Sunday, March 13, 2005

Smells like Muldoon

"Well, the one thing with writing stories about the rise of fascism is that if you wait long enough, you’ll almost certainly be proved right." - Alan Moore, Salon interview

Banks ready to Act?

According to John Banks, polling suggests that he would win the Tamaki seat this election if he stood there. Never mind pushing aside the moderate and all-round nice guy Ken Shirley. Nice guys don't win seats, especially in Rob Muldoon's old stomping ground of Tamaki. In the weird world of New Zealand MMP politics, a control freak who loses an incumbent mayoralty position can gain more power by appealing to less voters. I pity his wife.

What is it with Kiwis and their fixation on electing megalomaniac bastards? MMP was adapted from the German model specifically to avoid them, yet here we are with "Chairman Jim" Anderton, Winston P, and perhaps John "I now think I'd like to be Prime Minister of New Zealand one day" Banks. There must be some repressed demons within us, some masochistic streak we are hell-bent on using to flagellate ourselves.

A taxi driver once summed it up in the late '90s, when Jenny Shipley was patronising the Beehive. "Although I don't always agree with what Helen Clark believes in, at least she believes in something. With Jenny Shipley, I do not not know if she stands for anything." There, in a nutshell, is National's long-term problem. There is no Vision Thing. There never has been, at least not in living memory. The only time they get elected in when Labour implodes. National is to Labour, what methadone is to heroin.

Which is probably why Banks has ruled out standing for the Nats. With Act, there is potential for him to wrest the leadership off Rodney, especially if Rodney doesn't land a seat in Epsom and Banks takes Tamaki. Judging by sitting Act MPs, there are enough Rabids in caucus to provide both a successful leadership challenge and ideological support for whatever comes out Banks' mouth.

This gives Rodney Hide a damned good incentive to win Epsom. It will also focus a lot of attention on Act's Party List. At present, there are four Libs and five Rabids in caucus. John Banks has pointed out he should be near the top; a bit like scum in a stockpot I suppose. Like United Future, there will be much fighting in the game of musical seats. The balance of Libs to Rabids will prove pivotal to Act's election hopes, and Act's future ideological direction.