"Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean." Could this be Hone Harawira's parliamentary fate?
So the Maori Party leadership have made their move against Hone Harawira. I guess the weekend's news stories were all a bit too much - the celebrations at Waitangi were less about Te Tiriti and more about Hone and co (with a bit of "when is a koha not a koha?" friction thrown in).
But what does this move actually mean?
First, the suspension is only from the Maori Party caucus, not from the Party proper. Harawira is, at least for now, still a full party member ... it's just his 4 fellow MPs don't want him associating with them when it comes to the Party's parliamentary business.
Second, the suspension only has meaning internal to the Party caucus. As far as the rest of the House of Representatives is concerned, Harawira is still a Maori Party MP. The Maori Party can even keep casting his vote - provided he doesn't object to how they are casting it and demand the right to cast it himself, that is.
Third, the suspension means the Party will starve Harawira of oxygen in the debating chamber. They will refuse to give him any of their speaking slots during debates or any of their opportunities to ask questions of ministers. They can even pull him off his select committee duties, if they want to be completely bloody minded. So, until the suspension is lifted (or until Harawira becomes an independent MP by choice or expulsion), the Party can condemn him to a life of silent impotence in the House.
Finally, nothing has yet been said about the disciplinary hearing scheduled for next week. The assumption must be that this is going ahead, unless Te Ururoa Flavell formally withdraws his complaint. Which puts Harawira in a somewhat awkward position, as any OTT reaction to this move will provide more yet more grist to that particular mill.
So, to sum up ... by no means the last move in this particular game of political checkers. But it's a pretty big one, all the same.