Epsom Tea Party = A Key-Brash Government - how does the left in Epsom respond?
That was it? A begrudging date between an uncomfortable Optimist Prime and a grinning homophobic dinosaur? That is what it takes to con Epsom voters to not only hold their nose but refrain from gagging by voting Banks?
Well two can hold their nose.
Before we get to how left Epsom voters should tactically play this, let's point out what a joke of an endorsement it was by Key. After so much foreplay, Key barely left Banks with a peck on the cheek...
Mr Key, who lives in the electorate, said he would not vote for Mr Banks himself. As leader of the National Party, he would vote for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith, but he refused to say outright that he would prefer to see Mr Goldsmith lose.
...so Key is talking out both sides of his mouth. He won't vote for John Banks, but is trying to tell everyone else to vote for him. Key has all the political virtue of the Exclusive Brethren who refuse to vote, but spent millions trying to convince us all how to vote in 2005.
The only legacy of this Tea Party in Epsom is that now NZers can see for the first clear time that a John Key-Don Brash Government is a real possibility.
Let's just imagine that for a moment - if as I've suggested Dunne is toast in Ohariu (backed up by the latest polls) and the Maori Party are cut down to 2 seats by a true flax roots MANA campaign, John needs ACT to form a Government and to think that ACT won't extract some serious policy for supply and confidence is naive in the extreme.
A Brash-Key Government would motivate the electorate in different ways. Older National Voters could consider NZ First Party vote as a way of pulling back on asset sales, especially with NZ First polling so close to the 5% threshold, the Green Party support could hold up rather than collapse as it does every election and the 15% don't knows could come off the fence for Labour policy (it won't be for the leadership qualities will it?)
So how should those 17% Labour voters and 11% Green Voters in Epsom play this election? If Epsom National voters can hold their noses (and stomachs) to vote Banks, well Epsom Labour and Greens can hold theirs too, if they electorate vote Goldsmith and Party vote their chosen Party, they could deny Banks Epsom and end ACT all together.
If ACT lose, Dunne loses and the Maori Party return just 2 seats, the National Party will have run out of coalition partners.
I've pointed out for a long time that this election could be down to the wire, I'm glad Farrar has been so spooked by the math he rushed out a breathless attack piece.
Expect Farrar to get shriller as the result gets closer.