FIRST THE WEATHER
New Zealand is firmly in the grip of a big freeze weather pattern pushing temperatures in Auckland this week down to around 2 degrees in the city and hovering around 0 degrees in the outer Auckland rural areas.
But that is nothing compared to what the southern regions of the North Island and certainly the South Island are experiencing…
On Tuesday night temperatures in Christchurch plummeted to -18 degrees, assisted by a severe wind chill factor.
If this chill is followed by a good dumping of snow in the mountains, it will prove to be a fabulous snow and ski season.
NOW THE POLITICS
On the back of two polls showing the Nationals pushing up over 50% support… with the centre left parties failing to fire… A new political arrangement has been announced that just may give a cluster of centre-left parties the numbers to remove the National-led Government from office.
This week the Mana Movement and Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party announced they have formed a single party to campaign under one umbrella.
And today the Internet Mana Party will announce that a former Cabinet Minister in Helen Clark’s Labour Alliance Government will be the leader of the Internet Party and will campaign as Number 2 on the Internet Mana Party’s list.
That former minister is Laila Harre, a highly respected politician and union leader who will attract significant support for the new party and silence critics with her intelligence and strategic shrewdness. She is well regarded as a woman of principle.
Until now the Internet Party and Mana Movement parties have struggled to gain voter support beyond 1% a piece. But it is highly probable that under the new single banner, and certainly with Laila Harre in the mix, the new party could push over the 5% threshold.
In the past I have been critical of the strategy to pull the Internet Party and Mana Movement under one umbrella. With Laila Harre joining the team, my critique is exhausted, I was wrong – such is the calibre of this person to genuinely deliver for her constituents. She is a leader with a spine and will not be (as National’s Steven Leonard Joyce said yesterday) crushed between two egos. That is a ridiculous proposition for anyone who has witnessed (close hand or at a distance) Laila Harre’s work over the past two decades. She is young, determined, vibrant, and just what is needed to make this work. She is in short, a leader in her own right.
What’s more, Laila Harre, as a former Cabinet minister of note, brings with her mana, valuable experience, and, institutional knowledge that could just see her, as a representative of the Internet Mana Party, sitting at the Cabinet table.
Positioned at number 2 on the new party’s list, and backed by a caucus of Annette Sykes and John Minto, and a movement of activists outside Parliament who demand equality in New Zealand, Laila Harre will lead a new political force.
This is a circuit-breaker for the left-bloc of parties.
It is certainly a game-changer that will have the National Party strategists busy forging new deals with support parties ACT United Future and the Maori Party to ensure they are there to assist its push for the Treasury Benches post the September 20 General Election.
For the Internet Mana Party to work – the benchmark being a 4-6 percent result at the General Election – Hone Harawira and Laila Harre will need to accentuate their common ground and position Kim Dotcom outside the party fraternity just far enough to ensure their enemies do not paint them as puppets and sellouts. But Kim Dotcom, and essentially Vikram Kumar, also need to be just close enough to ensure their ICT credentials and policies turn on the aspirations of a new generation of high tech savvy voters. After all, this country needs specialists to unfurl its potential internet economy.
What the Labour, Green, Internet Mana parties need to do now is show solidarity, strength, and a coordinated push for the vote. If the bloc presents as a credible alternative government-in-waiting, then New Zealand could very well have a change of government this year.
Interesting times indeed.