Mana and the Internet Party – strategic alliance or wtf?

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This last weekend I’ve been at the Mana Movement AGM in Rotorua where the biggest issue discussed was the much-speculated potential electoral arrangement between Mana Movement and the Internet Party.

Because it’s been such an important debate for Mana and because we’ve been asked about it by so many Mana members and supporters who couldn’t be at the 250 strong AGM I’ll outline some of the key issues the movement considered – and is still considering.

The proposal for some sort of electoral relationship arose from a meeting between Mana leader Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom earlier in the year. The first benefit to both Mana Movement and the Internet Party – and the country for that matter – is to ensure all votes cast to get rid of the National government are counted. Under current law a party which falls short of the 5% threshold has its votes wasted – potentially up to 130,000 anti-National votes not counted.

This fundamentally undemocratic aspect of our MMP system is a result of pressure from National and Labour to keep parliament as a cosy duopoly and disenfranchise thousands of voters in the process.

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So the AGM debated at length whether to proceed to formally explore a possible alliance. It was a riveting four hours as speakers spoke for or against the idea.

As part of the discussion I was asked to present what I saw as the “pros” and “cons” of a possible “strategic alliance” with the Internet Party.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pros

1.    Increased profile for Mana and as we are seen as more relevant with a larger combined party vote with the Internet Party.

2.    Creation of interest and even excitement among many younger voters and non-voters.

3.    A greater likelihood of getting Mana Movement list MPs through a combined party vote.

4.    Greater resources to fight a party vote campaign.

5.    Greater resources to help inspire and enrol current non-voters and get them to the polling booth.

6.    There is already some areas of strong policy agreement with the Internet Party to: stop GCSB spying, withdraw from the “five eyes” spy alliance, provide internet privacy rights and cheap/free access to the internet, provide free tertiary education and oppose the TPPA.

7.    Ensuring that the Internet Party and their supporters are committed to changing the government.

8.    MANA brand remains in Maori electorate campaigns which are a key focus this election.

 

Cons

1.    Damage to the public perception of Mana:

  • ·         Mana may lose respect as a kaupapa Maori movement and damage our chances in the Maori seats.
  • ·         Mana Movement may lose respect as a movement for the poor and dispossessed if we have an alliance with a high-profile wealthy partner.
  • ·         Mana Movement may be seen by some as compromising our principles for money (irrespective of the truth of this)

2.    A potential watering down of our policies to create a joint Mana-Internet Party vote campaign.

3.    A potential loss of control of Mana policy and direction to a new joint venture.

4.    A risk of ending up with fewer seats than we would have on our own.

 

The three key questions which arose from this are:

1.    Would an alliance enhance or damage Mana as a kaupapa Maori movement?

2.    Would an alliance enable us to gain greater parliamentary representation without compromising our policies or principles?

3.    How would we retain our integrity, and be seen to retain our integrity, in such an alliance?

 

All speakers recognised the risks to the movement and to the individuals involved – we all value our integrity – but after four hours a clear consensus emerged that we should take the step to see if an arrangement agreeable to Mana can be reached. (Each of Mana’s seven rohe supported the decision to keep talking with the Internet Party)

So despite some media reports no decision has been taken to enter an alliance with the Internet Party. We are withholding judgement till we see what emerges from further discussion. At that point any possible agreement will be discussed by Mana rohe and branches before a final vote is taken.

It will be an important decision for Mana and could be a very important decision for the country.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Mana has been doing just fine. Hone Harawira always presented a good profile for the movement in Parliament and has served his constituency well.

    Up until now that is! So I’ll go with the WTF moment on this one!

    • Whats changed? All through the disscussion, noone from Mana has watered down its politics to accommodate Dotcom, and the *clear* message from the AGM is any working together with the internet party (or anyone else) will be on the basis of Mana’s politics. If thats not possible, there’ll be no co-operation.

      When this is the case, why be afraid of the big fat german?

    • I have huge respect for Hone, and I think he has done well in his recent media interviews, but the fact is that many people pidgeon-hole Mana as just a reboot of the nose-in-the-trough Māori Party, and even here on this left-leaning blog site I’ve seen Hone described as a “redneck racist”. The participation of veteran left troublemakers like Sue B, John M, and the various marxist groups is used to slam Mana as some kind of communist front.

      The Mana-IP alliance is an excellent innoculation against all of these corporate media smear tactics. Working with a party which has a foreign-born, white, ‘social libertarian’ eccentric millionaire like KDC as a patron, and whose supporters will be presumed to be middle-class pākeha (even if this isn’t true), proves without any explanation that Mana are not racist, xenophobic, only for Māori, or “communist” (in the USSR sense of the term, although I’m told “when you program Open Source, you program COMMUNISM!”). It proves that Mana is really something totally new, part socialist, part libertarian, part Māori, part Pākeha, part Te Ao Tawhito, part Te Ao Hurihuri. It also works for the IP, proving that KDC is not a closet Nazi, and that he’s a Scandanavian-style social libertarian, not an ACT-style freedom-to-exploit “libertarian” (witness his policy announcement supporting free education).

      An excellent example of how this alliance can be used to break out of media pidgeon holes was Hone’s interview on The Nation, where he was told by the interviewer that Mana is a party of “big government” and the IP is a “against government regulation”, presumably like ACT. This is the framing the corporate media has been given by Crosby-Textor et al to marginalize both Mana and the IP. Putting the two together breaks this framing, and the corporate media will spend the rest of the election trying to figure out how to over-simplify and vilify this alliance.

  2. Thanks for that John. Have written my views in comments on Bombers post this morning, so will just say here that Mana’s strength for me has always been the extra parliamentary activity and encouraging the politically alienated and disengaged.

    The parliament is but one part of political struggle, and some of us socialists should use our touted dialectical methods more rigorously on the Mana/TIP issue.

  3. 1. Would an alliance enhance or damage Mana as a kaupapa Maori movement?

    It already has guys. This is what you call a non-grass roots initiative being foisted on the members. Sounds like something Mr Hehir dreamed up. When Maori went with national, it was the pohara Maori seats propping up the rich. What is different here?

    • But is that true because while MANA has been in the spotlight with this possible alliance – MANA has gone up in the polls and has had a surge of memberships. Sue and some unhappy pakeha socialists (I note some because there were plenty of other socialists who did support the idea) aren’t the totality of MANA movement are they? And your claim this was forced is nonsense, a Rohe by Rohe vote gave a unanimous result to go ahead. Perhaps people need to see the deal that can actually be cut before they proclaim the end of western civilisation? It may be that there is no deal good enough for MANA so it doesn’t happen, but to claim MANA has been damaged when it has had more media attention for the last 3 weeks than any other political party seems mischievous at best.

      • It’s incorrect to suggest that it’s only “the Pakeha socialists” who are unhappy with it. Hilda Halkyard Harawira isn’t happy with it too. It’s wrong to suggest all opposition to Dotcom is from people like Bradford, just as its wrong to suggest that all support for it is due to the money of Dotcom.

        • I didnt see you there at the AGM Disraeli – the majority who had problems on the day were the pakeha socialists – not all of them, many of the socialists supported the idea as well. Hilda has concerns as does another senior staff member, but the split can be broadly described along pakeha/Maori lines.

          • Everyone has concerns. This is totally new territory. And isn’t the issue, in the end, about having trust that Mana is strong enough to not put up with any bullshit? That Mana uses what the IP can bring and both parties harness the power of common concern. My 23 year old daughter, who is not interested in politics said the IP party is the only party that makes sense to her. So why not explore the potential of this idea, and if in the end Mana is not confident about the IP being a good fit then, as the Chinese confusiast said, ‘walk away’. I’m also slightly dismayed at the idea being put out there that all Māori ‘think the same’, that Māori aren’t strategists, pragmatists or should be patronised because Māori don’t know about nasty capitalisits. Hey we know. We’ve had experience of capitlaism, colonialsim, racism, and no doubt other ‘isms’. BUT we wouldn’t be here today if our tūpuna didn’t take a huge risk and sail over the oceans, searching for a better life, and no doubt taking on not only the physical elements but the emotional and social ones as well.So why not explore this proposition. Oh that’s right they are.

          • By focussing on Sue Bradford’s dissent and saying it’s a Pakeha/Maori split, we’re silencing the voices of Maori within Mana who are uncomfortable with any prospect of the alliance. Even if, as you may say, they’re only a few.

            But those voices shouldn’t be silenced.

            • How am I doing that, I’m stating as fact that the majority who had an issue were pakeha and Sue. Willie Jackson noted jot as well, are you chastising him for silencing Maori voices Disraeli?

  4. Thanks, John. It’s nice to actually see the internal processes rather than having them distorted through the media. I just want to ask one question, if you don’t mind:

    “At that point any possible agreement will be discussed by Mana rohe and branches before a final vote is taken.”

    How will that final vote work? Will it be a party-wide vote or done at the senior executive level, which the Herald hinted at with:

    “Mr Harawira indicated the final decision would be made by senior party figures rather than a wider vote.

    “It will probably be made by the executive in the final analysis.””

  5. Hi,
    Thank you for this. Will Mana be standing a candidate in the Whangarei general roll? It’s the one I’m one and I don’t know about the Mana candidate here.
    adam

  6. The Mana Movement is gaining traction and respectability throughout New Zealand . Its Ideals/values a based on Maori Kaupapa Principles , but its members a made up of ALL Nationalities, Pakeha , Asians , Pacific Islanders and Maori .

    They all come from different back grounds and have different political opinions and beliefs. The melting pot for Mana is to mix ALL their issues and opinions into a consensus to form one relevant structure of representation and equality as a whole.

  7. To misquote the Pet Shop Boys:

    I’ve got the party structure, you’ve got the profile – let’s get lots of voters

    Or Nancy Sinatra:

    Kim Dotcom is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
    Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone
    This dream is for you, so pay the price
    Make one dream come true, you only live twice

  8. Mana is one of the few smaller parties that has a chance of out-living its leadership. But the current scenario is all risk for Mana. As for the IP, who cares?

    Leaving aside the issues of shared policy (which is basically non-existent: the IP essentially has none) the question is: if both parties pooled their votes, would they crack 5%. For that to happen, voters for either party would have to remain motivated without being turned off by the other’s presence. That seems vanishingly unlikely, precisely because it requires … shared policy. I know people vote on personalities. But it’s not ALL they vote for.

    Put differently: it took Labour over 40 years before they had a go at Government. The Greens might get a taste of it inside 30. Mana’s got a long way to go. The IP is zygotic, compared to these life spans.

    If all the policy on both sides boils down to a shared motivation to topple JK, mana voters will defect to Green and Labour, who will present more integrated policy platforms than the IP ever will and, for that matter, a more bankable chance of breaking through 5%

    Come to that, if cyber freedom is your thing, the Greens are probably still a better option. Plus they’ve the benefit of actually being professional, experienced and accomplished politicians.

    If Bradford and Sykes quit, Mana’s over.

    • I think your total lack of understanding of MMP is probably the worst part about your comment. You do appreciate, do you not, that a MANA + Internet Party alliance wouldn’t in fact need to break the 5% threshold right?

    • I agree with Bomber on the MMP point. Plus, if it was true that the IP has not policies (it isn’t, free education is *definitely* a policy), then what does Mana have to fear? Their policy would make up the vast majority of any alliance manifesto, except for a few specialist tech policies.

      BTW I suspect you of being a useful idiot for parroting the Crosby-Textor-driven key message that the IP has no policies (not a paid shill, as your message was more than 2 sentences).

  9. I think you can boil it down to one question. What does MANA value more, integrity or parliamentary representation? I’ve been told is that MANA is a movement, not just a party. If this is true then it has far greater potential than a party ever will, because history has shown that party’s have critical limitations when it comes to fulfilling goals and aspirations of the public, including workers and indigenous people and various marginalised groups.

    Be very critical at this time, and just look at the history of compromises and mistakes in NZ’s left, and where that’s left us today.

  10. John Key’s decision not to go with the Electoral Commissions Recommendations could come back and bite him in the arse with a Mana/Internet Party Alliance. However I don’t think Keys support is as strong as the polls would lead us to believe.

  11. Even the longest journey begins with a single step, which maybe just gets us into the waka. Then we have to be sure it’s pointed somewhere near the direction that takes us where we want to go, and we’re mostly all paddling in the same direction. Paddling can be more important than shouting directions. Anyone slowing things down can be thrown overboard.

    Confucius, Maoritanga, and a good old Stalinist purge! Stay tuned, something is happening. I hope it’s good, whatever Mana decides. I’m not going to go further than that here, because I’m not a member and, as anyone fluent in Latin would know, I might end up in the hangi.

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