COMMENT: Pity the poor voters of Epsom. It's hard enough the National Party keeps asking them to swallow the Act rat and vote for David Seymour, on the supposed premise that it will give National greater strength in Parliament.
Now there's talk of a new blue-green party and, because there's absolutely no chance it would reach the 5 per cent threshold, such a party will need to win a seat. Which seat? Why, Epsom, of course.
Epsom has lots of "blue green" voters – that is, the liberals of our leafiest suburbs, people who care about the environment but are commonly thought to be suspicious of unions and beneficiaries.
Epsom may be already spoken for, but let's face it, that can't last. Act has as good a leader as it could ever hope for – Seymour is widely liked as a decent bloke not above making a fool of himself on television, widely admired as a smart guy dedicated to policy reforms – and it doesn't make a blind bit of difference.
He can't lift the party vote. He can't even hold it.
The plain-as-day fact is, there is no support at all for a crusading neoliberal party in this country. Been there, done that, lucky to have escaped. We've moved on.
Even the voters of Epsom agree. After all, as Seymour keeps telling them, they're a very well educated lot, so they must know that if they wanted Act to be anything more than a one-seat poodle sitting in Simon Bridges' lap, they would give their party vote to Act. If they did that, Act would easily win enough votes to get a second MP.
But they don't. National pointedly doesn't suggest it and Act even more pointedly doesn't ask for it. Although it's the party vote that counts, not the electorate vote, the two parties both decline to run or endorse a two-tick campaign for Act in Epsom.
Why? It can only be that National forbids such a campaign, as part of the deal. Epsom voters are being toyed with.
And now they risk being toyed with again. Because if National wants to give a blue-green party a seat, what other option has it got?
Auckland Central has a lot of green voters, but the chances of front bencher Nikki Kaye giving it up would have to be remote.
Coromandel was held for a term by Jeanette Fitzsimons, then-Greens co-leader, but that was 20 years ago. It's hard to think there are many blue-greens hanging out on those beaches or in that bush. Plenty of crisply ironed blue blues, and plenty of tie-dyed in the wool green-greens, but not many in the middle.
Like it or not, it's Epsom or bust.
The latter is looking far more likely. Many people say we don't need a new blue-green party because we already have one. Former Greens MP Sue Bradford says it's called the Green Party. Others say that's a bit unfair, the true blue-green party is the Labour Party.
Both parties, remember, are committed to debt ceilings lower than any economist says they need to be, despite sometimes desperate calls for greater funding in health, housing, education and welfare.
Social-media wingnuts will disagree, but nobody can seriously argue that either the Greens or Labour are uncompromisingly red.
The Greens especially are often mischaracterised as way red. But despite the apoplexy Marama Davidson generates every time she opens her mouth, it's James Shaw, her methodical, consensus-oriented, environment-focused co-leader, who is far more influential in setting their direction.
And don't forget TOP. Their new leader Geoff Simmons has been quick to say his party is blue-green too. Surprisingly, there has not been a chorus of people saying yeah nah the actual true blue-greens are National.
Why is that? After all, in his state of the nation speech this week National leader Simon Bridges twice stressed his party's commitment the bipartisan Climate Change Commission. He mentioned the environment eight times.
Although, elsewhere, he has been supportive of a new blue-green party, he clearly wants us to believe National itself is solidly blue-green too.
Mind you, he mentioned crime and criminals 13 times, so it would be rash to say the environment is comprehensively top of mind.
Still, the question remains, if you're any kind of greenish, how could you not find a party to reflect your views from among those four? Where's the gap?
Which leads to an altogether different question. If there is to be a new kind of green party, will it really be about diminishing the "red" policies?
The Greens, for example, through under-secretary Jan Logie, have a leading role in developing society-wide strategies to address domestic violence: is that what the blue-green proponents are frightened of? Surely not.
Could it be that the true intent of a new blue-green party, policywise, is to water down, not the supposed "red" policies, but the green?
A "green" party that wants to work with National: what would that mean?
• Backpedalling on efforts to get city folk out of cars and on to public transport and bikes?
• Refusing to develop partnership relations with Maori on water and wildlife sanctuaries?
• Promoting the dairy industry as the vanguard of efforts to clean up our rivers?
• Allowing emissions trading to remain the rort it has been for so long now?
• Keeping agriculture out of greenhouse gas reduction targets?
• Supporting the reintroduction of new mineral exploration?
• Prioritising bird sanctuaries at the expense of work on climate change?
Environmental issues are mainstream now, which is great. But because of that, there are plenty of ways in which the environmental movement can be undermined.
Here's what we haven't heard from the proponents of that new party: they want to work with National because they believe it needs a green rod up its back and they want to put it there.
So, to Vernon Tava, putative leader of this new grouping: do you want to make a National-led government greener? If so, in what way? Or do you want to redefine green politics on National terms? Or is your aspiration merely to find a party, any party, that will make you an MP?