Rodney Hide: The glory days are in the past

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Winston Peters has lost his edge. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Winston Peters has lost his edge. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

Good and loyal friends have suggested that I put my name forward to be Act's candidate in Epsom.

They have supported me over many years and therefore I have given their advice serious consideration.

It's a crucial role. But for Act's success in Epsom in 2008, Helen Clark would have remained Prime Minister. And its success in 2011 also kept Labour out of power.

That's why the attacks on John Banks are so intense and sustained. Act's success has proved the difference between a National-led Government and a Labour-Green one.

It's a peculiarity of MMP. Incredibly, Labour Party activists door-knocked Epsom in 2005 asking their voters to vote National. Labour's candidate declared he was following party instruction and voting for National's candidate, not himself.

The success of a centre-right government under MMP has required the country to vote National and Epsom to vote Act.

That is set to continue. A failure by Act at this election would put at risk New Zealand's hard-won economic recovery.

There's a lot at stake. Our continued economic success requires Act to succeed.

I also have a philosophical reason for wanting Act to succeed. I think it's important to have at least one voice for freedom and reason in our Parliament.

Act provides a much-needed political counterweight to the other parties calling always for more government spending and ever-more regulation.

We need a champion for individual freedom and personal responsibility. Act is that champion.

I loved being MP for Epsom. The people were very good to me. It was a tremendous privilege to get to know the diverse communities and neighbourhoods in such a great part of our greatest city.

In my time, thousands of people came to see me from across the political spectrum, very often at the end of their tether. I was usually able to help. It was satisfying work.

I didn't want to go when I got the sack. As a minister in Government I was able to help Epsom people better than ever before and I finally had legislation under way to ensure better and more-principled government.

But that's politics. It wasn't to be.

And now the position of Act candidate for Epsom is open again. I am very pleased Act has excellent candidates in prospect. I have concluded it can't be me.

I now don't have the necessary passion and enthusiasm to do the job well. Yes, I loved it and I gave it everything I had. And then some. But it's gone now. I am not sure why that is. It just is.

There was a time when Winston Peters could rattle an entire government, bringing ministers to their knees. Now, even junior ministers get the better of him.

I think it's sad. Peters appears like some aged rock star who has partied way too hard and is now up on stage trying to relive the glory days. Or perhaps a champion boxer who has stayed too long in the ring. I wouldn't want that.

I thought the worst thing for Peters was getting dumped in 2008. No. The worst thing for Peters was getting back in 2011.

New MPs snigger at him. There was a time he would have swatted them down like flies.

I prefer to remember Peters as he was. He's a salutary lesson.

I have a project under way in Christchurch. We have a third baby due in July. I have new and different challenges ahead.

Last week I came out of the airport and there was a Crown limousine. It was like old times. The driver asked if I was planning a comeback. I said no.

I walked past the limo, past the taxis, to the bus. I laughed all the way home revelling in life's twists and turns.

- Herald on Sunday

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