The rise of the Internet/Mana phenomenon



Commentators seem surprised at the popularity of the Mana/Internet phenomenon. The ultimate ‘odd coupling’ is doing reasonably well in the polls at over 2% support, and Right Wing pundits are guessing that the Party might even reach 5% by the time of the election campaign proper. Right Wing scaremongers inevitably have their own interests in downplaying the strength of Labour and overstating the power of the furthest on the left, but Kim DotCom’s entry to the political contest certainly makes things lively, and with Mana, offers those seeking a left wing voice a viable alternative. Among undecided or floating voters within my peer groups, Internet/Mana comes up as a likely vote catcher, again and again.
It seems that whether you’re from the alienated left or uninspired middle ground, Internet/Mana offer a bit of everything. You’ve got a radical, renegade Maori MP who has subverted the political system while apparently not being subverted by it. A politician unafraid to call it as he sees it, who’s critical of the system, is refreshing enough, given politics’ tendency to co-opt and diminish the revolutionary zeal of even its most ardent participants. Usually too quickly, earnest new politicians become cogs in the wheel (either in the Party machine or the Parliamentary one). Hone rather, reshapes the wheel in his own fashion. In ‘Campbell Live’s ‘Meet the Leaders’ show, Hone and wife Hilda were without pretension, they were committed, and showed personal integrity in an unsanitised way not usually evident in the slick world of televised politics. They were human, humane, earnest and honest.
But there’s more: in Internet/Mana you’ve also got a large German multi-millionaire internet tycoon with a serious (and understandable) grievance with the Government. He’s a figurehead for internet freedom and for standing up against the homogenising power that is Hollywood. Both Hone and Kim DotCom represent an anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian position that appeals to many with an ‘occupy’ or ‘anonymous’ identification paradoxically seeking expression in formal politics.
The Internet Party’s appointment of Laila Harre, like Labour’s appointment of Matt McCarten could have been either an act of genius for the Party or disaster for the old Alliance comrades. (You get a sense it’s working better for Laila than it is for Matt at the moment). In Laila we have an advocate for workers and those in the margins of formal society, who embodies integrity and social conscience.
Internet/Mana have also scored a coup with their policy. They’ve out flanked current voices on the left, and adopted enough good policies to win over disenfranchised Green voters. They collectively say no to fracking, no to new seabed mining and drilling, no to GE, and yes to clean energy….
Internet/Mana have cunningly carved out a niche for themselves on the left which was otherwise unoccupied ground. The big question will be, however, if enough other willing suitors on the more centrist left get enough votes to give these policies a place in a new Government.


    • Thanks Cimino, I know a lot of people who are helping Labour also, with deliveries, signs and behind the scenes work, because we need an anchor big-party to beat National, but who are casting their votes for the Greens or Mana-Internet. This election seems to require all sorts of creative alliances!

  1. I think NZ First and Internet Mana on election day are both going to far exceed what the polls predict. Winston always gains votes once the debating starts and IMP will pick up a bigger percentage than whats showing in the polls once the campaigning starts in earnest.

  2. “Among undecided or floating voters within my peer groups, Internet/Mana comes up as a likely vote catcher, again and again.”

    – That says more about the left wing people you hang out with, than IMP actually having any broad appeal across the electorate.

    For example, I see the opposite phenomenon in my workplace. I work for a professional services firm, and know from discussions that most in my office will be voting National (70%+). Even socially liberal people who have voted Labour previously aren’t planning on doing it this year. Most people don’t see Labour with any shot at winning. Most do not like David Cunliffe. They think he is insincere and a bit of bullshit artist. What surprised me the most is that women seem to think his ‘man apology’ was simply a case of disingenuous pandering

    I raise this story, simply to illustrate the fact that an individuals ‘peer group’ is in no way representative of the broader populace. There’s a reason that polls are randomized samples, and appropriately weighted to represent all groups in society.

    • I imagine a professional services office would be full of jumped up aspirees who’d swallowed the neoliberal lies. No great surprise that they’ll be Nact voters.

    • Who said the polls are true Mark? I guess you missed TV 3’s expose that showed polling is dodgy, inaccurate and unreliable due to changes in technology re mobile phones and less people having land lines anymore.

      Have to ask did you do a poll in your workplace? How do you know some said what they thought you wanted to hear and lied to you?

  3. Hi Mark, Thanks, yes I absolutely acknowledge that my peer group tends to reflect my own left leaning sentiments so is not a statistically representative sample. I hope that was clear. As stated, it’s a reflection on what my peer group (among those who are left leaning and swing or undecided voters – more conditions there), are saying. That’s interesting enough in itself to me, and no less valid for the observation. Internet/Mana are certainly picking up support from people who are (fairly or unfairly) disillusioned with Labour, and even, among my friends, from previous Green voters. I try not to talk politics with friends who vote National (mostly my husband’s friends more than my own).

    • That’s my view too – that the IMP is gaining ground from those who would have already voted left. It seems clear from all the polls that the IMP has no cross over appeal to those on the right.

      Hence I actually think that the IMP is actually playing a negative, counter productive role, if the goal for left supporters is to change the govt.

      Here’s why. What IMP is doing right now is taking votes off Labour, to the point where Labour becomes so weak that it cannot stitch together a coherant, stable govt because it is highly reliant on a rag tag disparate group of individuals with different agenda’s and policies (i.e. Dot Com, Winiston, Hone, Minto, Sykes, Norman et al.)

      The end result in my opinion is that the votes garnered by the left block actually reduces as a whole, as centrist supporters abandon Labour for National, scared at the prospect of an alternate govt that is both unstable, fragmented and dominated by radicals.

      The reality is that a significant number of people who vote for Labour are of a ‘third way’ disposition. They believe in moderate capitalism, with a strong degree of social spending on health and education. They are not socialists whatsoever. If even a small fraction of this group defects to National, the election is lost for the left.

      • Even if IMP doesn’t take votes off Labour, Labour becomes so weak that it cannot stitch together a coherent, stable govt because it is highly reliant on a rag tag disparate group of individuals with different agendas and policies (i.e. Davis, Mallard, Goff, Parker, King, Hipkins etc). Labour’s problem is not the other parties on the left.

        In any case, I suspect IMP are inspiring previous non-voters to get their arses into gear. I see them as something very positive.

      • For Labour, Internet Mana is a challenge and rather than accept it and work with it, they have chosen to either ignore it or not work with it for fear of what I’m not sure! What Labour should be doing is taking bold leadership, recognise Internet Mana for what it is and actively promote a working relationship that will work to Change the Government. The only real risk is the left letting this election slip away due to silly egos or party politics. Internet Mana is on the rise, the Maori Party is over and now we need Labour to play their part and lead the left in winning this years elections. An open and honest discussion amongst leaders wouldn’t hurt either David? After all both Hone and Laila are on their national road trip so I’m sure can swing by a place close to you soon … for the greater good.

    • Christine is a gem, a straight young shooter that you are endeared towards.
      Her persona typifies what solid young folks really are and we should give them all the support we oldies can, as we had it so good for many years and young today are sailing into a headwind in future that worries this man when I see my 2yr old grandson and know what a big hill he has in front of him we didn’t have to climb.

      Great mind Christine we adore you.

  4. Judgement on Internet/Mana needs to wait until election day.

    There is a lot of buzz on this website about them but there is a big problem. The constituency that the party appeals to is not a voting constituency. The party might poll 2.5% but on election day what matters is people turning up to a polling booth and voting. The Internet/Mana party is just as likely to find their voters at the beach than at the polling booth come Sep 20th.

    The other problem for the left is that Internet/Mana is taking votes from the Green Party.

  5. Thank you Christine Rose, for a worthwhile summary of the facts.

    I am watching this alliance with quite some interest. All they have to do is to persuade a portion the non-voting sector of the electorate to actually get up and give it a go and they’ll be in with a chance.

    This is not a particularly ‘big ask” if you consider the fact that a good portion of the non-voters didn’t bother last time simply because there was no mainstream party that represented their interests and aspirations. Nor do any of the mainstream parties currently address the widespread disenchantment of the young with the status quo. All they offer are out-moded, ineffective means of dealing with both NZ’s problems the the huge issues that currently face the world.

    Mana-Iinternet may well succeed where others have failed in this endeavour. If nothing else, then at least Mana-Internet, like the younger voters they represent, are capable of seeing the ‘bigger picture”.

  6. I disagree with a number of comments here. It is not true that “IMP is taking votes from Labour”. Labour is losing votes through its own actions; it doesn’t look electable, so where can the disenchanted go? Only to IMP or National.
    That might look like strange options but take a look at the choices. If Peter Dunne and Act fail to provide their two seats, National will get them anyhow. The rest of the Right wing minor parties including Maori will be wiped out, largely because of the extra choice that IMP provides. Much of National’s increase in votes is already at the expense of their partners.
    On the left NZ First will not get in. The claims that their vote always rises near election day is a complete mis-reading of the results. NZ First is purely a protest vote. It represents nothing. It gets its boost late in the election only because the disenchanted give up all hope of finding a party to vote for and pile in at the last minute. IMP changes that.
    The Green vote is what it is; unaffected by anything. So what remains for the disillusioned? Voting for smiley Key or IMP. Further there will be a lot of wasted votes this time and a lot of undecided voters (11.4% at the last poll), not to mention those who dont vote.
    IMP can pick up a swag of these. If IMP didn’t exist the total left vote would be much less.
    It is not weakening the Left, it is weakening Labour. Is that a bad thing? A Left coalition in which Labour holds more than half the votes isn’t workable, because it isn’t left wing to be blunt. A Coalition in which IMP/Green have a majority can work well.
    If Labour really wants to stave of a Left wing rebellion, it will have to become more left leaning. Isn’t that what you want?

  7. Thank you Laila Harré, thank you Hone Harawira… and Kim dot Com, you have charisma… and my respect. Internet-Mana as THE most dynamic political formula in New Zealand today… you have my vote :o)

  8. Yes indeed in the face of adversity we shall rise. Internet-MANA is truly on the rise. I believe free thinking NZ’ers are ready for a change one that brings their voice to the front appealing to the young vote is where it’s at. I attended the party party last night and was astounded with the vibrancy of the young voter, reaching them through their means of communication. Parliament will become younger as we are starting to see and quite frankly that’s great! This country needs more input from those who will be left carrying the baton when all those MPS today finally retire

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