The issues behind the possible MANA-Internet Party Alliance

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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?


  1. If Mana and the Internet Party work together, what’s the best possible outcome?

    Getting rid of National and replacing it with a progressive government?

    Works for me.

  2. Great blog. At the #BootsRiley #MANA gig on Tuesday, it seemed like Boots was inadvertently encouraging better self-critiquing and colleague critiquing in the Left. That the Left movement against the system should focus on working together instead of purging those in our Left whānau that don’t hold to certain philosophical notions. The Left is a broad church, but one that should be focused on dethroning Key and getting a progressive govt into parliament.

    In January I predicted that “National will win the 2014 elections, but it won’t be due to any politicking by the Right.” It seems like disharmony is a self-fulfilling prophecy in Left politics. The possibility of a Labour/Greens/MANA/Internet-Party government should be embraced by all corners of the Left.

    It’s not about ‘what would Marx do?” It’s about empowering those that the system oppresses – kids in poverty; beneficiaries; Māori; Pasifika; the working class; youth; and those living with disabilities – at the heart of OUR struggle we should remember that we aren’t fighting to uphold Left philosophies, rather we are fighting to practically implement them in flesh and blood.

    Feel free to

  3. “…objections from the left are a collection of misunderstandings and idealogical hang ups.”
    Martyn Bradbury

    I would go further and say it is no misunderstanding instead it is a result of extreme sectarianism and ego mania, by a tiny minority of Left entrists who have joined Mana to push their own barrow.

    These self important Marxist experts, remnants of such groups as the Workers Communist League, who could barely rally enough members to hold a meeting in a phone box, want to hold Mana to their same rigid narrow and ultimately sterile and sectarian path.

    In my view if they are unhappy with the democratic choice of the majority of the Mana membership then they should be invited to leave and go back to their phone box meetings, and leave those who are serious about making a change to get on with it.

    • Jenny, I support your sentiment against hard left sectarianism (and I’m looking at my anarchist “comrades” here as well as some of my marxist friends), but not all the marxist partylets are taking the same “rich guy bad” line on KDC. I think one of the best blogs on the Mana-IP alliance is this one, from the CWG:

      “We would also consider giving critical support to the Internet Party if its program advances the interests of the working class e.g., opposition to spying and the TPPA, and support for ‘free’ education’ and ‘free internet’, which collide with the interests of global finance capital. A new revolutionary party will not fall from the sky but arise out of the struggle of workers in defence of basic democratic rights and social and economic security.”

      Like me, the CWG want to get as many radical parties into government as humanly possible, to expose and dispel the illusion that the change we truly need can be accomplished by voting for the “right people”, or electing the “right parties”. If we’re wrong about the need for revoultion, and we get a totally free and fair society through a parliamentary vote, great! But like the CWG, I’m not going to hold my breath 😉

      Either way, and let’s face it, *nobody* knows what the future will bring, this approach means that small revolutionist groups can work constructively during election time with much larger radical blocks supporting parties like Mana and the IP, rather than just sniping from the sidelines, and marginalizing ourselves.

      • “We would also consider giving critical support to the Internet Party if its program advances the interests of the working class…


        Getting rid of this government will definitely advance the interests of the working class.

  4. “Gen X and Gen Y are the first user pays generation with no idealogical [sic] compass.”

    I don’t see this. I work with university students and they seem to have just as much ideological belief as older generations. I just don’t see the assumption you’re making and I think that’s why the Internet Party won’t be successful as some are predicting.

  5. I hope they manage to come to an agreement. The idea of Key betraying our country to the US war machine/police state is too depressing. I was encouraged recently when my 24 year old son admitted that, even though he thinks along the lines of Russell Brand’s “don’t support them by voting”, that the only party he would vote for would be the Internet Party. Could be many many more like him…

  6. Politics in Aotearoa just became much simpler. The choice is stark: either support Bomber’s latest idea or condemn 285,000 kids to starvation.

    • Yes, that sort of guilt baiting will get us nowhere.

      When I hear someone say: “If beating Key means cutting a deal with Dotcom, who’ll tell the 285 000 kids in poverty we didn’t because we prefer ideological purity?”

      My response is: “If we join Labour’s same-old third-way neoliberal vision, who’ll tell the 200 000 kids that will be left in poverty that we accepted our failed ideology?”

      If we want to get reductive on a complex issue, and start talking about ideology, then who can justify joining a Labour coalition? The radicals in MANA are not blinded by ideology, and neither are National or ACT – all 3 of them have an ideology and stick to it…guess who’s blinded by ideology?

  7. I dunno. It does not make sense that an individual who is ideologically far right (Dotcom supported ACT to the tune of $50K) could make a workable alliance with a far left party.

    I do not see this ending well.

  8. As mentioned in comments above, the left (so called hard line) have a historical record of imploding due to interpitation of socialist text and ideals.Idealism is without doubt, a fine honourable quality of socialist understanding,yet to be rigidly unbending in ones beleif of text and ideals in my opinion, is limiting the possibilities of their cause.

    That is not to say, that embracing a more flexible attitude to advancing ones beleif, is sacrificed.

  9. My concerns remain with the lack of common ground on crucial policy goals. Having the same enemy and some key goals does not make for lasting working relationships, and I mean lasting beyond election day and night. Also am I concerned that the focus on yet another party player on the “market” for election may fragment the potential alternative forces even more. Potential voters are already in too great numbers worried about common policies, about difficulties in developing needed synergies, and thus stability being an issue amongst the existing left and progressive parties (I dare to include Labour).

    How would an election result look, where perhaps IP and Mana may be the crucial element needed for a larger political alliance with Labour and Greens, to rely on for shaping an alternative government? I fear it could spell a disaster for coalition and support negotiations and a future government itself, once formed. It may well be too fragmented.

    So I would personally prefer more votes for the Greens, and that Labour would get things right in the end, to convince enough middle ground voters to get enough votes. That is what Russel Norman must have seen, when he apparently tried to talk Kim Dotcom out of running an Internet Party campaign this election.

    Going by present polling and prospects, Mana may at best get 2 MPs into the House, and IP perhaps one MP. All else is a high expectation in that non voter base, which Martyn thinks is largely amongst “user pays” raised generations X and Y, bringing hoped for results.

    Re generation X and Y, we know already, that political expectations and loyalties amongst them change swiftly. There is likely to be little unity amongst members in that non ideological sector of the population. Many are rather liberal minded, in a libertarian sense, rather than left liberal. Individualism and self fulfillment rule amongst most of them. I see great differences between say Pakeha generation X and Y members, given the social class backgrounds they may originate from, and what they aspire based on personal experiences and history.

    Merging those into a reliable force to reckon with will not be easy, and I am not sufficiently convinced that all this will work as hoped for by the ones supporting the Hone and Kim, the Mana and IP cooperation or alliance. It may all become very interesting, but getting the various challenges overcome seems near impossible, at least very hard.

    As Greens have similar goals on internet access, security, privacy and use, same as on GCSB reforms, I think votes may be better given to them, than yet another new player, fracturing the party landscape more.

  10. The cynic in me says you can not please all the people all the time.

    Conflicted ideals capital or otherwise never give the promise of better control.

  11. This is what Hone Harawira said on 29 March, on the grounds of Parliament;

    “Whatever happens, whatever happens, don’t kid yourself that because you’re all standing that side of the fence, you’re all friends with each other. Know this, if you’re not fighting for the sovereignty of this nation, then you’re on the wrong bloody side, that side, or this side, of the fence.

    If the TPPA is aimed at taking away the sovereignty outlined in the Treaty of the Waitangi and replacing it with an economic sovereignty owned by people from far, far, away, and unless we do something to stop it, all of us, those on that side of the fence and those on this of the fence that you can trust, then we ain’t going to change it. Be up for struggle, and be up for a fight.

    And know that unless we stand strong on this, these bastards are going to win.

    There’s no reason why anybody in this country should accept our sovereignty being negotiated [away] in secret, in Singapore, in New York, and in London. There is no reason, why anybody in this country should accept that this country, and this country’s own government, cannot legislate in the interests of New Zealand citizens only to have those decisions overturned by big tobacco in the World [Bank] Court. There is no reason why anybody here should accept that big drug companies can overthrow the right of PHARMAC to let all citizens in this country to get low cost medicines.

    And there no reason to accept the reason why […background noise…] Maori and alternative medicines should be pushed out and made illegal simply to keep international drug lords in big fat profits.

    So, I don’t really care about this being a Mana thing or a Green thing or a Labour thing or an anybody thing. Because this thing here is about all us standing together. Come the election 2014, look only… to the parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing the government we have now. Look only to those parties that are absolutely dedicated to changing this government we’ve got now, and put your vote in any one of them.

    And honestly, I don’t really care if you’re not going to vote for Mana, but vote only for those who will change the government. Don’t vote for those, don’t vote for those, who’ve got a dollar over here and a dollar over here.

    This Agreement is not a win-win deal. Any party that signals their willingness to go with this government, or may go this way , or that way, is not a friend of what we’re trying to achieve on this stage…

    … There are no deals on our sovereignty.”


    Not many politicians will say to a crowd of people; vote for the issue, not the Party.

    I’ve been around since Muldoon and I’ve never heard a politician say that!

    • “Whatever happens, whatever happens, don’t kid yourself that because you’re all standing that side of the fence, you’re all friends with each other. Know this, if you’re not fighting for the sovereignty of this nation, then you’re on the wrong bloody side, that side, or this side, of the fence.”
      Hone Harawira

      Bertolt Brecht once said something similiar:

      Class awareness is knowing which side of the fence you are on.
      Class consciousness is knowing who is there with you.
      Bertolt Brecht

      Harawira’s speech above, are the words of a principled statesman, it is a shame that we don’t have more politicians of this caliber in this country.

      Compare this to the half hearted posturing of David Cunliffe.

      Mr Cunliffe said Labour was reserving its position on signing the TPP until it saw the text and the fine print.


      Labour was not asking for the text to be released before the TPP was finalised because that could interrupt the process, but it should be released before it was approved by Cabinet.


      “We might pay more for medicines, we might be sued by tobacco companies for plain packaging,” Cunliffe said.
      “There may be benefits for New Zealand exporters in the agreement but without the release of the full text, we have no way of knowing their extent and nature.
      “The Government must also reveal whether or not the text makes it more likely New Zealand could be sued by multi-national corporations such as tobacco companies.”

      Labour and New Zealand First have called for the Government to release the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement before it is signed by Cabinet to enable “full and open public debate” on whether the deal is in New Zealand’s best interests.

      Labour leader David Cunliffe said he would be asking Parliament today to agree to the release of the agreement text once the ongoing negotiations were concluded, warning there could be “definite downsides” to the deal such as increased prices for medicines and the potential for tobacco companies to sue the Government for regulating the packaging of tobacco.

      “This is not just a trade agreement, this is a behind-the-border economic agreement as well, so it has deep domestic economic implications including the potential ability to fetter future governments,” Cunliffe told reporters before Labour’s weekly Parliamentary caucus meeting.

      Cunliffe said Labour was reserving its position on the TPP until it could “see the facts and the fine print” and would sign it only if it was in NZ’s best interests.

      He rejected Prime Minister John Key’s argument that the Government had briefed Labour’s trade and foreign affairs spokespeople on the TPP, saying the detail of the deal needed to be in the public domain and that Labour did not have access to the full text of the draft agreement.

      The decision by the Government to delay the passing of the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill, due to be introduced to Parliament today, was described as “regrettable” by Cunliffe, who said it might be wiser to pass legislation before any TPP agreement came into force.

      (It must be noted here that it was Harawira who championed the legislation against smoking during his time in the Maori Party citing the particular harm it does to Maori.)

      Hone Harawira with his advocacy for the lower paid and Maori has been dragging the whole of parliament to the Left. As well as his campaign against big tobacco his ‘Feed The Kids’ campaign has seen every party including National take a position on this, National even bring in their own (privately funded) version.

      The word is that the mainstream political parties uncomfortable with being dragged outside their traditional comfort zones by Harawira will be doing their utmost best to get Harawira thrown out of parliament. The Labour party in particular are throwing massive resources into unseating Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. If they are successful in my opinion it will be a sad day for New Zealand politics. Any resources that Dotcom can supply to Harawira to beat this onslaught could be the difference between Harawira and his party remaining in parliament or disapearing from the political stage.

  12. How about the fact that his first political act in Aotearoa was to give a whopping donation to the ACT party?

    What about the fact he lives in the Crisco mansion, paid for and built by rapaciously exploiting poor families year long, then giving them month old, rotting food?

    How about his desire to promote ‘investment’ in Aotearoa, undoubtedly through tax breaks and subsidies?

    How about him identifying Hong Kong – a place with massive exploitation of the poor for the benefit of the rich – as a “Great place, where I want to do business”?

    Just because someone is pissed off at the government does not mean they are an ally, or that they will strengthen the movement. The merger stinks of opportunism, stinks of a desire to get into parliament no matter what the cost, and stinks of the same coy, rich boys club mentality of the political process in Aotearoa that convinces people not to vote and not to get active.

    The election is only a small part of the battle. Even if National looses, people on the streets will still need to fight for change. This kind of deal will turn them off, and convince them that the only time it’s worth protesting or getting involved is when MPs want to keep their jobs.

  13. It’s pretty wishful thinking that Mana-Internet could win 4 to 6 MPs, for a variety of reasons, including that for whatever reasons, the public doesn’t trust Hone Harawira as a leader of a left movement, or Dotcom. And yes, people may agree on a few key points but for different reasons and schools of thought. Especially, both movements being overshadowed by their leaders simply isn’t a good look. Mana itself is a combination of both indigenous left and left wing activists which has so far not been able to convince enough people to be a growing alternative left movement. Sue Bradford walked out and the party will be all the worse for losing it’s arguably most talented representative. The Internet Party will more likely lean middle class, male, and economically liberal to libertarian at heart. You talk about right finding recruitment vs left finding traitors: you’re wrong simply because Internet isn’t a left party. In the case the alliance gets another MP from the Internet Party, it might as well break up as there will likely be little keeping it together.

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