ACT can no longer be seen as the “tactical appendage” of the National Party.
ACT is an independent, pro free enterprise party, prepared to deal with all other political parties, including Labour, on a case by case basis.
National Party blogger, Whaleoil has this to say about ACT’s new strategy.
I seem to remember all the ACToids screaming bloody murder when National created some room for ACT on the right even describing them as Labour-Lite and Smurf’s, but then absolute silence about Rodney’s master strategy of rebranding ACT, Leapfrogging over National to jump in between them and Labour.
Whaleoil raises a very good point.
National has moved to the centre and is on a roll. Labour is struggling in the polls and looking decidedly tired.
Surely the sensible strategy for ACT would be to fill the space to National’s right, abandoned by John Key and aim for a National/ACT coalition in 2008?
I believe that in the short term, that would be the soundest strategy.
However ACT is looking to the long term.
ACT is serious about being an influential and permanent player in New Zealand politics.
Our classic liberal philosophy of limited government and personal responsibilty is too important to tie to the fortunes or leadership of National or any other political party.
ACT suffered a huge loss of support under Don Brash. His adoption of ACT like policies took him to within a hair’s breadth of victory in 2005 and ACT to the brink of destruction.
National did ACT few favours in that election on any front. There were no public overtures towards ACT from Don Brash, nor were there any concessions in Rodney Hide’s do or die battle in Epsom.
Rodney Hide won Epsom because of the goodwill of the National voters of Epsom. They wanted to see Rodney Hide help Don Brash deliver lower taxes. Unfortunately National’s hierarchy, in their search for the centre ground did not dare to name ACT as their preferred coalition partner.
This is the big dilemna. If ACT is seen as National’s little brother, National thinks it must disown ACT to win the centre.
Hence ACT does well when National is weak (2002) and poorly when National is strong (2005). Therefore a National/ACT coalition government is very difficult to achieve.
ACT has learned its lesson. ACT’s first loyalty can not be to National or any other party. Its first loyalty must be to the voters of New Zealand.
If ACT can deliver tax cuts by supporting National it should do so.
If it can deliver school choice by supporting the Greens, so be it.
If ACT can reform welfare by working with the Maori Party or United Future, it must set aside differences in other areas and get on with the job.
Parties and leaders come and go, but principles remain eternal.
Would ACT best serve the country by supporting a National Party led by an interventionist neo Muldoonist, or a Labour Party led by one of its young liberal reformers?
Clearly, if ACT is to stick to its principles it can make no permanent alliance with any other party.
ACT must prove itself as an independent party, perepared to work with all others to the benefit of the country.
ACT is serious about doing just that.