Sunday, March 13, 2005


No, not ACT President Catherine Judd's vicious attack on National, but would-be ACT leader John Banks' contention that National's recent change of direction is wrong because

a drift to the centre and the politics of ‘me too’ don’t attract additional votes.

Now, it may be true insofar as National hasn't managed to gain much by doing so, but that does not change the fact that under MMP, you win an election by capturing 50% of the vote. And as a simple matter of political sociology, this means that a party (or rather, the broader coalition of which it is a part) must gain the support of the political center ground. This means presenting policies which appeal. And the problem for ACT is that their policies don't (and are in fact regarded as pure poison by a large segment of center voters, who suffered under them during the Revolution). The fact that ACT does not understand this simply shows how deluded they are.

The broader problem for ACT is that the unpopularity of their policies may make it difficult to put together a governing coalition on the right. On current long-term polling trends, any such coalition will have to include a "centrist" party - and both the possible alternatives are likely to have significant problems with wholesale privatisations and cuts to health and education spending. This means that one or other party is going to have to swallow serious dead rats, to the extent that it may suffer a grassroots revolt from its constituency. Needless to say, this is not a recipe for stable or long-lasting government...


As one who voted Labour last election, I do find ACT's policies very appealing. I was blind to how socialist Labour really is. If moving to the centre means more socialism, then ACT is right to stick to its principles and argue for them. I have much more respect for a party that does this than one that is constantly changing its principles in order to be more popular. I do not think ACT's policies are as unpopular as you make out. First, many people are pissed off at Labour for not cutting taxes. I certainly am, and I know that many of my work colleagues are. Second, Libertarianism and Classical Liberalism are on the rise, as any cursory examination of the blogosphere will show you. This trend should, hopefully, translate into votes for ACT, as it is more classically Liberal than any other party with seats.

Posted by Brian S : 3/13/2005 08:22:00 PM

Oh, they should argue for their principles, alright - but they shouldn't expect others who do not hold those principles to support them. And if they want a right-wing rather than a left-wing government, then they're going to have to accept policy moderation as part of the coalition process.

The Greens are in the same boat, but not quite to the same extent, as their policy demands will probably only have to be acceptable to one coalition partner, not two.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/14/2005 12:16:00 AM

I think ACT gave up on the whole idea of Libertarianism some time ago - they have moved to the standard right wing concept of telling the proles "all your troubles are the fault of (insert current disfavoured underclass here) - vote for us and while things are gonna be bad for you, they'll be a lot worse for..."

as for Classical Liberalism - "property rights" seems to have changed to "white peoples property rights" - which I guess puts them in line with many 19th Century Whigs.

Posted by Rich : 3/14/2005 10:32:00 AM