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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.