There is a single biggest loser from Laila Harre's appointment to lead the Internet Party... and it's not the Greens

A quick post to say something that's been buzzing around my head since last night and which has been mentioned on the thread of my previous post -- with Laila Harre taking over the Internet Party the Maori seats have become more pivotal at this election.

The received wisdom in the first 24 hours since Harre's appointment was revealed by Rob Hosking in the NBR, was that the Greens are the big losers from this. I accept it's not brilliant for them, but the real loser is the Maori Party.

Harre as leader meant the Mana-Internet Party could go ahead and that means a big boost for Mana.

Indirectly, Mana now has a war chest to fight hard in the Maori seats and will have one key mission in this election -- the distruction of the Maori Party and its replacement by a more left-leaning, determinedly anti-National party. The Maori Party's strategy of being at the table for Maori no matter what is going head-to-head with Mana's hard left agenda.

Mana have the foot soldiers, and now with Dotcom's money will be confident its leaders will be confident it can give Annette Sykes the leverage she needs to win Waiariki. Labour is confident of taking Te Tai Hauauru and while it seems to be doing its best to lose Tamaki Makaurau, is expecting to win there as well.

That would do give Mana the dominance it wants in Maori politics and deny National three seats. So it'll be interesting to see if National starts ploughing money into the Maori Party's campaign efforts -- even more than the odd Key speech at the Northern Club. And how much the Maori Party can afford to be seen as a client party.

Of course, ironically, if the Maori Party is destroyed it could make it easier for New Zealand First to go with National. But that's a whole other equation.

In the short term, Mana is looking to do its bit for the change of government in those seats and Harre will be looking to scoop up a bunch of non-voters to grow the pool on the left. But if this left-wing strategy that stretches across mutiple parties (making Matt McCarten's place in Labour so critical and making it so much clearer why he went there in the first place) is to work, David Cunliffe and Labour's front bench need to lift their game and get the party to at least 33 percent. Probably more like 35 percent.

Then it's a real race for the finishing line, which could yet go through those Maori seats.

Oh, and I went to Harre's unveiling at the Langham Hotel this afternoon and got some answers of sort to my question yesterday. Why would Harre take this path?

First, she's genuinely to the left of Labour and wants to pull the spectrum that way. Second, this is her own party, she gets to be boss and has fewere divisions to negotiate. Third, she genuinely believes that Dotcom's money and internet know-how can help get out the younger vote, something she's passionate about.

Comments (4)

by Richard Aston on May 30, 2014
Richard Aston

Would it not be in Labours ultimate best interest to ease back on the maori seats to give Mana a solid chance ? Mana would be a natural coalition partner for Labour.

Heard any rumours Tim?



by Matthew Percival on May 30, 2014
Matthew Percival

The Mana Party better be careful what they wish for.

National has in the past campaigned in getting rid of the Maori seats only to rescind on that as part of their agreement with the Maori Party.

So what happens if the Maori Party gains no seats and National forms a government with like-minded parties?

by Richard Aston on May 30, 2014
Richard Aston

Matthew I wouldn't want to be the minister who anounces the abolishment of maori seats. It wouldn't go down well.


by Tim Watkin on May 31, 2014
Tim Watkin

It's a good question though Matthew. National may be tempted to tack to the right in the third term given that they are likely to have a smaller Maori Party to deal with, if one at all. And that could mean just that sort of policy. Although John Key said some fine words about Maori relations in 2008 when he got the Maori Party on board - maybe even some commitments about the seats?

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