Today Colin Craig and the Conservatives confirmed former WINZ boss Christine Rankin will stand for the party in Epsom. The move is another byproduct of MMP’s debauched and shoddy coat tails provision.
The importance of coat tail deals has placed disproportionate attention on a few key seats, none more so than Epsom. The Conservatives are sans-deal, so they are looking to put a tangle in the stitch-up and hopefully boost their vote.
But could the entry of Rankin actually curdle Key and ACT’s cup of tea? The Cons have the potential to split the Right and, generally speaking, splitting the Right is a good thing. An angry and unincorporated right flank could be damaging to National and hopefully lead to a sizeable wasted vote on the Right.
If Craig and Rankin can syphon off enough votes, it could put Goldsmith reluctantly over the line. This would wipe out ACT, and potentially establish the Conservatives the only solid party on National’s right flank. The Cons might lose the battle, but with the demise of ACT and the increasing senility of Winston, they could win the war. And when National fall (and they will), the Right vote will splinter, like it did when Bill English led the party. And the Conservatives will gain, just like United Future and ACT did.
But one problem is that since John Key has ruled out a deal with the Conservatives, the party has effectively become a protest vote for the grumpy Right. It is not clear that the sort of voters who hold their nose and vote for ACT are the sort that would vote Conservative.
If nothing else, the presence of the Conservatives will draw attention to the fissures in the Right. And no doubt Craig and co will be running an anti-deal campaign there, which will draw more attention to rottenness of the borough, and thus the rottenness of Key and ACT.
If the ploy splits the Right enough to knock out ACT, then perhaps we will all say that Colin Craig was in fact crazy. Crazy like a fox.