The Independent Candidate strategy for Epsom by-election
"Who will rid me of this clown", will be what John Key must be wondering. Key needs Banks to pass the budget on the 24th, without ACT the right wing asset privatization/charter school/welfare crucifixion wet dream won't get passed. This means Banks is safe until the 24th, after that National will need to decide when is strategically best to go ahead with the by-election.
Here is what confronts National, do they leave Banks in power and let the rot infect them or do they nudge the Police prosecution into immediacy and stand Banks down post the budget and let his fate be decided by the investigation. If the evidence is striking, National will want the by election done and dusted asap, they won't want it in the year of the election.
What is at stake and how should the left play an Epsom by-election? At stake is the one seat majority of the Government. Because it's ACT, this one seat pulls the entire Government agenda to the hard right, so winning it for National is no real gain as the majority is then reliant on Dunne and the Maori Party who will be able to renegotiate their new found political leverage.
Colin Craig doesn't have the Epsom support base (only 342 votes in the 2011 election), so even with a cup of tea with Colin and John, the voting base isn't enough for him to be anything other than a vote splitter on the right while ACT would have to fight like a wounded badger to try and win, further splitting the vote.
So what is the left to do in an electorate as right wing as Epsom? A by-election is a verdict on a Government, so even the safest seat can turn if they are given the right candidate. Labour, the Greens, NZ First and MANA should all agree to not stand a candidate in favor of backing an Independent Candidate.
This Independent Candidate would only agree to stand till the 2014 election with one very clear mandate to not sell assets and to confront the Government with economic realities. That Independent Candidate should be someone like Bernard Hickey or Gareth Morgan.
The Green, Labour, NZ First and MANA Party votes combined didn't gain as many votes as ACT did. Not standing and endorsing an Independent Candidate that appeals to the electorate and fulfills the by-election desire to send the Government a message is the progressives best strategy if they really want to neuter this Governments asset sale agenda past this years budget.