Credit where credit is due: Act was the only party that engaged directly with Whaleoil readers

We had a bit of a showdown at the Whaleoil corral the other day and things got a little heated. It was a pity really as many of us are on the same team. Despite that I want to remind everyone that David Seymour is the only political leader who has ever had the balls to directly engage with Whaleoil readers and we are not an easy or sycophantic audience by any means.

Not only was the leader of Act prepared to write guest posts and to interact with our readers in the comments, so were two of Act’s top candidates, Stephen Berry and Deputy leader Beth Houlbrooke. When you think about it, that kind of willingness to interact with a political blog is unprecedented. They were prepared to put themselves on the line to be grilled by our polite and well-mannered but nevertheless plain-spoken commenters who are not afraid to offer sincerely felt constructive criticism.

Bill English didn’t have the guts to come on here to ask for your vote and not one National MP did either. I don’t know about you but I felt taken for granted by National who simply expected my vote to stay with them. Many of you voted for National not because they had earned your support but because you held your nose because the alternative was worse. Not one National MP was prepared to discuss policy with Whaleoilers or to defend it. Readers may not have liked some of the answers David Seymour and Beth Houlbrooke and Stephen Berry gave but wasn’t it refreshing to have politicians prepared to engage directly with us?

Act is the natural party of choice for many of us but an Act party that cannot get at least as much of the vote as NZ First is not going to achieve what we want or what it wants. Act has great candidates and some great policies but given its poor result this election it is obviously lacking a vital ingredient to engage the voters who make up its natural constituency.

I voted for Act for the first time in my life this election even though Cam told me they wouldn’t be able to get even Beth Houlbrooke (who I think is a great candidate) into parliament. I figured that if no one voted for Act because they believed that then it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy so I voted for them anyway even though the polls indicated I was wasting my time.

Next election Act will get my vote again but only if they are already looking like a winner in the polls. To do that there must be a willingness to listen to constructive criticism and to decide what changes need to be made. Radical changes have to be made and leadership needs to be willing to make those changes.

Act is a good product but the advertising for it has been inadequate. There is no point complaining that an inferior product has been bought because it has superior advertising. It makes more sense to learn how to sell your product and if that means learning from your competition then that is what you need to do. Winston Peters knows how to sell. Instead of wasting time criticising him I humbly suggest that Act learn from him.

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Experienced political consultants with a proven track record of working quietly behind the scenes to help candidates get elected are the kinds of people that a party like Act need to hire if they are to save the party but that will only work if the party is prepared to listen. I know two superb political consultants. One of them has a no dickheads rule and turned down a request to work for a particular party because the leader had a known history of ignoring the advice he paid for. He could have taken the lucrative offer but he didn’t want to ruin his winning track record so he turned it down. I am sure that he and the other consultant would enjoy the challenge of rebuilding Act but for that to work, Act would have to acknowledge not only that they have a problem but that they are willing to listen.

 

 

 


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