Random Thoughts on Random Things #7 – the fate of the Maori Party

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Watching Pita Sharples interviewed on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ on 5 July, two things occurred to me.

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There is every likelihood that, come election day,  the Maori Party is doomed. If they are really, really, really lucky, they might win one seat. Perhaps.

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As much as I dislike National’s coalition lap-dogs, We may yet need the Maori Party.

Up till now, I have wished for their hurried departure from Parliament. As a much-needed coalition ally to National, they have propped up this government and allowed various policies to be enacted that further the neo-liberal agenda at the expense of the majority of New Zealanders.

But this, in turn, has meant that National and ACT have toned down much of the anti-Treaty rhetoric that Brash engaged in when he was leader of the Nats. When Brash gave his infamous Orewa speech in January 2004, the more conservative, reactionary element in New Zealand society rewarded him and his party with a huge (if short-lived) 17%  ‘bounce’ in the polls.

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kiwis not iwis - beaches

 

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National’s  strategists understand they cannot afford to alienate that support. Not when every vote and every seat in Parliament counts. And not when this year’s election promises to be the narrowest-run race in decades.

Keeping the Maori Party on-side has also meant losing a strategic tactic from the Right – playing the racist “Treaty Card”. National can no longer play that “card”. Not if it expects to keep the Maori Party as a coalition ally.

This is an added ‘bonus’ for the Left. By removing  anti-Treaty messages from National’s “arsenal” of available campaign strategies,  racist rednecks no longer have a “natural political home” to vote for, en masse.

As someone who has no love for National and it’s coalition allies, I have to grudgingly admit to a new-found use for the Maori Party – as a useful brake on National’s racist tendencies.

Perhaps Labour and Mana should consider the strategy of “gifting” one of the seven Maori Electorates to the Maori Party?

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References

TV3: The Nation – Interview – Maori Party founding co-leader Pita Sharples

TV3: Interview – Pita Sharples – Transcript

Fairfax media: Brash takes aim at Key in race speech

Previous related blogposts

Poll shows gain for National’s ‘dog whistle’ politics

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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5 COMMENTS

  1. No thanks Frank. Let them vanish and let the rednecks begin to bay openly at the moon again. Most NAct activists are pretty bloody racist, although most of them would deny it, but look at the vile rubbish Slater and Farrar publish on their hate sites. I think it’s better that NAct’s racism and bigotry stand exposed.

  2. I’m not surprised that suggestion has not been swamped with replies. I hope it wasn’t serious. Even if one concedes that on balance the Maori Party was a nett benefit to the opposition – and that would take some proving- there is no benefit in keeping them on life support. Assuming also that this election will be close- another bold assertion – how can you be sure that the Left will have any margin to gift the Maori Party a seat. Suppose it made all the difference between winning and losing…….and how can you trust them? Suppose they took the gifted seat and sided with National anyhow, would you then see some advantage in that liaison?
    As long as they exist they will always be unpredictable and dangerous. I can think of other parties that deserve to exist but struggle. Why should the Maori Party get any special favours?

  3. Can’t disagree too much with your points, Ovicula and Dennis.

    I guess my suggestion is only marginally more palatable than, say, keeping ACT alive so it is a viable entity, and it’s members don’t migrate across to another political party to colonise it and influence it’s policies (as they did for Labour in the 1980s.).

  4. I deliberately transferred to the Maori roll in order to vote for the Maori Party a few years ago…I was prepared to sit out one term with them in coalition with National because I, like the Maori Party, thought that Labour had been taking the Maori vote for granted…now though…I think that the Maori Party are far too comfortable and far too likely to go with National again and I just can’t stomach it.

  5. It is a very good thing that the Maori Party acts as a handbrake on any racist inclinations in the blue side of the house…but its not enough for me to vote for them again as I have for the last two elections…going with National once I can stomach for the point they were making to Labour, that being, “Don’t take the Maori vote for granted” but I am *very* concerned that they might go with National once more…if they held the balance of power and went with National I would be apoplectic…

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