Monday, 18 July 2005

Poll shows species headed for extinction

If you're any sort of anthropologist or ecologist you should keep your eye on the last days of a particular human species about to beome extinct, Homo politicis Actus, otherwise known as the ACT Party.

The Herald's weekend poll make it clear if it wasn't already that ACT are dead. Polls are often suspect, but there is little now beyond suspicion in that verdict. Two percent at best in nationwide party vote polling (one percent in the weekend's TV1 poll), ACT needs an electorate to survive. Many of us have wondered why we haven't seen Rodney Hide campaigning in Epsom, and the poll tells us why: with only weeks to go, Rodney is third in Epsom behind National's Richard Worthless and Stuart Nash of Labour. With all the resources behind him and a once-sympathetic electorate, he can't even beat these hacks in a pre-election poll.

ACT are kept alive not by volunteers but by paid employees, and when they're not in parliament, the money stops. When the supporters stop donating and the taxpayers' money stops rolling in, where will ACT be then? Dead, is the answer. So in less than two months we'll see the end of ACT scandal-mongering and of politics before principle; of saying less than you mean and meaning less than you say; of unprincipled wimps who wear suits to bed, and perk-busting politicians who enjoy tax–paid trips around the lambada bars of South America.

As it happens, I predicted ACT's demise some years ago in 'The Free Radical.'

The essence of practical politics must surely be to expand the market share for your ideas. Let me tell you now, that unless you seek to change minds you will never expand your market share beyond those who already agree with you. That is what Act is now finding so difficult. Because in order to be heard you must have something to say; in order to change minds you need fundamental principles to promote. Act has none.

The last days of such a species would make an interesting anthropological study for someone.

[UPDATE: Apparently one behaviour exhibited by the pack-leader of such a species is severe delusion. Rodney Hide has told his blog readers the Herald poll has him "coming third in a straight poll but winning if achieving a centre-right government depends upon it." Winning? The poll shows that when asked 'Would you vote for Rodney Hide if his win ensured the ACT Party's return to Parliament?' 61% of respondents said Not Bloody Likely Mate, and only "38.8 percent say they would vote strategically for him if it provided a partner for a centre-right government." How he gets 'winning' out of that is beyond me.]


  1. ACT always do shit between elections, it's a tradition. You may find yourself eating your words, however, come the day after the election. Another Lazarus-like come back, i wouldn't bet against.

  2. Good call about ACT all those years ago Peter.

  3. And if ACT dip out that is a better result for Liberty how PC...? Libz aren't in the running and National will cave like a wet tissue once they are pressured.All in all if ACT disappear than its a huge step back is it not..?

  4. It pains me, but to quote from 'Primary Colors' (spelling 'colours' like that pains me too)...

    "We're ashamed of who we are. We try to be like the other guys- and the people know that. They get a choice between a pale copy and the real thing, they'll choose the real thing."

    If either we're loosing a pale copy of mainstream or a false-libertarian party then what's to lament?

  5. ACT had some initial promise, but what have they ever achieved? They've had their chance for more than a decade - losing it is hardly a blow to liberty.

    It reinforces my belief in the importance of ideas. If you don't even have the courage to espouse a consistent philosophy, how can you expect to inspire voters?

  6. This is really really sad. Take your ideological purity and bugger off.

  7. James asks how ACT dipping out will help liberty. His question assumes that ACT promotes liberty. As a vehicle, it doesn't. As Philip says above, "If you don't even have the courage to espouse a consistent philosophy, how can you expect to inspire voters?" As is now apparent, you can't.

    That said, there are certainly good people that have chosen to promote liberty through ACT, misguidedly in my opinion since that was never what the ACT vehicle was doing. As such and as I've said before, ACT represents a malinvestment on their part.

    I'd suggest that those ACT supporters that do understand liberty and do wish to promote it put their investment and their energy into a vehicle that ~does~ have the promotion of liberty as a primary goal, one that understands that if you are to achieve any long-term success then you do have to "expand the market share for your ideas." It's ideas that matter in the end. If it shows anything, then ACT's demise -- with all that wasted time, energy, effort, money and parliamentary representation -- does show that.

    For what will be the legacy of all that wasted time, energy, effort, money and parliamentary representation? You tell me.

  8. "ACT always do shit between elections, it's a tradition."

    Never ~this~ shit. Never this close to an election. Never that shit in Epsom. Face it, Anonymous, this isn't tradition, this is termination time.

  9. Phil, ACT have achieved a hell of a lot.
    Wananga inquiry.
    Benson-Pope Inquiry.
    National's Tax Cut policy.
    National's Law & Order policy.
    National's watered down "school choice" policy.
    Nuclear powered vessel debate.

    All in the last 6 months!

    And PC, if ACT are "dead" on 2%, what does that make Libz?

  10. Nice to see that the libz are achieving so much with promoting principles. Clearly an approach that works and it will be demonstrated again at the next election.

  11. Supporters of liberty should also oppose our proportional representation system. As David Deutsch explains here:

    "...proportionality in elections is entirely wrongheaded...It relies on the idea that different options have a 'weight', given by the number of people that vote for them, and that either the heaviest one should win, or they should be mixed according to their weights. But actually that's a mistake. We want successive ideas in politics to be better than the previous ones. For example, one day we abolish slavery and as a result we get a better society. That's a process of the growth of knowledge. The mistake is to think that the knowledge is somehow already in these voting weights, just waiting to be extracted. It's far more important to set things up so that new knowledge can be discovered. A political system cannot be some formula that picks the right answer, the important thing is how the system responds when someone has a new and better idea."

  12. Anon, you asked, "if ACT are "dead" on 2%, what does that make Libz?"

    It makes them unequivocal promoters of liberty who are reliant on ideas rather than taxpayer's money. I look forward to the day that the libertarians inside ACT realise that promoting 'centre-right government' rather than liberty is not going to advance things one inch, whereas putting those resources into promoting the ideas of liberty will.

    Anon also said, "ACT have achieved a hell of a lot. Wananga inquiry. Benson-Pope Inquiry. National's Tax Cut policy. National's Law & Order policy. National's watered down "school choice" policy. Nuclear powered vessel debate."

    That's it? All you've got to show for ten years of parliamentary representation and bucketloads of money is that you've changed the Nats' policies a little and embarrassed Benson-Dope? It's not really good enough, is it? With all those resources and all that publicity, ACT have advanced the cause of liberty not one jot, while pouring scorn on those of us who take liberty seriously. And the argument we've always heard from them is that 'we're in parliament and you're not.' Not for long, and when the volunteers are not being paid, I don't think they'll stick around. That's how fickle unprincipled support can be.

    I addressed this problem in one of the articles I linked to above, 'A Spoonful of Principle Makes the Revolution Fire,' where I reminded readers that if we are to wean people from the nanny-state addiction then it is liberty that we must openly, enthusiastically and articulately promote, not Benson-Dope inquiries and Rongo Wetere witch-hunts. What we need in New Zealand is a revolution inside people's head, and that's the task of we liberty-lovers to foment.

    (From the article): "[ACT supporters] argue 'that a small increase in freedom is better than a large idea that fails to gain traction.' True. But it is only large ideas that give freedom traction – without ideas, no increase in freedom will ever stick. Without the backstop of principle, pragmatist reform programmes will always be hostage to yet another 'breather & a cup of tea.' [ACT supporters] say: 'The reality is that without popular public support, ideas will never become mainstream.' The reality is that the real task is to gain public support for your ideas. To make freedom stick you must change people's ideas; you must proselytise for the ideas that underpin human liberty – reason, individualism, love of life - & not pander to the anti-human values that most New Zealanders have imbibed with their mother's milk.

    "For in the end it is precisely the large ideas that do historically get traction, & the small ones that wither away. (Just ask the ghost of Karl Marx.) It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen - & once an idea does stick, there is no stopping it.

    "Make no mistake, there is no idea bigger, or more important for the survival of this planet, than the liberty of the human individual; the idea that you own your own life & are accountable to no one but yourself. When you understand that, you will understand, as Kipling said: 'that mine is the Earth & everything that's in it, & – which is more – you'll be a Man my son!"

  13. PC,
    no, i said the last 6 months.
    Libz- DEAD

  14. I predict that ACT will survive.

  15. Puntiki you said, "I predict that ACT will survive."

    Then why not place a large bet at Centrebet. I'm sure the odds you'll be offered would make it worth your while. :-)

  16. Told you so... I should have made the bet, but was not in the country.


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