Friday, 24 September 2010

A prediction

For the next couple of months, if National Prime Minister John Key thinks there's any hope left for the ACT Party, he'll spend some time providing symbols that will infuriate the economic right. He'll look for ones that are relatively cheap, like appointing "history's greatest monster", former Finance Minister Michael Cullen, to head up New Zealand Post (history's truly greatest monster here). Cullen won't do any worse than the average appointee to that position, but he'll rile up the folks who'd be at the margin between ACT and National.

When and if he's lost hope that ACT can ever get itself together, those symbols disappear and he starts pushing a more liberal economic line, or at least providing those symbols. He can't go as far as Brash did, but he can certainly destroy ACT without much effort - kill Epsom, and tack slightly more right on economics. He won't move far in overall positioning - it's worse that moderate voters switch to Labour than that hard core economic liberals just stay home on election day. The former counts against you twice while the latter counts against you only once. National then moves farther to the right in the longer term as it absorbs former ACT activists into its party base.

The day Key stops attacking Douglas and starts talking up economic liberalism, dump your ACT stocks at iPredict.


  1. I fear National supporters are too dumb to pick up on the signals. :P

  2. Hopefully the supporters of, and the "wise heads" in, the ACT party aren't... or that Jonkey communicates his strategy to the party leadership.
    Not that I particulary want another Nat led govt, I'm more a left leaning type.

  3. @Peteremcc: Nothing in the strategy particularly requires Nat voters picking up on the signals. In fact, it kinda requires that voters don't get the underlying model. If they did, then he'd not be able to outrage economic liberals into staying with / moving to ACT.

    @Lats: At the margin, I'm more interested in civil liberties than economic issues in terms of policy differences across parties. I'd trade off a bit on econ policy to get improvements in civil liberties.

  4. @Eric You and me both. I may be libertarian at heart, but social and civil liberties are way more important to me than economic liberty. Mind you, I may feel differently if I was in business for myself, but I doubt it...

  5. @Lats: It all depends on the margin. Where we're at, civil liberties matter more to me, in that I'd trade a small amount of economic liberty for civil liberties. But that's only because we're already doing very well on economic matters, all things considered.