The ACT Party appears to be heading for oblivion...no thanks to the media whom make every effort to disparage the party for the follies of one leader - Rodney Hide - with constant 'beat ups' over issues that are really not so significant. One is inclined to think that the media does this because it wants to protect its dominance over political discourse. A minor party is probably going to reform a media which gives it no standing.
What can we make of Dr Don Brash's move to unseat the leader of the ACT Party in the 11th hour - just 6 months out from an election. Is it possible this was a last minute effort for a National Party member (tied to the government) to discredit the party? Perhaps not, but it will serve Brash anyway by giving him extra profile. Consider the strategic benefits:
1. Brash attempts to become leader of ACT - in effect making it part of the National Party
2. Brash cannot win leadership contest - in the process implying that ACT is essentially the same as National's, but at the same time discrediting or casting dispersions upon the Hide leadership.
It is interesting that the National Party likes to retain Rodney Hide as a coalition partner. I think it has two possible reasons for doing so. Having him in the coalition gives him greater standing in ACT, but ACT less popularity in the electorate as Hide is not liked. It appears to be a strategic move to keep the ACT Party a minority party. This seems to have been confirmed by PM Key, when he said he would not support ACT if Hide was not its leader. He has since changed his mind; perhaps because outsiders might understand their party strategy.
Brash is not a stranger to strategising either. He has signalled that Auckland former mayor John Banks will stand for election in the seat of Epsom if he is appointed leader of the party. This is perceived as laughable by those outside. It is a good strategy. I suspect Hide might fold if he knows that Banks could end up running in his seat. Why? Better to be deputy leader of a more popular party than have no electorate at all. The reality is that Brash would likely win a few seats for ACT, and it might even win over some defectors from the National Party. This is improbable because Key is popular....but bankbenchers in the National Party who already have a lifetime pension might decide that its better to be a player in a small party with the balance of power than playing no role in a major party. This could therefore be interesting times for NZ.
Reading about Dr Don Brash in Wikipedia, one has to conclude that he is not a very good leadership prospect. He was a bureaucrat, who supported economic rationalism of the old, and talks in simple measures about social policy. He is the type of person who fits in the ACT Party - but then he seems like another Rodney Hide. Maybe he should be 'metaphorically' sleeping with Rodney Hide (secretly) rather than unseating him. There must be a cartoon here. Perhaps one with Brash and Hide in the same Queen-size bed, with each wanting to sleep on the right side.
Certainly the ACT Party should be looking for a new leader. Should it bother anyone that Brash has no history with the ACT Party; that he is launching a leadership challenge without being a member? No, its of no significance, though it might be hard for the membership to trust him if he has no existing relationship. The reality is that he might give the party credibility. The problem of course is that he will bring the same old politics to a struggling party. You might expect some competition, but it will just be the same dog fight under democracy. Should we expect something different from such leadership? No. Its more of the same.
I personally would support Brash in the short term...if only for the sake that I might be wrong. But I'd hope that the party would in the future be open to a better prospect. But would the ACT Party know one if they saw one? I doubt it.