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).