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Documenting Act

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 pm, March 2nd, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: act - Tags:

One of the things I’ve been following in the last few weeks and keep meaning to post about is Bryce Edwards’ series on the history of the Act party.

I don’t know how he’s managed to do it (let alone why) but in a brave and foolish act Edwards has waded into the strange and swampy morass that is the documented history of the Act party.

So far he’s covered its beginnings as a lobby group devised by Rogernomics snorting PR hacks to its creation (by Rogernomics snorting PR hacks) as a political party to the 1996 election. The best part is he’s put it into handy post-length pieces, none of which exceed the recommended safe daily dose of political insanity.

I’m not saying you want to read too much at once but if you never knew Act in the early days or you’ve forgotten how mad they were (and are) then you should put some time aside to take a look.

Looking back on the emergence of Act and what they ultimately stand for I can’t help feeling there is something wrong with a world, or perhaps just an electoral system, in which the Alliance disappears off the map but Act gets five MPs and cabinet standing.

15 comments on “Documenting Act ”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Looking back on the emergence of Act and what they ultimately stand for I can’t help feeling there is something wrong with a world, or perhaps just an electoral system, in which the Alliance disappears off the map but Act gets five MP’s and cabinet standing.

    Because Alliance with the Greens gone and then Jim Anderton who founded the party the people left just weren’t the type to garner 5%. They had no way to get an electorate seat. And it was very clear Labour wasn’t into helping them. It was always going to struggle, when Labour literally dominated the political landscape. Labour could have helped Alliance to reach 5% but politically they chose not to. The fact is Labour wanted to be seen as centrist, meaning in no way would they work properly with traditional left parties (Alliance, Greens) and Maori (who are rather left in some areas). Labour could work with the Alliance as long as they had Jim Anderton. And they would work with the Greens and the Maori party, but only if necessary.

    Labour seemed almost fixated on grabbing parties from the center at the expense of real left parties. Indeed one wonders, whether in years to come. The period from 1999-2005/2006 will be looked back as a period where the left could have gotten themselves a stranglehold on New Zealand but instead, fought amongst themselves enabling the right to get back in.

  2. QoT 2

    People totally don’t believe me when I tell them ACT a) used to have a garish yellow/black logo and b) is actually an acronym.

    • Mike Collins 2.1

      Please don’t remind us of the logo QoT. Lol. ACT itself is not an acronym despite having its origins in the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers. That is still an entity in its own right. ACT is simply ACT, not A.C.T.

      • Ari 2.1.1

        Uh, if you take your name from an acronym, it doesn’t stop being an acronym just because you lose the dots in the middle 😉

  3. Rex Widerstrom 3

    His potted history of NZF is remarkably good also. For an external observer to manage both unnerring accuracy and a notable absence of bias is quite a feat. Indeed with Jack Vowles sadly lost to overseas Bryce may be the only person let faithfully recording our political history without any spin.

    QoT: have peopple truly been asleep to that extent?! I suggest you try kissing them. Always works in the fairy tales.

  4. lprent 4

    I liked this – so true…

    Despite the internal turmoil, the conflict between rank-and-file activists and party leaders was less obvious or pronounced within Act than might be expected. The party activists and membership appears to have been very much in agreement with decisions made by the leadership. Attending the party’s foundation conference, Gordon Campbell contrasted it with that of the NewLabour Party in 1989: ‘The contrast with the fiery New Labour party founding conference of 1989 could not be greater. Then, the slaves of socialism fought the top table almost every inch of the way: here, the apostles of freedom toes the party line. In workshop after workshop, the desire to appear electable wins out over idealism’ (Campbell, 19 Nov 1994: p.14-16).

    Rd21 Therefore although Act has an image of being a somewhat ideological party of strong convictions, even at that early stage its activist membership show signs of being “party-hacks’ lacking a strong interest in policy. They appeared to have a strong trust in their leadership and a strong desire for the party to obtain power at almost any cost.

    The slavish minions of ACT that I see around the blogs, especially here, generally still follow this set of traits. Big on the slogans and bloody useless on the thinking. I view them as drones worthy of the most doctrinaire cult.

    It is always nice to find the occasional exceptions. They may be foolheaded, but at least they can discuss rather than trying to do the geese stuffing actions of the indoctrinated.

  5. MikeE 5

    I’m just wondering why he is using images from the 2008 campaign to illustrate posts relating to 1996.

  6. Stephen 6

    He’s done an interesting piece on ‘Drinking Liberally’ too, just quietly.

  7. IrishBill 7

    I read that. It boils down to “we need a broad left movement but our version of left is better than yours so any broad left movement needs to consist of only our idea of left”. It was disappointing but he’s welcome to his views.

  8. Stephen 8

    Hard to tell, but sounds like he’s more grassroots-‘hard left’ than anything..?

  9. BLiP 9

    How ironic that the party of individual rights is now saying “rewrite the law” that inhibits its own policy in regard to locking people up.

    Is there a more striking example of double standards in Act?

  10. Nice analysis but parts are wrong. I’ve been in ACT since 96 and we’re not about wanting power. We’d rather stay outside of Govt if it meant that or supporting a party that went against what we believed in. The Nats, just like Labour does for the left, let us down as well. It’s not based on blind loyalty to National nor to our leaders.

    We have had all sorts of interests within the party, rural, hard on crime, perk busting..you name it. But as a young party we are able to mould ourselves as many things quicker than the main parties. And as a party you all know you cannot please all the people all of the time. Anybody saying they were happy with everything the Greens or Labour did are liars 🙂

  11. Felix 11

    We’d rather stay outside of Govt if it meant that or supporting a party that went against what we believed in. The Nats, just like Labour does for the left, let us down as well.

    The last bit seems to contradict the first bit. Come again? You’d rather stay outside of govt than be dicked around by the Nats, but then you say the Nats have let you down? So what the fuck are you doing in govt with them?

    Get out with your principles intact while you still can!

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    We have had all sorts of interests within the party, rural, hard on crime, perk busting..you name it.

    Nicely put. Still. 85,496 3.65%. You need to start naming more things. 😉

  13. Felix, you missed the point – maybe because it’s past your bedtime. 🙂
    We didn’t get all giddy about National in the late 90’s nor did we attempt to jump into bed with them during campaigns in this early decade – we marketed ourselves to people who were more comfortable with Nationals founding principles, which read similar to what ACT stands for now.
    Perhaps I’ll be clearer next time Felix.

    Pascal’s Bookie – like all parties we have different interests all hoping to get a piece of the pie. As we are not, well at least weren’t in the past, bound by too many rules – we were able to pursue our interests hard to see what sort of support we got. ACT did a lot of work on sentancing back in the 90’s, just as we did a lot on treaty settlements back then. The membership is usually open to new ideas and Rodney is a good man for getting behind the members if there are good ideas being thrown about. Even if you don’t like Rodney, you got to admit, he does work his socks off for the party and is one hell of a supportive leader to the members.

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