The Internet Mana Party has released video footage of its supporters chanting “Fuck John Key” at a Christchurch rally. Which immediately resulted in Twitter being Godwinned, as Matthew Hooton compared the footage to a Hitler rally:
Feels a bit like a Munich Beer Hall in the 1920s.
While Mr Hooton may have been putting on a show of overly-righteous indignation, the footage was certainly in terrible taste, and raises some thorny issues for the Left.
It remains to be seen what the effect of the footage is on the Internet Mana Party. It’s certainly a little hard for Laila Harre to remain on her high moral horse regarding John Key’s “sugar daddy” comment, when her party’s supporters are being incited to yell “Fuck John Key” at each stop on the Party Party roadshow. Sure, Ms Harre says it was “spontaneous”, but there been allegations made by callers to Radio Live this afternoon that the chant was in fact started by paid Internet Party staffers in the audience, and that the same chant “spontaneously” occurred in Wellington too. If those allegations are borne out (and they’re only allegations at this stage), then that paints a rather nasty picture of the Internet Mana Party organisation.
However, Internet Mana isn’t trying to get mainstream votes. They’re after the disaffected Left, who don’t feel that Labour or even the Greens have anything to offer them. In reality, the Internet Mana policy platform is really just a mixture of the Green Party manifesto with some old school Alliance Party socialism thrown in, courtesy of Ms Harre. The party’s policy platform isn’t what’s winning it support – the support flows from Dotcom and Harawira’s anti-authority rhetoric. Having the party stick both middle fingers up at the Prime Minister with a “Fuck John Key” chant might just lure a few more of those voters towards Internet Mana. Whether those voters actually reach the ballot box is perhaps another story.
The next question is what effect the footage will have on the Left as a whole. It’s been posited by various political commentators that Labour has been losing votes to National due to the level of unease swing voters have towards the Internet Mana Party. The theory goes that the Greens and Internet Mana are picking up a couple of percent from the disaffected Left who sat out 2008 and 2011, but that Labour is then bleeding votes to the Right due to Middle New Zealand’s fear and loathing of Kim Dotcom and Hone Harawira. Faced with the choice of a Left-bloc coalition and a Right-bloc coalition, voters see the Right-bloc minor party allies as known quantities, whereas no one knows what in the hell Internet Mana is supposed to be.
If the theory is correct, the “fuck John Key” footage will make Internet Mana even more of an anathema to mainstream swing voters. With Labour, on current polling, requiring Internet Mana if it’s going to have even a hope of forming a Government, it’s just one more reason for swing voters to continue to stay away from Labour.
On the other hand, the whole thing might just be forgotten by tomorrow, as voters find other rather more important things to turn their minds to. We’ll see how much manufactured horror Matthew Hooton can conjure up…