Under fire

Just one semi-randomly chosen article, on the Otago Daily Times website, but here are some numbers from it:

A. Don Brash denying allegations or refusing to comment: 4
B. Don Brash distancing himself from views of senior ACT people (incl former): 4
C. Mentions of Don Brash’s failed 2005 campaign: 3
D. Don Brash making an open statement of his position (incl the ad): 2
E. Don Brash attacked by ministers in the government of which ACT is a part: 2
F. Don Brash attacking ministers in the government of which ACT is a part: 1

That, right there, is a party leader under fire.

A is a problem because it shows Brash as weak and evasive.
B is a problem because the fact is that these people are or were his party and its brand — they are what people think they know about ACT. If it turns out they don’t actually speak for ACT, something has to fill that vacuum. This is also indecisive, and because of the nature of the views he is backing away from, weak.
C is a problem because it reminds everyone that they got rid of him six years ago, and why.
D is a problem because Brash hasn’t filled the vacuum caused by B.
E and F are problems because they threaten the integrity of John Key’s National government during an election campaign framed by narratives of unity: the Stadium Of Four Million narrative of the Rugby World Cup, and the Spirit Of The Blitz narrative mandated by the Canterbury earthquakes.

For my money, it’s the last one which is most likely to sink ACT. If Brash doesn’t pull his head in sharpish, Key will be justified in cutting it off. And I reckon he would, sharpish. He’s not called the Smiling Assassin because of his gentle nature and tolerance toward poor performers. And even if Key doesn’t, Brash is up against some powerful stuff in those unity narratives. Nobody wants to back a splitter at a time when Aotearoa is supposed to be thinking and feeling and hoping as one.


3 thoughts on “Under fire

  1. We are in a highly charged faceoff between right and left in this election. No pissing around with Labour lite. ACT thinks National will be in a position to govern with a revamped ACT tail wagging the dog. MP will implode so Brash is using his racist dogwhistles to rally the talkback crowd to hate Mana and get over the 5%. Add that to NACTs Benie bashing, this is proto-fascist stuff. His audience is the kiwi authoritarian ripe for rallying so Brash’s appeal to deep psycho is key not his public form.
    As the CGT showed, there is a consensus on this that the right cannot use. They are shooting blanks on MMP. They are losing the argument on mum and dad investors. So its going to be a race hating appeal to national unity against the enemy within – echoes of white settler supremacy as Bomber claims.

  2. Dave, I don’t mean to underestimate him, but I don’t think he’s credible as a neo-authoritarian, which is why John Ansell has quit — Don is a “gentleman”, says he. The prevaricative and defensive stance Brash takes in the linked article is anything but a strong authoritarian position.

    In this regard Ansell is right: Brash risks falling between two stools; too harsh to appeal to swinging National voters or mainstream Aotearoans; not harsh enough to convince or galvanise the genuine extremists.


  3. I guess Key’s worry is that ACT still run, get 2.5% of the votes and no electorate and in a close race he’s left with National & MaoriNational (who are also likely to drop a few seats) just short of 60 MPs.

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