Sunday, 26 December 2010

Return of Prebble's rebels?

Deborah Coddington writes in today's Herald on Sunday, arguing for the return of Richard Prebble to the leadership of the Act Party. Coddington says that this will revive the party's flagging luck.

Prebble's three elections as Act leader certainly were electorally more successful than Hide's 2005 and 2008 efforts. Moreover Prebble gave Act more coherence politically - he was very good at articulating their position. However, he never had to lead the party in any sort of post-election support arrangement, save for backing the Shipley Government in its dying days (1998 - 1999). Hide has, and his problems as leader should be ranked against that.

Hide's real problem goes back to the rise of Don Brash following his infamous Orewa Speech. By moving the National Party to the right, Brash took a significant portion of support off Act. In fact National's 2005 election result could be attributed largely to votes taken off minor parties - Act and United Future in particular. Hide has failed to capitalise on Key's leadership of the National Party, which has seen the party move back to the centre.

While this is clearly a failure of leadership, it's difficult to see how bringing back Prebble is going to change this. Coddington's column might get talking heads talking, but it really offers little substance to the future survival of Act or its leadership.

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