Minto on Mana/IP alliance pros, cons and questions

John Minto has posted at The Daily blog about the conference debate on the proposed alliance between the Internet and Mana Parties. It gives a good outline of party thinking and lays out how he sees the pros and cons.

Mana and the Internet Party – strategic alliance or wtf? 

The proposal for some sort of electoral relationship arose from a meeting between Mana leader Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom earlier in the year. The first benefit to both Mana Movement and the Internet Party – and the country for that matter – is to ensure all votes cast to get rid of the National government are counted. Under current law a party which falls short of the 5% threshold has its votes wasted – potentially up to 130,000 anti-National votes not counted.

This fundamentally undemocratic aspect of our MMP system is a result of pressure from National and Labour to keep parliament as a cosy duopoly and disenfranchise thousands of voters in the process.

So the AGM debated at length whether to proceed to formally explore a possible alliance. It was a riveting four hours as speakers spoke for or against the idea.

As part of the discussion I was asked to present what I saw as the “pros” and “cons” of a possible “strategic alliance” with the Internet Party.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pros

1.    Increased profile for Mana and as we are seen as more relevant with a larger combined party vote with the Internet Party.

2.    Creation of interest and even excitement among many younger voters and non-voters.

3.    A greater likelihood of getting Mana Movement list MPs through a combined party vote.

4.    Greater resources to fight a party vote campaign.

5.    Greater resources to help inspire and enrol current non-voters and get them to the polling booth.

6.    There is already some areas of strong policy agreement with the Internet Party to: stop GCSB spying, withdraw from the “five eyes” spy alliance, provide internet privacy rights and cheap/free access to the internet, provide free tertiary education and oppose the TPPA.

7.    Ensuring that the Internet Party and their supporters are committed to changing the government.

8.    MANA brand remains in Maori electorate campaigns which are a key focus this election.

Cons

1.    Damage to the public perception of Mana:

  •  Mana may lose respect as a kaupapa Maori movement and damage our chances in the Maori seats.
  •  Mana Movement may lose respect as a movement for the poor and dispossessed if we have an alliance with a high-profile wealthy partner.
  •  Mana Movement may be seen by some as compromising our principles for money (irrespective of the truth of this)

2.    A potential watering down of our policies to create a joint Mana-Internet Party vote campaign.

3.    A potential loss of control of Mana policy and direction to a new joint venture.

4.    A risk of ending up with fewer seats than we would have on our own.

The three key questions which arose from this are:

1.    Would an alliance enhance or damage Mana as a kaupapa Maori movement?

2.    Would an alliance enable us to gain greater parliamentary representation without compromising our policies or principles?

3.    How would we retain our integrity, and be seen to retain our integrity, in such an alliance?

 All speakers recognised the risks to the movement and to the individuals involved – we all value our integrity – but after four hours a clear consensus emerged that we should take the step to see if an arrangement agreeable to Mana can be reached. (Each of Mana’s seven rohe supported the decision to keep talking with the Internet Party).

Mana Party members agreed to “move forward in negotiations” (NZ Herald):

The Mana Party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party’s local branches for consultation.

Minto:

We are withholding judgement till we see what emerges from further discussion. At that point any possible agreement will be discussed by Mana rohe and branches before a final vote is taken. 

However Hone Harawira seems to have decided already and intimates it won’t be decided by a party vote…

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Harawira said: “I’d certainly like to think so.”

And while the party is consulting the executive (led by Harawira) will decide.

Mr Harawira indicated the final decision would be made by senior party figures rather than a wider vote.

“It will probably be made by the executive in the final analysis.”

See  Harawira’s way or the highway.

In the meantime opposition continues – Dotcom a neoliberal millionaire who sounds like John Key – Mana’s Sue Bradford

  The Internet Party leader did not manage to seal an alliance with Mana when he visited the party’s AGM on Saturday (although talks will continue). And his charm seems to have singularly failed to winover one of Mana leader Hone Harawira’s key lieutenants, Sue Bradford.

Instead, Bradford hardened her opposition, and walked out of the meeting before the key vote – creating a schism Mana can ill-afford given Labour candidate Kelvin Davis is polling ahead in Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) seat.

“Getting into bed with a neoliberal millionaire who’s facing legal challenges is quite a curious proposal for a party like Mana that has stood so strongly and staunchly on its reputation for fighting for those who have less … and for standing up against the neoliberal agenda that John Key that others are running,” Ms Bradford told Firstline this morning.

“It’s not compatible and undermines everything Mana has achieved over the past three years … When I heard him speaking on Saturday, it was like listening to John Key,” Ms Bradford said.

It could be a challenging time for the Mana Party over the next month of consultations and decision making.

In the meantime the Internet Party remains in limbo, leader-less, candidate-less and alliance-less.

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