An early obituary for the OurNZ Party

The OurNZ had one main strength that was also its main liability – Kelvyn Alp.  Following some behind scenes bickering, Kelvyn Alp has quit as party leader.  Or was it interim leader? Or was it co-leader?  It’s hard to say as the reality was difficult to separate from the rhetoric  when it came to OurNZ.  While there was apparently another co-leader she only appears to have contributed her Facebook profile picture for the website.

It was, however, easy to see from Alp’s resignation message that he had the high moral ground, that he was putting the party before himself,  people will sure be sorry when he’s gone and the party is without someone for strength to protect them and it’ll be all be their own fault.

So what seems to have sparked this implosion?  A cynic (and I am one) could speculate that Alp saw the writing on the wall that the party wasn’t going to acquire enough members to register for the election.  Perhaps bowing out before this failure allows the blame to be laid squarely on someone else’s shoulders.

An alternate view is that Alp simply could not bear to be criticised for his obvious inability to play nicely with others.  Or as he puts it, his unwillingness to “pander to the sensitivities of others.

Or perhaps it was his unwillingness to, ” continue to compromise (his) own integrity and beliefs just to gain the approval from those of you that have not got the first damn clue about life in the real world and what waits as a result of your own stupidity.”    We can be sure, however, it is due to the failings of someone other than Alp.

The resignation note itself is the concentrated form of what was seen on OurNZ’s Facebook sites since the Te Tai Tokerau by-election.   Alp was without doubt the primary motivating force behind the party and the only individual who actually did anything of substance.  Without his personal drive there’s really no substance to party and certainly no one to carry things forward.  This drive was accompanied, however, with an entirely uncompromising approach to any view or action he does not agree with.

Quite simply a party is not going to grow its membership and activist base if a single person’s view has to take precedence over all others (unless your Winston Peters perhaps but then he started off as a team player in the National Party).

One interesting example was when Alp sent off invitations to other political parties to join OurNZ without discussing it fully with other party officials.  When this was questioned Alp responded that he was doing so in a private capacity so didn’t need to clear it with others.  For this to be an appropriate way to go about coalition building takes some mental gymnastics.

This incident also threw some light on another reason the party was doomed.  While wanting to link up with the monetary reform focused Democrats for Social Credit made some sense, also asking the Alliance and Libertarianz was just batshit insane.  Anyone with a modicum of political common sense would realise that asking strongly ideological parties that you have nothing in common with was a waste of time.   Not only that but merely asking makes you look desperate and foolish.   This absolute lack of political judgement, which Alp previously demonstrated by having neo-Nazis in his last party, was another fatal factor for OurNZ’s future.

To be honest I expected to make it past the line and register for the election.  For all his failings Alp’s clearly a highly motivated individual who for whatever reason seems to be able to attract followers.  I thought given the current political and economic environment,  OurNZ’s subscription to conspiracy theories around banking and foreign control of New Zealand would attract the 500 members required to register.   Also while many party policies were just silly, although the chatter around them showed some people were unsophisticated enough to believe them.  One hopes these people never get an email from a Nigerian politician with $42 million to share.

Also, given some of the other parties that have managed to get 500 members in past elections, getting 500 signatures isn’t really all that high a hurdle.

In any case, watching OurNZ has been amusing and has helped me answer the question of why people bother with this sort of thing.  In this case, it’s that people who combine passion for the ridiculous with the belief they’re smarter than everyone else, only have to make a small mental jump  to believe they have a chance of success (even if that chance is, in reality, as likely as the Moon landings being faked).

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The Kiwi Party’s leader might not bother this election

If you were the leader of a conservative political party and wished you’d previously thought of the name ‘The Conservative Party’, then perhaps it is time to hope someone more imaginative will pick up the baton.

The Kiwi Party’s leader has stated he’s undecided about standing in the upcoming election.  Clearly his party’s not only electorally doomed but possibly on it’s last legs as a political entity.

In a recent column in the Christian Newspaper Challenge Weekly, aside from showing an absence of imagination and commitment, Baldock says he’s  open to a merger with the CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party that is).   This would make a fair bit of sense as the two entities are hard to distinguish policy-wise and as only one of them seems to be able to attract publicity.

Also this further outs Craig’s party as a potential vehicle for religious fundies as much as it shows the Kiwi Party as a spent force.

 

 

 

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Your NZ’s untied future

As far as mental gymnastics go it will be pretty hard to beat Pete George’s turn around on party politics.  Having previously been committed to the view that voters wanted something very different to the current parties in parliament, he’s thrown his lot in with Peter Dunne (first elected 1984 and on his fifth parliamentary party).   George is now the United Future candidate for Dunedin North and Your NZ is no more.

It’s difficult to know what to make of this particular waka jump.  A cynic, particularly the sort found at say the Standard,  might say that with Your NZ being policy-less and committed to doing whatever was popular that  Pete George is a perfect fit for United Future.

I would, however, lean toward the explanation that Your NZ’s fundamental concepts were simply so shallow that they were easily discarded.   Perhaps United Future’s limited ideological base, a promise of loose parliamentary whipping and being allowed to consult constituents, was all that really stood between George and mainstream politics in the first place.  One does have to ask, though, why would you have tried to set up your own party if you were so keen on United Future?  How did George not notice that  United Future was so close to him politically?  Had he not noticed Peter Dunne over the past 27 years?

George is, however, undeniably an improvement on some of the fundamentalist cranks that Dunne has seen fit to associate with in the past.

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The Ordinary Kiwis Party: The party for ordinary Kiwis with silly names

As minnow party launches go the Ordinary Kiwis Party has done quite a few things right.   The website is nicely put together and the social media sites are up and running.   The press release even seems to have been proof read.  Even the colour scheme and logo are, if garish, are sufficiently different from other parties to  not have any problem getting registered or confused with anyone else.

But beyond the style the real substance of a new party,  the people, is lacking.  First, who the hell are these people?  The only named individual is Sylvan, their president.   No mention is made on the website of who is involved in the party and one has to to Sylvan’s twitter site to find out any more.  That just lets you know he sometimes wears a hat.   Call me a bore but unless you’re a pop star going by a single name is just being pretentious.

The only earlier mention of anyone associated with an similarly named party is struck off lawyer and parking meter pedant Jim Parlane.  One hopes for the party’s sake he’s not involved.

Really, why some people think that a party can gain supporters without saying anything about who’s actually involved is mystifying.   Perhaps the most silly statement on their website is that they will be “selecting ordinary kiwis as candidates”.  Will there be a bar on anyone to interesting?  Will Sylvan be excluded from candidacy because he’s too much of a wild eyed loner who thumbs his nose at convention and has a silly name?

Policy wise there’s not too much to criticise and a bit that may appeal to some.  There are a lot of ideas, if still in sound bite form, and a general coherence throughout the proposals.  A social insurance model and an anti-distortionary tax policy stand out as proposals worthy of debate and a bit different from what’s already out there.  Overall though there’s not a sufficient level of high public interest issues or revolutionary ideas to pique the interest of most ordinary Kiwis.

And then there’s the motivation for forming the party.  This unfortunately amounts to the tired refrain that things aren’t good enough and current politicians aren’t doing enough. Like no one has tried that line before.

Unfortunately for the Ordinary Kiwis Party, if they’ve only been able to get six likes on their Facebook page in its first fortnight it seems unlikely they’ll be able to get 500 members signed up in the next two or so weeks before the Electoral Commission’s deadline.  Oh well.

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Well at least they’re not neo-Nazis.

Say you were a new party who believed they  were being unfairly ignored and being unfairly labelled as conspiracy theorists.   You would probably want allies that were seen as credible, and capable of gaining the right sort of attention.

Well the OURNZ party has managed to gain some allies who are likely to be called the lunatic fringe and definitely incapable of gaining the right sort of attention (if any any at all).

At the last general election I was generally able to find something positive to say about the registered minnow parties.  One party, however, stood out as utterly incapable of doing anything right, the Republic of New Zealand Party.   Disorganised, incoherent and ultimately disingenuous, this rag tag collection of disgruntled fathers shamelessly pretended to be focused on republicanism when they were obviously motivated by their particular version of men’s rights.   They deservedly came dead last with 0.00135 of the party vote.  With a registered membership of at least 500 only 313 people ticked their box (and how many of those were mistakes?).

For OURNZ leader* Kelvyn Alp, linking up with RoNZP leader Kerry Bevan and Jack Gielan, this is at least an improvement on when his Direct Democracy Party put neo-Nazis and someone whose middle name is ‘thankyoufornotbreeding’ on the list.  I can’t, however, see what possible help former RoNZP members could offer that would outweigh the likely liability of their presence.  Is it that any publicity is good publicity, they did once make the news for some flag burning, or is it simply a desperation for warm bodies?

*I know he’s officially co-leader but aside from a photo on the website I’ve seen no evidence of participation from the other co-leader. 

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The Conservative Party

In a first for the run up to the 2011 election, a minnow party has managed to launch itself in a competent, effective and professional manner.

Colin Craig’s Conservative Party seems to have done everything right to get his new party noticed and in front of the media.   Even the website is professionally presented and proof read.  Certainly getting the chatter started by attacking ACT last week helped pique people’s interest even if some of the chatter wasn’t too friendly.

What the party stands for is still somewhat unclear.  While its “conservative test” points to the common populism from the NZ First mold, Craig’s personal comments seem to include a possibly generous helping of fundamentalist Christianity.

Looking on its website, the closest thing the party has to a policy statement, and Craig’s campaign for the Auckland Mayoralty there’s somewhat of a lack of substance.   Vacuities such as “For People. Not Politics” and “Change to alliances, laws and society should only be done after careful consideration and with the support of the people” suggest either simplistic thinking or a rather cynical view of voters’ sophistication.  Also if you’re going to say your against tax increases, debt and increased spending it’s a bit lily livered  not put forward a view on what to cut.

Another mystery is whether there’s more to the party than Colin Craig.   Doesn’t seem to be anyone at this stage.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about the party if I thought it had a chance.  The primary reason Craig’s party won’t succeed is that it’s seeking to occupy political space that’s already well occupied.  NZ First and United Future already occupy the social conservative space.  ACT and NZ First already represent the hang ‘em high brigade and ACT also advocates against taxes and for spending cuts.  Craig’s failure in the Auckland Mayoral race also shows that while he’s a generally competent political performer he’s no Winston Peters, not even a Len Brown.

The only free political space the Conservative Party could claim is the Christian vote, which has consistently failed to gather sufficient support under MMP despite many attempts.  In saying that, given Craig’s ability to gain media attention means he’s probably going to sink any chance the Kiwi Party ever had with its ‘in the closet’ Christianity.

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Taxpayers money for drug dealers promises Cannabis Party

I’ve previously questioned the wisdom of a having a dedicated political party as vehicle for promoting cannabis decriminalisation.  But yesterday’s press release from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) is perhaps their best attempt yet to alienate the average voter ever.   I mean what the hell were they on when they wrote this…. oh yeah, of course.

There are many situations out there that could be used to support their case for cannabis reform, but supporting commercial scale drug dealers (ok maybe they were just growers) isn’t one of them.  ALCP Deputy Leader Michael Britnell’s claims that the folks in question had a modest and unsophisticated operation also seem somewhat disingenuous given the facts.  Although perhaps Mr Britnell thinks anything not turning over a million per annum is just a hobby.

Certainly saying you’ll use tax dollars to compensate people for the court imposed costs they’ve borne from getting convicted isn’t going to win many friends outside the criminal world.   But then topping off this with the promise to publish guidelines on how to hide a drug operation and improve one’s yield can’t help but make the party appear on the side of the criminal underworld.

Surely sticking to supporting decriminalisation advocates and medicinal uses makes much more sense from a public relations stand point.

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The NZ Tea Party

It’s difficult to know what to make of the New Zealand Tea Party (or the Taxpayer Tea Party as it refers to itself on some parts of its website).  While the NZ Tea Party appears to  share a few principles with the US Tea Party, both being pro-low taxation and anti-big government,  it’s very difficult to tie down anything more than this from its website.  Although this may be largely  due to how incoherent the website is.

Aside from the amateurish layout and careless presentation, there’s just so much that doesn’t make sense.  They support private business and put up Kiwibank as an example.  They want to cut down government but want a new ministry set up to target fraud and waste.

Then there are the bits where its impossible to actually work out what they are saying at all.    Perhaps most difficult to interpret is the statement sitting above an article on Alasdair Thompson’s dismissal:

“Civil servants to be held accountable  when personal grievance litigation results in a payout” 

What possible logic is there for civil servants being made liable the consequences of employment law?  If you don’t like access to personal grievances in employment wouldn’t you just want the relevant legislation repealed?  What would making civil servants liable achieve in practice?  Should we make road builders liable for speeding fines as well?

All policy statements appear to be very shallow back of the envelope stuff.   It’s mystifying that the authors thought this was of a standard to be published at all.

As for the authors themselves there’s very little information on who they are.  The only two people identified on the website are Peter J Bird and Murray Pepperell have one line ‘bios’ that say virtually nothing.  There’re not many hints about their backgrounds on the internet either.  Bird seems to have something to do with African Safaris  although this wasn’t part of his ‘bio’.

Normally a new minnow party would get me drafting up a new info page but this effort just doesn’t provide enough information to make that worthwhile.

 

 

 

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Broadcasting Allocation Submissions

The allocation of public broadcasting funding isn’t that exciting.   The majority of submissions aren’t that interesting either.  Notwithstanding this dullness I acquired the written submissions for funding under the Official Information Act (I’ve attached the submissions at the end of the post).

From a minnow party perspective the allocation process does throw a bit of light on inner working of the parties that make a submission.  Where general campaigning shows the media savvies and talent of a party’s politicians  these submissions provide an insight into the general level of competence and capability of party in general.

In the case of the Kiwi Party, they seem well organised and resourced, even having the cash to commission a bit of research by David Farrar’s Curia Market Research.  The evidience they put forward to demonstrate public awareness of their party largely focuses on Leader Larry Baldocks’ pro-smacking petitions.  Perhaps this will be the centre piece of their campaign, even after they failed to capitalise on this issue in 2008.   Overall this effort is a massive improvement on 2008 where they forgot to put in a submission.

The Libertarianz show remarkable insight into the allocation process by sticking to one page, taking the piss and still getting their $20,000.  Certainly they provide the best quote of any submission by saying:

“.. .Libertarianz will grudgingly play by these rules and ask for as much money as we can get.” 

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party put together a coherent and relatively brief submission, noting their longevity and unsurprisingly bang on about cannabis reform.  No new insights there.

And then there are the others.

The Alliance, Pirate Party and previously unheard of Coalition of New Zealanders do not appear to have put in a formal written submission but have obviously given the required notice to acquire funding.

The New Zealand Sovereignty Party’s submission shows a one-man-band party whose motivations seems to be a number of pet peeves about politicians, including their passing of the “United Nations Anti-smacking law”, and the judiciary, who have sought to banish the “Word of God”.  Apparently as recent parliaments haven’t repealed this law the parties within are functioning as subversive Fifth Columnists.   These and other matters justify the party gaining equal funding to other political parties.

Most amusing of all submission has to be the World Peace Party, which wants to cultivate proper human beings for the space age and represent the Planet Earth to the Universe.  While the party is opposed to evolution, the party’s thinking does not appear to be the product of the all powerful and all knowing.

Frankly if the World Peace Party can get $20,000 of public funding for their election campaign, then the Electoral Commission has obviously set the bar for funding so low that anyone with access to a mailbox or the internet is in.

Notable by their absence in the allocations are New Citizen Party and the Democrats for Social Credit, both registered parties, who failed to acquire funding.  It would be odd for the New Citizen Party to fold so soon after their relatively strong showing in the Botany by-election and the Democrats have announced a number of candidates for November.  I would wager they have just failed this basic test of party organisation.   Likewise the Your NZ and Ournz parties also might want to look at whether they have the capability to run a credible election campaign.

Of the non-minnow parties, one has to say that the NZ First submission reads like it should be grouped along with World Peace and NZ Sovereignty rather than the Greens and National.

Minnow parties

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Kiwi Party part 1 Kiwi Party part 2

Libertarianz

NZ Sovereignty Party

World Peace Party

Other parties

Act Party submission

Green Party

Labour Party part 1  part 2 part 3 part 4

Maori Party part 1 part 2

National Party

New Zealand First Party 

United Future

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Te Tai Tokerau by-election: minnow party post mortem

While the main race in Te Tai Tokerau was one of the most interesting by-elections in decades, the performance of the minnows was offered no particular interest at all.  Compared to Botany’s strong showing by the New Citizen Party and Mt Albert’s lamington-on-the-head antics, Te Tai Tokerau had very little to note at all.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party came up with one great quote, “Putting the toke back into Te Tai Tokerau”, but that was all.  Driving the Canna-bus about didn’t attract much attention either.  While they will be a little disappointed with their result they do not seem to be the types to be discouraged.  They will be back in November carrying on the same low profile, minimal effort campaigning and with similar results one expects.

Whether OurNZ will make it through to the general election is more uncertain.  The lack of effort put into the campaign by Kelvyn Alp and his supporters suggests a limited party machine.   It is interesting, however, to compare the very low level of press releases and social media activity with Alp going to the effort of filing an injunction in an attempt to participate in a Te Karere candidate’s debate.  The lost court battle was also a lost opportunity.  This was the perfect opportunity to make a fuss and gain some attention.  But not a press release was issued; a lone tweet and a link or two on Facebook were the only responses.  No one is going to win anything by squandering opportunity in that manner.

The recent news that Alp is suffering significant cash flow issues must also seriously reduce Alp’s ability to put significant resource into a campaign for the general election.  Entrepreneurs being late with the bills does not normally cause headlines, but large unpaid bills do undermine one’s credibility and this just exacerbates Alp’s main problem with getting his message across.

Given Alp’s Direct Democracy Party had intended to contest the 2008 general election but folded when he had other interests to pursue, there seems a serious chance this latest venture will fold to.   The combination of the harsh realty of polling only 63 votes in Te Tai Tokerau and not being in a position to pay the rent would direct most people toward endeavours other than politics.   But then Kelvyn Alp is not like most people.

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