Whittington on ACT

Derek Cheng writes in the NZ Herald:

An Act candidate touted as a future leader has declared the party all but dead and represented by an “economically ignorant” John Banks who wants to “suck up” to National.

Stephen Whittington, 25, ran in Wellington Central and was seventh on the party list. Along with number five on the list, David Seymour, he was regarded as a future star.

On his Facebook page Mr Whittington called Mr Banks “economically ignorant and interventionist”, in response to the Epsom MP’s comments opening the door to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. …

Mr Banks declined to comment, but party president Chris Simmons said Mr Whittington was wrong.

“The bottom line is that the party has a lot of work to do. In Parliament we’re represented by only one person, and John Banks signed up to represent Act and Act’s principles and he’s working really hard at exactly that.”

He believed the party would survive.

“Will it be a liberal party? Yes, it will be. Will it be the liberal party that Stephen Whittington thought it would be? I’m not really sure about that.”

Mr Whittington said Act needed a counterbalance to Mr Banks to maintain a consistent liberal message.

I think Steven’s comments are somewhat unfair to John Banks, even though I agree with his overall position that ACT as we know it is no more.

The problem is not that John Banks won Epsom. That is what stopped ACT being wiped out entirely. The problem is that ACT failed to win enough party vote to get a second MP in. A further 0.1% would have got Don Brash into Parliament. Brash inevitably would have made way before long for Catherine Isaac, and the combination of Isaac and Banks would have been a workable one for ACT.

I called the Brash coup a “cluster fuck” back in April. I think few would now disagree. If there had been some sort of deal where Don became co-leader with Rodney Hide, then it is quite possible ACT would have done well in the party vote. But the very nature of the coup where someone who is not even a party member demands he be made leader or else he will destroy the party was repulsive to even the most loyal supporter of ACT’s policies.

Having failed to get a second MP into Parliament, the brand of ACT will be the brand of Banks. That’s a perfectly good brand, but it is not the brand traditionally associated with ACT. I still think the best way forward is for ACT to rename itself and look at some sort of co-operation with the Conservative Party, and those who are economic and social liberals to form a new party without the baggage of the past.

Comments (101)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment