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What’s a decade between friends?

Written By: - Date published: 9:09 am, March 14th, 2010 - 29 comments
Categories: act, rodney hide - Tags:

Deborah Coddington writes:

“In 1994, not long after Rodney Hide became leader of Act,…”

Hide became leader in 2004. I know the papers don’t demand any kind of intellectual rigour or evidence-based argument from their celebrity columnists but jeez.

To be fair, the rest of Coddington’s piece offers a pretty good examination of Act’s fundamental problems. I found this passage in particular interesting:

“what 21st-century liberal would vote for a party whose caucus supports a man who makes lewd remarks around the office, justifies that behaviour by saying it was okay in Tonga, then advocates bribery and sterilisation as a means to control child abuse and the population of the underclass?

Does Act stop to think that the 21st-century liberal is both an economic and a social liberal? We want low taxes and small government, but we’re not redneck, pro-smacking, tough-on-crime unforgiving mutants.”

Therein lies the libertarian paradox. They claim to be all about freedom but that freedom is actually only ever freedom for the rich, funded and protected by brutal repression of the poor.

29 comments on “What’s a decade between friends?”

  1. lprent 1

    And that is the fundamental flaw in the Act party. To get the level of support that they’re after for electoral success, they’re eroding their existing support base by bringing on the incoherent policies of the sensible sentencing trust and the like.

    It has been pretty crazy watching the number of commentators who were previously Act members, who have left the party for various reasons.

  2. Anne 2

    It was Richard Prebble who began the process of bringing on board the Sensible Sentencing Trust and their hangers-on at the time of the 1999 election campaign. They distributed a pamphlet nationwide on SST policies during that campaign. I look back and wonder if their was an arrangement… we will help finance your campaign if you take on board our policies. By the end of the 90s decade, Act had lost most of it’s big business support who had drifted back to National. It was the start of the business-backed Brash campaign revealed by Nicky Hagar.

  3. tc 3

    Along with this and all these other national soapboxes being given in granny to the likes of Carter/Joyce and Hide etc and there’s been quite a few, can someone inform me and readers of how many similar front section pieces were afforded the last gov’t ?

    Is it comparable? because if it isn’t the right have no leg to stand on when alledging the msm is even handed.These former ACT polly’s make you realise how loony they’ve become under hide/douglas.

    Ah that cult of personality….I have a profile therefore my opinion’s valid, can’t wait for garrett’s front section soapbox.

  4. For perhaps the first time ever I agreed with much of what Coddington wrote. She is correct to point out the internal contradictions of a libertarian type party having to sell its soul to groups like the Sensible Sentencing Trust and select the likes of Garrett. All they did last time was replace one set of loons with another set.

    They are toast next time. The question will be whether or not National grows a backbone and tries to win Epson back. This time they will not have Worth to offer as a sacrificial lamb.

    • Rex Widerstrom 4.1

      a libertarian type party having to sell its soul to groups like the Sensible Sentencing Trust

      Did they have to, I wonder? I’d like to see a well-researched article that studies their polling (qauntitavely and qualitatively) both before and after their association with the SST and the emergence of Garrett.

      Having been involved in a small party that felt it “had” to sell itself up the river even when it was polling close to 30% I’m not even sure it is poll driven, or rational in any sense.

      It seems to me to be more a lack of self-belief and self-confidence (yes yes, I know… I’ve just suggested Winston Peters, Richard Prebble and Rodney Hide lack self confidence…) – a sort of panic attack that convinces small party leadership that they might have a solid, comfortable niche, that the polls might be looking good, but that tomorrow the sky will fall and the only way to prop it up is by hugging some vocal redneck like Lhaws or Garrett. Yet asked to quanify the gains made after such an arrangement, they seem unable to do so. Certainly Winston was.

      There’s a psychology PhD in there somewhere…

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        or rational in any sense.

        I haven’t seen any indication that libertarians are rational. Seen plenty to show that they’re irrational and most likely deluded though.

  5. Anne 5

    Further to my earlier comment:
    There is a remarkable similarity between the Act/Sensible Sentencing Trust link and that which followed between National and the Exclusive Brethren. I wonder sometimes whether the operational technique of the former laid down the ground-work for the latter. After all, some of the same people were involved in both political parties at the time.

  6. Bill 6

    This is just a wee by the by.

    Any casual observer…and I want to emphasis that I’m talking casual observers… of this blog might be tempted to believe that the right is indeed reasonable and centrist given that so many posters and commentators here are stating agreement with ostensibly right wing political commentators from msm and beyond.

    I’d have thought the trick was to have them ( right wing commentators) state agreement with your ( left wing) position rather than the way round it appears at the moment.

    • gitmo 6.1

      Interesting as I’ve often thought that any casual observer of this blog might be tempted to believe that the left are nuttier than a cashew and peanut mix and way to the left of centre.

      • Sam 6.1.1

        Say it louder, say it for longer, gitmo.

      • mickysavage 6.1.2

        Still on probation git-mo?

      • prism 6.1.3

        Define your centre gitmo – it’s probably different than the majority – probably on the old 80-20 rule of thumb. 80% against you that is.

        • gitmo

          Have a look at the parties that gain around 80% of the vote (Nats and Labour) there’s your centre from an NZ perspective.

          • prism

            seems a bit simple gitmo. Do you mean that the left and right wings of centre are found in the approx 20% that vote for the fringe parties? Labour and Nat also contain a spectrum of political opinions.

            BTW The approach of finding and targeting the swinging voter by both main parties might result in parties getting a closer view of the centre who could be said to lack any strong leanings to ideologies and theories.

  7. tc 7

    Are there any true leftties anymore, I mean really ?

    I like this place as I feel it’s left of centre, where NZ belongs, but Gitmo has a small point…..that looks real lefty based on the ‘born to be right’ stuff going down under NACT , it’s all relative really.

    Don’t y’all go and change now.

  8. Anne 8

    My comment at 1031am, third line, should read ‘there’ not their 🙁
    @ Bill
    I’ve yet to read the full article but based on Marty G’s post:
    to be in agreement with Act’s fundamental problems is not the same as… being in agreement with a philosophical or political position.

  9. ghostwhowalksnz 9

    Describing Hide , even in 1994, as an important guest is so far of the mark. OK he was ACT benefactor Alan Gibbs economic mouthpiece. Gibbs having rescued Hide from obscurity as a tutor at Lincoln University.
    Of course this part of Hides career , is never mentioned by those who decry Labour as the party of ‘academics’.
    So eesentially Hide was a failed academic having ended up there after a life in his twenties as a ‘professional student’ Handy when the family business as a small rural carriers could provide part time and seasonal employment around the Christchurch area.
    Most interesting is the change from biological sciences to Economics. Hide earning a masters degree from a third/fourth rate Montana State University at Billings . The coursework required is unknown but seems to have been chosen so as to be completed ‘ in record time’

  10. Chris 10

    Strange. He told me he had a doctorate in zoology when I was seeing him as my constituency MP about a problem I had.

    (Which is where I found out that he was actually personable in person, if not very helpful, but I guess once he steps outside his office door, something happens and he turns into the person we see daily)

  11. Quoth the Raven 11

    Therein lies the libertarian paradox. They claim to be all about freedom but that freedom is actually only ever freedom for the rich, funded and protected by brutal repression of the poor.

    You seem to prefer vilification to honest discussion. I wonder what Noam Chomsky or any left libertarian would think of such a statement. Libertarianism is broad church, but no libertarian holds the views you are dishonestly ascribing to them. It was libertarians fighting for homosexual rights in the 19th century for free love several decades before anyone had heard of a hippy, for woman’s rights when other radicals were still mired in misogyny. Here’s something to start you on your way to understanding libertarianism:
    Why We Fight (the Power)

  12. These same tensions have been present since Act’s very birth.

    Its founding conference was attended by both dry economic liberals and old-school string’em up types like Trevor De Cleene.

    It’s also always been a home for political cranks to a degree rivalled only by the Social Credit party. I wrote a story for The Listener about the party’s launch, and interviewed Muriel Newman, who struck me as exceedingly odd even then. (Among others I spoke to was Donna Awatere-Huata, who was impressive — but, obviously, that didn’t turn out well …)

    I know there are libertarian party members who deeply resent the entry of Garrett, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to procure some reform along rational lines.

    OTOH, the Victorian mindset isn’t totally alien to the neoliberals either. Gibbs was strongly influenced by various neo-Victorian tracts in the 90s, and once wrote an astonishing guest column for the Herald, in which he blamed the advent of the contraceptive pill for poverty, and appeared to suggest that the poor are poor because they are morally defective.

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    Not to defend Act, but I think in this discussion we ought to remember Labour’s record on law and order, a truly sickening and disturbing record at that – increased sentencing, more denied bail and parole, new police powers, the TSA, the tazer roll out, new prisons and an ever increasing prison population. That’s what Labour left us.

  14. Jenny 14

    I agree with Coddinton’s guess of Rodney’s length of tenure at the ACT helm, it has seemed like a terribly long time.

    In fact it feels like it’s been much longer than ten years to me too.

  15. Tony 15

    You might want to check out this post over on kiwiblog. It seems Coddington might have gone off half-cocked. Most clinical cyber-sodomy I’ve seen online for a while!


  16. Rich 16

    Out of interest, how does ACT choose its list?

  17. Anne 17

    @ Rich
    In the past the Act board of executives chose the candidates and their list order. As far as I know that is still the case. Mind you, electorates often had trouble finding candidates so someone would have to be brought in from elsewhere.

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