Internet Mana : the divorce

So the Internet Mana Party is no more. As 3News reports, a letter has been sent to the Electoral Commission to confirm that the relationship has been terminated.

It’s hardly surprising. Given Kim Dotcom’s post-election acceptance that he’d poisoned the public mood against Internet Mana, it was only a matter of time before the Mana Movement and the Internet Party parted ways.

Admittedly, just before I headed to Melbourne last weekend, disappearing off the social media grid and ignoring the existence of news from the homeland, there were strange reports of the Internet Mana Party intending to soldier on through in unity to 2017, of Dotcom intending to continue his role as Internet Party puppet master, and of Dotcom preparing to export his failed Internet Party experiment to the United States.

Nonetheless, Dotcom had previously been bewailing his supposed technical insolvency. Given that the lure of the Internet Party for Hone Harawira had essentially been Dotcom’s money and public profile, a Dotcom who is broke and poisonously unpopular is a Dotcom with nothing of value to offer Mana.

In the wash-up, Dotcom was a cancer to everything he touched, politically. His Moment of Truth, rather than finishing John Key, almost resulted in National governing alone.

Laila Harre went from being a principled doyen of the Left to just another hypocritical sellout. And her theft of the Greens’ intellectual copyright as she left to follow the money means that no other party will be touching her for the foreseeable future.

In Waiariki, Mana’s Annette Sykes was supposed to take out Te Ururoa Flavell, finishing the Maori Party for good. She came third. Meanwhile, Flavell romped home, bringing with him Marama Fox.

And of course Hone Harawira lost his seat of Te Tai Tokerau. With no Parliamentary budget, no Dotcom gravy train, and a much-reduced public platform to keep him in the headlines, Harawira will struggle to re-take his old seat. If Kelvin Davis is smart, he’ll be spending the next three years touring every square metre of his electorate (with his travel funded by Parliament, of course), ensuring that Harawira doesn’t get a look-in in 2017.

Harawira staked everything on Dotcom, and the gamble proved disastrous. With the Internet Mana split now confirmed, the two component parties can now fade off into political oblivion.


$1000 well spent for Hone

“Harawira’s recount bid backfires” declared the headline for Tracy Watkins’ article for Stuff, as it was revealed that Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau seat recount resulted in Harawira losing two votes and Kelvin Davis gaining two votes.

Except that Harawira had explicitly stated that he wasn’t trying to overturn the result. Instead, the recount was about bringing publicity to Harawira’s allegations that Maori roll voters were subject to systematic racism. On National Radio’s Morning Report, he stated:

“Opening polling booths without Maori roll voting papers, I’m talking about people not being offered assistance to vote, Maori people getting sent from Whangarei to Wellsford to vote, Maori people getting turned away because they didn’t have their EasyVote card, Maori people having their identity questioned because of their different name, Maori people being treated like they just don’t deserve to be in the polling booth.”

Likewise, on Newstalk ZB, it was reported:

Mr Harawira has accused the Electoral Commission of racism, and today says he’s heard of Maori voters being turned away from polling booths because they didn’t have their Easy Vote card, or being told they couldn’t cast a special vote. He claims in some instances, Maori voters were told to wait while Pakeha voters were served first.

Is there any truth to the allegations? Who knows. To my knowledge, Harawira certainly hasn’t rolled out any accusers. It’s entirely possible that throughout the many Te Tai Tokerau voting booths there have been isolated incidents of racial discrimination. I’d be extremely dubious dubious about claims that any discrimination is systemic – Harawira and hyperbole have always gone well together.

Nonetheless, the cost to Harawira and Mana for the recount was just $1,000. And for that $1,000, Harawira received a solid media platform to publicise his concerns regarding racial discrimination in our electoral system. I’d say that’s pretty good value for money.

Harawira’s recount bid backfired? Not really…


The minor parties – some thoughts & questions

The Greens

They ran a blinder of a campaign. Their polling numbers were looking great, as they closed on 15% in some polls. Then they got just 10.02% on the night (although their vote share is likely to rise by at least a small amount once the special votes are counted – Graeme Edgeler estimates to 10.5% if they got the same proportion of specials as they did in 2011).

What happened? Is it a voter turnout issue? Did the Greens actually slump abruptly in the final days of the campaign? Or do the polls have a bias towards the Greens?

Going forward, the Greens have some big decisions to make. They’ve loudly declared on many an occasion that they want to supplant Labour as the major party of the Left. So do they try for a more centrist approach to grow their vote? There were elements of such an approach in their policy of personal tax cuts to offset the effects of their planned carbon tax. If they want to supplant Labour, that’s what they’ve got to do, but will their membership allow it?

For much of the last term, the Greens were the de facto opposition in Parliament, with Labour failing to fire. Yet in the build-up to the campaign, the Greens offered to campaign together with Labour. The offer had a dual purpose: to show a Government-in-waiting, and to try to reduce the relevance of Winston Peters. Do the Greens go hammer and tongs for Labour’s vote share, or do the two parties attempt to work together to present a united front of opposition?

NZ First

Winston Peters is getting old. For most of last term, he was an embarrassment, lurching from one badly contrived attack to another, each one failing to fire; a collection of not-so-smoking guns. The campaign itself seemed to have rejuvenated him. He certainly saw off the young pretender, Colin Craig, and raised the NZ First vote in the process.

Is he good for another election campaign or will this have been his swan-song? If this is his final term, he’ll be leaving after a comeback of six years without baubles. Winston likes baubles, no matter what he might publicly say, so does he try again in 2017 in the hope of one final Ministerial stint?

The other thing Winston wants is for NZ First to continue on after he’s gone. It’s always been Winston First – no succession plan, no contrary views allowed. He’d like nothing better than to prove wrong all of those critics who for twenty-one years have said that once Winston goes, so too will NZ First.

Ron Mark is back and is being touted as a possible successor. However, if Andrew Williams’ allegations about deputy-leader Tracey Martin are correct, then woe betide anyone who sees themselves as competition to her right of succession! Life in NZ First could get interesting…

The Conservatives

Colin Craig got played by John Key, strung along for just long enough, before being thrown under the bus. Nonetheless, right up until the final few days, Craig and his party ran a remarkably focussed, relatively gaffe-free campaign. Despite being out-manouevered on occasion by Winston Peters, the Conservatives grew their vote share to just over 4%.

It wasn’t enough to get them in to Parliament, but it wasn’t a bad result on a night when National made over 48%. If Craig can keep his core team together, then they’ll have a good shot at breaking 5% in 2017.

The Maori Party

The critics said they were finished in 2014. With Turia and Sharples retiring, Mana were going to wipe out Te Ururoa Flavell, and the Maori Party would perish. Well, Flavell’s still there, with a relatively comfortable majority, and Mana is no more. And, assuming the special votes don’t do something odd, Flavell’s brought in Marama Fox with him, so it won’t be an entirely lonely three years.

If Flavell wants it, National would probably give him the Maori Affairs portfolio. Key doesn’t need to in order to govern, but he’ll be looking to keep Flavell on-side through to 2017. It’ll give the Maori Party some policy gains and keep Flavell’s profile up, and the party will look to remain competitive in seats like Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru.

Internet Mana

And that took care of that then…

The Internet Party was nothing more than a vehicle for Kim Dotcom’s ego and vengeance, and with Dotcom admitting that his personal brand poisoned the combined Internet Mana vehicle, the Internet Party will soon be no more. Dotcom certainly won’t be pouring his money into it, and there’s no real reason for anyone to stick around. Laila Harre’s pay cheque disappears, along with what’s left of her credibility.

Likewise, with no party leader funding for Hone Harawira, and precious few alternate sources of income, the Mana Movement is dead. Harawira took a gamble, sick of being a one man band in Parliament, and it all turned to custard. Annette Sykes did her best in Waiariki, but still came up well short, despite having a full three year campaign and Dotcom’s cash. It’s over.


Duncan Garner summed it up best when he described David Seymour as being like a five year old about to start High School. Despite winning Epsom (and by all accounts, Seymour put in the hard yards door-knocking to do so), it’s going to be an awkward and ineffectual three years for ACT. Jamie Whyte remains the leader outside of Parliament (for how long though remains to be seen), with Seymour the fresh-faced novice being the voice inside Parliament. Who do the media go to for comment? No one knows…

How do they rebuild? Lord only knows. Their natural constituency is minuscule, and they hold a seat on National’s whim. It’s not a great basis for growth.

United Future

The writing’s on the wall for Peter Dunne. Despite running against new candidates from both Labour and National, and despite having John Key’s personal blessing, Dunne’s majority is just 930. The only MPs with smaller majorities are Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central (648) and Trevor Mallard in Hutt South (378).

The glory days of United Future are long gone. Once upon a time, the worm turned at Captain Sensible’s whim. Now, the Dunne brand is that of a strange political vampire living out some political half-life.

Rebuilding United Future is a laughable proposition. The only question is whether Dunne goes out on his own terms or waits for the inevitable stake through the heart from the good people of Ohariu.

Tamaki Makaurau race wide open

Maori TV yesterday released their poll results for the seat of Tamaki Makaurau, and the race is far too close to call. This is Pita Sharples’ seat, with his retirement forcing the Maori Party to put up a new candidate, Rangi McLean. Despite the interminable difficulty Labour had in finding a candidate, the pundits have long said that  the seat was still Labour’s to lose. Not so, according to Maori TV.

The poll places the Maori Party’s Rangi McLean ahead, but by just 1%. The results are:

  • Maori Party (Rangi McLean) – 28%
  • Labour (Peeni Henare) – 27%
  • Mana (Kereama Pene) – 14%
  • Greens (Marama Davidson) – 7%

Of course, with 14% undecided, the race could easily go either way. Nonetheless, the Maori Party will be more than happy to have their nose ahead in a race they wasn’t supposed to be winnable.

In the party vote, Labour are, unsurprisingly, clearly ahead:

  • Labour – 37%
  • Maori Party – 17%
  • National – 13%
  • Internet Mana – 12%
  • NZ First – 11%
  • Greens – 9%

With the Maori TV polls showing Te Ururoa Flavell streets ahead in Waiariki, and the Maori Party candidates holding slim leads in Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru, the Maori Party have been handed a series of motivation boosters. Despite being written off in two of those seats, and with questions having been raised about whether Flavell could hold Waiariki, the Maori Party are still well and truly alive in the race. If that doesn’t provide a campaign incentive to the troops, I don’t know what would.

No surprises in Ikaroa Rawhiti. Except that Mana aren’t higher.

Maori TV have been working their way through their polling of the seven Maori seats. There’ve been some surprises, namely the Maori Party being ahead (albeit by a nose) in Te Tau Hauauri, and Te Ururoa Flavell holding a 29% lead in Wairiki.

The most recent poll result is for the Ikaroa Rawhiti electorate. Unsurprisingly, Labour are convincingly out in front in both the party and electorate votes. The electorate vote  results in the Maori TV poll were:

  • Labour (Meka Whaitiri) – 37%
  • Mana (Te Hamua Nikora) – 21%
  • Maori Party (Marama Fox) – 18%
  • Greens (Henare Kani) – 6%

In the party vote, the results are as follows:

  • Labour – 45%
  • Maori Party – 14%
  • Internet Mana – 13%
  • National – 10%
  • NZ First – 10%
  • Greens – 8%

As a resident of Gisborne, Ikaroa Rawhiti is my local Maori seat, and I have to say I’m surprised that Mana’s candidate, Te Hamua Nikora, isn’t closer to Meka Whaitiri. Throughout Gisborne, Mana signs are everywhere, while Nikora’s name has regularly featured in the local paper. In contrast, Whaitiri has largely been missing in action. I’d assumed that Nikora’s continued profile since the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election would have produced a closer race, but it just hasn’t happened.

Interestingly though, there’s a significant disparity between Nikora’s personal vote (21%) and Internet Mana’s party vote (13%). Both the Labour and Greens candidate are polling less than their party vote (understandable for the Greens candidate, given they’re not seeking to win the electorate vote), while both the Mana and Maori Party candidates are exceeding their party’s shares of the party vote. However, Nikora’s personal vote is over a third more than Mana’s party vote share, showing that his personal support is well in excess of his party’s.

In terms of the party vote, the Maori Party will be happy. Despite Te Ururoa Flavell’s rhetoric of winning all seven Maori seats, the Maori Party must know they haven’t a hope in Ikaroa Rawhiti. But to still be coming second in the party vote, albeit only just, will be another good poll result for them.

Internet Mana losing its mojo

Internet Mana had been the minor party with momentum. As the Party Party / Internet Mana Roadshow worked its way around the country, the coverage was positive – crowds of hundreds flocking at each venue to see Dotcom, Harre, Harawira and the local candidates; mixtures of young, middle-aged and old; the anti-authority message hitting the headlines on a regular basis. Since mid-July, Internet Mana was consistently hitting at least 2% in the polls, even hitting the heady heights of 3.9% in the mid-August 3News Reid Research poll.

And then the wheels seemed to fall off. The “Fuck John Key” saga may not have had an immediate effect, but it hinted at a nasty, darker side to the party’s leadership. And although the party may not have had anything to do with the effigy burning and Kill the PM song that followed, it seems that Internet Mana had become, in the public consciousness, tied to that fundamentally negative side of left wing politics.

Things weren’t helped by Pam Corkery and Kim Dotcom turning the campaign launch into a farce, with Corkery’s “Puffed up little shit” soundbite and Dotcom’s run from journalists leading the headlines. In fact, since the launch, television media coverage of Internet Mana has almost inevitably involved a replay or two of Corkery’s least finest hour. Unfortunately for Internet Mana, Pam Corkery swearing at journalists doesn’t look badass or anti-authoritarian; it simply looks like a mad woman who lost control. Nobody likes supporting an embarrassment…

And of course the latest debacle was Mana Party candidate Georgina Beyer lambasting Kim Dotcom and his motives:

”I just have a sense that he’s using his power and position to seek retribution on people who have done him wrong. Should our political system really be manipulated in this way? The most telling thing was spending three hours on the ferry crossing with him. Really, I found him to be a distant person who was always utterly consumed in his iPad.”

In terms of the most recent polls, there’s been a sudden slump. None of the last three major polls had Internet Mana above 2%: 1.6% in the Colmar Brunton, 1% in yesterday’s Roy Morgan, and 1.7% in last night’s Reid Research.

Meanwhile, there was further bad news in the Waiariki electorate. After so much talk about Annette Sykes level-pegging with Te Ururoa Flavell and being in a strong position to win, Monday’s Maori TV poll of the electorate showed Flavell holding a 29% lead, with Flavell on 50%, Sykes on just 21% and the Labour candidate Rawiri Waititi not far behind on 17%.

With just 16 days to the election, it’s a bad time for the mojo to be lost…

Too close to call in Te Tai Hauauru

Maori TV yesterday released the results of their poll of the Te Tai Hauauru electorate, and it’s a close one, with the Maori Party’s Chris McKenzie just 3% ahead of Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe. Given that the pundits and iPredict have been expecting a relatively comfortable win for Labour, it’s an unexpected result.

Mr Rurawhe was certainly surprised:

“The results I have from our door-knocking led me to think that I should’ve been ahead and I’m not altogether convinced that I’m not.”

Of course, it’s just one poll of 500 voters, and it’s certainly a shakeup for Labour, but Mr Rurawhe might take some comfort from the fact that the punters at iPredict are still betting on a Labour victory in the seat.

The results for the electorate vote are as follows:

  • Maori Party (Chris McKenzie) – 32%
  • Labour (Adrian Rurawhe) – 29%
  • Greens (Jack McDonald) – 11%
  • Mana (Jordan Winiata) – 10%

In the party vote stakes, Labour has a comfortable lead:

  • Labour – 36%
  • Maori Party – 23%
  • National – 12%
  • Greens – 11%
  • Internet Mana – 11%
  • NZ First – 7%


No surprises in Te Tai Tonga poll

Native Affairs promised, prior to the election campaign, that they’d be polling all seven Maori seats this election. On Monday they released their results for the Te Tai Tonga electorate, currently held by Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Unsurprisingly, Labour has a healthy lead in both the party and electorate vote.

In the party vote, the results were:

  • Labour – 43%
  • National – 17%
  • Maori Party – 16%
  • Greens – 10%
  • NZ First – 8%
  • Internet Mana – 6%

Meanwhile, the electorate vote results were:

  • Labour (Rino Tirikatene) – 48%
  • Maori Party (Ngaire Button) – 17%
  • Greens (Dora Langsbury) – 9%
  • Mana (Georgina Beyer) – 9%

In terms of the electorate vote, that’s a large swing against the Maori Party candidate (15%), but last election the Maori Party had gone into the campaign holding the seat, giving the party the benefit of incumbency. With a new candidate, the Maori Party has now well and truly lost their grip on the seat.

I’m surprised that Internet Mana wasn’t higher in the party vote, although I’d imagine their results would be significantly higher in Te Tai Tokerau, Waiariki and Ikaroa Rawhiti. Certainly, here in Gisborne, which falls into Ikaroa Rawhiti, there are Mana signs everywhere and a great deal of positive coverage of the Mana candidate, Te Hamua Nikora.

Returning to the Te Tai Tonga poll, I can’t seem to find any indication of the sample size. Polling of the Maori seats has traditionally been remarkably haphazard due to relatively small samples, so it would be interesting to see whether Native Affairs have upped the ante and gone for a sample of at least 500.

A tale of two campaign launches

After a week and a half of being relentlessly hammered, day in, day out, by their political opponents and the media over the Dirty Politics allegations, National was relying on yesterday’s campaign opening to change the media narrative.

National’s line was made clear, with John Key refusing to answer Dirty Politics questions, batting them away with two brush-off sentences – “We’re moving on from that. That’s last week’s story”. Key is betting that the public have now well and truly zoned out. Questions over who spoke to whom and when before releasing some SIS briefing notes? That’s for those who write or read political blogs. At the end of the day, Middle New Zealand wants policy.

Complicating matters is the hacker, Whaledump. National have no idea what else might be released via Twitter, ready to be pored over by the media and excitedly rehashed on the six o’clock news. Nonetheless, Key can be relatively comfortable that any future releases will be embarrassing for underlings, rather than Key himself. If there was a firm link between Key, Cameron Slater and the underhand activities described in Dirty Politics, it would have already ended up in Nicky Hager’s book. The source emails now being drip fed to the Twitterati are embarrassing for the people who wrote them, portraying them in a very different light to their public personae, but Key is banking on there being little more to come in the way of solid accusations.

For National, yesterday’s campaign launch was about hitting the reset button. The All Blacks are back to being victorious, there’s policy to sell (I’ll discuss National’s housing policy in a separate post), it’s Situation Normal. The media (and Whaledump) may have other ideas though…

Speaking of campaign launches, the lead item on 3News last night (and presumably One News too) was Pam Corkery’s quite astonishing meltdown at reporters outside the Internet Mana Party’s launch. Calling a reporter a “puffed up little shit” and then having Kim Dotcom flee from reporters probably wasn’t, in retrospect, a great way to get the media discussing party policy.

Admittedly, some of the 3News reporting was a little dishonest. The fact that Dotcom had, almost twenty years ago, hacked into a database and reduced the German Chancellor’s credit rating to zero was not something that Dotcom had suddenly revealed. It’s been a widely told story, utilised over and over again by Dotcom since he was first trying to woo Hone Harawira and the Mana Party into bed.

Nonetheless, if Dotcom didn’t want to answer questions about hacking, it probably wasn’t wise to include the comments in his campaign launch speech, especially given that his reference to John Key as “another Prime Minister I don’t like” provided the media with a great platform to once again ask whether Dotcom had had any involvement with the theft of Cameron Slater’s emails.

As to what else happened at the Internet Mana launch, well, who knows? It certainly didn’t get reported, and for that Laila Harre needs to deliver some strong words to her Press Secretary and her Party Visionary.

Poll of Polls update – 17 August 2014

One News and 3News are back to going head-to-head with their poll results, releasing their respective Colmar Brunton and Reid Research poll this evening. Both show National down – dropping 2% to 50% in the Colmar Brunton, and 1.9% in the Reid Research.

Labour’s results across the two polls are in stark contrast to each other – down 2% to 26% in the Colmar  Brunton, but up 2.3% to 29% in the Reid Research.

The Greens rise in both polls – up 1% in the Colmar Brunton to 11%, and up 0.6% in the Reid Research to 13%.

For the minor parties, the big story in the Colmar Brunton poll is the Internet Mana Party, up 1.9% to 3.9% – a result that would see them pick up four MPs. Good news too for NZ First, who hit 5% after gaining 0.6%. The Conservatives also gain, up 0.7% to 2.4%, while the Maori party are up 0.3% to 0.9%. There’s not such good news for ACT or United Future – ACT drops 0.2% to 0.6%, while United Future fails to register.

In the Reid Research poll, it’s a different story for Internet Mana – down 0.3% to 2.0%. Likewise, NZ First fails to make the 5% threshold, although they’re close on 4.6%, having gained 0.3%. The Conservatives drop 0.2% to 2.5%, while the Maori Party drops 0.3% to 0.8%. ACT rises 0.2% to a meagre 0.3%, while United Future remains steady on an even more meagre 0.2%.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 49.7% (-0.6%)

Labour: 27.6% (+0.1%)

Greens: 11.8% (+0.1%)

NZ First: 4.7% (+0.1%)

Maori: 1.0% (nc)

United Future: 0.1% (nc)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 2.1% (+0.2%)

Conservative: 1.9% (+0.2%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 64 (-1)

Labour: 36 (+1)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 0 (nc)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

During the last few updates, National and Labour have been busy trading seats with each other, and this update is more of the same. After dropping 0.6%, National lose a seat, while Labour picks it up, having made a small gain of just 0.1%.

The Conservatives continue to climb, up from 1.5% at the end of July to their current 1.9%. However, there’s still a hell of a lot of improvement to be done if they’re going to have a hope of getting close to the 5% threshold.

Likewise, Internet Mana continues to climb too, up another 0.2%. Since the merger of Internet and Mana was announced, their collective average polling has risen from 1.1% in early June to 2.1% today. Compare that to the Maori Party, who were on 1.2% in early June and are now on 1.0%, and it’s obvious which of the two parties has the momentum.

That means that overall, the Right bloc falls back to a total of 66 seats, compared to 54 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance.

Of course, both of the two polls released tonight had a polling range that ended the day before the release of Dirty Politics, so it remains to be seen what impact Hager’s book has. As I’ve predicted, the impact won’t be much.