Friday, March 01, 2013

ACT's problem

PRIMARY VOTENationalLabourGreenPartyNZFirstMaoriParty*ManaParty*ACTNZUnitedFutureConservativesOther

General Election, July 27, 200220.941.3710.4n/an/a7.16.7n/a6.6
General Election, September 17, 200539.
General Election, November 8, 200844.9333.996.724.072.39n/a3.650.87n/a3.38
General Election, November 26, 201147.3127.4811.066.591.431.081.070.602.650.73

I was pondering the latest Roy Morgan poll results and this table in particular.

Thinking about the minor parties, it struck me that ACT has nothing going for it.

Greens have environmentalism.

NZ First has a charismatic leader.

The Maori party has race.

Mana has extreme disaffection.

United Future has religion, though losing it to the Conservative Party.

But what does ACT have?

Freedom isn't it. Because all of the people who fall into the above categories would consider themselves primarily interested in freedom. Freedom is highly subjective.

Capitalism? Business people are pragmatists and will vote for a likely, safe result. And most don't actually mind government being significantly involved in the economy.

ACT has no brand. It has nothing for people to emotionally identify with.

This isn't an attack on ACT. It's just my explanation for why they poll so poorly. ACT is going to have to do something very radical if they want to survive the 2014 election.

I'm not much of a marketer but I'd go back to basics and hammer personal responsibility hard. Get spokespeople outside of parliament making statements that make National look wishy washy.

When New Zealanders took responsibility for themselves, their families, their friends we had a stronger economy, more social cohesion, less inequality, less crime. But it can't be a backwards looking campaign. In many ways the country is a much better place to live in today than in the 1950s and 60s. Women in particular play a much bigger role in the economy and have much more autonomy. But there is a group of women (and their children) shut out as a direct result of diminished personal responsibility. ACT needs to keep consistently showing that individual responsibility is paramount. For example, a child failed by a parent can never be fully compensated by other minor players in their lives. They need to be brave enough to say things that will be unpopular in parliament and with the media but will resonate with a large, non-vocal section of the population. BUT they need more voices.

Unfortunately John Banks may be an impediment to gathering those voices.


Johnny said...

ACT's heyday was on the back of the message of "personal responsibility"

Rodney put paid to that probably forever with his poor choices as regards his (then) girlfriend's overseas travel.

That said, Rodney lost me for one, with his unilaterally renaming the brand to "the Liberal Party", while Rodney had personal and professional dealings with an international scoundrel and senior pervert member of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association). Stuff that, perverts.

Johnny said...

The basic reality is, that like it or not, if you line up 1,000 New Zealanders and give them a choice, they will take the "lack of personal responsibility" option 990 times out of that 1,000.

To translate this into ACT specifics, 990 New Zealanders don't actually want the responsibility of having to choose the best option for their children's education, when they can pay taxes to have someone make those choices (responsibility) for them. More significant even than the above is that 990 New Zealanders want someone other than themselves to blame, if and when it turns to custard.

Same with hospitals, same with social welfare. Same with energy. Same with infrastructure. Etc.

New Zealanders actually thrive on finding others to blame, never being able to see those three fingers pointing back at themselves.

ACT is wrong country, wrong time, and out of time. Goodbye ACT.

JC said...

ACT's best weapon lies in fulfilling its name.. "Association of consumers and taxpayers", ie, it should be the shield of those two groups that keeps prices down by competition and productivity and taxes down by reducing the size of Govt. and the complexity of its laws.


Paranormal said...

Lindsay, you are repeating what others have been saying for years - both inside and outside of ACT. Its as true now as it always was.

Johnny - agree with you re Rodney's girlfriends trip, but can't agree with you about Rodney standing up for his friend in parliament. If Banks had been honest about his relationship with Kim Dotcom, Act wouldn't be as stuffed as it is now.

BTW that NAMBLA crap was just just a smear campaign to try and get to Rodney. Seems like its still working.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Act's main point of difference now has shifted away from personal responsibility (which I agree with) but racist, arrogant, boys club politics with no regard to the wider affects on the community.

Banks clearly embodies these values and is dishonest to boot.

The "personal responsibility" thing is just used to justify policies.

Anonymous said...

UnitedFuture has already lost the religious (actually Christian) vote to the Conservatives.

A 3% threshold would guarantee a couple of terms of National/Conservative government - frankly, 4% will do as well.

But at this point, any onanistic advocacy for ACT whatsoever is equivalent to campaigning for a openly communist Green/Labour government

James said...

"Liberty" should be their message. No its not the same as "freedom"...if you define it right.

Don Brash hit on it with his musings to decriminalise cannabis...and the explosive, positive reaction from across the NZ landscape thast it generated towards ACT,even if briefly, proved that Kiwis are sick of PC,repressive nit picking law making and the associated crap that goes with it.

ACT needs to be the party expousing the liberty of the average Kiwi from the BS....own that ground,be fun and attractive in doing it, and it will grow like topsy as all the others drive people to it by default.

James said...

Thats "Liberty" coupled with "personal responsibility for how you use it"....natuarally...;-)

Blair said...

I cannot think of any better political campaigner on the Right than John Banks (save for Prebs, and he is not coming back). If he is a hinderance, then ACT is in a world of shit, because there sure as hell is nobody else. if I have to go into an election with Banks, versus anyone else, I'd pick Banks.

ACT will come back if they emphasise that National is fucked without them (true fact), they distinguish themselves from National, and they campaign hard for that 10% of the population who believe in fiscal conservatism and sound economics. It really is that simple.

ACT have not done that since 1996, their first campaign. They keep getting caught up in side issues like the Treaty and Law and Order. Then they moderate their other policies because they think they are trying to cast a broad net. Stick to that 10% however, and they will get places. If John Banks by himself can get charter schools, imagine what John Banks with eight or nine others can do?

Oh foolish ACToids... stop pining for Rodney to come back, get on team, and start WINNING.

Anonymous said...

ACT are completely fucking pathetic. Was it the last election - or the one before- when then sent a fucking spreadsheet through the mail? Get a grip!

I still think a very simply policy like like 1% of personal tax rate for every 1% we get is the kind of message ACT needs. Not some libertarian fantasy, or some Mies induced Austrian policy claiming to make things better for everybody. Fuck the bludgers: ACT should aim at top rate taxpayers and go straight to the hip pocket never.

If Key wants ACT after the election - he either cuts the top tax rate by the %age of ACTs support or goes to another election. That's worth a fuckload more than two charter schools!

Anonymous said...

But if Alan Gibbs really wants to get serious, he'd do far better to find NZ's Nigel Farange and look at UKip.

As the UK newspapers put it - motivated by inchoate against welfare and immigrants

So an NZ Independence Party party with simple policies like:


would do very well in NZ under MMP - take some list votes from National but the result would be a clear National / NZIP government.

And of course there is even a clear leader for such a party Cameron Slater.

thor42 said...

Very good column, Lindsay.

I mean - freedom is supposed to be *fun*, but ACT don't seem to realise that.

They need to focus on (say) *three* core policies and push them relentlessly.

Johnny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paranormal said...

Blair - agree Banks is an effective campaigner. However he's blown his brand with voters when Kim Dotcom exposed him as a liar that wouldn't stand by his 'friends'. As Banks is now effectively ACT - the party's brand is now stuffed.

Rodney started the slide with his troughing, and now Banks has well and truly stuffed it.

Paranormal said...

BTW it gives me no pleasure in saying that ACT is stuffed. NZ needs a sensible economics party there to show the others up for the tax & spend socialists they truly are. And that is all the other parties.

Anonymous said...

Good post Lindsay

I've always thought that ACT should just appeal to the "smarter" voter.
People who want liberty, efficiency, choices and fun.

If there's not 10% of voters out there who think that way then were stuffed anyway.


Anonymous said...

I meant to add that as soon as a minor party reduces their popularity to reliance on "personalities" rather than "simple policy" then they are on a slippery slope.Don't let the messenger be bigger than the message.