Last week the Mana Movement and Internet Party wrote to the Electoral Commission to cancel the registration of the Internet-Mana political party.
It was a decision which brought the arrangement between the parties to a natural end after failing to win seats at the election. The parties had agreed to review their relationship six weeks after the election and by mutual agreement the arrangement was formally terminated.
Mana described the arrangement as a strategic political alliance to ensure that all votes cast to change the government at the 2014 election would be counted.
It was a link-up which worried the political establishment because the Mana Movement’s strong political platform to challenge inequality and poverty backed up with resources to enable it to run a strong political campaign had the ability to upset the cosy Labour/National neo-liberal consensus.
And they became more worried as five weeks out from the election Internet-Mana was polling 3.5% to 4% and on the rise with the possibility of bringing several MPs into parliament.
So Labour wound up the rhetoric and campaigned hard to crush Internet Mana by unseating Mana leader Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. They were joined by Prime Minister and National Party leader John Key who urged voters to vote for Labour in the seat. (When was the last time a National Party leader urged voters to vote Labour?) The Maori Party behind the scenes were urging their supporters to also back Labour as did New Zealand First leader Winston Peters for his own political reasons – knocking out any other small party which might upset his chance to choose Prime Minister.
Most of the mainstream media joined the chorus and what because a tsunami of negative publicity around Kim Dotcom swamped the Internet Mana campaign and our 1.4% of the party vote on election night meant no MPs after Hone lost his seat.
From the outset Mana realised there were big risks in the arrangement because of the massive wealth and polarising character of Kim Dotcom but it was a risk we were prepared to take. I’m proud of the fact we risked our parliamentary representation for something much bigger – challenging corporate wealth and power which is expressed politically through the Labour and National Parties.
For now the MANA Movement continues the battle in the community on many fronts. Housing will be the biggest political issue in the next three years as National looks for public support to sell billions of dollars in state housing – a bigger sale of state assets than the electricity companies in the last term of government.
To achieve this National has positioned no less than three ministers on the job: Bill English as Minister of Housing New Zealand, Paula Bennett at Minister for Social Housing and Nick Smith as Minister of Housing.
National has taken up another very big stick to beat up on the poor on behalf of the 1%. Mana’s up for the challenge.
Political representation or not – Mana is still here because the job isn’t finished.