other partisans stand for vanity and ego reasons, or for the salary, she is not in that category. Having failed in managing to attract any fresh female talent into the party (or at least failing to have them placed in a winnable position - No.9 for Kath McCabe might as well be 59 for a party polling well south of 5%) she withdraws from the battlefield. So she remains entitled to her anonymity and that ought to be respected as a matter of blogging etiquette.
As to the criticism of Coddington - yeah, she's right. Coddington had a profile and was elevated on that basis, but she was a flake. Flakiness aside, it's the disloyalty that really grates with the party faithful; and that's true of defectors and malcontents sniping from the sidelines at any political party which gave them a degree of trust. The hate directed at ex-Labour MPs in Act, for example, will go on forever. (Lucky Phil Goff didn't go over in '94 eh. Surprising more hasn't been made of that - thought that would have been a whole bag of daggers to be used on the young Master Thorn.)
Anyway... the Act Party List:
But firstly congrats to 'Goober' Stu being appointed Campaign Manager. I know him from University and Act circles in Auckland and he's a smart guy with experience in the organisation and despite the Rodney Hide link rumours will prove able. Not brilliant - as he's not a creative type, I think he studied property or law - but solid. And in a melt-down with what looks like a National Party take-over at the top of the list the party needs its loyalists to keep its viability as an independent force. Look at Brash and Banks sitting there as the shoe-ins - that's Nat not Act.
1. Dr Don Brash
2. Hon John Boscawen
4. Don Nicolson
5. Hon John Banks
6. David Seymour
7. Chris Simmons
8. Stephen Whittington
9. Kath McCabe
10. Robyn Stent
11. John Thompson
12. John Ormond
13. Lyn Murphy
14. Kevin Moratti
15. Robin Grieve
Apparently there's even a Maori on it, at 28 or something. Really.
Boscawen will probably make it - almost certainly - I can't see Act polling lower than 3% despite all their woes and National eating away their vote by moving to the right. Boscawen is a nice guy and if you've heard him speak and the positions he's taken he appears to be the type of independent thinker the party used to encourage, rather than purely ideological or a cipher of others. He alone deserves to get back in. It also helps that he's loaded - maybe that gives him the confidence to say what he wants.
No.3 (Catherine Isaac) is on the margin. With Banks set to take Epsom that makes her effectively No.4 and in the amber zone - as is the farmers' representative, Nicholson. As for whoever Mssrs Seymour, Simmons & Whittington are they are in the red zone and will be wiped. Who are these kids?
David Seymour, 28, who is number six on the list and standing in Auckland Central, has just returned from a role as a senior policy analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Canada. He is an also an author and rugby coach. Mr Seymour stood for the ACT Party in the 2005 in the Mt Albert electorate.
Stephen Whittington, 25, who is number eight on the list, works in the tax law team of a corporate law firm. He is also a champion debater who has been named as one of the top ten speakers in Australasia and in 2009 was named as the 15th the best speaker in the world. Mr Whittington has worked as an adviser to Sir Roger Douglas in Parliament.
Jolly what-o! The sort of spivs and wonks that impress the Rotarian crowd? Act are full of these types, but they cannot connect outside their comfort zone in the way that the more populist Hide could, or that Banks can.
Well the one thing about Act is you can't accuse them of not renewing the list! Boscawen has been in only one term and the rest of the top ten are new to Act's list by the looks of it. You have to go to Thompson and Ormond at 11 and 12 before you get to recognisable Act Party people.
The problem remains though with the retreads. Banks' conservatism combined with his deep National roots is an awkward fit. More awkward because he will be the power centre in the same way Rodney Hide was holding that electorate seat. Brash is an old man in a hurry with impossible expectations and improbable self-belief; if he doesn't extract a financial portfolio for himself in the next government he will exit - perhaps even before the 2014 election - leaving Banks holding all the chips. Banks would fold into National immediately if the right offer was made - this is the real danger for the party. If you thought the implosion this term was chronic wait till Banksie is in charge - they may end up decapitating themselves.
As Act becomes more conventionally conservative (and yes that means older, whiter, male and rural) the changes to MMP (should MMP make it back at the referendum) become crucial for its survival. Most party members will want FPP or whatever is closest to it, but that is antithetical to Act remaining in parliament. My guess is that they will acknowledge their fragility and the dangerous lock a single electorate gives to whoever holds it and will opt to lower the threshold to whatever it is they get at this election, perhaps 3%.