Whether the world is ready for Pam Corkery running around her
neighbourhood waving her underwear in the air if Kim Dotcom
pulls off the impossible and becomes a post-election
kingmaker is a matter of no small debate.
Or should that be ''no smalls'' debate? Whatever, the world
will likely have plenty of time to make up its mind. The
broadcaster and former Alliance MP is most unlikely to find
herself being held to her promise to divest herself of her
lingerie before the 2017 election at the earliest.
Mr Dotcom has about as much chance of playing kingmaker in
2014 via his just-launched Internet Party as Ms Corkery has
of succeeding the current Queen to the British Throne.
The only question is whether in embarking on his doomed quest
for political relevance and credibility, Mr Dotcom proves to
be more of a hindrance than help when it comes to satisfying
Ms Corkery's wish ''to get our country back'' from what she
claims is a National Government which has sold traditional
Kiwi values down the river.
To help the Left remove John Key, the internet mogul has to
attract voters who are beyond the reach of Labour and the
Greens. Indeed, the best chance for the Internet Party to
establish itself as a viable political force and (eventually)
get anywhere near the 5% threshold is to position itself in
the centre of the political spectrum or slightly to the
right, just like New Zealand First, but targeting much
While Mr Dotcom's persona can be used to make the
introductions, if the Internet Party is to secure votes it
has to convince voters it is much bigger than its founder -
and that it will not fold the moment he and the party's main
source of income move offshore through being extradited to
the United States to face trial.
If it cannot do so, the party will be deemed to be nothing
more than an expensive ego trip by a political neophyte who
thinks he can buy his way into Parliament even if only on a
surrogate basis. As it is, the Internet Party risks being
viewed as little more than a personality cult. The onus is on
its founder and high-powered staff members to prove
Truth is this is a terrible time to launch a new political
party. The optimum time is when the ruling party is
struggling and the populace is fed up and looking for
alternatives. The exact opposite holds at present. All Mr
Dotcom's intervention might do is further fragment the
But it is too late now. To find a niche in a crowded
marketplace, the Internet Party needs to aggressively market
itself as the sole voice of a new generation - one which
talks only that generation's language and which has the
vision, ideas and ultimately policies geared for life in the
''digital age'' .
It should as much as possible antagonise and alienate the
baby-boomers, who by sheer weight of numbers will
increasingly drive the policies of the major established
parties. The Internet Party should take up a golden
opportunity to be in the vanguard of the coming rebellion of
the young against the increasing political power exercised by
burgeoning numbers of elderly gobbling up the taxes paid by
the young, not only to extend the length of their lives but
maintain the quality of their lives in the manner to which
they have become accustomed without sacrifice.
It means creating an ''us versus them'' mentality - a tactic
which has served Winston Peters handsomely for two decades.
But the dividends do not come overnight. The party needs to
take the kind of long view that saw the Greens eventually get
into Parliament in their own right and with their credibility
enhanced. Even Colin Craig realises Rome was not built in a
day even if the Good Lord managed to create Heaven and Earth
in just six.
Mr Dotcom's lack of New Zealand citizenship bars him from
Parliament. But he wants in. And he wants in now.
That he is willing to contemplate a vote-sharing deal with
Hone Harawira's Mana Party is tacit admission that Mr Dotcom
knows he will not beat the threshold in September's ballot.
But taking advantage of Mr Harawira's hold on a
threshold-removing electorate seat comes at what may be a
heavy, even crippling price.
Mr Harawira made it a precondition of further talks on such a
deal that Mr Dotcom commit himself to not working with Mr Key
and National post-election.
The immediate impact of that is to drastically cut any
leverage - and thus appeal - that the Internet Party might
have had if it had taken the same position as New Zealand
First and hedged its bets on whether it would back a
Labour-led or National-led government.
Mr Harawira - who has it all over Mr Dotcom when it comes to
tactics - is also forcing the Internet Party to display some
sense of social awareness as a further price of a
But trying to transform a creature of the political right
into some kind of friend of the poor does not wash with
voters. It sends a very mixed message and leaves voters
thinking Mr Dotcom is trying to pull the wool over their
Even more dangerous in political terms is the suspicion -
quickly fuelled by National - that Mr Dotcom's purpose in
setting up the Internet Party is solely to make it a bottom
line of any post-election talks that whoever is Minister of
Justice quash any court ruling which would force his
extradition. Such a bottom line would amount to Mr Dotcom's
party being the sickest joke played on New Zealand voters.
As it is, the Internet Party may be the biggest joke played
on the New Zealand body politic since members of the
McGillicuddy Serious Party lampooned Winston Peters by
trotting their way around Auckland's Alexandra Park Raceway
on foot while he was unveiling his then new party, New
Zealand First, in a nearby grandstand.
The only ones laughing are Mr Key and National. Every day
that Mr Dotcom deprives Mr Key's other opponents of the
oxygen of media coverage is one day closer to election day on
September 20. It is one day less for the real election issues
to take centre stage.
National's opponents can complain all they like, but the
never-ending Mr Dotcom saga is a freak show of epic
proportions and the media finds it impossible to avert its
- John Armstrong is The New Zealand Herald political