It’s interesting to see Judith Collins take a swing at Act, just as headlines pop up asking who the real opposition in this country is.
For the past couple of years, it has very much looked like Act is.
Seymour’s searing one liners, his clever turn of phrase, his quick out of the blocks responses to government moves, have often positioned him as the only viable active opposition player.
But being in opposition is not just firing pot-shots at the government, (which is easily done) it’s coming up with ideas of your own too.
New policies, new directions, fresh material, giving voters a contest, a real alternative, something that looks promising.
And this is where National has been weak. Too much in fighting, leaking, and looking over each other’s shoulders has seen the Nats look less an opposition party, and more a bickering mess.
They’re too focused on the rear view mirror and not moving forward fast enough.
During this tumult, Act has remained strong, focused, headline grabbing, and putting out proper policy ideas.
So now, Collins has shot Act down, calling their alternative budget two years out from and election “silly.”
She then took another swipe over Act’s Select Committee idea, saying Seymour sounded like a guy who’d never been in Cabinet. Ouch.
But are these burns warranted? I don’t think so. Seymour said Collins should see Act’s growth as more of an opportunity than a threat. I mean whatever happened to that idea of them going into government together? Last election Collins didn’t rule out Seymour becoming her Deputy PM if they were able to form a government. Where’s that love gone?
I think it’s churlish to start whining at Act and for a rift between the two parties to start grabbing headlines, because they both need each other, and they both need to be providing an alternative to this government.
Voters absolutely hate, as Collins knows all too well, in fighting and drama and power play politics.
What centre right voters will be looking for at the moment is some representation, some alternative options, and some solidarity. Picking each other apart is not it. It won’t work and it’s futile.
Act has garnered support on its own merit, based on hard work, visibility, proactiveness and owning issues.
Instead of being threatened by this, National needs to get alongside it.
My concern for Judith is that if she can’t get alongside it, if she continues a pattern of divisiveness and snark, then she may lose support along the way.
Not just from voters, but crucially from those inside her party too.
Now is the time for building bridges and shoring up mates, not burning them.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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