In a way, you’ve got to hand it to ACT. The party’s obituary has been written many a time, as Hide, Brash and Banks fumbled their way along. Everyone was certain that the humiliation of Banks was the end of the line. Nonetheless, defying the naysayers, David Seymour held the seat of Epsom. ACT survived for another Parliamentary term.
Except, of course, that Jamie Whyte, party leader and philosopher-warrior, didn’t make it into Parliament to join Seymour. Immediately following the election, Whyte was in limbo as leader, still in charge, but awaiting the ponderings of the Board as to his future. The limbo is now over – he has tendered his resignation, and the Board has accepted.
Which means that David Seymour is now the leader of ACT. Is this the point where the donors turn off the tap? Where the members shrug and walk away?
Back in the Brash and Banks days, there was the occasional murmur regarding pulling the pin on the ACT name and forming a new party, keeping the donors and members, and jettisoning the public faces of a sullied brand. It must be tempting for the party’s backers to reconsider that option, given the joke that ACT has now become. Nonetheless, the party still has a seat, an MP and an under-secretary position, with all of the funding that goes with that.
And National keeps providing the electricity for ACT’s life support machine. There’s no guarantee that a fresh new libertarian movement would receive a hand up from National. With no electoral seat accommodation, it’s highly unlikely that a new party to National’s right would be able to explode out of the gates to hit 5% by 2017.
Which means that ACT will continue to limp on, its death rattle continuing. Seymour and the Board will talk of rejuvenation and growth, but I can’t see it happening. The best that might happen is that Seymour holds the fort well enough to bring in a second MP next time round. The odds are long, but they’re odds ACT will take because, frankly, they’ve got no choice…