While no one will be surprised by yesterday’s deal to prop up ACT in Epsom, the audacity of it is still astounding. ACT is a political corpse. Their sole MP has been found guilty of electoral fraud and bides his time in a helicopter looking down on the city he once ruled wondering whether he might go to jail next month. The ‘new team’ running the show are a pair of libertarian true believers who were at their most impactful when explaining the philosophical case for legalised incest. The party registers .1% in a number of polls.
There is simply no doubt that ACT, left to put their case to the voters and to fight for their own continued survival, would be destroyed on September 20. As such the deal announced yesterday cannot just be seen as a nifty bit of political foot-work, or a clever tweak of the system. It is a calculated move to try and keep alive a party that would otherwise fail and die.
The ironies run deep. This is ACT, the party of self-reliance, pulling yourself up by your boot-straps, which pours baleful scorn on anyone seeking a ‘handout’. Yet here they are seeking and receiving the biggest handout of all – the gift of an electorate seat in our Parliament. The word hypocrisy doesn’t even touch the sides. There is a distinct possibility that the fundamental internalised inconsistencies of ACT will cause the fabric of the universe to tear around the ACT candidate the next time he tries to mount the case that he is campaigning on his own merits by knocking on 75,000 doors or whatever the number is this week.
Key made the announcement even more ludicrous by stating that he will not do that which he demands of other Epsom voters. Voting for the ACT candidate would potentially allow people to make ‘mischief’ and cause the Prime Minister embarrassment. He is on to something here. When I canvas around the electorate, embarrassment is the word that most commonly comes up to describe Epsom’s relationship with ACT. In 2011 Epsom did not really want ACT with only 2.5% of Epsom voters giving their Party vote to them. Banks was elected as a final chance for ACT to redeem itself, and because the John Banks of 2011 was still a relatively untarnished figure held in some affection by the electorate. Since then Epsom voters have been humiliated by the constant stream of scandal and weirdness that surrounds ACT. Many decent moderate, National voting conservatives do not want a bar of it again.
September 20 presents an opportunity for Epsom. The people of the electorate deserve better than a shabby deal to prop up a political corpse and it is in their power to take back their electorate. If it’s good enough for John Key to vote for the candidate of his choice, it’s good enough for the people of Epsom.
Michael Wood is the Labour candidate for Epsom. He is an elected member of the Puketapapa Local Board, with a background as a union negotiator and retail worker. As co-Secretary of the Labour Policy Council he has been involved in the development of Labour’s Policy Platform and Manifesto. He has two young boys, a super smart wife, and loves cricket and Pink Floyd.