Many people, from Geoffrey Miller to Bryce Edwards to less learned types, have noted over the years the tension in the ACT party between the conservatives and the “liberals” – between the lock’-em-all-up wing and the more principled libertarians who think it matters who gets locked up, and for what.
ACT’s/David Garrett’s 3-strikes legislation and the deal done by ACT leader Rodney Hide to support the Nats’ ridiculously authoritarian legislation banning gang patches and tattoos has delighted ACT’s authoritarians, for whom Garrett’s pathetic statement “We've got too hung up on people's rights" is a banner behind which to rally, not a reason for outrage. You can see the intra-party battle lines forming right here: on this comments thread at Lindsay Mitchell’s blog.
Says Lindsay on behalf of the party’s former principles, “I understand that being in government comes at a price. But it's just getting too expensive for this supporter.” Bravo for Lindsay. Looks however like ACT’s authoritarian wing is winning, and they’re happy with power at any price.
UPDATE: Geoffrey Miller comments on all these latest ructions at his Douglas to Dancing’ ACT-watch blog, offering five reasons it most unlikely ACT will implode over this like the Alliance did over Afghanistan. Reasons include the “gut feeling” that the “social conservative” wing in ACT -– with the blessing of party leaders -– now has the upper hand over “social liberals” like Lindsay and (oddly) myself (who, for the record, has never been an ACT supporter).
No one has yet commented on these conclusions, including his most provocative: “If you're a genuinely social liberal and you don't like ACT's position on these issues, you should and you would have left the party a long time ago, as many have done.”
A bird needs two wings to fly, but how about a political party? And for how long?