A marriage of convenience

Kim Dotcom.
Kim Dotcom.
A principled politician can sometimes be hard to find in the rough and tumble of political life, but Sue Bradford has at least proved true to her word.

The idea of Mana teaming with technology tycoon Kim Dotcom did not appeal to the former Green Party MP and activist, and she has walked away from a party for which she has worked hard.

''Sucking up to a German millionaire is not my vision of the future and I think Mana has made a big mistake ... in the long run, it's lost what I joined it for, which was that sense of integrity,'' Ms Bradford said of the deal.

The new entity will be called Internet Mana.

It will contest this year's election with a joint party list but campaign under their own names in electorates.

The agreement relies on Hone Harawira retaining his Te Tai Tokerau seat, which could see the Internet Party coat-tail at least one MP into Parliament, assuming the joint entity captures 1.2% or more of the party vote.

At the last election, Mana received 1.08% of the party vote.

The odd combination of Mana leader Mr Harawira and Mr Dotcom will take some unravelling, but John Minto, long-time left-wing activist and early member of Mana, has stayed put, suggesting there is more to the alliance than first glance suggests.

It is known Mr Dotcom, who continues to fend off attempts to extradite him to the United States to face charges associated with his former Megaupload company, donated $250,000 to the Internet Party.

How much he donated before the party was formed will remain a mystery because he was not required to disclose the full amounts.

Staff members working for the Internet Party are likely to be paid for their services.

Mr Minto suggested yesterday Mana had raised enough money to campaign in Maori seats but lacked the funding to campaign effectively for the list vote.

Joining with Mana, and accessing Mr Dotcom's $250,000, will give the new entity a solid foundation from which to launch into the election campaign.

Labour's Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis says the joining of Mana and the Internet Party denigrates Maori seats.

Maori voters in seats like Te Tai Tokerau can be poor, jobless and less educated than many of their Pakeha counterparts.

The suggestion of a German millionaire capitalist acting on behalf of disaffected Maori seems ludicrous.

But where Mr Dotcom will have some appeal is with youth voters.

New Zealand has a reasonably high turnout for voting, but, sadly, young people are hard to attract to the polls.

The high profile of Mr Dotcom, his association with technology, music and media could just turn the tide - and that might not be such a bad thing.

Labour leader David Cunliffe will need to play a calm waiting game as the Internet Mana Party gains traction.

He cannot afford to write off working with Mr Harawira, and possibly one or two other MPs, if he is to cobble together an alliance of many to form a Labour-led government.

Current polls suggest Labour is unlikely to be in that position, but there are four months before the election date.

How Mr Cunliffe handles the aspirations of Mr Davis will decide much of the outcome for Internet Mana.

Mr Harawira said Mr Dotcom's looming extradition hearing and whether Mana will support his efforts to remain in New Zealand have not come up during discussions over the past few weeks.

The extradition process will not be a problem for Mr Harawira, who plays by his own rules.

National had the opportunity to alter the rules surrounding the MMP process after public support for changes around ''coat-tail'' MPs, but failed to do so because of its own political accommodations.

It may yet rue that decision.

The next step for the joint party is the announcement today in Auckland of the Internet Party leader, who is likely to be number two on the list and may enter Parliament on the coat-tails of Mr Harawira.

The alliance, which not surprisingly many feel is likely to end badly, is a risk for Mr Harawira and Mana.

The image of a rich man buying political largess through a party aiming to represent the poor and disaffected will be hard to shake.

Add a Comment