Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the rise of Laila Harré

May 30th, 2014

So much for those – me included – who had viewed the Internet Party as the chaotic, chronically disorganised plaything of Kim Dotcom, and unlikely to last the distance until Election Day. The partnership with the Mana Party (the two parties will share a combined list) and the selection of Laila Harré as Internet Party leader have now made the new Internet Mana Party into a force to be reckoned with, on several fronts.

Firstly, the merger with Mana and the selection of Harré are steps that re-inforce each other, and they needed to occur in unison. (A puppet leader from the Internet geekzone could have been disastrous for the entire project.) For all the talk about Dotcom’s money – and of course, it will be useful – there are more important factors driving this arrangement. To his credit, Hone Harawira saw from early on that Mana needed to transcend the virtuous niche to which it had consigned itself at birth. (The left is very good at railing, and failing, self-righteously.) It needed a circuit breaker if it was ever going to replace the Maori Party and put its own priorities onto the Cabinet agenda of the next government. The engagement with Dotcom now lends Harawira (a) the resources and (b) the national profile necessary to transform Mana from being merely a regional player on the sidelines of parliamentary politics.

In turn, the union with Mana – and this is where Harré’s selection is such a genius move – also gives the Internet Party much broader appeal. Mana will supply a good deal of the social policy agenda, and Harré is someone able to project it very credibly, alongside Harawira. The fine details of party policy on health, job creation and other social issues will come later. Yet Harré’s prior experience with trade unions, with Auckland local body politics, with parliamentary coalition politics, with a feminism that saw her pass the original paid parental leave legislation etc etc will ensure that a social justice agenda compatible with Mana will exist, and it will have real teeth. What we are seeing is the evolution of the Internet Party from a Net-based oasis with a few social justice trimmings on the side, into a social justice party with a defining focus on Internet freedoms and delivery. (Dotcom’s extradition hinges on the government’s abuse of laws on copyright by which it is treating a civil offence at best, as a criminal one.) Offhand, to hard to think of who else on the New Zealand political left could have brought about this level of brand change, almost overnight. Matt McCarten?

Early days yet, but voters on the centre left now seem likely to have a third option on polling day. Women voters in particular, will have the potent motivation to vote Internet/Mana and thereby get two strong women – Laila Harré and Annette Sykes – into Parliament. This situation is virgin territory for the Greens, and it throws a spanner into their election planning. Until now, the Greens were the ONLY centre left alternative to Labour. Such that when Labour looked like a lost cause – as in 2011 – the Greens vote increased as centre-left voters consoled themselves by voting with the hearts for the party that felt closer to their core values.

Indeed, the centre-left has become so used to Labour looking like a lost cause – hello and goodbye to Phil Goff, David Shearer and now it seems David Cunliffe as well – that the Greens may have become complacent about their natural level of support. Internet Mana will need to get only a small amount of traction to put Greens high fliers such as current MP Holly Walker and talented aspirant James Shaw in real danger of missing the cut. So…instead of a Labour down/Greens up (and vice versa) dualism, the centre-left vote now looks like a three-dimensional hologram.

National can hardly bitch and moan about this outcome either. For nearly 15 years, it campaigned loud and long against the evils of MMP and railed for a review of its shortcomings. Yet then Justice Minister Judith Collins promptly and cynically shelved the MMP review findings, once National realised that the review’s main recommendation – that the electorate seat coat-tails now being used by Harawira and Dotcom should be abolished – would hurt its own chances of getting Colin Craig and his Conservatives and the Act Party’s latest minion in Epsom onside, and into Parliament. If the Mana/Dotcom arrangement looks like cynical pragmatism, it is merely par for the course.

The real key player in all of the above is the Labour Party and its Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis. If Harawira loses in Te Tai Tokerau, as much as 4% of the centre left vote nationwide could be lost, and go in the wasted vote dustbin. It will be National’s interest to urge the 1,814 Te Tai Tokerau voters who voted National in 2011 to vote for Kelvin Davis this time, in order to erase Harawira’s 1,165 majority and thereby sink a large chunk of the centre-left vote, nationwide. It is in Labour’s self interest NOT to make that happen. Logic and political nous in an MMP environment demand that Labour should now quietly decide to run a fairly token effort in Te Tai Tokerau, and put a good recruit like Davis into a safe position on the Labour list.

That may not happen. Labour may just be mule-headed enough – and tribally fixated on the FPP-era of politicking – to try and get rid of Harawira at all costs, and thereby torpedo one of its main chances of forming the next government. The centre-left can only do so by growing the vote. On top of all the above considerations, Internet Mana offers a very, very good mechanism for growing the centre-left vote (especially among young voters) rather than merely cannibalising it. The centre-left could expend a lot of effort attracting young voters – only to render those efforts meaningless by a dog-in the-manger FPP response. Ironically, one of the bigger threats to Dotcom’s efforts to topple the National-led government, could well be the Labour-led Opposition.

Message From (Another) One-Man Band
I don’t know if the centre-left has a campaign song in mind for the election, but Wilbert Harrison’s wonky epic should be considered as an option….c’mon people, get on the ball and work together. Harrison had an even bigger hit with “ Kansas City” over a decade before he recorded this version of a lyric that originally went “Let’s Stick Together” but ended up as “ Lets Work Together” (i.e. if sticking together via an externally enforced unity is no longer possible, co-operation still should be.) Hard to tell whether it’s a good sign or not – politically speaking – that Harrison played as a one man band, playing guitar, drums and hi-hat, harmonica and singing via various devices, all at once.


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    1. 20 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on the rise of Laila Harré”

    2. By roberto on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      Fabulous analysis of now politic.
      Many thanks for musical archive as well , the song has been along time favourite but in the form of Fabulous Thunderbirds.
      Testimony to the power of calibration and one of the best drummers in the business .
      One can only hope that the left has a drummer to drive the ethos home.

    3. By Cam McLeod on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      Yes, excellent analysis! Yes, it’s an interesting one.

      Together, with strong candidates, they will be seen as less of a throwaway vote. They will take a small cut of Green votes (yippeeee!) and they will also snatch a bunch from other parties (boring Labour, pointless ALCP) Will be a very interesting election.

      PS – it’ll be so much fun having Minto in Parliament! A laugh a day! Can’t wait for his questions for oral answer!

    4. By AlisonM on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      I’m excited by this, love that things political are being mixed up in a potentially powerful way, and from the left of all places, and confess I’ve been looking forward to your analysis. Thanks.

    5. By Kat on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      “……hello and goodbye to Phil Goff, David Shearer and now it seems David Cunliffe as well –”

      Gordon, was that a Freudian slip regarding David Cunliffe?

    6. By Peter Smith on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      I noticed on national radio this morning that Hone Harawera was pushing his Mana/Internet alliance as being good for Maori… Aiming, I suspect, at encouraging Maori Party voters to give their party vote to Mana/Internet while still supporting their Maori party candidate. Never before have those on the Maori roll had so much bang for their buck. Yay!

    7. By clairbear on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      I agree that Harré adds some weight to the Mana party but it is no longer got anything to do with the internet or fostering the use of technology or anything connected in any remote way with the internet. Yes I guess there is a policy against government spying (but not against commercial corporate spying which is many orders of magnitude bigger) but several parties have that and so that is not a reason to be.

      The aim of the internet party, at least as it is espoused by the media, was that it was targeted at internet savvy disaffected youth.

      Now it really has simply merged with and perhaps bolstered a bit of extra credibility for the Mana party.

      So in the end we still need or (I would like) to see a party with proper focused technology credentials, a party that will focus (without special social agenda) on using technology to solve our housing, transport, and geographic isolation issues.

      This party is not it and though a few other parties have the odd ideam none of them have enough technology focus to enthuse those internet savvy disaffected youth or the technology savvy/focused business and other such communities.

      So overall the new party launch is a waste of space in terms of stated direction, just an increased Mana party.

    8. By Alistair Connor on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      Clairbear : Just wait for the campaign before writing off the “Internet” part. This is a classic Pirate Party, with the focus on the tech and on the moral and legal issues that go with it, and which the other parties just don’t get. Laila’s nomination takes nothing away from that : on the contrary, she will be a powerful advocate for them (a background in international law is a pretty good qualification for that!)
      Note also that she has been setting up the “get out and vote” campaign for the union movement ( ) — enfranchising those who don’t participate is something she is passionate about, so there’s a true meeting of minds there.
      But sure, it doesn’t hurt that she will work well with Mana (and with the Greens, and with Labour)

    9. By Delia Morris on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      I hope Labour can stop with their first past the post mentality and work with the Greens and Internet/Mana. I was shocked at what Kelvin Davis said about the Mana party selling itself for blankets, etc last night on TV and this is why I no longer vote for Labour. Just for once Labour know who your enemies are and it is not other parties on the left.

    10. By marshal on May 30, 2014 | Reply

      Well said. Labour continually shoot themselves in the foot with statements like these and Davis is a complete mug making comments like this.
      Shows his political naivety and will lose a lot of votes by running this line.
      I think Mana Internet will not only destroy the Maori Party but will find a lot of the missing million voting for them. The students will love this.
      This is great news for the left.
      Good article Gordon. The best analysis I’ve seen to date. All the others have the National Party agenda all over it and they are all crying in their soup.

    11. By Jeremy Anderson on May 31, 2014 | Reply

      I think Kelvin Davis can and will say what he likes as some kind of kinder, gentler Shane Jones, but Matt and Laila will have this stitched up in the background. You can sense that they both feel they have a real chance at voting out the Tories and they aren’t going to let tantrum throwers like Davis get in their way. I hope.

    12. By Dave McArthur on May 31, 2014 | Reply

      You make good observations, Gordon, and I appreciate your upfront honesty. However I am sorry – so much of this article is meaningless to me. Mind you, I now find nearly all our media commentary unhelpful. Voting has become an increasingly meaningless exercise for me and I no longer feel able to able to communicate with my own generation – the Baby Boomers. The alienation that young people experience must be incomparably worse. In the context of our profoundly corrupt country, the emergence of the Internet-Mana provides me a glimmer of hope that a meaningful conversation can happen.

      Central to our malaise is the ethos of the modern corporation, which is the pure manifestation of the elements of psychosis and psychopathy that reside in us all. It now shapes and corrodes all our institutions, including our education/media/communication systems. It enables the systemic erosion of our civil rights and converts us into commodities. It promotes mass delusions with the associated, ingenious denial of our abuse of water, air, soil, minerals –especially fossilised biomass. It works to fragment and privatise our individual and collective intelligence using unprecedented surveillance, insane copyright and “commercial sensitivity” laws, mass migration and the general perversion of knowledge.

      All our existing main media and political parties are profoundly complicit and all propagate the corporate language on scale.
      None speak of extending GST to our two dominant activities – currency and property speculation.
      All endorse our fatally flawed National Education Curriculum Framework and destroy the state of science in our communities.
      The unprecedented migration flux this century means that over half of NZers lack experience and vital institutional memory of our history pre 1990.
      Not one political party, Government agency or NGO has the integrity to identify and articulate the vast array of deceits and hidden subsidies promoting the conversion of the amazing wealth potential of mineral oil/gas into pollution. I refer to our use of wasteful mass transit systems involving cars, jets, trucks etc.

      In brief, not one party has been able to speak for our young people and this is the group of people that is primarily funding these vast and unsustainable subsidies. They inherit the costs in the form of massive debt, pollution, probable climate extremes, depleted mineral and soils, and a meaningless voting system.
      Not one party has been able articulate the reality that our electrical systems are primarily intelligence systems and this wealth potential is critical to our survival now that my generation has destroyed most of the cheaply extractable mineral oil/gas on the planet. Instead they have promoted the corporate ethos using mass surveillance, language engineering, Kiwi Saver, the Cullen Fund, the ETS, the “Energy Reforms”, “Environmental Education” and sheer thuggishness. This has enabled our electrical grids to be privatised at their mere nuts-bolts-wires value and converted into debt-generating devices. It is now illegal for a NZ community to own the intelligence of its local electrical potential and practice energy efficiency. This means a powerful elite (Rupert Murdoch, NSA, the Banker Oligarchy et al) fragment and control our intelligence for their own narrow, psychopathic interests.

      We are all victims and at escalating risk because of this unsustainable situation. However by far the worst victims in New Zealand are those subsisting on the medium income or less. Nearly all our young, many of our elderly and a high proportion of our Maori and Polynesian peoples pay the highest price and are in this low income group.
      Kelvin Davis reveals both the scale of Labour’s self-deceit and his low respect for the Te Tai Tokerau people when he condemns Internet-Mana as a “scam”.(Radio NZ)
      Our prominent commentators, especially those who pride themselves on their Internet expertise, reveal their poor grasp of civics and intelligence when they dismiss those of us who take the Internet Mana potential seriously.
      Many of our newer immigrants may quickly change their voting patterns as they glimpse the growing dystopia behind the lies and deceits of our corporate facade. They will realise they have a very dubious future in a dumb, fragmented society. John Key, our multimillionaire, currency-speculator Prime Minister, may suddenly seem far less wise and aspirational.

      Thank you. It is so hard to express sufficient compassion, complexity, urgency, intelligence and hope in so few words.

    13. By Warwick Taylor on May 31, 2014 | Reply

      No. Hone wants Maori electorate voters to vote MANA!

    14. By Warwick Taylor on May 31, 2014 | Reply

      Kia ora, Dave, I tautoko you.

    15. By Warwick Taylor on May 31, 2014 | Reply

      Kia ora, Gordon, This deserves to be shared far and wide.

    16. By Rose on Jun 1, 2014 | Reply

      Laila Harre is purported to be a hardline Leftie. If this is the case, I’d like to see some consideration for superannuitants, many of whom are in the ‘have-nots’ bracket. None of the parties to date have made any provision for retirees who are struggling financially. Great that young children can get free medical care, but the ‘oldies’ are struggling just as much, if not more. We’ve spent a lifetime paying taxes..younger generations haven’t, although I applaud the idea that tertiary education would be free under a Mana-Internet Party government. Would be good to see financial assistance for ANY beneficiary needing glasses, hearing-aids or expensive dentistry. Some of us baby-boomers have been almost on the brink of not voting this year, but the birth of Mana-Internet has given us hope. However, trying to access their website in order to join the party is impossible if you are a ‘have not’, still using XP with IE8.

    17. By Jacquelyne Taylor on Jun 1, 2014 | Reply

      What Dave McArthur said about everything.
      What Gordon said about the remaining residue of nu Labour’s muleheaded tribalism and Kelvin Davis’s venom that reminds me of the ghost of Shane Jones’ venom towards the Greenparty to be honest.
      And what Warwick said..
      I am going to be sharing this because I am one of those middle-aged women who apparently can’t influence the young disenchanted or non voters.
      I do so LOVE a challenge..
      I began this weekend already on Waiheke…

    18. By shona on Jun 1, 2014 | Reply

      Thank you Dave for your accurate , in-depth analysis of NZ society in 2014. All of which I have ruminated on for years. A desire to guide my offspring safely through the mire of our f**ked up 21st century world of humanity gone mad, bad and almost totally blind to reality is all that sustains me these days.I told my whanau not to underestimate KDC. I was right!

    19. By tweetoutnow on Jun 2, 2014 | Reply

      Hi . You #nailedit … I live in Te Tai Tokerau .. I voted for Winny to stop the asset sales … who shall I vote for? Doesnt take much thought does it #internetmana 💯✔

    20. By Lissa on Jun 8, 2014 | Reply

      Hi Rose :) Try downloading the Chrome browser (from Google; its free and lightweight!) or Mozilla’s Firefox if you can. It may just be that your IE is being buggy.

    21. By Harry on Jun 9, 2014 | Reply

      Kelvin Davis a “good recruit”? On what planet?What is good about a prohibitionist authoritarian creep?

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