• Talking Up David Seymour

    There is no sign in recent issues of the Herald that it has abandoned in any way its underlying strategy and goal of undermining the government in the hope that it can be replaced at the next election by a National government. So why has the Herald continued to blow wind into David Seymour’s sails, as it has again done this week?

    On one reading, it is further evidence that the Herald has lost confidence in Judith Collins and does not believe that she can lead National to victory. Talking up David Seymour is, on this analysis, just another stick with which to beat her and to hasten the day, they hope, when National MPs decide they have had enough and decide to elect a new leader.

    There is another interpretation, however. The Herald’s ambitions may not be limited to getting a National government; they may want to be sure that such a government will not be, in their terms, “wishy-washy”. They may want to be sure that the National victory they seek will bring to power a government that is genuinely and unmistakably right-wing.

    Talking up David Seymour, however improbably, as a potential Prime Minister, would then serve a different purpose. It would act as a kind of spur or goad to National MPs, especially those with leadership ambitions; it would signal to them that they could not expect any endorsement from the Herald unless they could demonstrate far-right credentials to match those of David Seymour.

    Seymour leads an Act party which, despite the proclaimed success of its leader, remains limited in its numerical support – and that is not surprising; there, is on all the evidence – historical and other – a limited appetite in New Zealand for parties of the far, or “libertarian”, right.

    If Seymour were able to take those “libertarian” views into mainstream politics, the political scene in our country would change substantially, and for the worse. A National party that was either led by Seymour or subsumed into a wider coalition led by Seymour would inevitably lose its foundation character as an alliance of economic conservatism and social liberalism – and it is hard to see how that would serve the purposes of the Herald or the interests of the country.

    Bryan Gould
    14 September 2021