If I were ACT’s campaign strategist

Written By: - Date published: 2:28 pm, March 19th, 2008 - 27 comments
Categories: act, election 2008 - Tags: ,

What strategy should the parties pursue ahead of the election? This series of posts will attempt to answer that question, party by party, starting with ACT.

ACT must gain support from hard-right voters who are dissatisfied with John Key’s wishy-washy centrism. They’ve made a good start of it by getting back Roger Douglas, the Dalai Lama of big business. He must be the centre-figure of their campaign. ACT needs to lay claim to the true right, without going so extreme that National has to disown them, by articulating a series of classic right-wing policies including: tax cuts, spending cuts, asset sales, and deregulation. Spending cuts, in particular, would put clear space between them and National.

This won’t win the centrist vote. It won’t bring ACT support from the swing voters or Labour. But it will bring in the financiers, libertarians, businessmen, and the young, wannabe tory-boys in their $500 suits that don’t fit them. That’s always been ACT’s base. They were lost to Brash but now they don’t see Key delivering much in the way of the policies they want. They are ripe for the picking by a de facto Douglas-led ACT.

If ACT can pick up 5% of the vote from the hard-right, they will be in prime position to demand Cabinet posts in a National-led government, perhaps even Finance for Douglas. Then, ACT will once again be able to say, to quote an ACT supporter in the documentary Campaign after they won Wellington Central in 1996: ‘this must be how the Nazis felt at Nuremberg’.

[Update: I stand corrected, ACT’s campaign strategy is treating with soon-to-be banned narcotics]

27 comments on “If I were ACT’s campaign strategist”

  1. BeShakey 1

    Good idea to have a series of posts on campaign tactics (although I’m a politics geek so I would say that). I generally agree with you, my only difference being that I don’t think ACT should go too hard right. Given Nationals lurch to the centre ACT have been left with an enormous expanse of the right that they could occupy. I’d reccommend they adopt policies that show a significant gap between them and National, but not too far. If they really want to get Cabinet posts, it’d be much easier for National to provide them if ACT hasn’t scared off voters and other support parties by going further right than necessary.

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    true. but they have to give voters a reason to move back to the from the Nats in the first place. that would require a careful balancing act (hehe). They can get plenty of votes by going as hard right as they want, but you’re right, they can’t put themselves too far out there or National will have to disown them. So tax cuts, spending cuts etc – but in moderation, with national afraid to talk about spending cuts, that in particular would be futile ground.

    Ain’t easy to talk about subtlities in a 250 word post, especially when I just had to save room for that Nuremberg quote.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    If they want a National-ACT government, they have to take votes off National without shrinking the overall right vote.

    Rogernomics won’t do that. It will scare more voters than it attracts. So I think you’ll see ACT making social conservative – or populist – noises as well (e.g. when Hide was promoting the “anti-smacking” referendum). The real social conservatives (or so-called Christian Right) are too divided, ineffective, and don’t have an electorate MP. But they aren’t happy with Key either. It must be very tempting for ACT to go for those available votes, even if it annoys some of their “neo-liberal” activists.

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    can’t see how ACT can win the Christian Right though, not with social policies at least. that said, a lot of rightwing businessmen are active Christians too (appearantly they never got to the bit about the rich man, the camel, and the needle)

  5. mike 5

    JK on Breakfast this morning said there was no way any deals would be done and put the call out “if people want a change of Govt they need to vote National”
    And I think right voters will tow this line. Rodney will get Epson but that will probably be it.

  6. Phil 6

    I severely doubt that the proportion of businessmen who are active Christians is any different from the proportion of any other career (with the exception of something like priests of rabbi’s).

  7. Phil 7

    By the way, not meaning to get all theological on you, but… your understanding of the camel/needle parable is woefully off track.

  8. Steve Pierson 8

    mike. that’s not what Key said – he refused to be drawn on whether he would prefer a deal with ACT or the Maori party but he didn’t rule out deals, far from it.

    he said “if we have to put to, together a deal afterwards, whether it’s with United or ACT or the Maori Party or anybody else, New Zealand First, then we’ll just deal with that situation post the election”
    you can check out the video here: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/news_minisite_index_skin/news_breakfast_group

    He said he wouldn’t get into ranking National’s order of preference for deals with parties. it’s not surprising he wouldn’t be drawn on such a sensitive topic, but any fool knows the Nats would prefer to work with ACT than work with the Maori party.

  9. gobsmacked 9

    I’m not suggesting ACT are going to be Bible-bashers – just that they’ll turn up the populist rhetoric (“PC gone mad”). Soon Key will have to take a position on the referendum, which will probably be held on election day. If Key sticks to his compromise with Clark/Bradford, there is fertile ground for a party campaigning against. Especially when they start from such a low base, where a couple of percentage points looks like gold.

  10. GS – after hearing Douglas try to avoid a direct answer over asset sales on morning report I’m inclined to agree with you. But it makes no sense given Douglas was always the driver for Act to be the party of pure neo-liberalism.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    The interesting point for me is definitely related to ACT’s positioning. What Steve is aadvocating is a swing to the hard-right. This was then criticised by gobsmacked, as he suggested that it would turn voters off.

    Something struck me – and not for the first time – that party positioning these days seems to be more about attracting the largest bloc of voters, by misrepresenting policy/ideology/agenda where necessary. Not just ACT, mind.

    And we wonder why participation throughout the western world is in a continual decline. Compulsory civics lessons anyone? (not to mention some better journalism critiquing this practice, for what it worth?)

    Sorry, quite off topic- but you do wonder why a party gets to choose what it represents. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  12. Steve Pierson 12

    I think populism is what got ACT into trouble in the first place, it turned off it’s base, and no party survives without the manpower (or the rights’ case, money) that the base brings.

  13. Pablo 13

    Comparing victory to Triumph of the Will. Talk about a tasteless comment.

    Act have to balance their attack finely indeed. Like Gobsmacked says, Act can’t be too Rightish, cos they don’t want to scare away those centrists who might be attracted to Key’s compassionate conservatism, they need to grow the vote for the Right as a whole, while still getting themselves over the 5% threshhold. If the Nats only get around 42%-45% of the vote (a damned good result if you ask me), they’ll need Act to bring more than Rod, Rog & Heather to the party, or they’ll find themselves marginalised like the Greens were in 2005.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    phil. what is the correct interpretation? the obvious interpretation – worldy wealth/greed is an emcumbance to being saved – is what they have here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_a_needle

    captcha: crept messages – john key on auckland airport?

  15. Scribe 15

    Steve,

    Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to say rich people are going to hell. A lot trotted out that line during the discussion of the Catholic bishop’s social sins last week. It’ll happen again, too.

    It’s what one does with his/her wealth that matters. Holding on to it and walking past the poor on the street and ignoring them (figuratively or literally) is what causes problems, theologically speaking.

  16. Steve Pierson 16

    scribe. I don’t believe rich people are going to hell because it doesn’t exist. it was just a comment on the appearant contradiction that a lot of hardnosed businessmen are also active church-goers when christian teaching is not exactly pro-wealthy..

  17. Dean 17

    “scribe. I don’t believe rich people are going to hell because it doesn’t exist. it was just a comment on the appearant contradiction that a lot of hardnosed businessmen are also active church-goers when christian teaching is not exactly pro-wealthy..”

    Define “a lot”. Let’s see your statistics, and let’s hope your interpretation of them is better than the OECD tax rate chart you posted a week ago, which even Rob queried you about, but which you didn’t seem to be able to find the fortitude to defend.

  18. You know, I’d hope that the political strategy of a party would be a little more sophisticated than the level that gets addressed here.

    That hope, mind you, might be a vain one.

    TDS.

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    TDS, I’m afraid you’ve been let down – their strategy is to hand out recreational drugs.

    Anyway, if you ever feel like making an intelligent or relevant post, this would be the time.

    I’ll admit, the possibility is a slim one.

  20. Scribe 20

    Steve,

    Are you a Christian yourself? (Hope that’s not too personal a question.)

    If so, when did you decide hell doesn’t exist? And who (priest/preacher/friend etc), if anyone, helped you come to that decision?

    If you’re not a Christian, how confident are you that you’ve got a correct understanding of the Christian teaching on wealth?

    captcha: Jackson presided (The Rev. Jesse Jackson?)

  21. Steve Pierson 21

    No I’m not. But i’m not trying to have a crack at it, I geniunely understood that to be Christian theology on wealth – the whole camel and needle thing , if i’ve got it wrong, enlighten me.

  22. Scribe 22

    Steve,

    And I wasn’t trying to have a crack either.

    Like many Scripture passages, there are multiple interpretations. The prevailing understanding of the rich man/camel/needle metaphor is that one who is rich and does nothing with the accompanying blessings that come with being rich by using some — not necessarily ALL — of his money to help the poor, then he is failing to live out Christian ideals.

    If the Scripture was read with the interpretation which you put forward, and you’re certainly not alone, then a lot of Christian ministers would be in trouble. A lot of them (evangelicals especially) are quite wealthy, but they (are called to) use that to help others.

    I could touch on your understanding of hell, and how failing to acknowledge hell causes problems for society, but I don’t want to hijack your blog and turn it into a theological forum. There are other blogs to discuss such matters.

  23. gobsmacked 23

    And now ACT’s strategy is revealed: make John Key squirm …

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4447173a10.html

    More please, Roger (and keep saying “Cabinet”, loudly and often).

  24. r0b 24

    And now ACT’s strategy is revealed

    Yee hah! Go Roger! Who let the dogs out!….

  25. gobsmacked 25

    Well, if you believe Barry Soper on Newstalk ZB, Key has just told ACT they are now last cab off the rank (to coin a phrase).

    This could be quite a show, not least on the right-wing froth-blogs. Popcorn, anyone?

  26. gobsmacked 26

    And here we are (by Colin Espiner, Press/Stuff):

    “National leader John Key has ruled out Sir Roger Douglas receiving a Cabinet post in any government led by him.

    Key told reporters this afternoon that the “radical right-wing agenda” outlined by Sir Roger at a press conference earlier today ruled him out of a position around the Cabinet table.

    He also said National would not be able to work with ACT, considered its most likely coalition partner, if the party pursued the philosophies of Sir Roger.

    “If ACT are hell bent on following a radical right-wing agenda and won’t fit in with a moderate pragmatic agenda then we can’t work with them. They’re ruling themselves out if that’s what they are doing,” Key said.

    *refills popcorn*

  27. gobsmacked 27

    Oh, this is just too funny for words.

    Lunctime – Colin Espiner asks: Will Key rule out Roger?

    Afternoon – Righties respond: Of course not! Roger rules! Roger will save us! Sell, sell, sell!

    Teatime – Key rules out Roger.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/blogs/politics/2008/03/20/will-key-rule-out-a-cabinet-post-for-sir-roger/

    *finishes popcorn, moves on to champagne*

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    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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