By Duncan Garner
Don Brash's decision to muse aloud about decriminalising cannabis is so damn strange it makes me think two things may have happened.
He's either smoked a joint for the first time before deciding this (doubt it), or he really is a National plant (sorry about the pun).
Brash's politics is just wrong on so many fronts. Yes there's an argument to decriminalise weed. Yes it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to police and yes half a million people smoke it. And yes there is a case to be made to look at the laws around it.
But no one expected it to come from ACT and Brash. It's not smart, it's not tricky. ACT has set itself up as the party of law and order and zero tolerance and three strikes and you're out. Decriminalising weed is not and should not be part of that narrative. It does not fit. It never will. Not even for a libertarian.
And what's worse is that Brash never told anyone in the party he was doing this. No wonder John Boscawen walked away. I actually think Boscawen is a principled bloke. He never set the world on fire and was odd at times, but he was principled and this was a step too far.
Again it shows what a trainwreck Brash is when it comes to internal politics. He never told anyone. He never listens, he doesn't take advice. He has no advisers, and if he does, he can't hear them.
And Brash has form on this. He never told Georgina Te Heu Heu about his Orewa speech in 2004 - she was National's Maori Affairs Spokesperson. She resigned from the role after his speech. He never told former welfare spokesperson Katherine Rich about his Orewa Mark 2 speech on DPB mums and welfare reforms.
She too was sacked for not agreeing with Brash - just like Te Heu Heu.
And now he has John Banks to deal with. Banks is the only guy that can get ACT home this election, in the Epsom seat.
Banks has never been a supporter of things like dope and homosexuality. He's a deep, deep conservative. In fact Banks is on record against cannabis. He's a fomer Police Minister with strongly held conservative views. Again Brash didn't run it by him - just a heads up even would have been nice for Banks.
But no. Brash is a solitary man. A man from another generation where listening to others is low on his list of priorities. I have no doubt this may well be a deeply held personal view. But it clashes with his party, it clashes with the views of high profile candidate Banks.
It makes it much harder for Banks to win Epsom actually. Do those conservative voters want cannabis decriminalised? I doubt it. Brash has confused ACT's message. He wants a foot in the law and order camp and one outside it. Politics doesn't work like that.
No one in the mainstream of politics is calling for this issue to be debated. What on earth is Brash up to?
ACT has looked sick for a couple of years now. But it seems the doctor may have just decided the illness is terminal, and it's all his own fault.
Brash's takeover of the party has been underwhelming. He hasn't delivered. MPs have walked away. The Party's PR guy Lindsay Perigo only lasted a few months, if that.
The party is seriously factionalised and the in-fighting continues. It's a party for old white men, a farmer and a former Police Minister who suddenly believe in cannabis being decriminalised.
Really? It's just not credible.
In my view ACT's official death-rattle just got louder.