The world has changed dramatically since 2005. The Don Brash prescription for change has not. But his venom is now directed at National under Key and English instead of Labour under Clark and Cullen
I was not surprised by your decision to resign your membership of the National Party. The only surprise was that you formally advised the party leader of your resignation after you had already secured the leadership of another political party. Mind you, even that’s not so surprising, given you only joined ACT after you’d ousted Rodney.
It was clever to let John know about your belated resignation in an open letter that you so generously shared with the public of New Zealand. Thank goodness, the gallery hacks fell for it. Otherwise, you would still be in the TV studios with Hone Harawira, arguing over who’s the biggest racist.
You will need to talk to John Boscawen though. He nearly let the cat out of the bag in the Herald, when he talked about giving National notice that ACT will take a more aggressive approach under your leadership. Talk about stealing your thunder! As for his announcement that ACT wasn’t going to be the “rich pricks” party any more, where does he think the campaign funding comes from? I hope that you and he can sort out which one of you is standing in Tamaki soon.
As for Rodney, who does he think he is? Fancy spilling it on The Nation that he told you and John Banks that you needed to join the party before you could take over the leadership and Banks could stand in Epsom. Well, you proved him wrong on the leadership, but he goes on saying that Banks “isn’t an ACT man”. So, why are you letting a “toxic” Hide hang on as a Minister when you said he should resign and retire gracefully, like you did in 2006? Can’t you just boot him out of ACT for defying his leader and calling the party into disrepute? I hope you sort out who’s standing in Epsom soon.
You can count on your old soul-mate, Sir Roger Douglas. You and he go back a long way. Douglas and other ACT people were quite supportive when you started your campaign to roll Bill English and take over National’s leadership. You share a view that there is unfinished business to be addressed. You also share the experience of being disowned by your original parties of choice. But Douglas has announced his retirement at the end of this term. Who will replace him?
Why don’t you put your own house in order before you tell John Key what to do?
Now, back to your letter, Don. The world has changed dramatically since 2005– but you have not. The Brash analysis today is still firmly rooted in the Brash prescription of yesterday. The most significant difference is that your venom is now being directed at National under Key and English, instead of Labour under Clark and Cullen.
You suggest that National voters have been ignored and would support the changes you advocate: cut wasteful government spending, reintroduce lower youth rates, scrap the emission trading scheme, scale back superannuation entitlement, ignore treaty obligations on consultation and representation, close the Trans-Tasman wage gap, and make no compromise with other parties – except ACT.
The worst feature of your analysis of the Key government’s performance is that it makes no allowance for the fact that they have spent the last two and a half years holding together a fractious and fragile coalition and coping with the impacts of an inherited home-grown recession, major collapses in the non-bank finance sector, the meltdown of important global financial markets, and the near destruction of the country’s second largest city.
Why did you think the government could cut its way out of a recession?
Contrary to your analysis, there is plenty of evidence that wasteful government spending has been and is being cut. There is also evidence that National is tackling some of the more difficult areas of spending in health, education and welfare, as well as some of the wacky taxation provisions that fuel over-investment in residential and commercial property and inflate property values. There is no evidence to support your assertion that current wage rates are causing the high rate of youth unemployment. You know our wages are low by comparison with Australia, and the rate of wage increases has been extremely restrained since 2008.
In this week’s budget, the government promises announcements to constrain the entitlement of more affluent households to Working For Families tax credits, reduce its contribution to KiwSaver funds, increase the recovery of student loans, and initiate partial sales of state-owned assets.
Most voters will applaud the fact that the Key government – unlike the government of your old soul-mate Roger Douglas – is seeking a mandate from voters before it implements major changes on sensitive issues. The polls indicate that National voters strongly support its approach.
Where’s your evidence that National voters do not support the Key government’s approach?
Remember that people don’t like unpleasant surprises. Douglas stalled and crashed the Lange government on the political reefs with his bulldozer drive for deregulation and a flat tax regime. Many National party colleagues – including your friend John Banks - rebelled against Ruth Richardson when she broke their party’s most solemn policy commitment to superannuitants in her relentless pursuit of economic purity. They took their revenge on Jim Bolger as soon as he gave them MMP and they dumped him when it wore him out. They endured nine-years of State expansion and patronage under Clark and Cullen in a period of sustained economic growth, but they weren’t so discontented that they would buy the Brash “Back to the 80’s – Iwi Kiwi” message in 2005.
You remind us you lost the 2005 election by a narrow margin, but then you floundered in the mire of e-mail leaks from discontented elements of your own party, the Exclusive Brethren campaign controversy, and the Hollow Men fiasco until you bowed to the inevitable and stepped aside for John Key.
Sorry Don, I have no doubt that you will recover the party vote ACT lost in its three years of living dangerously with Rodney Hide, but holding more than 5 percent with a campaign that’s based on attacking the only ally you are likely to have in the next Parliament looks like a suicide run to me.