Unless you were living under a slab of something dense enough to resist even the loudest broadcasts of political opinion, you’ve probably heard of the merger of the Dotcom – Harawira political machines. They have become the Internet-Mana Party (or IMP as Chris Trotter languidly put it). Commentators predicted Internet to choose someone appropriately centrist and youthful to try to take a bite out of National’s right flank, but were flabbergasted to learn (as pundits always are when someone makes an unpredictable and smarter move) that Internet has chosen Laila Harré as leader.
She is a former leader of the Alliance party, cabinet minister in the Clark government, and has been described as the darling of the left. At 48 years old, pundits doubt her appeal to the youth, and knowledge of computer technology. But she has always held a place in the affections of your humble servant, and has quickly taken to twitter with more skill than most MPs.
The right are gloating that she’s further evidence of a fractured left, and are suspiciously in sync when grudgingly admitting she’s a skilled campaigner. You can see they already have their excuses ready, if Internet-Mana get less than 1 percent the right will say it was Laila’s fault for playing in the crowded grounds of the left wing, and if they do manage to get at least 1.1 percent (gaining Laila a seat) the right will say ‘oh but we always said she’s a good campaigner. It’s always the same with the right, they go for the person rather than the ideas that person represents.
One thing stands in the way of this political deal. Kelvin Davis. Labour’s candidate replacing Shane Jones on the party list. He will stand in Te Tai Tokerau against Hone Harawira, and he’s been very clear (however bitter and racist) that he wants to stop Internet-Mana from achieving their ends by taking Mr Harawira’s electorate seat. He complains that Dotcom is some sort of neo-nazi, as if his German-ness is the issue with his character. Davis compared the merger to when Maori gave up chunks of their land for beads and blankets. His unpleasant disposition and clear small mindedness would be unremarkable if the situation wasn’t so serious. The crude political apparition in Shane Jones’ seat may deprive the Labour party of a real shot at forming the next government, and all for the sake of one man’s ego.
I like Laila Harré and think her appointment shows a degree of long term thinking of the kind only shown thus far by the Greens. Hone wanted someone he could truly work with over the next term, Dotcom wanted someone with considerable experience and integrity to run the party he really believes in. They’ve got the best possible leader in Laila. Politics is the management and distribution of power, it is often ugly and it invariably involves deal making. How significant that the voters have seen the merger openly many months before polling day. I will not say you should vote for Internet-Mana, only that if you were tempted before then you should have more reason to now. They are serious players.
P.S If you aren’t convinced Kelvin Davis should stand aside in Te Tai Tokerau, consider his racist statements yesterday. He is not just an enemy of the left, but an enemy of New Zealand politics. Cunliffe should keep him at arms length.