GUEST BLOG: Ben Peterson – In the Shadow of Kim Dotcom- the NZ left taking lessons from the 2014 Election

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For those on the left last years election result was bitterly disappointing. Not only was John Key and the National Party returned to power with an increased majority, but the Mana Party lost its sole MP Hone Harawira. In the wake of this let down it is important that those on the left takes serious and sober lessons from the InternetMANA experiment. But while we need to reflect, it is important to not let our disappointment cloud our judgement.

The false consensus

Since the election there is an analysis of the InternetMANA experiment that is shared (with some variation) by most political actors. From those on the right to members and organisation of the radical left, the narrative is essentially the same. This popular consensus goes as follows: Hone Harawira and the Mana movement had built a relatively successful organisation and kaupapa around fighting for the rights of maori, the poor and dispossessed. Enter Kim Dotcom. Seeing the opportunity for Dotcom’s millions, Hone rammed through an opportunistic political alliance, which watered down and distorted Mana’s kaupapa. Now discredited, InternetMANA was unable to generate any momentum, and its support dwindled to the point where Hone lost his seat in Tai Tokerau. The lesson being that it was a mistake for Mana to make such an opportunistic deal, and they were punished for it.

This consensus is wrong. It is entirely factually inaccurate.

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While it is predominantly driven by mainstream commentators and the media, it also dominates discussions on the election by those on the left. This false narrative distorts discussion for leftists, and thus limits the the lessons the left can take from this experience. We need to peel back the myths, and start from reality.

Myth- Kim Dotcom cost MANA support

The central point of the false consensus is that ‘deal with Dotcom’ cost Mana supporters. This is demonstratively false.

Most obviously- the vote for InternetMANA increase by roughly 50% from 2011 to 2014. From 24,168 in 2011 to 34,094 votes in 2014, an increase of just slightly under 10,000 votes. This total would have been enough to bring in a second MP, had Hone held Te Tai Tokerau. Given that, and that the entire motivation for the InternetMana campaign was to strengthen their voice in parliament, it would seem that the party vote campaign was actually successful.

The second, and more nuanced, version the same argument is that while the vote increased in the general population, it wasn’t enough to counteract a loss of support amongst Mana’s base in Maori seats. Again- this is disproven when looking at the election results.

In 2011 the MANA vote in the Maori electorates in total was 25,889. In 2014, this had significantly increased to a total of 29,207. The Mana vote increase in 4 of the 7 maori seats, and only slightly dropped where it didn’t improve.

Interestingly and importantly, even though Hone Harawira failed to carry Te Tai Tokerau, it was not because the Internet deal cut into his base. Hone’s vote in the north actually increased from 8,121 in 2011 to 8,969 in 2014. Ultimately what defeated Mana in Te Tai Tokerau was the forces against Mana, not being abandoned by supporters.

Some will argue that we will never know what would have happened had Mana never made the deal with Dotcom, and that Mana’s vote may have been even higher. While on a certain level this is true (we will never know what could have happened), there is no indication that this is the case. In particular, looking at opinion polling before the Internet alliance showed Mana receiving less than 1% of the vote. After the alliance was announced, and during the early parts of the election campaign, this increased, briefly reaching 3.5% before dropping to between 1-2% of the vote. While opinion polls are not 100% accurate it strongly suggests that Mana’s vote increased with the collaboration between it and the Internet party.

At the end of the day, the assertion that the deal with the Internet Party cost Mana support is not supported by any available statistical evidence. While there is plenty of anecdotes of people not voting Mana to avoid Dotcom, all statistical evidence strongly suggests the opposite.

Myth two- The sell out

Even though there is no evidence that the Internet Party alliance cost Mana support (and evidence suggests the opposite), some may still argue that the deal was a breach of the political kaupapa of the Mana movement.

Some argue that making an alliance with a party established by a billionaire was incompatible with the spirit of Mana as a fighting movement, so even if its support was not immediately affected, the organisation has changed and ceased to be a vehicle for change.

For this to be the case at least one of the following needs to be shown:

  • A clear rightward change in Mana policies and platform.
  • A clear change in strategic direction of the Mana movement (away from a movement of activists)/The alliance being formed on a totally unprincipled basis (sharing no common kaupapa, membership and support being fundamentally opposed)

A step to the right?

There is no compelling evidence of Mana turning to the right or becoming conservative during the election campaign. Arguably, Mana was more clearly left in 2014 than in 2011. In 2011 Mana was ambiguous on equal marriage rights, and Hone’s personal position was opposed. Through internal campaigning, Mana was won to a positive position.

Mana has key members who have some religious affinities with the state of Israel, however during the election campaign central leaders came out strongly in support of Palestine- hardly the actions of a group trying to placate a new coalition partner.

Policy announcements during the campaign showed no sign of a clear move to the right. Some critics voiced concern over the full employment policy, which pledged to use a portion of ACC (state insurance) reserves to fund a massive full employment scheme aimed at providing money to small community based groups and enterprises. The critique centers on two points: one, that the ACC reserves should be invested back into providing better sickness benefits and coverage, and two, that this is a right wing policy in that it pledges to give money to small businesses. These arguments are not compelling.

In the first instance, critics have identified a contradiction in some policy, rather than a rightward slide. While there was a conflict between the stated ACC policy of Mana, and the new employment policy that used ACC reserves to spur employment- this wasn’t accompanied by walking away from any of Mana’s other policy platforms (drastically expanding health care, increasing tax on the rich and corporations etc).

The second instance unnecessarily injects negative meaning into the ambiguities in the policy. The policy does talk of ‘entrepreneurs’, social enterprise and self startups. It does not however define what these are. Whatever these are, and however imperfect the language used, it is clear from this policy that it would result in a massive pouring of wealth into poor communities where unemployment is rife. While it is imperfect, and the left can and should critique and push for this policy to go further, it is clear that the practical implication of such a policy would be a massive transfer of wealth into working class communities.

At the very least, such ambiguities are not a departure from existing the existing Mana policy platform, which included market mechanisms in other policies.

A strategic shift?

So while there was no rightward change in the policy platform, that does not automatically exclude a change in strategic direction. Since its inception, Mana had consciously built itself around being a party of activists, with a radical vision for society. I do not believe that there is any evidence of a break with Mana’s existing strategic approach. Rather the reaching out to the Internet Party was consistent with the existing kaupapa and practice of the movement.

If the primary reasoning behind the outreach to the Internet Party purely to access Kim Dotcom’s millions, then this would be a serious departure from Mana’s practice. While there were certainly Mana members who were keen to get their hands on these ‘rivers of gold’, this was not the motivation put forward by the central leadership of the movement.

Both before and after the internet deal, Hone Harawira outlined how he came to think about the Internet Party. When talking to some youth up north, one of the younger Mana members asked him if it was ok to step down from Mana and join the Internet Party. After some initial discomfort, and some investigation, Harawira came to the conclusion that it was worth investigating if collaboration is possible with the Internet Party.

It was not the attraction of money, but the prospects of reaching out and involving young people who were attracted to alternative politics that was of interest to the Mana leadership.

This is consistent with the strategic vision of the Mana movement since its founding. It has always undertook to explore ways build out from its base in the maori world and link up with people fighting for systemic change, such as Sue Bradford, Mike Treen, John Minto and the socialist left. The attractiveness of the Internet Party was reinforced by the political evolution of Kim Dotcom in response to the police raids on his mansion. While still hardly a socialist, Dotcom’s vocal criticism of the surveillance state had and has a certain resonance with potentially radicalising young people.

Finally, the Mana movement did not just accept the Internet party as it presented itself, but actively contributed to its formation, playing a decisive role in getting Laila Harre appointed as leader of the party, and other prominent leftists on its list.

Linking up with the Internet Party was not a departure from established practice, but a continuation of it. Exactly the same impulses that lead to Mana working with the socialist left, led it to seek to work with the Internet Party. Mana has always sought out allies to develop its kaupapa and fight for a fairer society. This was just another attempt to do so.

So then what went wrong?

So far this piece has outlined how the vote for Mana actually increased, and that there was no break from existing policy or strategic direction. If this is the case, then why and how does Mana find itself without a voice in parliament?

Mana lost the election less because of the decisions of its leadership. It lost due to the decisions of its opponents- namely the Labour Party. Despite Mana being committed to a change of government, the Labour party pulled out all stops into smashing Mana. Instead of putting resources into defeating sitting national members, or articulating an alternative message for the voting public, the labour party did all it could to smash an alternative to its left.

In Te Tai Tokerau this meant that all parties (except the Greens), had explicitly endorsed the Labour candidate Kelvin Davis (NZ First, Maori Party, National, Labour and others). Despite Mana increasing its vote, this wasn’t enough to counteract the resources, media attention and backing of the entire political establishment.

There is an argument that Kim Dotcom played some role in catalysing and energising this opposition to Hone. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this was decisive. For example, if there was a big turnout to just beat Mana in Te Tai Tokerau, you could reasonably expect that there would be more candidate votes than party votes, as people would have been instructed to just vote Kelvin Davis, and do what they will with the party vote. The opposite is the case. About 800 voted party vote, but not for a candidate. This was actually more than similar Maori electorates. This suggests that the ‘Kill Dotcom’ factor was not decisive.

Ultimately, rather than shooting ourselves in the foot with a poorly thought through alliance with Kim Dotcom, all indications point to Mana being politically defeated on the day. Rather than crashing on the rocks of Kim Dotcom and seeing its own support evaporate, it was the combined powers of the entire political establishment that held off the challenge that Internet Mana presented.

Why does this matter?

I think this is important for leftists to be clear on. This is not just an exercise in setting the record straight. As important as it is to have a clear view of the past, it is much important to be looking to the future. Nor is this an attempt to say that nothing has changed post election for the Mana movement. Losing its seat in parliament will have an obvious impact on the state of the movement, and time will tell if Mana finds new ways forward (I for one am hoping for the best).

As it stands the prevailing myth on the left is that Mana failed because it made a dodgy deal with Dotcom, and paid the price. It would be a colossal error to let those myths stand because they would have real impacts on the future.

The implication of blaming the deal would be that it was a mistake to attempt to reach out to new organisations and formations. Therefore, in the future, leftists should stick by their established organisations, and not try to work towards change with other organisations, lest the kaupapa be wounded and support be lost.

Building towards radical change will take finding and building on these alliances. In Venezuelan revolutionary change was led by a former military officer, Hugo Chavez. If the left had failed to link up with his group in the military then his political evolution would probably not have been as effective, and the revolutionary changes in Venezuela may never have happened.

Failure to be able to make these links can leave the established left isolated. In both Spain and Greece establish left parties (the United Left and the KKE) have been left sidelined and weaker as their support melts into new radical projects (Podemos and Syriza). This separation of old and new leave both weaker, as the resources and experience of former struggles are isolated from the new movement for revolutionary change.

The challenge for leftists today is not to retreat into ideas or lament the election, but to build greater and stronger organisation, movements and political clarity. The election process showed that our potential audience is expanding (the vote increased), but that our political instruments (organisation and ideas) has to be stronger to defeat challenges when they arise.

The rulers of today want the left to remain small and isolated. The want a left thats pure and impotent, and that can’t link up with people are they begin to struggle. Smashing the post-election consensus is an important part of building a left that is ready for fights in the future.

 

 

 

Ben moved to Christchurch in 2014 to work for Unite Union on the South Island. He’s a long time socialist and a member of the Mana Movement.

20 COMMENTS

  1. one quibble

    Mana lost the election less because of the decisions of its leadership. It lost due to the decisions of its opponents- namely the Labour Party. –

    In Te Tai Tokerau this meant that all parties (except the Greens), had explicitly endorsed the Labour candidate Kelvin Davis (NZ First, Maori Party, National, Labour and others).

    You forgot to include the active participation in the attack by NZ’s pre-eminent right wing party, the MSM.

  2. Totally agree. In my view the biggest loser of the election was Labour. They wasted time fighting amongst themselves, the Greens and especially InternetMana, playing totally into Nationals hands.

    I hope they learn from it.
    I hope all the centre left parties learn from it.
    They need to collaborate and have a strategy. By running two successful candidates with similar policies you can cancel each other out and let the right winger in.
    Don’t fight with people who are not enemies. Waste of time, resources, and splitting your own vote base.

    MSM were also a big factor.

    Good luck to InternetMana. I support grassroots parties that want real shifts in the paradigm.
    But everyone needs to be able to get along.
    Good luck to Hone and Dotcom.
    History might show it was not so much of a mistake as MSM would like everyone to think.
    And remember InternetMana had National the most scared. They were terrified of InternetMana.

    • “And remember InternetMana had National the most scared. They were terrified of InternetMana”
      This was the great achievement of the alliance. This brought out the big guns … invisible to MSM … they silenced Hone in full stride (he was missing in action after the scantly reported car accident) … they neutralised the impact of The Moment of Truth; arguably the most revealing live television ever broadcast.
      InternetMANA exposed the underbelly of global politics and revealed, to those with eyes to see, that “democratic elections” are actually a farce, manipulated and controlled by plutocracy.
      I say forget left and right … choose sovereignty! Claim the inalienable right to live free!

  3. Does Labour want to learn.

    We see stupidity enhanced by the present Labour position in the by election.

    Divided we fall.

    While Winston is no left winger, he has many positions far more desirable than National.

    Labour appear to effectively support the right … again.

    • JW

      I get the frustration with the LP, but the; “present Labour position in the by election”, does seem to have come around a bit:

      “We have a candidate in the race, and she’s a good candidate, and she’s somebody who we want in Parliament. I have a duty to back her. But in the end, I want Northlanders to exercise their choice, to see that they could make a difference here. If they want to send a message to the government that we are sick and tired of being neglected, then they know what their choice is” [Little] said

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67099070/andrew-little-prods-northland-to-vote-for-winston-peters

    • I get the strategic voting thing, I really do, but I simply don’t understand how left leaning voters can possibly want Peters to be elected. He is, and always has been, a Nat at heart, and in the final analysis it is my strong belief he will support National, while making enough of a point of difference to maintain his constituency. Frankly I feel sorry for Willow-Jean Prime, an honest candidate who seems to be becoming Labour’s equivalent of Paul Goldsmith.

  4. Thank you for this overview of the election from a MANA standpoint (good to know that you are more resilient than the IP when it comes to enduring adversity). It is timely too, with the defeat of the Harawira/ Turei Feed the Kids bill.

    I feel that the biggest irony of the election is that NZF so enthusiastically shot itself in the foot when joining the Harawira beat-up. They’d have been a position to have negotiated a; Nat-NZF coalition, without any other support parties sipping from the gravy train, if it hadn’t have been for that. It couldn’t have been worse than the NACT majority we’ve been enduring this year.

    However, I am a bit concerned by this:

    In Venezuelan revolutionary change was led by a former military officer, Hugo Chavez. If the left had failed to link up with his group in the military then his political evolution would probably not have been as effective, and the revolutionary changes in Venezuela may never have happened.

    You may not have much experience with the NZDFs, but if military officers in this country were to involve themselves in; “revolutionary change”, in this country, I doubt it’d be on the side of MANA or the wider left. Perhaps not the best example to have chosen of; “finding and building… alliances”.

  5. Yes I agree with most of the above comments. I CAN’T believe how STUPID Labour was in Northland at the last election.
    WE talk about how on earth NZ could vote such a crock into power, BUT people FORGET, that had Labour been thinking of NZ they would have pulled it’s Northland candidate, …..yes I know it’s not fair, but Natz are playing the system and Labour are GIFTING them the Government position.
    Had Hone got in, in a fair fight, the Natz WOULDN’T have this majority in Parliament. …………..How convenient no one in the Lame St Media want’s to mention that.
    I BLAME Labour mainly for the mess we have of a ‘crocked USA bankers puppet’ in power and RUINING NZ democracy.
    We are not well served by this NZ Lame St Media, the Natz (extreme far right Government) and the right wing (DUMB AS HELL) Labour party.

  6. If we are going to get the rats, I meant nats. out we need to support Labour even if they have made mistakes, which I feel they have. Granted some of them are not the brightest bulbs but there are some shining lights there. I agree with what you have asserted about Labour but we need to help them rather than bury them if we want a better country with some sane people in charge.

    Mana/Internet did not fail, they won because they got a lot of people off their back sides and out working for justice and fairness. They helped get many back into caring instead of being apathetic. Kim Dotcom was not the idiot that the nats. want all to believe. His intentions were good and he helped get the MOMENT OF TRUTH out there. The likes of Glenn Greenwald and Laila Harre ; Jane Kelsey ; John Minto and Nicky Hager etc. . . . . . ETC. were (are) all working towards helping NZ see the truths and realities of what is really going on. We and they all want what is best for all of us and not just the crooks and thieving bankers; oil companies and mega- corporations – you know – the crowd ” jonkey ” hangs out with.

    We are a laughing stock for the intelligence and likes of those like Glenn
    Greenwald etc. and those who have their heads screwed on properly. We are not asleep, those who are still fighting for justice and equality.

    It is not all Labours fault that the majority of the NZ voters acted out of a lack of awareness and integrity and smarts when they voted a crook and a pathological elitist and rude liar back in office. Most are not even aware of the magnificence and importance of what the ” MOMENT OF TRUTH ” was trying to share with all of us. Mana and Dotcom did not loose. Our country lost when it voted back in the train wreck misery party who suck up to the greedy elite agenda. There are some bright lights in Labour so please do not quickly discount what we need to help and build up to fight and win this next election.
    No other party will win it but Labour so lets not cut off our nose to despite our face. Let’s help them where we can and stop feeding into just what the nats. want. They are happy when we put Labour down. Instead lets try and help build labour to see their mistakes and help them get strong and beat the nats. Lets all unite and get the rats out ! ! We do not need
    a donkey “jonkey” in charge anymore. We deserve so much better.

  7. Great article, I’d take it one step further and say the concerted effort by the establishment to get rid of IMP is an indication that they were on the right track and likely to genuinely create change.

    Anyone who is part of the establishment, which to be clear includes the MSM, Winston and most of Labour (but possibly not Cunliffe), has first loyalties to the establishment.

    This is an unwritten rule but it helps explain why Labour and Winston shot themselves in the foot by destroying a potential coalition/support partner.

  8. It does not take much thinking to realize that indeed it was the treachery dealt to Hone by combined forces.

    It is simple to see the sneering face of Key sucker punching Labour …by admonishing even his own National party faithful to vote for Kelvin Davis. It was THIS that did the damage.

    The National party strategists are not so foolish that they didn’t see the extra seats Hone would have brought. It was that simple. They knew that this could cost them the election.

    It is important to understand also that at that time , – that the old guard of the ABC’s….those neo liberal hangovers from the 1980’s reforms – preferred to loose rather than have their positions and the status quo changed.

    They resisted Cunliffe fiercely…and as a consequence…. it cost Labour , the Greens, IMP , and NZFirst …..ANY chance of winning.

    Is it any wonder there was that leering grin on Keys face on the night of the election?

    It was not Kim Dotcom at all….indeed…Key was visibly afraid he could not sign the TTPA , have laws introduced for the GSCB and the Xkeyscore surveillance program – there was a lot riding on Hone’s defeat.

    And he KNEW he could rely on the neo liberal ABC’s to deliver the goods. And they did.

    If anything ….those MSM sycophants of the neo liberal right wing ….in creating a false impression at the Internet party launch…by not even shutting up and reporting on policy – as once was the case with reporters – but rather looking to create an ‘ incident ‘ to serve the interests of Key…are hugely to blame as well.

    It remains a fact that ANY party and its leader that endorses its arch enemies candidate obviously has an agenda – and this was the case with Key.

    And primarily – Key’s supporters among the ABC neo liberals in the Labour party.

    There is your true Genesis of the Left’s loss at the last election.

  9. Oh Puhleeze. What are the Greens but a bunch of wannabe electorate seats that they’ll never hold. (Until the planet is stuffed anyway.) Divide the left vote and persist in bullying the party of the working people, persist in hammering unionists, persist in dividing ethnic votes, and you will be labouring to your disadvantage. The offer to Labour to campaign together under Green terms (2014) were a piss-off tactic. Immediately rejectable because the constituency of “green thought” assumed supremacy in spite of actual seatlessness. You are a minority percentage and should understand your position, when Labour makes you an offer. Otherwise, just diddle about in exile.

  10. Pretty much sums it up Wild Katipo.
    I say well done to Internet/ mana parties efforts – they raised such support, in such a short time, and really shook ‘the establishment’. Don’t give up I say, come at them again, and again, and again…

    • Don’t give up? IMP is defunct. Where is the MANA support and standing up for Kim dotCom today? This article certainly speaks to the goodness in the alliance, but I am yet to see overt support from the MANA Movement executive to help KdC retain his safety in NZ … if it has been stated I would appreciate a link to it. Leaving Kim to stand alone has soured my taste for MANA.

  11. i am really surprised that you have ignored the smoking-joint in the room…

    ..an ad-campaign to legalise/regulate/tax cannabis had been worked up by the internet party..

    ..and despite most mana members supporting this policy..(esp. the young ones)- but not the likes of harawir/minto..who are positively reactionary on this issue..

    ..despite this mana-members support – harawira threw his (in)famous tantrum – and demanded the campaign be pulled..

    ..so it was..

    ..so if you add into the equation that i am sure there were more than a thousand pot-smokers in ttt who wd have prised themselves away from the bong long enough to vote for such a policy..(had they been subjected to this potent-message/campaign..)

    ..and you factor in the fact that the aotearoa legalise cannabis party got in excess of 12,000 votes..and that those votes had nowhere else to go – the greens having confirmed that ending prohibition was not on their top ten to-do list..(and that quite a few of them wd have also responded to that campaign..)

    i wd submit that harawira really screwed the pooch on that one..

    ..and that his reactionary pot-tantrum cost him his seat/and internet/mana the election..

    ..and that is the smoking-joint in the room/this case..

    ..and that despite all those valid reasons u posted..

    ..that that pot vote wd have done for int/mana – what it did when it first got the greens over the line/into parliament..

    ..and harawira + wd b now in parliament..

    .to me – that was the major screw-up of that campaign..

    ..and it was entirely self-inflicted..

    ..and that needs to be fixed-up before the next campaign..

    ..as his opposition to gay-marriage was..

    • No better judge Phil as I know you worked hard on the campaign with Nandor.
      I will say that I believe Hone’s ‘tantrum’ was more about IP exec’s presenting this policy without due consultation. The funded campaign was also off the mark. Middle class kids in space-suits really went over the heads of the target demographic.
      I do however agree that lack of consultation with the leadership of ALCP was a dropped catch. Something got to Hone and his leadership completely failed right when it needed to step up. That is why Georgina Beyer went public … she had lost faith in the leader of the InternetMANA party, Hone Harawera.

      • chrs lawrence..

        ..i agree with yr spacesuits comment..

        ..and i am really pissed @ minto ‘cos early on the campaign i pointed out/urged him to talk to laila harre about this..

        ..and put the case in an email to him..

        ..he told me he would..

        ..but that was just to shut me up – as he later admitted he didn’t..

        ..(careless..?..or deliberate because of his reactionary-attitudes on this topic..?)

        ..and harawira may have been upset about some lack of protocol..

        ..but once again i lean to putting that down to his also reactionary-attitudes on said topic..

        ..and mana is funny like that – most members wd support legalise/regulate/tax..

        ..but there is that solid core of prohibitionists in the leadership..

        ..’tis both a shame – (as the resulte show..)

        ..and thoroughly undemocratic of them..

  12. A compelling analysis of the 2014 election defeat of the Mana/Internet coalition by Ben Peters. In which his rigorous use of facts and data, completely back up his conclusions, and totally demolishes the establishment narrative.

    In my opinion this is a first class piece of investigative journalism. I hope to see much more of the same from this writer in the future.

    Thanks to Martyn Bradbury for making a space where investigation of the actual facts of the matter can be published.

  13. For my two cents worth, I would like to say this:

    At the very beginning of the election, even before campaigning had begun. Hone Harawira gave a speech, in which one sentence stuck in my mind. He said, “We are trying to change a system that resists change.”

    And boy did they resist it with a vengeance.

    The whole establishment, all mainstream political parties and all the media and mainstream pundits, reacted in a body to the presence of Internet/Mana much as the human body reacts to a tiny virus with an aggressive auto immune response . Even though it is small make no mistake Mana/internet represented a real threat to the status quo.

    Ask yourself would New Zealand troops be now winging their way to another round of endless bloodletting in Iraq if the Mana/Internet coalition had been able to add its weight to the opposition in parliament to the war.

    At the night of the election it was reported that the biggest cheer of the night at the National Party election night gathering in Auckland was on the news of Mana’s defeat by Labour in Te Tai Tokerau.

    Even the Nat’s ultimate win over the Labour opposition, wasn’t greeted with as much spontaneous elation and relief by the assembled guests.

    While some in the Labour Party may have shared this joy, this joy wasn’t shared totally by the Labour Party. At my home in Papakura the next day I was visited by local Labour Party activists genuinely upset that Mana was no longer in parliament. One Labour activist who had never been to our house before bought gifts of seedlings for our local community garden that she knew we are part of, as a sign of solidarity.

    The sectarian hatred of Mana shared by some more Right ideologues in the leadership of the Labour Party is not universal.

    If Hone Harawira had won his seat, and if Winston Peters won Northland, it is quite possible that rather than the country suffering under another three years of National missrule we would be seeing a change of government now.

    Let us hope that this is a salutary lesson for the Left of the need for alliances and unity against the common enemy.

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