ACT: David’s Dilemma [UPDATED]

This morning, I ran a story suggesting ACT’s performance through David Seymour this year is noticeably less impressive than last year.

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A number of Whaleoil commenters disagreed with me, and this appears to have spurred Mr Seymour on to send the following email:

From: David Seymour <[email protected]>
Date: 22 November 2016
Subject: Comedy
To: “[email protected]” <[email protected]>

Based on the comments and their popularity it looks like your readers agree that you are getting old or need a humour transplant. If you were following closely you’d see that my last two parliamentary questions led to news stories, how many MPs are you aware of who achieve that? What about this speech in defense of PSKH http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/46076 ? And so it goes on.

Kind regards

David Seymour
MP for Epsom, Leader ACT New Zealand

David clearly wanted me to react, so for a while I decided to not give him the pleasure.   But after a while I realised there was an object lesson going begging.

A couple of points before I get to it.

One, I personally, as well as Pete and a number of others in around the core of Whaleoil are in fact natural ACT supporters.  As in, when you look at the party’s principles, they tick more boxes with our personal politics than those of National or any other New Zealand political party.

Two, Whaleoil, as a platform, has never been a platform to blindly push one ideology.  If there is incompetence, we call it out.  No matter what side it is on.   For a number of years, we said that Hekia Parata needed to be removed as Minister of Education.  More recently, we complimented her for growing and having done a fine job in a difficult portfolio.

Unlike National, ACT occasionally even pays me hard dollars to advertise to you, our readers.  That too does not change my approach.  If I see something that I consider bad politics, I will call it out.

I am also aware that a fair number of my readers and commenters are ACT supporters, and being negative of the party or its people is going to upset them.

In short, there is no upside to me, or Whaleoil, to bite a hand that feeds me, and to upset the people that support the hand that feeds me.

And yet, I do.  I always have, and I always will.

Is it spite?  Is it age?  Is it a lack of a sense of humour?

Look at the Greeks. They invented homosexuality. Olive oil and all that. And what do they get? Earthquakes, volcanoes, economic catastrophe.  – David Seymour, ACT

Does David Seymour think it is good politics to invoke a mental image of two hairy Greek men, lubed up with extra virgin olive oil, one pounding the backside of the other?

It appears from his email that David equates press coverage with progress.  Press coverage with effectiveness.  Press coverage with votes.

Let me be clear:

I do wish ACT to be successful.  I’m not being negative or destructive for the sake of it.  The criticism is meant for self reflection, feedback and perhaps a chance to take certain ideas on board.

I note that David attacks me personally for being old, humourless or both.   I attack his approach.  He has shown to be capable, but in my judgement ACT, through his performance this year, has been largely sliding backwards compared to 2015.

It should be noted that I have been critical of Colin Craig as a party leader in the run-up to the previous two elections.  And at the time, a large number of readers were upset with me as well.  They felt unsupported.  They wanted me not to say what I see and what I truly believe.

There are two reasons for this.  One, people think I’m a political retard and I don’t know what I’m talking about.   I’ll let my history speak for itself.  On issues, I pick more winners than anyone else.

The other reason is the exact opposite.  People who have observed me over the last decade have seen how often my political analysis turns out to be correct.   And when I start criticising something they personally support or would like to see succeed, it drives a fear.  The fear that I might, again, be right.

I like being right.  Everyone likes being right.  But few people wear their profesional and considered opinions as publicly as I do.  Whatever else people think of me, they don’t paint me as someone who makes shit up and just fantasises a lot.  In fact, a whole election was dedicated to trying to damage me, my networks, my finances and my relationships exactly because I am seen to be a considerable political thermometer in the nation’s bum. (without Greek olive oil).

I don’t need David Seymour’s approval, and he doesn’t need mine.  And he can continue to shy away from Whaleoil as he has not been feeling the love this year as much as he did last year.  It all doesn’t matter to me.  Because I will continue to do what I’ve done all along – provide my personal analysis. Be it right, or wrong.

And we all know how often I’m wrong.

As things stand, ACT will get back to parliament in 2017 with one MP.

Politics is wonderful, and complex and a constantly moving target.  But there are some very simple rules that politicians forget in their day-to-day execution of their jobs:  will this earn me or my party one extra vote?

Being in the media isn’t an achievement unless it increases the support you have for your party.

Perhaps one day I will be too old, too humourless and wrong most of the time.  When that time comes, I’ll become Wrongly Wrongson the Second.  But until then dismissing my analysis as being caused by old age or a lack of humour is … unwise.   Especially since it comes from a blog that would vote ACT every election if we thought that was the best vote to place at the time under the circumstances.

The reason a lot of natural ACT supporters don’t vote ACT is something that the party still hasn’t got a handle on.  And this year, Mr Seymour’s efforts to bring these voters back home for 2017 are mostly wasted on things that display a basic misunderstanding of his role as the main ACT party face and voice.

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ACT NZ polls as much as Internet/Mana.  The no longer existent Kim Dotcom/Hone Harawira vehicle for political revolution.

And yet lunatics like the Greens and a shameless Winston Peters between them gather 1 in 5 votes nation-wide.

There is absolutely no reason for ACT not to poll around 4-6 percent.   But until they stop settling for their Cup-of-Tea safe seat and start working hard to get ACT voters to believe again, they will remain a political footnote.  Because at the moment, for the voter, the difference between Peter Dunne and David Seymour is the difference between a bow tie and a checked shirt.


 

UPDATE

David Seymour feels he has been misrepresented.  Here is his email

From: David Seymour <[email protected]>
Date: 22 November 2016
Subject: RE: Comedy
To: “[email protected]” <[email protected]>

As you’ll see the email below was sent at 10:30. It couldn’t possibly be in response to your 10:30 post. It was in response to your earlier post where you yourself asked if you’d become too old or in need of a humour transplant, (and got slammed in comments). It is not only your readers who agree. I have had a great deal of positive feedback on the SST column on the street, by email, and on social media, from catholic septuagenarian women to teenagers.

By linking the wrong story you are misleading the reader that you were randomly personally attacked. In view of your statement that you want ACT to succeed, I hope you will correct your post.

I linked BOTH stories.  And I even quoted from the 2nd one.

Did you notice that David?

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Anyway.

Once again we are debating form over substance.

It occurred to me that David is trying to hit some internal KPIs he has agreed to.  One of them is to have a minimum amount of media presence.

That’s not as hard as it looks, although that’s certainly part of the way to a solution.  The other component is to ensure that your media presence enhances your overall goal.  And unless that goal is to win over people to vote ACT in 2017, everything else is … wasted.

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