Tuesday, 17 August 2010

So farewell, Heather Roy

You'd have to be pretty politically disconnected to have missed the news that Heather Roy was ousted as Deputy Leader of ACT earlier today.  John Boscawen, a first-term ACT MP, and heavy investor in the ACT Party as Idiot/Savant points out, replaces her.

Rodney Hide's refused to be drawn on why precisely Roy was rolled, with Stuff reporting it thus:
But Hide today refused to explain why Roy had been voted out of her role.
Free and frank discussions in caucus should not be dragged out in to the public, Hide said. 
Given that Roy's demotion within her caucus also means she had to tender her resignation as a Minister don't we, the public, deserve a bit more transparency and explanation about why she went?

Remember, we still don't know why Richard Worth was stripped of his ministerial warrant, all those months ago.  Key refused to say at the time and doesn't appear to have been seriously questioned about it since. I don't think this is good enough, in a transparent democracy.  When Ministers go we need to know why.  

Of course, all the speculation is that Roy went because last year she mishandled a coup attempt against Hide, when she was backed by Roger Douglas to confront her leader about his travel perk problems and see if caucus would wear a co-leader arrangement between them.  This failed miserably*.  But why move against her now?  And why not, as Russell Brown tweeted, also move against Douglas, who after all was widely known to be behind it?

Roy's now on two weeks' leave, sent home by her leader to reflect on her future.  In an everyday employment environment this'd be referred to as suspension, usually.  If Roy decides her future lies outside ACT then assumedly the next List MP, Hilary Calvert of Dunedin, comes in to replace her, keeping ACT's gender ratio at 20% female (1 out of 5).  Hide and Douglas will then be the only ACT MPs who have been in Parliament before 2008.  Interesting times ahead. 

Update:  Seems The Herald's John Armstrong also thinks the lack of explanation around Roy's rolling is unacceptable.

*  First rule of politics:  learn to count.  When you only have to count to 5 it really shouldn't be that hard to get it right.


Hugh said...

Why not get rid of Douglas too? I agree that punishing the organ grinder rather than the monkey makes a lot of sense, but frankly Hide just doesn't have the political capital to do so. Douglas is much beloved by ACT's stalwarts (and at their share of the vote they can't even afford to alienate their core voters). I expect Hide has been trying to get the numbers since late last year.

And by 'getting the numbers' I don't just mean counting the votes in their five person caucus. I mean finessing the party organisation and their donors to make sure they won't punish him for demoting Roy.

Carol said...

Hmmm, according to Franks, just finished on Nat Rad, he reckons most of the rifts in politics are personal rather than ideological. Certainly Roy does stand out as being different from the rest of the ACT caucus. And according to some commenters on blogs, Roy was doing a very good work on the education/special education area.

And now Rodney Hide is taking over Roy's assistant education role...???!! groan... what damage will he do there.

But I think the personal & ideological tensions can often be intertwined. I can imagine that Roy would find some of Hide's masculine posturing a bit off-putting.

Also, there seems to be some cracts in the NACT-Maori coalition surfacing. IMO that was bound to happen sooner or later, as there are a wide range of views and personalities grouped together under the aegis of Key's slippery smile and negotiations.

Hugh said...

And now Rodney Hide is taking over Roy's assistant education role...???!! groan... what damage will he do there.

Yes, he'll undo all the great work Heather Roy was doing there! Such as the... um... hang on a minute, I can think of something, just give me time.

Seriously though I would hesitate to paint Roy as the aggrieved party here. Apart from anything else it has to be noted that her attempted leadership coup last year was as much aimed at giving Roger Douglas more power as anything else.

Carol said...

Yes, Hugh, it is pretty clear, especially from Roy's leaked document, that Roy was trying to spear-head ACT's return to Douglas's foundational neoliberal aspirations. That she seems to have failed is a good thing. Though whether they would have got the necessary 5% party support for list MPs, is doubtful - especially as the scurrilous Peters is back in the mix.

But, aside from all that, the bully label has been thrown at the male ACT leadership and it will stick. This is partly because, to many of us, Hide has looked like a bully all along. This is especially so with respect to his ramming through of the Auckland super-city undemocratic structure. (Actually when I was watching the last session of parliament at the end of the term of the last Labour-led government, I felt the same about some of the male leadership of National. It's something in their manner, and body language.)

But, Roy's accusations of not feeling safe being alone with Hide, IMO, is an issue of feminist concern. And I think Roy is right in predicting this publIc perception will lose ACT a lot of female votes.

But, also, Mallard (I think, a Labour MP anyway), in the House yesterday, referred to Roy's complaint about the collusions between Key, Hide, Davo Henderson (? relying on memory) and Bob Parker, evident in them all going off on an exclusive, buddy-buddy trip to Queenstown together. Sounds a bit like a traditional old boys' network, that includes National leadership and local politics..

NACT's cracks are showing and some of the implications are gendered in a way that's shot through with power struggles and inequalities.

Susan Pearson said...

and yet today on Kiwiblog we see that this so called secret dossier proves that as "nice" as we are presuming Heather was... we see a person who was constantly trying to undermine her leader.

No party would put up with this, and ACT dealt with it. It's not bullying at all. Labour wouldn't have kept a minister like this remain... look at how messy the Carter incident got.. and he isn't even back yet.

Carol said...

Susan, so much then for ACT's libertarian philosophy that favours the sovereign individual and transparent democracy? If you want to discuss ways forward for your party, with its future success in mind, you should expect to put up with bullying, intimidation and harrassment, and just shut up about it.

It's in-keeping with how Hide's set up Auckland super-city - doesn't allow much space for democratic consultation and input from it's constituents.

And women (and men) should just put up with bullying, intimidation and harrassment at work, in the best interests of the boss and the organisation?

I can't see many women wanting to support this party in the future.

It's means of dealing with debate and differences of opinion are looking mighty dysfunctional.