Monday, 5 December 2011

Herald: “a new liberal party seems the only viable solution”

The Herald editorial writers weigh in the future for ACT and its members under John Banks, concluding “a new liberal party seems the only viable solution”:

Act's lone MP, John Banks, has been making all the right noises about the party's negotiations for a confidence and supply deal with National. There would be gains for Act in the areas of "choice, responsibility and private enterprise", he said after a second round of talks with John Key. The wording was designed to emphasise Mr Banks' affinity with Act's founding principles, and to draw attention away from his previous existence as a Cabinet minister in two National governments. He was, in effect, trying to persuade Act's dwindling number of supporters that he was one of them. It would be understandable if few were convinced…
    His true colours were revealed when Dr Brash backed the decriminalisation of the personal use of cannabis. This advocacy tallied with Act's promotion of individual freedom and personal responsibility. It was to be expected from a party that embraced classic liberalism. Yet Dr Brash's initiative was rejected out of hand by Mr Banks, confirming that he was very much a social conservative.

A social conservative who only joined the party to get National across the line. Now that it has …

 Act exists in name only…. 
     The party's brand has been badly tarnished by a succession of scandals.. Now its only MP does not fit the Act mould. There appears every reason for the supporters of its principles to call it quits and establish a new liberal party. They could do so in the knowledge that there will always be a niche constituency for their core philosophy…
    It has been suggested that Mr Banks, for his part, would fit far more snugly with the Conservative Party… If Mr Banks were to leave Act and join the Conservative Party, it would, in many ways, serve the interests of both parties…
    [In any case, as Stephen] Whittington has intimated, Act appears beyond repair. A new liberal party seems the only viable solution.

I agree. And I’m prepared to be part of it.


Because the ideas and principles that powered both Libertarianz and the ACT Party* are too important to die—as they will do under Banks. Members of both parties, me included, now need to accept that we’ve done a poor job in our respective parties of promoting those principles.

But this is the low point. We can learn from what went wrong with both parties, and from their ashes commit to doing a better job this time.

Who’s with me?

* * * *

* That powered both parties? Well, yes. The ACT Party’s principles were written by Ian Fraser, who left the ACT Party before its first election to found Libertarianz (where he expanded on them). Those principles are as important now as when he first wrote them:

  • that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; and
  • that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities.

If a new party can’t coalesce around those principles wHile learning the lessons of the past, there’s something wrong.


  1. Christian Libz5 Dec 2011, 12:37:00

    PC, said that you're keen to be part of a new liberal party???

    I suggest you stay away from such a party. It's better for you to do your anti-christian blog posts here rather than being part of the new liberal party only for you to chase away potential voters who are Christians. Such new party should be devoid of anyone who is an objectivist. It will be a death-wish for the existence of such a party if you decide to join PC.

    Just ask Tim Whikiriki & Richard Goode of why they left.

  2. @Christian: What matters is the principles and their political application.

    Sure, I have my own views on what sort of argument for those principles holds water, but as long as we can all agree that individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent rights and responsibilities; and that the proper purpose of government is to protect such rights and not to assume such responsibilities; then I don't care a hoot how prospective party members justify them to themselves.

    Just as long as they embrace them.

    That would be a start, right?

  3. CL, give PC a chance.

    I get the impression that this part of the political spectrum in inhabited, largely, by people with brains. They can rationally deduce that, for a new liberal party to attract sufficient numbers to be viable, there needs to be a positive emphasis on the uniting principles, and a deliberate policy to avoid pressing the buttons that divide.

    Agreed, PC?

  4. Agreed.

    As young Whittington suggested, in-fighting needs to stop, not by merely not engaging in the fight but by uniting around common principles and a common purpose.

  5. Wells aid PC. While Christian Libz has a point...and I have indulged myself in a bit of religious libertarian bashing in my day out of a sense of bloody mined argument winning, its time to grow up,let bygones be bygones and move in a unified direct towards a goal we all share irrespective of how we all arrived at the jumping off point.

  6. Where would such a Liberal Party stand re Family First and the Conservative Party.

    And could its members reach agreement on the issues of abortion and gun control?

  7. I'm with ya!

    Christian Libz does have a point though, I think it is vital that the party embraces Christians and Atheists (and whoever else) who wants less state involvement. However in saying that I think it is crucial that the Christians concede that they may have moral objections to prostitution, homosexuality, euthanasia, drug use etc. (and we won't deny them that moral stance) but the state does not have the right to intervene, or at very least that banning does more harm than good. I think abortion should be left as a conscience vote (if the party ever got into parliament) as I think it is consistent for a libertarian to want abortion to be illegal, it only requires the belief that a foetus is a human with a right to be protected. That may or may not be a correct position but like WWallace mentioned that is that is a policy that could divide us.

  8. If there is a new liberal party starting from the liberal remainders of the current parties, count me in. I am a bit dissappointed by how few advertising was done for the LibNz here in Wellington. Virtually nobody I was talking to was even aware of the party not talking about their program. If this is the case for the whole country then this answers why the party only got 1430 votes. My and the ones of people who make there crosses like other do lotto. the next party must be loud enough to hear and bright enough to see.

  9. Owen McShane, look at Mark Tammett's post on a 'loose' alliance a couple of posts below this one.

    ... and I'm in. You'd have my vote, anyway.

  10. Owen, a classical liberal/libertarian party that promotes individual sovereignty may well attract some conservatives and religious people - ones that see value in separation of church and state so that they can freely persue their own values. I think it is a good thing that there is a clearly separate right wing conservative party so that people who are not social liberals can join THAT party.

    A well presented economically and socially liberal party can pitch outside the old left / right wing spectrum. One of the biggest constituencies out there are the ones that didn't bother to vote - the ones that are not attracted by existing party's on the existing spectrum.

  11. I agree completely. If we can agree quickly on principles, avoid being bogged down on policy details, but agree that whatever is advanced in future it will be consistent with those principles, then we will have gone a long way. Those who believe getting there at a snail's pace vs. those who want there at lunchtime, need to park those thoughts and acknowledge BOTH are right in principle, and that tactically some things will go at a snail's pace, others WILL be done by lunchtime.

    Easy to say abolish Maori seats in Parliament by lunchtime, harder to say the state should be funded voluntarily, and so on.

    As long as people enter into it with good will and common intent, it has enormous potential.

    The number one tension will be between those seeking it to go as far as possible as principled as possible, and those seeking to maximise the vote, regardless of cost.

    We've done the former and the latter, the former doesn't reach enough people, the latter is called the National Party

  12. The difficult part is handling the issues for which there is strong disagreement within the ranks.

    As Mark Tammett suggested, the party has the option to abstain within Parliament. He extends this to everything outside the core mandate.

    I suggest that we establish a party of the 21st century, with paid-up members able to influence MPs on contraversial matters via the wonders of modern communication. And the safety feature, to avoid potentially divisive topics splitting support: if a significant* number of supporters contact MPs to express a view, and the views are significantly* divergent, then the party should abstain on that particular issue.

    * to be defined.

  13. I agree as well, lets not get bogged down on details. I'm in.

  14. I suggest that you call that new liberal party as the retard party.

  15. Count me in.

    What sort of troll control have you got PC?


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