Otago University’s student news Critic has announced ACT candidate for Dunedin North resigns.
ACT Party Board member and Dunedin North candidate Guy McCallum has officially resigned and withdrawn his candidacy as the result of “the development of a race relations policy” that “blindsided” him.
This resignation comes in the wake of ACT leader Jamie Whyte’s shock speech at the ACT Waikato Conference, which called for the elimination of race-based legal provisions. “Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France,” Whyte claimed.
When asked what the aforementioned race relations policy entailed, McCallum noted, “quota systems at universities would be abolished, co management arrangements would be repealed, Maori Television would be scrapped, as well as ending the Race Relations Commissioner role.”
“In fact, I didn’t know the Hamilton speech was coming,” claims McCallum. “Jamie was in Dunedin for a small gathering of ACT supporters on the morning of 20 July, and he mentioned to me that he was in search of a ‘stunt … because you know, the polls.’ A week later ACT rolled out a controversial and obviously unprepared race relations policy.”
McCallum claimed Whyte’s call for Dame Susan Devoy’s resignation was “the final straw … People criticising Jamie for One Country, One Law have only been met with derision; either they haven’t read his speeches, have ulterior political motives, or are, by him, wrong.”
“ACT’s policies are about reminding you of scary burglars, zealous bureaucrats with a hidden green agenda, and resentful Maori of taking an equal placing. This is the imagery the vague words are designed to create. Liberals and libertarians are getting a rough deal from ACT. The positive ideals they represent are used as currency to hedge conservative influence, like the Tea Party. A lot of libertarians have avoided ACT for these reasons. For wanting to change that, I find myself in present circumstances.”
“I have spoken to other members of the Party who are becoming concerned that ACT is focusing more on fear and prejudice to gain votes.”
McCallum has been active in ACT on Campus since 2010. He stood the Dunedin North candidate in the 2011 election (I got to know him then as I was also a candidate).
He became the ACT on Campus Vice President in 2012, and for the past two years has served on the ACT Party Board as a regional member.
McCallum organised the southern regional meeting referred to as “a small gathering of ACT supporters” – I was invited to that and attended as an interested observer (I have no connecting with the Act Party). I talked to him about the upcoming election and McCallum appeared to be looking forward to standing in it.
This may harm Act – internal divisions are not a good look for a party.
On the other hand it could help Act. The race/Maori gambit played by Whyte was presumably deliberately designed to provoke race debate and attract attention to a party struggling for political oxygen.
This has resulted in a surge of Maori bashing amongst a minority which Act see as potential votes.
A down side is already obvious, media response to Whyte’s attack on Maori ‘privilege’ shows that political journalists are not exactly looking favoiurably on the tactics of the Act leader.
It’s another make or break election for Act. Stirring up racial prejudice is very risky campaign strategy which could get a few votes but time will tell whether it’s enough.
This may also not be helpful for National.