The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear – Antonio Gramsci
ACT held their annual conference last weekend, so the Herald et al have been running columns and profiles and news stories, all to pretend that ACT is a real political party and not a loophole in the electoral law for National to pour taxpayer money into.
The premise of all this is that ACT will rebuild under ‘classical liberal’ David Seymour. It’s all nonsense. ACT was never a classical liberal party (and the whole notion of ‘classical liberalism’ seems more and more risible to me: a bunch of guys who are outraged about, say, the threat to freedom caused by anti-tobacco regulation but indifferent to the expansion of the surveillance state, or any of dozens of other substantive challenges to individual freedom). ACT made its wins with conservative voters via race-baiting and tough on crime rhetoric, and when an actual conservative party came along ACT’s vote vanished.
They might get it back, I guess, but they’ll be competing with Colin Craig (probably), Winston Peters and most problematically, the National Party, who have a patina of urban liberals, women and Maori arranged across their front bench but whose MPs are mostly middle-aged or elderly white male ex dairy-farmer/ex-cop types who represent electorates ACT would need to target, and who tell their voters to give two ticks to National. David Seymour will never connect with that demographic.
If National gets voted out of government and goes through an identity crisis, and New Zealand First folds post-Winston, and Colin Craig goes away then the conditions might be auspicious for a ‘classical liberal’ and/or conservative party to arise, but the existence of ACT, occupying that space, grifting an electorate off National and money off the taxpayer makes it less likely. Instead the morbid symptoms will continue.