There is good reason for the advocates of individual liberty to be rejoicing tonight, as the alcohol purchase age stays at 18 for both on and off license purchases. I was considerably nervous bout the prospects of keeping the status quo as public opinion and the media are clearly overwhelmingly in favour of an increase back to 20. So as well as rejoicing in the vote I am also relieved.
John Banks, Leader of the Act Party, has failed in his attempt to reduce individual freedom by voting to increase the off-license alcohol purchase age. Yes, the sole MP of a party which claims to stand for liberalism and freedom cast a vote in favour of reducing individual freedom. Then, when that vote failed, he voted to keep the purchase age 18. What choice did he have? His party’s youth wing had threatened to walk, but Banks doesn’t believe in individual liberty. He even had the cheek to vote for as much of a decrease in freedom as he thought he could get away with. So the Act membership must be pissed right?
Actually no. Right now, many of them are patting themselves on the back because Act helped to achieve keeping the purchase age 18. What the fuck? The age stayed at 18 despite the Act party, not because of it. What would they be saying right now if the split purchase age, which their leader actually preferred was passed? I don’t know to be honest, because it appears that many of them will grasp onto whatever pitiful excuse they can to stick with the sinking ship! The leader of the Act party voted to increase the off-license alcohol purchase age and those in Act who threatened to walk are now sticking by him because he failed and then voted to keep the age 18.
Now I’ve had my time as a quantum leap libertarian advocating a jump to minarchy within 10 years. It was incredibly unsuccessful. I accept being pragmatic and principled as seeking to achieve smaller government in bite size chunks. A lot of people in Act support the same approach but they delude themselves that this is what they are getting with a Banks lead Act party. They are not. All the Act party has achieved is the establishment of charter schools, which is the spending of taxpayer dollars on something other than state schools, as well as a meaningless pledge to cap Government spending increases with enough provisos to be worthless. The recognition of the right of homosexuals to marry is not an Act initiative and their leader took a lot of threats and convincing not to vote 20/20 on the alcohol purchase age. Nothing has even been achieved in this vote – it is just one of those rare occassions where the state hasn’t got larger.
The real option for the liberals in Act to achieve something in 2014 is to jump ship now, while there is still time to organise a liberal alternative prior to the 2014 election. When you’re threatening and blackmailing your leader to stop him from increasing state control over the lives of individuals, you’re in the wrong political party. When you consider your party leader’s failed vote to decrease liberty an achievement, you’re deluded. If the Act liberals don’t jump ship now, they’ll be dragged into the 2014 election swallowing their own bile, campaigning to elect a man who despises what they value in the hope a John Key led Government will chuck them a couple of crumbs.
Courage, clarity and conviction is the answer for true liberals. A new political party that takes a pragmatic approach to advocate for more freedom and less government is the right path. The opportunity to be part of this new party is just weeks away…