The road so far – A short history of the 2015 Internet Party

The Road So Far

I joined the Internet Party(IP) the day after the election. I remember the feeling, it was the same feeling I got when George Bush junior was elected for the second time in America. I could see the mistakes the IP had made but the greatest mistake was made by the population of New Zealand in re-electing National.

At this time the Executive was silent, the candidates were silent, the Meetups were silent, the membership was in confusion and without leadership had no-where to focus their loss except on the Party.

Luckily I had found the Loomio Policy discussions website in time for Michael Marsom to start saving the party. If you look back over the beginning of that discussion many of the same people are still here today; Ross Burrows, Fred Look, Dan van Wylich, Colin England, Colin Davies, and Debbie Stanely. There were others, but those are the core group of people who bootstrapped the Executive and who are still around. Mainly the first part of “Organisational Structure and Internal Party Democracy” consists of everybody heading in different directions and Michael pulling us back towards an Executive Election and an AGM.

There was so much excitement that we were actually starting to move again. With starts and stops but moving. People where jumping the gun and suggesting new models of organisation, ideas from all over the show bubbling up and being popped by others. It was fun.

It is around this time that Fred Look and I started talking an realised that we lived fairly close, if separated by the Colville Channel. At the same time we realised just how few members we had left communicating. Only 627 were registered on Loomio and only twenty of those seemed to be participating. Then the main website went down, cutting off all the membership who weren’t on Loomio from communicating with each other. I still have no idea why that happened, but at the time it seemed like the final nail in the coffin.

Then Laila sent us an update saying that Ann (Party Secretary at the time) and her were in an Executive working group trying to get an interim Exec up and running before they stood down. Things seemed to be going from worse to worse although it was at this time that Fred joined the working group and things actually started to turn around.

Michael Marsom started working as the Party Secretary and devised, wrote, and revised the methods by which we would elect a new Executive (Along with Alex from Dunedin?) using preferential votes and asked for 150 word statements from those wanting to put their name forward. So, on the 31st of January the email went out.

And the candidates were;

  • James Abbott
  • Dean Campbell
  • Peter William Capper
  • Kim Dotcom
  • Alexander James Edmonds
  • Grant Keinzley
  • Fred Look
  • Michael Marsom
  • Salmon Patrick
  • Colin Smith
  • Michael Tucker
  • Marc Steven Whinery
  • Chris Yong

More than 1000 people opened that email, and we got enough voters to make it a quorum. However, we didn’t get enough for the new Executive to feel they had any more than a mandate to pull the party together and work towards the next AGM to let the members decide.

And the new Executive was;

  • James Abbott
  • Kim Dotcom
  • Grant Keinzley
  • Fred Look
  • Michael Marsom
  • Chris Yong

Unfortunately that was the start of the first Loomio war which ended only after Michael stepped in with a Disciplinary Committee threat, a meeting of the executive, and a short conversation asking me to no longer respond or communicate with some members of the party. The Executives first meeting was held on the 1st March.

What it really pointed out was some of the shortcomings in our current structure. Unmoderated discussion requires restraint on the part of the participants and without that constraint things spiralled out of control easily, speedily, and sometimes disastrously. It only took a couple of people and weeks would be spent picking up the pieces. If you want to know why we have taken almost a year to get to launching the AGM, it is because we have spent at least half that time arguing amongst ourself like…well, politicians. And our executive wasn’t fully engaged, they were new and unused to herding cats.

And that lead to the second Loomio war which led to the loss of some members but eventually pulled (or at least coincided with pulling) the Executive together. Michael Marsom resigned as Secretary and Fred Look was appointed. Grant started working on the website, and here we are today!

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