Exile in Russia named as Internet Party leader

This is bizarre. The exile is not Edward Snowden but it might as well be.

New leader announcement

The Internet Party has a new leader: Suzie Dawson. Ms Dawson will lead the Internet Party as it contests the 2017 New Zealand general election.

Suzie Dawson is an accomplished independent New Zealand journalist and activist. She specialises in writing about whistleblowers, intelligence agencies, and technology.

Suzie’s work has been repeatedly shared by WikiLeaks, recommended by Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald, and published and referenced by a number of media organisations.

She has reported extensively and internationally, most notably in support of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

Kim Dotcom tried to use Greenwald, Snowden and Assange in his extravagant attempt to swing the 2014 election –  ‘Moment of Truth’: cheers, cringes, no bombshell

She was recently interviewed by US journalist, activist and Nobel Peace Prize-nominee David Swanson.

She currently resides in Moscow, Russia, where she has applied for temporary asylum due to severe persecution she reports being subjected to by those whose corruption she worked to expose. The story of her exile from New Zealand is told in her 2016 documentary ‘Diary of a Person of Interest‘. She is also the host of a new Web TV series about life in Russia called ‘Kiwi In Moscow‘.

Suzie was instrumental in major activism campaigns in New Zealand, including #GCSB, #TPPANoWay, #NZ4Gaza and the 2014 Internet Party campaign, during which she interviewed ex leader Hon. Laila Harré on a number of occasions.

Suzie says: “The Internet Party has the courage to challenge the powers that be and the innovative thinking needed to update democracy in New Zealand. That is why I am proud to represent it in the 2017 general election.”

It seems like a stunt using someone stuck in Russia to lead a party in this year’s New Zealand election campaign.

NZ Herald reports: Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party names exiled citizen journalist Suzie Dawson as leader

Kim Dotcom’s political venture, the Internet Party, has a new leader. But she may not be in New Zealand for the election – given she is living in self-imposed exile in Moscow.

That’s misleading. Dotcom created the party but is no longer involved – from Statement of solidarity (26 May 2017): “Early in 2017 Kim Dotcom tendered his resignation from the Executive Committee of Internet Party NZ, as publicly tweeted at the time. Likewise, he is not involved in the Campaign Committee for our 2017 campaign, or its operational decision-making. ”

Dawson claims she was severely harassed and her family threatened by the Government after reporting on the GCSB’s spying on New Zealanders, including Dotcom.

The 36-year-old, who has been involved in the Occupy New Zealand movement, has also been an outspoken supporter of Wikileaks and whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

In an exclusive interview with the Weekend Herald, she said it came as a “huge surprise” when asked in January to consider the leadership position during a general election year.

“I had never considered entering politics. But the more I examined the idea, the clearer the synergies were.”

She said her IT management experience, media skills, and “first-person insight into politics and activism” meant she had the qualifications required.

“What finally sealed the deal for me was listening to what Laila Harre said in her first speech as Internet Party leader. She said, ‘If me standing here inspires younger people, especially women, to back themselves and their beliefs, then that will be my reward’.”

Harre has backed right off her beliefs in the Internet Party – in December 2016 Long-time activist Laila Harre returns to the Labour Party. She is not standing as a candidate this election.

“Exile is not a choice and although I seldom talk about the price that I have paid it has been incredibly high and not just paid by me.”

I’ve seen quite a bit about it online. She has claimed a number of things about the reasons for her self imposed exile. here is a press release from her from 8 November 2016: New Zealand Journalist Seeks Temporary Asylum In Russia

Ms Dawson may be one of the 88 New Zealand citizens who was illegally spied on by New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) who effectively outsourced the spying to the National Security Agency (NSA), as proven by recent Edward Snowden disclosures published by TVNZ and The Intercept.

The targeting of Ms Dawson led to serious threats against and endangerment of her life and those of her children.

Ms Dawson says “Being directly targeted by agencies which are supposed to investigate terrorists, not journalists, has wreaked havoc upon myself and my family. It was made impossible for us to live safely in our home country. This has left me with no choice but to seek sanctuary and to appeal for assistance. I am grateful for the opportunity to apply for asylum and pray for a favourable outcome.”

Ms Dawson is in need of solidarity, international legal assistance and financial support. Well-wishers can donate or reach out through her website https://Suzi3D.com.

Her family requests privacy at this time. All media requests will be directed to the Family Spokesperson, Chris Yong, who can be contacted at media@Suzi3d.com

Chris Yong was an Internet Party candidate in 2014 and was placed at 5 on the Internet Mana party list. He still links himself to in his Twitter account profile.

The Internet Party website is virtually devoid of people’s names apart from “Authorised by Sarah Illingworth”. All contact details are generic. Illingworth is the contact on news items:

 Sarah Illingworth (Internet Party NZ Communications Director and Party Secretary)

Illingworth has her own website: https://sarahillingworth.com/

I am Communications Director for the Internet Party’s 2017 New Zealand general election campaign.

About

I’m a journalist, editor and communications consultant from Auckland, New Zealand (currently based in Manchester, UK).

So it appears that the Internet Party’s secretary and communications director is based in the UK, and the newly announced party leader is exiled in Russia.

Candidate eligibility  rules: The main grounds of disqualification for enrolment that could affect eligibility to be a candidate are

  • being a New Zealand citizen outside New Zealand who has not been in New Zealand within the last three years

It appears that Dawson has been in New Zealand within the last three years.

If anyone from the Internet Party could provide more details that would be helpful.

Internet Party and the elephant in the room

The Internet Party are promoting themselves for this year’s election campaign, trying to ignore the elephant in their room from 2014.

InternetParty2017

They did have some innovative ideas for policy development by the party members, but it wasn’t polices that failed them last election.

Who is driving the party now?

Their website is ‘Authorised by Sarah Illingworth’ from Upper Hutt.

Their Contact page has generic email addresses and no names.

Their Candidates page states:

Our candidate list will showcase a strong and diverse group of Kiwis who are committed to securing positive change for New Zealand in the digital age. They will contest the 2017 General Election.

But all candidate slots are ‘To be announced’. It’s getting late in the year to be trying to put a candidate list together.

Without the elephant in the room’s substantial finances advertising will be a struggle, and unless they get someone to lead them who the media want to publicise – but that means they probably need to be controversial, or ridiculous, or an ex media person.

A good leader who could make a good MP is unlikely to attract any attention, such is the nature of our sensation addicted media.

 

What about Internet Party 1.0?

Dotcom’s Internet Party, combined with the Mana Party, failed to get close to the 5% threshold in the 2014 election, getting 1.42% of the vote (34,094), and with Hone Harawira failing to hold his Te Tai Tokerau seat so they missed out on getting into Parliament.

After the election Laila Harre resigned as leader – she recently indicated she had joined Labour and wanted to stand in an electorate for them.

Since then the party has maintained an online presence but with no sign of who is running the party and with a very low profile – Dotcom seemed to desert it.

Since the election in the monthly Roy Morgan poll the Internet Party has had no result (less than 0.5%) in every poll except for getting 0.5% in June and October this year.

They still have a website but there appears to be little new, and there is no sign of any people being involved – perhaps it’s become a robot party.

They keep things ticking over on their Facebook page. After Trump won the US election they posted:

Internet Party was feeling optimistic.
9 November ·
If Britain can get Brexit
and America can get TrumpNew Zealand can get the Left into power in 2017

That got 288 likes so there is still interest in the party. In early December:

We are stoked, of course.

But we still need people to write good articles for us, the Internet Party, the Infomation Party, the one which is genuinely about a better future in all aspects … as much as ever. Please put the word out to the good investigative journalists that you know, or who are friends of friends and so on …

Mid December:

KDC is being given a bad rap from radio announcers since Laila Harre joined the Labour Party. Laila is a great person but small parties never served her well. We are delighted to see anyone with her vision and passion achieve a position of influence and we sincerely wish her great success in achieving this.

While The Internet Party has an identity, a life and policies all of its own – KDC started this good work, and the fact that this party even exists with it’s awesome policies is completely down to him.

I am no spokesperson, but all of the positive things that our members can say about the Party or KDC will help. Speak it, write it, show your support, every bit helps.

Thank you 🙂

For political parties to have identities they need people, and there is no sign of who is involved.

They have a Twitter account but it’s not very active, with the last tweet in February. The account is authorised by Fred Look, from Colville on the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Internet Party Constitution & Rules on Elections.Org.NZ states:

10 PARTY LEADER

10.1 The Internet Party will have a Party Leader. The Party Leader is responsible for managing the Internet Party’s Parliamentary affairs, should it be represented in Parliament.

10.2 The Party Leader is an automatic member of the Executive Committee with full voting and speaking rights.

10.3 Should the Internet Party not be represented in Parliament, the Party Leader will be either:

10.3.1 The candidate ranked number 1 on the Party List by the Executive Committee in an election year; or

10.3.2 A Full Member of the Internet Party approved by 75 per cent of the Executive Committee

Harre was ranked number 1 on the party List in election year and has resigned so that provision no longer applies.

I’m not aware of a new Party leader being approved by the Executive.

I thought that the original constitution gave special power to the party founder but can’t see any reference to that now.

The party received 16 donations in 2015 totalling $676.65
internet_party_return_of_donations_and_loans_2015.pdf (PDF 11.29 MB).

That’s in contrast to 2014 donations of $3,500,000 from Kim Dotcom (and no other donations)
Internet_Party_return_of_donations_and_loans_2014.pdf (PDF 10.12 MB)

Both those returns were signed by Fred Look, who seems to be the only person publicly associated with the party now.

I presume that Dotcom’s money and input would be welcomed again but I also presume that would have to go through a democratic process.

Getting credible candidates and especially a credible and high profile leader could be a challenge.

The Auckland revolutionaries seem to have moved on from the Internet Party and are quietly taking over the Labour Party.

Perhaps Labour will do a Memorandum of Understanding with the Internet Party – involving money for influence?

Internet Party 2.0

After the failure of the Internet Party in the 2014 election – and their dragging down of the Mana Party with them – Kim Dotcom acknowledged that his brand was toxic.

So why has he floated the idea of another tilt at political ego?

That vote is meaningless – if Andrew Little asked his Twitter followers if he should stand next year he’d get a few positive votes as well. So would John Key, probably far more than Dotcom and Little combined.

It’s hard to know what sort of game Dotcom is playing here.

He is unlikely to get Mana or any other party wanting him to piggy back off their electorate chances.

He would have to find a high profile person to lead the party, and Laila Harre is unlikely to do it again, she recently said she wanted to stand for Labour.

Perhaps Dotcom thinks he could emulate Donald Trump’s success.

Like millions of people wanting to be the Nek Minit in social media, it seems that many people are trying to emulate Trump’s success. Winston Peters fancies his chances despite being the opposite of Trump in political experience, and even Little has dabbled.

But New Zealand politics is very different to US politics.

I would be very surprised if Internet Party 2.0 could become a serious contender next year – especially if Dotcom was prominent, and it’s hard to see him not being prominent if he tries to reboot his political ambitions.

But this could be just game playing by Dotcom. Is he trying to leverage his influence with another party?

Labour would love the sort of financial support he could provide, but any Dotcom association would be higher risk than the Memorandum of Understanding with Greens, which has so far been unsuccessful.

Just before Christmas Dotcom tweeted:

Perhaps he sees an opportunity from that. Earlier in December:

Perhaps he is just trying to stir things up.

 

NZ political parties in 2016

Brief reviews of the mid term political year for New Zealand parties.

The main issues have been:

  • Continued shortages of new house building and an escalation of housing prices, especially in Auckland, and an increased focus on homelessness
  • Growing attention given to ‘poverty’ as it is in New Zealand, and the income gap  despite the first increase in benefits in forty years.
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership got a lot of attention early in the year but that fizzled as it became evident that the US was unlikely to ratify it.

National

The National Party would probably have thought they had survived the year quite well, chugging away without doing anything radical, and staying  extraordinarily high in the polls most of the time for  a third term government.

An improving economy along with improving dairy prices have helped.

But Key resigned in December. National selected the Key anointed Bill English to take over, but how a new look National will be seen by the public won’t be known until next year.

Labour

Andrew Little consolidated his leadership, kept the Labour caucus under control and appears he is safe until next year’s election, but he failed to lift his appeal to the public, and Labour must be worried to be stuck in the twenties in the polls.

Labour entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Green Party and they tried to rebrand as a two-party alternative government but that didn’t change the polls much and may have created as many problems as it solved.

Labour finished the year buoyant after successful local body and Mt Roskill by-election campaigns, and noticeably raised in confidence when John Key resigned, but they have failed to impress as a potential lead party in government.

They survived the year and hope to benefit from a Key-less National but haven’t done enough to make a positive impression.

Greens

New co-leader James Shaw settled in without standing out, but Greens have lost one of their most respected MPS, Kevin Hague.

Their big play was the Memorandum of Understanding with Labour but that doesn’t seem to have  been the game changer they hoped for.

Metiria Turei seems to be dominant, and that probably limits the Greens’ electability, but they have at least stayed in a 10-15% support band in the polls so have a base to work from next year.

NZ First

Following Winston Peters’ big win in Northland NZ First have benefited from unusually good poll support for most of the year (it tailed off towards the end).

But it looks like Winston is catching his breath before election year. The party has done little of note apart from Peters occasionally trying to appear as the anti-politician, even though he’s one of the longest serving members of Parliament. He tried to capitalise on the Trump success in the US but that doesn’t seem to have done much.

Maori Party

The Maori Party has been working towards more complementary campaigning with the Mana Party in an attempt to create a stronger Maori bloc in Parliament. They are targeting the Maori seats held by Labour.

Maori tend to do politics quite differently to the rest. The Maori party has been the best of the rest in the polls but will want to pick that up more next year as well as pick up some electorates.

ACT Party

David Seymour has done fairly well at getting attention for a one person party and has had some small successes but his party has struggled to get anywhere. It has been Seymour rather than ACT.

United Future

Peter Dunne has had a quiet year apart from bearing the brunt of medical cannabis and recreational drug criticism, even though he is severely limited by National who don’t want to change anything on drug laws. Dunne’s party remains pretty much anonymous.

Conservative Party

An awful year for Colin Craig in the courts and an awful year for his party. Neither are credible and neither look likely to make a comeback.

Mana Party

Hone Harawira and the Mana movement are trying to make a comeback by working together with the Maori Party, so have established some possibilities this year without proving they can get back into Parliament.

Internet Party

Kim Dotcom seems to see his political influence in other ways than expensive and ineffective parties, and ex leader Laila Harre has joined Labour and wants to stand for them, so the Internet party looks a short blip in political history.

Cannabis Party

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has simplified it’s name and has tried to benefit from increasing changes on cannabis laws overseas but haven’t found the formula required to become a significant political force yet.

The Opportunities Party

Gareth Morgan launched his own party this year and gets media attention – money speaks – and has announced a couple of policies but so far it looks like him and no one else.

NZ Peoples Party

The Peoples’ Party launched as a representative of immigrants and stood a candidate in the Mt Roskill by-election but will have been disappointed by their result, despite a weak National campaign.

Laila Harre joining Labour

It has been hinted at recently but has now been confirmed – Lalia Harre is re-joining the Labour Party.

1 News: Laila Harre rejoins Labour Party, sets her sights on standing in election

After 30 odd years, Laila Harre has re-joined the Labour Party – and she wants to be a Labour candidate at next year’s election.

“It’s been a while. It’s really great to be back,” says Ms Harre, who first joined Labour in 1982 at the tender age of 15.

She parted ways with Labour in the late 1980s; disillusioned by the reforms at state asset sales of the David Lange Labour Government and the “Rogernomics” policies of the then Finance Minister Roger Douglas.

Jim Anderton left too and Laila Harre joined him at NewLabour, which later morphed into the Alliance, which was a grouping of NewLabour, the Democratic Party, Mana Motuhake, and the Greens.

After the Alliance fell to pieces in 2002 Harre had a break from politics.

Then in 2012-13 she worked for the Green Party as ‘ inaugural issues director’.

The next year, 2014, she became leader of Kim Dotcom’s Internet party.

The veteran campaigner says she does regret her four months with the Internet Party because of the damage it did to her reputation.

I’m not surprised. Then she had a break from parties until returning to her roots now, Labour. He ex-colleague from the Alliance Party Matt McCarten is wheeling and dealing for Labour in Auckland and I expect has had some influence in this move.

Now she believes that the time isn’t right for new political parties.

“The Left, I guess have consolidated around Labour and the Greens – and Labour, I think, are really strongly reconnecting to their roots and they are my roots in the trade union movement.”

Nick Leggett was rubbished by left wing activists, first for leaving Labour and then for joining National. He was criticised for not being committed. I wonder what they will say about Harre’s party hopping.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton says that Harre will have to go through the same process as other hopeful candidates.

Rumours have linked her to New Lynn, which will become available with David Cunliffe’s exit, but others have also expressed an interest there – New Labour candidate for Rangitikei with Deborah Russell hoping to head north.

Deborah Russell said she had been approached by several Labour associates to seek the nomination for the New Lynn seat David Cunliffe is vacating.

She would have run again in Rangitikei if the New Lynn opportunity had not come.

That sounds like virtually a done deal in New Lynn. Perhaps Harre will stand in Auckland Central as it looks like Jacinda Ardern wants to pick up Mt Albert now David Shearer is leaving.

Is anyone terrified by MANA?

Anger. Fury. Fear. Bomber talks up a terror campaign at The Daily Blog:

It’s MANA that the elites fear turning populist anger against them

Bryce Edwards covers off the anger that is simmering in the electorate and the fear by elites of where that anger will erupt, but I think he misses a very important part of the spectrum which is open to radicalism.

And that is MANA.

To date the fear is that angry hordes of the disaffected and under educated will elect some type of Trump-esk figure who will take the nation to hell in a hand basket.

Maybe.

But if you look at who is bleeding here, it is young, poor and brown. The middle classes are getting nervous about the inequality and the pundits are scrambling to understand a poverty that is beyond their suburbs.

The furious response at Hone announcing his re-entry into politics suggests the elites fear those who are being hurt most by the housing crisis and growing inequality will rejoin the debate and demand a welfare state that isn’t as cruel and draconian as the current one has become.

I don’t recall seeing any fury. Bemusement was more apparent.

Radically demanding a reorganisation of the neoliberal state is what makes the elites nervous, not some old warhorse like Winston making ‘two wongs don’t make a right’ styled 1970s retro-racist jokes.

Given their lack of anything close to success to date radicals demanding a revolution will not be threatening many nerves.

If the poor and those on benefits re-engaged under a radical MANA brand demanding dignity, that would scare the bejesus out of the elites.

In the last election MANA attempted to gain representation using Kim Dotcom’s cash. The electorate punished Hone for trying to be too clever and screamed sell out, the grim reality of poverty however now howels at the door and those being hurt most by Key’s elitist economy are scrambling for a radical solution to their ever decreasing living standards. If MANA provides that, the elites will be terrified.

I doubt that many people will be terrified by Bradbury or by MANA.

Combined with the Internet Party and Dotcom’s millions they got 1.42% of the vote last election, they have no MPs, they barely register in polls, and Labour and the Greens have moved on without them. Labour never wanted to be seen with them.

Voters are likely to see another Bradbury promoted campaign not with terror but as terrible.

A Harawira comeback?

It looks like Hone Harawira is going to attempt a political comeback.

Source from the North: Hone Harawira WILL contest the 2017 election in Te Tai Tokerau, for the Mana Movement

If he stands in Te Tai Tokerau it will be interesting to see how Labour deals with the campaign there. Kelvin Davis won the electorate off Harawira in 2014, much to the annoyance of Mana and Internet Party supporters who needed an electorate win to make it into Parliament.

There was also quite a bit of annoyance that Mana got on board with the money man, Kim Dotcom. There will be memories of that.

While Mana supporters have remained active the Party has virtually disappeared with their website gone and only spasmodic activity on Facebook.

They seem to have tried to re-brand themselves as a ‘movement’ but there hasn’t been much sign of it.

Party prospects

What are party prospects leading up to next year’s election? It’s a long time in politics until we vote again so there’s many things that could affect the overall outcome and the outcome for individual parties.

Has Been and Never Been

The 5% threshold is making it pretty much impossible for a small or new party to get into Parliament on party vote. This is by design by the large parties, successfully keeping small parties shut out.

Mana Party

Mana took a punt on Kim Dotcom’s big money last election and crashed badly, losing their only electorate and failing to attract combined party vote. Hone Harawira seems to have disappeared from public view, and the Mana Party website seems to have also disappeared. Their chances of revival look unlikely, and their chances of success again are also unlikely.

Internet Party

The Internet Party had large funds and little credibility last election. Dotcom acknowledged afterwards that he was politically toxic. Without his money and presence and media pulling power the party continues – their website remains – but is ignored and will find it difficult to get anywhere, which is a shame because they had some interesting ideas on inclusive democracy.

Conservative Party

With heaps of money and media attention last election Colin Craig and his Conservatives could only manage about 4%. After last year’s major upheaval it’s unlikely they will get half that next time. Craig is severely damaged politically and socially and would struggle to lead the Conservatives to 2% next time. There is no obvious alternative leader.

The Strugglers

UnitedFuture

As a party UnitedFuture has faded just about completely. It is still operating but without a major input of money and new personal I don’t see any change. The only option for UF is for outsiders to see an opportunity to use an existing party to get a foothold in Parliament rather than start from scratch, but even then success would be dependent on Peter Dunne  retaining his Ohariu electorate. I think Dunne must be close to considering retiring, and if he does UF will retire or expire.

ACT Party

ACT have defied critics and survived the Don Brash and John Banks disasters due to the success of one person, David Seymour. I think Seymour is odds on to retain Epsom next year (deservedly) so ACT is likely to survive. National and possibly Conservative vote must be up for grabs, but it will depend on ACT coming up with additional electable candidates to make an increased party vote attractive. Jamie Whyte didn’t work out, but with Seymour anchoring the party they may attract strong candidates who would then stand a good chance of success through an improved party vote.

Maori Party

The Maori Party continue to be quiet achievers. They should be able to retain at Te Ururoa Flavell’s electorate seats and their first list MP Marama Fox has made a quick impact. They stand a chance of picking up ex Mana Maori votes so have some chance of getting more seats via their list. Further electorate prospects will depend on candidate quality. The Maori Party could also be impacted negatively by a Labour resurgence if that ever happens.

The Over Threshold Parties

New Zealand First

It’s difficult to predict NZ First’s future. It is very dependant on Winston Peters. He had a major success early last year by winning the Northland buy election but hasn’t dome much since then. He could just be pacing himself, rebuilding energy and drive for next year’s election campaign. Or he could be running out of puff – that’s been predicted before but so far he has managed to keep coming back.

Installing Ron Mark as deputy could be a problem for NZ First. The rest of the party has been generally out if sight, but Mark is an ambitious attention seeker, and the attention he gets is often uncomplimentary. He could deter voters.

But if Winston remains NZ First should remain after next year’s election. Peters may or may not retain Northland, but the party should be good for 5-10% party vote if he is still in the race.

Green Party

The Green Party have successfully weathered another leadership change. They had built their vote and presence but were disappointed to not gain ground last election despite Labour’s vote shrinking. Greens are assured of retaining a place in Parliament but may find it challenging to increase or even retain their current numbers if Labour recovers and increases their vote. And Greens need Labour to improve substantially to give them a chance of having their first stint in Government.

Greens should be able to stay above 10% but may be cemented as a good sized small party rather than becoming the growing force they have ambitions of being.

Labour Party

Labour have to improve their support significantly or it will either be difficult for them to get back into Government or it will be difficult for them to govern with Greens and NZ First pulling them in different directions, possible apart.

It would be unlikely for Labour to switch leaders yet again, that would be damaging, so they need Andrew Little to step up. That hasn’t happened yet. They are playing a risky strategy of keeping a low profile while they consult constituencies and rebuild policies. They really have to be looking like a possible alternate Government by the middle of this year. They need to somehow get back 5-10% support.

They are banking on Little growing into his leadership role. He can only be a contrast to John Key, but so far he looks more out of his depth rather than swimming competitively on the surface.

Labour are also banking on their ‘Future of Work’ policy development. It’s a good focus for a labour allied party, but a lot will depend on whether it results in something seen to be visionary or if it is perceived as a Union policy disguised by Grant Robertson.

Labour could get anywhere between 25% and 40% next election. It’s hard to tell what direction they will go at this stage.

National Party

National have been very successful since they won in 2008. They have increased their support since then, most parties in power bleed support. This partly to do with John Key’s continued popularity, and increasingly by Bill English’s capable management of finances in sometimes very difficult circumstances (GFC and Christchurch earthquake).

National’s support must fall at some stage but it’s difficult to judge when that might start happening. Left wing activists have been predicting it in vain for seven years. Much will  depend on whether Labour can step up as a viable alternative alongside Greens and probably NZ First.

Next election could see them get anywhere between 40% and 50%. Their political fate is in their own hands to an extent but also reliant on possible alternatives.

Dotcom – bad budgeting or botched basket case?

Kim Dotcom’s legal team is holding up his extradition hearing, arguing for a stay of proceedings.

One argument is that Dotcom is being prevented from mounting an adequate defence because his funds have been frozen. They say he needs $750,000 to pay for expert witnesses from the US.

However a Herald report says that Kim Dotcom sold shares to pay for defence.

Dotcom’s US attorney Ira Rothken said they would need about US$500,000 to get the people they needed and it could take up to six months to gather all the evidence required from them.

Kim Dotcom sold shares in his new companies for about $20 million in 2013 to pay for his defence team and provide for his family, he has told a court.

He told the court about setting up Mega Ltd with Ortmann and van der Kolk and music company Baboom in 2013, shares in which he sold for about $20 million.

Dotcom said the ventures were “born out of necessity” to pay for the drawn-out extradition battle and also to secure his family’s future with contributions to the family trust, the Trust Me Trust.

So Dotcom wants yet another delay because he hasn’t got $750k left out of $20 million to pay for his defence.

Dotcom said he donated up to $4.8 million during its brief existence and Mr Ruffin asked why he had not put some of that money aside to pay for US legal experts he now claimed were vital to defending his case.

“If I had a crystal ball and I could see the future, in hindsight I could have done that,” Dotcom said.

“But at the time, for me, there was no reason to believe there wasn’t more unrestrained funds coming from my business ventures.”

Didn’t he already already have restraints on funds internationally?

In any case why wouldn’t he make sure he had budgeted adequately from available funds to do what he wanted to defend himself from extradition?

His ill-fated involvement in the Internet Party was also discussed.

Dotcom said he donated up to $4.8 million during its brief existence and Mr Ruffin asked why he had not put some of that money aside to pay for US legal experts he now claimed were vital to defending his case.

“If I had a crystal ball and I could see the future, in hindsight I could have done that,” Dotcom said.

“But at the time, for me, there was no reason to believe there wasn’t more unrestrained funds coming from my business ventures.”

Of course if he had a crystal ball he would have seen that pouring $4.8 million into a political attempt to hold the balance of power in New Zealand’s Parliament was nuts and wouldn’t have wasted it.

Mr Ruffin also asked the defendant why he had not used money from living costs to pay for the experts he claimed he needed.

“If I wanted to be homeless and sack all my staff and kick my kids out of school I could’ve done that, yes,” Dotcom said.

Maintaining a lavish lifestyle was more important to him than budgeting to defend his extradition?

Does he think he’s doomed anyway so might as well spend his money before it is taken from him?

I hope his lawyers have checked that he has budgeted to pay them.

Or – was Dotcom banking on buying political power to prevent his extradition and put all his eggs in that basket so didn’t worry about funds for a legal defence?

His political eggs are broken and on his face.

The court will decide whether his budgeting story stacks up. To me it looks like a case of botched optimism in the Internet Party play.