Cactus Kate has written an article for NBR on her view of the demise of ACT and where to now:
You could reach several times around the world with nonsensical column inches written over the years about the impending demise of ACT.
Many supposed political “experts” had numerous self-absorbed reasons for planting the spin.
Dr Brash went one step further than just talking about it and led ACT to a record thumping. A 1% list vote and barely scraping through in Epsom in a tactically contrived win where Don and John managed to almost grab defeat from the jaws of victory.
Her comments about what is an ACToid are fascinating in their simplicity:
ACT has ground itself down with obsessive branding labels such as libertarian, classical liberal and conservatives.
The over-indulgence has caused me confusion such that right now even I have no idea what faction I belong to.
I think she misses out the key feature of ACT supporters. To a person they have always been part of a cult of personality. Firstly it was to Roger Douglas, then to Richard Prebble and finally to Rodney Hide. Their fascination with labels like classic liberal etc shows a deep misunderstanding that the New Zealand electorate hasn’t a clue what that even means.
It is the same mistake that Labour makes when they label National as Tories. It is from the politics of elsewhere that these label come from. ACT was spawned from Labour, they even call National supporters Tories like their parent party does. The people who originally came to ACT were the right of Labour spurned by a resurgent union wing. Along the way they picked up the young who had never known compulsory unionism and the liberal economic believers. But they all still have an inherited an abiding loathing for the National party and so never comfortably could work with them.
I asked a long term ACT supporter what they would do if the party ceased to exist and they told me that they would get an interest in something else. They had no interest in joining any other party than the ACT party. That told me right there that ACT supporters didn’t really understand or grasp that politics is a long game. Their ideas are still valid but because of a tribal adherence to some amorphous “core values” they can’t and won’t engage in any other party. Cactus KAte explains the despondence:
I realised I wasn’t really quite that interested in politics. I perhaps had grown up to see just how horrible it is and politics was sitting in priority in my life by Sunday evening with watching lawn bowls.
The ironic thing is the ones who show their loyalty the loudest and proudest to the ACT party have all shown their belief in the market and liberalism by fucking off overseas and them telling everyone else what the party should be and act like.
They are remembering a party that no longer exists, the party they left behind when they went overseas failed to change with the times and the electorate voted accordingly. ACT supporters talk of core values but I doubt any of them could even tell me what they are.
Just as pinkos like David Farrar can exist inside the National party then so too can classic liberals and libertarians. Better in a tent than outside wondering where to pitch their pup tent.