Dopey, deluded and dysfunctional

Political Retard: Louis Houlbrooke

Louis Houlbrooke, former staffer of David Seymour writes at Newsroom, which ironically is a metaphor for Act, in that no one reads them, like no one votes for Act.

His diatribe is mostly voter blaming.

He thinks that people “like Seymour”. He is wrong – the election proved it. Mostly voters think he is a tool.

To begin with a disclaimer: I worked for the full parliamentary term as press secretary in the office of David Seymour. I’m no longer working with ACT, so I now write as a long-time supporter of the party and ‘true believer’ in its ideas of individual freedom and personal responsibility.

Election night’s result vindicated the polls and delivered ACT a miserable 0.5 per cent. Our vote wasn’t just insufficient to elect a second MP; it actually reduced since 2014.

That’s sort of astounding. This year’s campaign was stronger by bounds, built on three successful years. We’d had nothing like John Banks’ tea tape or donations scandals – no scandals at all, in fact. No headlines about shotguns behind shop counters (!) or incest (?!).

And after four leadership changes in short succession we now had stable, recognisable leadership. People actually like David Seymour and he’s got established populist and policy credentials (letting bars open for the Rugby World Cup, a bill drawn on euthanasia, expanding partnership schools).

Crucially, for someone of my generation, ACT shrugged off the grumpy, reactionary vibe that came with the David Garrett and Don Brash types, and offered a younger list of candidates and a more optimistic presentation of classical liberalism. In short, it’s never been less embarrassing to call myself an ACT supporter. And yet ACT produced its worst result yet.

If, as Houlbrooke says; “David Seymour remains the only viable option for ACT’s leadership,” Then ACT is absolutely gone.

The 2017 election was fought on personality and David doesn’t have one. In three years he reduced the ACT party conference from a vibrant affair at Villa Maria in Auckland to a subdued (understatement) affair at the smallest room at the Waipuna.

ACT is Parliament’s true party of principle. It’s not that ACT applies its principles with total consistency, but the party’s original values of individual freedom and personal responsibility remain its key motivator in Parliament and public debate.

But voters aren’t concerned about ideological consistency. More appeal has been found in the big-tent pragmatism of National, the reactionary moves of New Zealand First and Labour, and the intangible emotional values of the Greens.

Perhaps, on an emotional level, the harshness of ACT’s fiscal Darwinism and the softness of its social liberalism are simply incompatible to real-life voters.

Not even I can understand all that jargon, imagine how the voters struggle to understand such waffle. I should be a natural Act party voter, but I’m not, mainly because Act has always pretty much been useless at politics. That holds true even more so with David Seymour as the leader.

I’m now stepping away from the party to work in an activist role outside Parliament. But I remain eager to see the party succeed, even if it’s under a new name and structure. David Seymour remains the only viable option for ACT’s leadership. He is ideologically sound, great on the doorstep, has a super-human work ethic, and, crucially, is open to the hard decisions needed to deliver a better result in 2020.

Their only hope is for Seymour to stand down as the leader (he can stay in his seat – he is making no difference to anyone or anything) and to beg National for assistance to find a reputable and capable leader and rejuvenate the party.

David Seymour is a dickhead. The day he threatened to take away advertising from me because he was unhappy with my editorial position on him I marked his card and the day he insulted me and my readers on the blog was the day he ceased to have this site as a pulpit, despite all the efforts of SB on Act’s behalf.

The fact he still fails to recognise their irrelevance at the ballot box shows how desperately stupid he is. Louis Houlbrooke is no better.

Act has lost all their main thinkers, and supporters. They are a political irrelevancy. They won’t come back.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.