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March 21, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Politics With Paul – Prospecting the Extremes

Following his resignation from the Maori Party, there has been some clarification on what a new Hone Harawira-led party might look like.

There has long been speculation of a New Left party headed by Harawira, and former Green MP Sue Bradford. However, Harawira’s revelation that any new party led by the former Maori Party MP would be Maori-focused; a “more Left-wing Maori Party”, seems to pour cold water over the likelihood of the two coalescing around a common Leftist agenda. Bradford has already commented, “It’s not the sort of broadly-based, Left party that a lot of people including myself would like to see.”

Despite the narrow focus, the idea of such a Left-wing Maori party enjoys significant support. A Native Affairs/Baseline poll found that nearly a third of Maori-roll voters would vote for a party led by Harawira, which could cost the Maori Party dearly. Matt McCarten has told of Labour’s lament that with the departure of Harawira, the Maori Party is now “in National’s pocket forever”—an alliance which appears antithetical to the desires of most Maori voters. Perhaps it is this perception of the future of the Maori Party that explains why polling indicates neither Pita Sharples nor Rahui Katene will retain their seats in November, reducing the Party’s presence to just two MPs.

Of course, Harawira has promised his former colleagues that he will not stand candidates against them, so long as they don’t run a candidate against him in Te Tai Tokerau. If these promises are kept, a Harawira-led party would therefore be reliant upon list seats, and considering Maori Party voters have overwhelmingly awarded Labour their Party Vote in the past, perhaps it is Labour who stand to lose.
This might explain Phil Goff’s remarks that he would not form Government with a Harawira-led party, a thinly veiled attempt to discourage the mass exodus of traditional-Labour voters. On the other had, Goff might be forced to eat his words if Harawira is successful, as this party could be Labour’s only chance at gaining power in November. It will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Meanwhile, there are similarly interesting developments on the Right.

Perhaps highlighting how little of a threat the Labour Party poses in the upcoming election, it was the National Party who found themselves repeatedly in the crosshairs at the recent ACT Party conference.

Both ex-National leader Don Brash and ACT’s deputy leader John Boscawen criticised National’s handling of the economy, with the former accusing the National cabinet of making “irresponsible decisions”, and the latter suggesting that the time for the “slower and incremental approach” had passed, and Key should be looking towards “the big bang approach that Sir Roger (Douglas) did in the 1980s.”
Brash also played the race card that was so effective in his now infamous address at the Orewa Rotary Club in 2004, giving a scathing criticism of the National Party, opining, “Sometimes I think the Government cannot see other races but Maori.”

ACT Leader Rodney Hide also put the elbow in to his coalition partners, bemoaning National’s backing down on the idea of mining conservation land, and promising that ACT would use any leverage awarded to the Party on election night to reverse National’s position.
Of course, whether there will be any leverage at all is up for debate.

ACT only enjoy their seats in Parliament currently, thanks to Hide’s 2008 success in Epsom and there are questions over whether Epsom will stick with the battered leader in November. In-Party fighting, scandal surrounding Hide’s taxpayer-funded overseas travel with his then-girlfriend, and the embarrassing circumstances surrounding MP David Garratt’s resignation have left Hide and ACT with a disconcerting record.

With the speculation surrounding the prospect of Brash or John Banks leading a far-right Reform Party, and questions over whether or not National will run a viable candidate in Epsom, Hide cannot work on the assumption that the centre-right will return ACT to Parliament simply on the basis that voters will reject the idea of a straight National-Maori Party coalition. It is quite conceivable that the future of ACT can only be secured with the resignation of Hide.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Harry Gee says:

    Oh c’mon. The NZ government, on behalf of a mere 4 million people, is borrowing $300m a week just to stay afloat and has been doing so for years. We spend more (of other peoples money) than we ourselves earn. The country’s economy has effectively been in a sustained period of recession ever since the global financial bubble burst. More than a million NZers now call overseas home. Our real estate is outrageously overvalued. Our second largest city is in ruins and the reconstruction costs will take generations to repay. And this commentary of the critical issues in NZ politics right now (“the extremes”) is the best you can do? Perhaps we need some extremes. It might wake everybody up from the insulated, tunnel-visioned little slumber the nation is in.

  2. XYZ says:

    “This might explain Phil Goff’s remarks that he would not form Government with a Harawira-led party, a thinly veiled attempt to discourage the mass exodus of traditional-Labour voters.”

    Just not. Those remarks were patently aimed at white New Zealaners. How the hell would it attract Maori voters who might be thinking about voting for Harawira?

    It is very unlikely that Maori voters will give their party vote to a party that is likely to get dispoportionatley more share of the electorate seats than share of the party vote (meaning that it would be a “wasted” vote). They have shown themselves more tactical than that in the past – why would it change?

    “Perhaps highlighting how little of a threat the Labour Party poses in the upcoming election, it was the National Party who found themselves repeatedly in the crosshairs at the recent ACT Party conference.”

    A National Government will always be the target of criticism by the Act Party – just as a Labour Government will be the target of any left Party. That is nothing new – it is odd that you might report it that way.

  3. Mike says:

    Not much of a comment, but wondering why it is that all this about indigenous extra rights and government groups is even going on, the UN get tricked the country is told things that are not correct, Maori took the country as did forces during WW2 in other parts of the world that means not indigenous, so it’s all a big fake out.

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