Alf's Imperial Army, victorious again!
An alternative look at the New Zealand election, with writing from the 3news.co.nz team.
By Dan Satherley
Yesterday we began a look at New Zealand's stranger political offerings, which included flying gurus, TV comedians and unambitious Nazis. This is part 2 of that list. Click here for part 1.
THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE PARTY
The People's Choice Party began in 1997 after Doug Wilson walked from New Plymouth to Wellington, trying to collect enough signatures to force the Governor-General to call a snap election.
Officially registered in 1999, the party contested the general election in November, coming second-to-last with 387 votes nationwide (about a quarter what the party proposing "yogic flyers" got).
Realising elections weren't their forte, PCP decided instead to just tell followers which major party they should vote for, ironically assuming they could make the people's choice for them. In 1999 they backed Labour, in 2002 they backed New Zealand First, in 2005 it was the Greens and in 2008, National, which just goes to show the people don't know what the hell they really want.
In 2009 they made an unexpected comeback to contest the Mt Albert by-election, though it's hard to call candidate Rusty Kane's five votes much of a comeback.
The People's Choice Party has never won any seats in Parliament, and it would seem only five people really care if they still exist or not.
IMPERIAL BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY
New Zealand's only political party to be led by a real-life wizard (the Fellowship of the Ring doesn't count), the Imperial British Conservative Party was founded in 1974 by the Wizard of New Zealand.
The idea behind the party was that imperialism was a force for good in the world – especially British imperialism.
"Anyone who has studied history without wearing anti-British blinkers will realise that the peoples in Asia, Africa, India and Australasia were fortunate that they were colonised by the British rather than the Germans, French, Belgians, Russians or Japanese," said the Wizard.
In a memoir/manifesto published in 1998, the English-born Ian Brackenbury Channell says New Zealand, and Maori in particular, would benefit from the return of the landed gentry.
"In New Zealand, until they became 'Americanised' and began slavishly copying the life style of the wretched blacks in the urban ghettos, Maori had more trust in the fairness of the Crown than in the New Zealand Parliament," said the Wizard. "The predominant role model for the youth sub-culture has become the Black American ghetto dweller – inarticulate, illiterate, resentful, promiscuous and addicted to drugs, sex and rock and roll."
In 2009 he received the Queen's Service Medal, despite New Zealand's continued decline, including "…obsession with sporting achievements in place of intellectual and spiritual achievements, and the placing of absurd emphasis on such things as Pavlova cakes (also claimed by Australia), Vegemite (a variation of the English Marmite), gumboots ( invented by the Duke of Wellington) and the Buzzy Bee (recently revealed as an American invention) ."
Despite being one of the only Kiwi political parties to be backed with its own military – Alf's Imperial Army – the Imperial British Conservative Party has never won any seats in Parliament, and the Wizard cast his last spell earlier this year, abandoning his beloved Christchurch after the February earthquake.
THE NEW MUNSTER PARTY
Is a political party still a party if it refuses to take part in elections? Yes, according to South Island separatists The New Munster Party.
Founded in 2010, its goal is for the South Island to secede from the North, creating a new Irish-inspired country called 'New Munster', a name some used in the 19th Century instead of its official name, Middle Island (just to confuse things).
(On a side note, Golden Bay in the north of the South Island used to be called Murderer's Bay, before being renamed Blind Bay, then, because neither of those were terrifying enough, Massacre Bay.)
The New Munster Party – which would make a great band name – would make the South Island (now called New Munster again) a republic based on direct democracy – in other words, a tyranny of the majority.
They'd also adopt a position of "armed neutrality" which sounds like an oxymoron until you realise it basically means every time there's a war, you just do what Switzerland and Sweden do, which is nothing.
But being pacifist, as well as refusing to compete any democratic elections, isn't exactly a recipe for success.
Their predecessors The South Island Party struggled to get the 500 members needed for registration with the Electoral Commission. Another group, The NZ South Island Party (I'm beginning to understand why the new crew went with 'New Munster') took part in the 1999 election, winning 2622 votes nationwide. But unbelievably, they failed to stand a candidate in their likely future capital, Christchurch.
The South Island independence movement is hardly new though – in 1865, Auckland backed a proposal from Otago to split the country in two that was voted down by the rest of the country, who probably wished it was Auckland they were cutting adrift instead.
The New Munster Party has never won any seats in Parliament, because not only have they never tried, but they urge their supporters not to vote.
THE NEW ZEALAND ALLIANCE
Not to be confused with The Alliance, whose supporters generally aren't afraid of a pint or nine, The New Zealand Alliance of the early 20th Century had one goal – the prohibition of alcohol.
From the 1890s, every few years each New Zealand district was able to vote on whether they wanted to retain the status quo on liquor sales and restrictions, reduce the number of licences, or completely abolish alcohol. Up until 1908, only 12 districts put the booze back in the cabinet, because the hurdle "no licence" had to jump was 60 percent.
In 1911, the vote went national. The bar was lowered to 55 percent, but after outrage from the booze barons, was put back up to 60 percent. Somewhat suspiciously, the prohibitionists got 55.8 percent. In 1914, they got 49 percent, and in 1919 – with the bar lowered to 50 percent – they got 49 percent again, soldiers returning home from World War I tipping the balance in favour of having a good time.
A second vote in 1919 saw the killjoys come their closest ever to eliminating the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems, with 49.7 percent of the vote.
Though cobbling together massive support over the decades spanning the turn of the 19th Century into the 20th, The New Zealand Alliance appeared to struggle for candidates – Rev Frank Isitt, a Methodist minister, stood in the 1902 election in no less than 10 different seats, coming second in eight of them.
I'm sure if he had won all 10, he would have been at the bottom of a bottle by lunchtime.
Referenda were held every three years (with a couple of exceptions) for almost a century, until stopped in 1989, when puritans refocused their attentions on combating the new threats of rap music, video games and shoulder pads.
THE MCGILLICUDDY SERIOUS PARTY
The granddaddy of New Zealand joke parties, The McGillicuddy Serious Party is perhaps Hamilton's greatest contribution to Kiwi culture (if you forget about a certain cross-dressing transsexual from Transylvania for a moment).
Founded in 1984 by 'Laird' Graham Cairns, the party advocated a 'Great Leap Backwards' to a time before even the Imperial British Conservative Party would be happy with – the Middle Ages. Or in other words, bringing the rest of New Zealand back in line with Hamilton.
The party would install a monarchy led by Bonnie Prince Geoffie 'the Reluctant', whom according to their manifesto, wanted nothing to do with politics at all.
During the 1993 election campaign, their most successful, the McGillicuddy Serious Party ran advertising during children's television programming, since one of their policies would be to restrict voting to under-18-year-olds, whilst simultaneously raising the leaving the school age to 65.
Much to the horror of The New Munster Party, the self-avowed jesters would bulldoze the Southern Alps to form a land bridge between the North and South Islands, and force a third of the population to be homosexual.
Auckland's CBD would also be bulldozed to make way for a giant sundial, and the Sky Tower would protected from sexual diseases spread by them whore clouds with a massive condom.
The party also promised an All Whites World Cup victory, a potato famine and good weather – but only if voters behaved.
They also said they would break all their promises, beating John Key to the punch by a couple of decades.
After a string of electoral defeats – the party's best effort being 0.61 percent of the vote in 1993 – Cairns declared himself a failed prophet, and in December 1999 made an appearance in Hamilton's Garden Place in stocks, allowing supporters and other members of the public pelt him with rotten fruit.
The Te Pahu farm just outside of Hamilton to this day still acts as a base for McGillicuddy mischief, hosting regular Jig On Sunday parties. In 2008, world-famous robot band the Trons made their debut appearance there.
The McGillicuddy Serious Party never won any seats in Parliament, though 1999 list candidate #27 Metiria Turei went on to become co-leader of the Greens, and #23 Mark Servian (whose occupation was given as 'astronaut') last year made the news for lobbying the New Zealand government on behalf of Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O'Brien, who wanted to move back to New Zealand.
But not back to Hamilton.
These are just the 10 best I could find enough information on to make them worth writing about. There are several others whose origins and reason for being are still a mystery, and could be even wackier than this lot.
The 1990 election alone has the Gordon Dinosaur Party, the Blokes' Liberation Front and Wall Of Surf – all of which sound incredible – and the last-placed Consensus Party, which managed 10 votes, belying its name.
So far, 2011's been comparatively quiet, with only ACT making an effort to get on a future version of this list. The Conservatives thus far seem just that – a little too conservative to be much fun – and Mana, well, is anyone still surprised by anything Hone Harawira says or does?
But the election campaign's still on, and anything could happen.