Well, you have to feel sorry for Rodney Hide. Leadership speculation three months out from a general election is debilitating for any political party. But it’s a million times worse for a party averaging, according to Molesworth and Featherston’s rolling poll of polls, at around 2 percent support.
You can understand the concern among some Act members. Act, like the Greens, are an ideological party which thrives or dies on the strength and vibrancy, of a clear brand. With Rodney making most of his media waves by taking David Benson-Pope to task and pushing the Peter Doone affair, it is hard for the public to remember what Act stands for in policy terms.
Nevertheless, it is, I guess, hard to take this speculation as a serious coup attempt. Any competent coup would not be played out in the media – it would take place with a numbers man or woman whipping around the caucus and trying to get enough support for an alternative leader. It seems that any such moves have failed.
But with Act’s troubles intensifying, as the party moves towards what could be its last general election, it’s worth asking what the party’s demise would do to the rest of the political spectrum. With Act gone, and United returned with a couple of MPs, National’s coalition options are severely limited. They could well come down to one option and one option alone: NZ First. That’s why we’ll be hearing a lot more for the rest of the year about a race between Labour and the Greens on one hand and National and NZ First on the other.
National mightn’t like their dancing partner. Alas, it’s the only one they’ve got.