Last ACT annual conference?

ACT has just about disappeared from political sight. The name ‘ACT Party’ may be disappearing altogether. A name change is being considered at the party’s annual conference in Remuera today.

2018 ACT New Zealand – Annual Conference

“Freedom, Choice & Responsibility – Do they exist under this Government?”

The choices you make affect your future and those of the people you care for and support. ACT is the party of choice. The 2018 ACT Annual Conference is being held on Sunday 12 August in Auckland, and you are invited to attend. To answer the question – “Freedom of Choice & Responsibility – Does it exist under this Government?” – our speakers will focus on the economy, business and social reform; we guarantee you’ll be challenged!

  • Briar Lipson – Research Associate, The New Zealand Initiative
  • Lindsay Mitchell – Welfare Reformer
  • Matt Vickers – EOL Care campaigner, husband of the late Lucretia Seales

David Seymour will give the Leader’s Address at 1.00pm. It will be a thought-provoking and stimulating day for all who attend.

Whether the rest of the country will notice let alone find it stimulating is another thing.

According to Audrey Young one thing to be considered is a name change – David Seymour looking to take Act Party back to basics after years of failure

…one of the issues to be debated this weekend is whether to change the party name.

Seymour and president Ruwan Premathilaka are planning a relaunch of the party in March next year and Seymour is billing tomorrow’s conference in Auckland as “a pre-launch of the relaunch.”

The membership had been polled on the future of the party and they have held meetings throughout the country.

“What they have said is they are not angry. They don’t think we have been incompetent or stupid. They think, all things considered, we were pretty organised and campaigned okay.

“But equally they accept that what we have done had been a total failure and we are not going anywhere and therefore we need to do something completely different.”

There was a strong mandate to change the direction of the party, Seymour said.

The only controversial element was what to do about the name.

“If I had a vote for every person that says they like David, this or that policy but they would never vote for Act, I would probably be in Government.”

But will a name change make any difference?

If ACT change their name they are likely to remain approximately as unnoticed as they are now.

Seymour probably has a reasonable chance of remaining as the MP for Remuera, but it will take more than a name change to revive a dying political brand.

Successful politics is reliant on people. ACT need to get electable people more than involved, they need to get them active and noticed.

The reality of politics is that the media will only give them political oxygen if they have people deemed newsworthy. Sadly that doesn’t necessarily mean competent.

We have an enigma in New Zealand politics.

People need publicity if they are to succeed in politics. That means they need to be given significant media exposure, a reality despite the supposed promise of social media revolutions.

Media chose who they give attention to more based on how ‘newsworthy’ they are – but unfortunately in the modern political media era this usually means controversial, which usually means eccentric or appalling or rich, anything that feeds headlines and clicks.

It is unusual for the media to boost someone with genuine talent – as a media made politician Chloe Swarbrick is rare exception.  The voter jury is still undecided (or should be) on whether Jacinda Ardern’s media driven promotion to Prime Minister on whether she can deliver on the hype. Delivering a baby has been a massive distraction, and may make it harder for Ardern to succeed beyond getting ongoing fawning coverage.

Most people chosen by media to be promoted as political prospects turn out to be political failures, or at least disappointments. With media money speaks (or buys their attention and they do the speaking), but it doesn’t necessarily speak the right language to voters, as Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan found out.

So ACT’s biggest challenge is not to apply a new label to a nearly dead party horse.

They need to attract candidates that attract both media attention and party votes.

Or a miracle.