Monday 9 March 2009

The authoritarians are taking over ACT’s asylum [updated]

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?


deleted said...

Not if I can bloody well help it.

Peter Cresswell said...

According to Dr Miller, you've already let it happen.

Anonymous said...

As a conservative I have no idea why anyone would support the stupid idea of banning gang patches. Quite apart from the fact that it breaches personal liberties, it won't even do any good. It just forces people who are currently polite enough to wear uniforms telling the cops their identity and making crime investigations that much simpler, to go in disguise so the police don't know who they are. Crazy.

And despite initially liking the 3-strikes idea somewhat, I am seeing more problems with it now, an argument can be made in either direction.

So I think it really depends what you mean by "conservative". I would call myself one but certainly wouldn't fit the "lock’-em-all-up" description you use here. Of course I aren't an ACT supporter either.

Geoffrey Miller said...

Thank you for the link and commentary on my post. I apologise for my misinterpretation that you might have been a supporter of ACT in the past and have since updated the post to reflect this.

I have posted a couple of commentary pieces in the aftermath of ACT's conference today and will be placing a few more over the next week.