Jamie Whyte and Ask Away

I have blogged before about Ask Away and how it is influencing the media. But it looks like it might have played its role in tripping up a party. A quick recap first, Ask Away is part of Massey’s Design and Democracy project. It is a system where voters can ask questions that get up or down voted, parties are then able to answer with their positions on the various questions. One of the questions that was asked was:


All of the parties that have a reasonable chance of getting into Parliament have answered the question. But there is an issue with Jamie’s answer on behalf of ACT. 95bFM have been asking parties and candidates a series of questions on various policy positions. One of those questions, that they happened to ask Jamie, was the one the same issue. Last night they tweeted the following:


And here is a larger version of the text:


So during the space of the campaign Jamie, and ACT, have either changed their position on this issue, or they have just forgotten what their position was. Other users have asked Jamie for comment on the inconsistency:


Graeme’s tweet was sent 9 hours after 95bFM asked the some question, though they failed to tag Jamie in the tweet, so not sure if they were expecting a reply. There is still no apparent answer from Jamie or ACT either. In previous campaigns, if a candidate or leader stumbled on a policy question, outside of a debate or a media stand up, chances are there would be no record of it, plus most people wouldn’t even know about it. But with organisations like 95bFM asking, recording and reporting comments on policy, and Ask Away offering a way for people to do the same, there is now a record of what is being said. I would not be surprised if the person who answered the 95bFM question and the person who typed the answer to Ask Away weren’t actually the same person. It is not uncommon for the accounts of politicians to be run by staffers. In fact Louis Houlbrooke, President of ACT on Campus, is on record as stating that Jamie doesn’t personally run his own Twitter account:


He has also gone on record saying:


So who actually wrote the various responses could be a useful question to answer. Either Jamie answered both, and failed to mention that he had changed his position, or in fact hasn’t changed his position and didn’t realise he had answered the two questions differently. Or two different people answered the two different questions and there is no process inside the ACT party to make sure that they are answering in a way consistent with party policy. But what ever the answer, it still raises questions about the competency of the ACT party.


Social media, and projects like Ask Away, are about trying to help people make informed voting decisions. This only works if parties and candidates actually use social media, and answer the reasonable questions asked of them. It would be good if Jamie or ACT could actually do that.



Act have finally cleared up the situation.


Why it took this long and why Jamie didn’t make this clear in the post is uncertain.