Don Brash appears to have the numbers to roll Rodney Hide as ACT leader. He met with Hilary Calvert yesterday, presumably to explain to her slowly, and in a loud clear voice, using charts, diagrams and anatomically correct dolls, that she won’t get back into Parliament if nobody votes for her party.
This was a really terrible way to take over ACT. There’s no reason Brash couldn’t have done the numbers quietly, then presented Hide with a fait accompli and given him the option to stand down with dignity. Instead it was all done as publicly and clumsily as possible. Hide (who, Brash claims, has been his personal friend for fifteen years) has been humiliated. He will, presumably, want revenge. He may stand in Epsom as an independent, or leak damaging material about Brash or the traitors in his party to the media. The ACT Party president launched a vicious public attack on Brash when it appeared his coup failed; now Brash will have to replace him six months out from an election. ACT activists who are loyal to Hide (incredibly, there are such people) will hesitate to campaign for their party in the wake of its hostile takeover.
In terms of the election, Brash will campaign on a
white supremacy racial equality platform. He’s decided that this is endorsed by article three of the Treaty of Waitangi (I’d love to hear someone ask him where articles one and two fit into this framework). He’ll make various racist speeches and deny – angrily and with apparent sincerity – that he’s a racist. I’m really not sure how many votes this will be worth. In 2005 it fed into a latent fear about the Clark government, and I’m not sure if voters have the same apprehension about Key.