Judith Collins rules out NZ First, rules in ACT

National leader Judith Collins has already confirmed that National will not consider doing a governing deal with NZ First after the election, but has now strongly endorsed the ACT party and specifically David Seymour in the Epsom electorate.

ODT (NZH): Collins rules out working with NZ First

National leader Judith Collins appears to have ruled out working with NZ First after the election – and says Winston Peters and his party are probably on the way out anyway.

…Collins has slammed the door shut on the chances of reversing the decision not to work with NZ First.

“We have made that very plain as a caucus and as a party, and I know a lot of our party supporters and voters certainly wanted us to do that,” she said today.

“I’m pretty clear – the caucus has decided it. That’s the caucus view.”

“It’s really important to understand the caucus has said that they don’t want to do a deal with Winston Peters. There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that.”

Yesterday from Stuff: Judith Collins calls for Epsom voters to back ACT’s David Seymour

Judith Collins has explicitly asked voters in Epsom to back the ACT party’s David Seymour, sidelining her own finance spokesperson as part of a longstanding arrangement with the libertarian party.

Collins, the National leader, on Monday said she was asking voters in the Auckland electorate should to vote for Seymour for their electorate MP, saying she would “welcome him being part of a National-ACT Government”.

“I don’t need to have little cups of tea or anything, because everybody knows that David Seymour and I work very well together”

“I’m asking the people of Epsom”.

“I think it’s always important to be respectful of people and their votes, and I’m very, explicitly saying that I believe that a National-led Government is going to be best served with ACT as our partner.”

“I’m very happy to say that we want the party vote, please, in Epsom, please, and in this particular electorate you can give the first tick, for the electorate, to David Seymour.”

This was fairly obvious but at least this is explicit and open National support for Seymour in Epsom and for the ACT Party as a governing partner, far better than the charades and signalling of past elections.

National’s passive Epsom candidate since 2011 Paul Goldsmith said:

“It’s the party vote that counts. That’s my focus”.

He has always had to avoid campaigning for the electorate vote while seeking the party vote.

There has been reports that electorate polls show Seymour looks comfortable and should retain the seat.

Seymour, leader of the ACT party, said the media could focus on such endorsements, but he was “listening to the voters”.

“What they’re telling me is that the world has changed and we need a plan for a faster recovery with lower taxes and less debt,” he said in a statement provided by a spokesman.

Asked if Collins’ endorsement guaranteed ACT would work with National, Seymour said: “National is the only party ACT could work with right now.”

That’s stating the obvious. None of Labour, Greens or NZ First would consider doing a governing deal with ACT.

“We can’t work with a Labour Party that has the most disastrous public policy record in living memory.”

Seymour has feuded with Winston Peters through the term, who a couple of weeks ago challenged him to a fist fight – it was lame and never going to happen but Seymour has kept getting under Winston’s skin. It won’t help that ACT is getting double the support of NZ First in polls.

So as expected one option for the next Government is a two party National + ACT coalition. ACT are currently doing well in polls and should get several MPs in Parliament this time, but National are struggling, polling 20-30% behind Labour.

I think that is likely to close up a bit but the gap looks far to big to close for National unless there is some significant development, like Ardern resigning and Phil Twyford taking over the Labour leadership.