Last weekend Kim Dotcom spoke at MANAs AGM to discuss the possibility of the Internet Party and MANA Party working together to defeat John Key this election. As someone who knows both Hone and Kim, I have a unique perspective on this most unlikely of political odd couples.
Criticism of the alliance between them has come from the right via National Party attack blogs to insinuate Kim is a Nazi while some on the left have challenged Hone on supposedly selling out to Kim. The former is driven by a need on the right to desperately discredit Kim before his evidence against the Prime Minister is heard and the Snowden revelations of what our intelligence agencies have really been up to are released, while the latter objections from the left are a collection of misunderstandings and idealogical hang ups.
Having little desire to slide through the sewer of the hard right to dissect the toxic thinking there, allow me to focus this column on the two main issues raised by the left to this possible alliance.
The first is the most important, that MANA going into an alliance with the Internet Party would in some way dilute its independent voice for Maori and the marginalised. This argument doesn’t appreciate that the structure of the relationship that is being suggested between both parties would mean MANA was assured its political aspirations were concreted into the first places on the new alliance party list.
The second criticism from the Left argues that Kim Dotcom represents the very wealth that MANA opposes and that Kim is not ideologically one of ‘us’. This mentality is one of the curses of the Left. While the Right look for recruits, the Left look for traitors. Kim has been illegally spied upon and had 70 masked and armed paramilitary police smash into his home and terrorise his family. His experiences have radicalised him and his desire to fight back with a political movement making the internet its electorate in an age of mass surveillance and civil rights erosion is a response the Left should embrace rather than denounce because his previous beliefs didn’t align with ours. Over a quarter of a million children in poverty demand tactics that will change the parliamentary math to kick John Key out, weary debates about who is the most Left won’t feed hungry kids.
In light of the Maori Party’s secret $5000 a head dinner to buy access to the Prime Minister at a venue with a dubious civil rights history, MANA inviting Kim to speak in front of the media at their AGM looks positively open and transparent.
The Internet Party would support core MANA policy while MANA would support repealing the GCSB spying powers and fighting the digital divide with free internet in Marae, schools and libraries. Any alliance would offer up 5 bottom lines to whatever post election majority could be formed for supply and confidence against National. That means real policy gains that directly impact the poorest kiwis and those online.
Hone and Kim have more in common than the GCSB spying on both of them, they also detest John Key and how he has treated the poor he doesn’t need and the rich he doesn’t like.
Gen X and Gen Y are the first user pays generation with no ideological compass. Two of the biggest anti-establishment figures on the political landscape joining forces could be the very thing that cuts through the apathy and gains the alliance momentum through the only sense of community those generations know – online.
Of course there are risks. Any strategy carries them, but if the negotiated deal stands up to MANAs scrutiny, the question then becomes how bad do we want to change the Government, because this has the capacity to bring 4, 5 even 6 MPs in.
The Left need to ask themselves, do we want to beat Key or do we want to bicker amongst ourselves because we can’t do both. If beating Key means cutting a deal with Dotcom, who’ll tell the 285 000 kids in poverty we didn’t because we prefer idealogical purity?