Can Libertarianz step up?

This by Michael Hooton just appeared on the National Business Review website.

A new liberal bloc

Next weekend, the Libertarianz will hold their annual conference in Auckland.

The party has a record of electoral failure exceeding even where ACT is today, peaking at just 6000 votes in 1999.

In its defence, the party points out – with some justification – former National leader Don Brash, former Act MP Deborah Coddington and former United Future MP Marc Alexander can be seen as previous parliamentary torchbearers for its ideas.

This year, though, it is getting serious, calling its conference Towards a True Liberal Bloc in parliament. Its doors are open to anyone who believes there needs to be a new political party in parliament advocating small-government, liberal solutions to economic and social problems.

It believes next year’s local body elections will provide a proof-of-concept opportunity, claiming some rural and provincial New Zealanders are facing rates rises of up to 40%, largely because of parliament’s idiotic 2002 decision to grant local government general competence.

Libertarianz representation on councils and parliament would undoubtedly be good for New Zealand, but achieving it will require discipline which classical liberals and libertarians are programmed to resist.

Historically, like the far left, the movement has suffered from regular schisms.

While all libertarians agree that self-interest, individual rights and capitalism are the ethical, political and economic systems of objectivist philosophy, some insist the political wing must also insist, for example, on romantic realism in art.

Others believe broadly in classical liberalism but would be quite happy with, say, vouchers for all schools rather than wholesale abandonment of the state system.

There are potentially as many different opinions as there are libertarians over matters from tolerance toward Islamism or creationism being taught in schools to defence.

Without destroying the very nature of libertarianism, a way must be found to accommodate different views while achieving the degree of political discipline necessary to win the 100,000 votes to get into parliament.

The good news for everyone who would like to see the Libertarianz succeed is that all matters of political strategy appear to be on the table, including perhaps even the party’s name.

If they do get into parliament they will not see themselves so much as a coalition partner for Mr Key but a faction to give his government a kick up the bum.

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