Derek Cheng reports that a new right-wing party has been formed.
The name "Reform Party" is a tired retread. The National Party was formed in 1936, when the United and Reform Parties merged. The Reform/United coalition showed ineptitude in managing the economy during the Great Depression, so perhaps the name is apt.
They have a website up, but it’s hardly inspiring stuff. It’s pretty clear Reform’s just an ACT spinoff, pedalling more of the same failed far-right policies, and rehashing much of the hatred against beneficiaries and the poor we have heard so often of late. Perhaps they figure that when we bomb out in the Rugby World Cup this year we’ll need a new national sport, and we’re already world-class at beneficiary-bashing.
I don’t know if anyone notable is behind the new party, but if they don’t get any big names they’ll just fade into obscurity or irrelevance. Names like Don Brash are often floated when a new party of the right is suggested. The neoliberal policies being proposed by the new party would fit nicely with Brash's own small-minded small-government philosophy.
The only name I can find associated with the party is an Andrew McLennan, although former ACT candidate Peter Tashkoff designed their website. Derek Cheng’s article describes McLennan as a lawyer, though there is no Andrew McLennan listed on the Law Society’s register of practising lawyers. So I don’t know anything about him. [update: I searched again today and found an Andrew Macalister McLennan who is Christchurch-based. I assume he's the guy. I'm not sure why when I searched the register on Friday I didn't come across his name. Odd. But I probably just screwed up in my search, although it's tempting to put it down to a vast right-wing conspiracy. Anyway, apologies to Mr McLennan]
There have been murmurings for months about the formation of a new right-wing party. I expect Reform will be talking with a few past and present Actoids (Muriel Newman, John Ansell, and the like), if indeed those folk aren’t already involved. And there are enough unhappy people within ACT to add further support, thanks to the inept leadership of Rodney Hide.
If all the people who believed in far-right economic policies voted for the same party then that party would most likely exceed the 5% threshold needed to win seats in parliament. The trouble of course is that some of these people vote National, and some of them vote ACT. There just doesn’t seem enough space at the moment for both ACT and a new far-right party to survive. If Reform does get a leader or candidates with some prominence it could be a disaster for ACT. A spilt right-wing vote might further reduce the already-marginal chances of ACT winning any seats this year.
Without ACT providing any seats, and with his other allies engaged in civil war, John Key may have to rely on gaining an outright majority or near-majority to rule. So the formation of a new right-wing party is potentially good news for the left, and bad news for Key.
It’s been a terrible week for Key. Dogged by revelations about wasteful government spending (i.e. those BMWs, Community Max), and having to deal with an opinion poll that reveals that the public really don’t like his asset sales plan, he now has to deal with the possibility that a crucial support partner will be further undermined.