The New Zealand Herald reported over the weekend that last month the Act Party nearly rolled their leader, Rodney Hide. According to the story, Roger Douglas, once the party president and the leading troglodyte in a party made for them, together with the deputy leader, Heather Roy, were plotting the coup.
Douglas once publicly berated Hide back in the days when Hide was a populist “perk buster”. It was when Hide got caught taking advantage of perks that Douglas apparently got incensed and started plotting a coup.
There’s a particular kind of chutzpah needed for Douglas and Roy to do this: Were it not for Rodney, NONE of them would be in Parliament. In the last election, Act received barely 3 and a half percent of the party vote and would’ve been shut out of Parliament altogether had Rodney lost his seat in the Epsom electorate. So, Douglas and Roy owe their cushy, well-paid Parliamentary jobs to Rodney Hide.
What saved Hide was apparently intervention by Prime Minister John Key, who told Roy that if they rolled Hide, she would probably lose her ministerial portfolios. He’d already declared many times, as far back as the campaign, that there was no way Douglas would ever have a ministerial portfolio in a John Key premiership.
There’s probably no more despised NZ politician than Roger Douglas, owing to the radical neo-conservative economic agenda he forced on New Zealand in the 1980s. Douglas is either unaware or refuses to acknowledge that those failed policies were abandoned the better part of two decades ago, and no politicians outside the fringe Act Party still embrace them.
At about the same time as this was going on, another government partner, the Maori Party, was going through its own internal struggles. Key apparently thought about calling a snap election so he could win enough seats to govern alone. He may have succeeded, or voters may have punished him for his partner parties’ troubles. We’ll never know.
But this is about as exciting as political intrigue gets in New Zealand. Clearly our politics are a little more placid and, well, normal than in other countries. I like that.