Saturday 28 August 2010

For a New Zealand liberal party

...but it's probably too late. Chris Trotter writes:
So, if Act was smart it would announce something as radical and head-messing as an across-the-board decriminalisation of all drugs – backed-up with a comprehensive drug-education programme in schools and generous drug-treatment and rehabilitation schemes for addicts.

And that would only be the beginning.

What would there be to stop Act from going on to announce a campaign to restore all the traditional rights and freedoms of free-born citizens by rolling back all those so-called "reforms" of the legal and penal systems which have empowered the State at the expense of the "sovereign individual"? Or, coming out in support of a woman's right to choose and gay marriage?

Overnight, Act would lose its creepy followers from the Sensible Sentencing Trust and Family First. In their place it would attract a much larger – and younger – slice of the electorate: a slice that is socially-liberal, economically "dry" and temperamentally hostile to the claims of large and authoritarian institutions – especially the State.

The party would still be a bastion of neoliberal thought, but by taking such a radical libertarian stand on issues like drugs, law and order and the power of the State, Act would finally be able to detach the "far-right" label from its back.
I've been arguing the same for a while now. Here's the strategic case for the repositioning. Sir Roger gets it. Here's the analysis showing that they'd at worst not be hurting themselves at the polls.

HT: Bryce Edwards and Gonzo.


  1. I always had Rodney pinned as social/economic liberal but I couldn't say the same of Boscowen or Garrett, who seem to be Rodney's men. It is doubtful whether Roy and Douglas will be around after the next election. So the party will have trouble attracting liberals to the list with conservative MPs. Therefore I tend to agree with you Eric. Too late. I still think, especially after last week, ACT will go the way of the other small parties with only Rodney left. Funnily enough that would probably suit Rodney's style.

  2. @Lindsay: You're right, he is a liberal. But he seems to view social liberalism as very bad tactics as compared to being a hard right reliable teammate for National.

  3. personally he's not going to win me over with his social liberalism alone. Economic liberalism is very important to me

  4. Mmm, probably lose Epsom and gain another 2%, ending up on 4.5 % or so. Not a clever electoral strategy (if one looks at it coldly) perhaps ?

  5. @Anon: There's room for a competent liberal party to take 8% of the vote, I'd reckon.