Reflections on my experience with The Opportunities Party (Gareth Morgan, July 2018)
TOP was formed in late 2016 to contest the 2017 General Election. The Party was founded to promote best practice, evidence-informed policy that would make substantial progress lifting prosperity and ensuring it was based on a foundation of fairness.
Ten months after being formed, we polled 2.4% in the election. In mid 2018, after spending 8 months looking for suitable political leadership succession, the Board announced it would look to deregister the Party. One last invitation was circulated for those keen to take up the political promotion of TOP’s policy manifesto, to come forward and submit an expression of interest. That invitation kindled a significant number of quality proposals.
As Party founder I’m proud of the policy manifesto we developed and of the policy research and collation of expert policy knowledge that underlay that effort. It was by far the strongest manifesto on offer to improve New Zealanders’ incomes, business productivity, social fairness and environmental sustainability. That reflects the professionalism of the analysts whose work we incorporated in our offer document. The legacy of that manifesto remains and personally that was what interested me and what I enjoyed being involved in.
The voting public demonstrated that best practice, evidence-informed policy that will deliver major progress in New Zealanders’ wellbeing, simply is not of significant concern. When 20% of the vote moved in 48 hours on the back of a change of leader of the Labour Party, with no improvement at all in policy being offered, what makes the New Zealand voter tick was made deafeningly clear.
After the 2017 election the decision we had to make was whether we could be bothered plugging away as career politicians trying to educate more of the public as to why the offering from Establishment parties will always be underwhelming – incremental at best, and more likely so inadequate that inequality continues to widen against a backdrop of poor business productivity and investment.
Personally, my decision was “Naah, there are too many other fun opportunities on offer and time waits for nobody. The policy manifesto is there, that’s the legacy, time to move on”.
However, in light of the substantial expression of interest in taking the offering to another election, we have put on hold the deregistration decision and are working hard to see if we can secure an agreement with a group of sufficient skills to run the Party for the next few years. Right now, that looks quite likely and we’re nailing the detail before making an announcement some time in August 2018.
I certainly do thank all those involved who came along over 2017 on 12 months of what has really been a decade long journey, in producing that manifesto of best practice policy. We might hope Establishment parties pick up the essence of the reforms but I certainly won’t hold my breath. We had fun and we challenged people and for the more than 60,000 voters really interested in best practice policy, we appealed. They too have reason to be proud.