Te Tai Tokerau

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…

 

Labour candidates’ destiny out of their hands

Consider the Super 15 (or whatever name the competition is currently going by), as the final round of the regular season arrives. Most teams don’t have a chance at qualifying top of their conference, but there’s still a chance of getting through in one of the remaining spots. But various results have to go their way. Team X must lose to Team Y by 23 points. Team M must draw with Team Q. Their destiny is no longer in their own hands.

Come Election Night, there’s a few sitting Labour MPs who might well be in a similar position. This site’s Poll of Polls currently has Labour on 26.0%, with 33 MPs. Let’s assume that Labour gets 33 MPs on Saturday, and look at who might be in or out.

First, some assumptions. Carmel Sepuloni will win Kelston, and Jenny Salesa will win Manukau East. One’s in a new seat, and the other’s a new candidate, but they should romp home.

There are some relatively marginal seats, but it’s likely than not that Damien O’Connor will win West Coast Tasman, Iain Lees-Galloway will hold Palmsterson North, Trevor Mallard will win Hutt South, Stuart Nash will win back Napier, and Tony Milne will win back Christchurch Central.

If those are the only marginal results that go Labour’s way, then Raymond Huo would be the cut-off point on Labour’s effective list. Carol Beaumont will be gone, as would Ruth Dyson (who isn’t on the list, and is dependent on winning Port Hills in the face of unfavourable boundary changes).

But what happens if a few more close races go in Labour’s favour, with Adrian Rurawhe winning Te Tai Hauauru and Peeni Henare winning Tamaki Makaurau? Well, Kelvin Davis and Raymond Huo won’t be returning. And if Ruth Dyson wins Port Hills? Then it’s sayonara to Moana Mackey.

Attempted new entrants Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Tamati Coffey must have initially thought their respective list positions of 23 and 30 were pretty good. With Labour’s current polling though, Ms Radhakrishnan is certainly no shoe in, and even if Trevor Mallard was to lose Hutt South, Adrian Rurawhe and Peeni Henare were to lose their Maori seat campaigns, and Stuart Nash was to fail in Napier, Tamati Coffey would still only be the next cab off the rank.

List MPs such as Sue Moroney, Andrew Little, Maryan Street and Moana Mackey will be hoping that the Conservatives get 4.9%, therefore bumping up the effective Labour Party vote share.

Quite a few on-the-cusp Labour MPs may be spending their Saturday night hoping that their colleagues fail in their electorate challenges…

Meanwhile, in Te Tai Tokerau…

On Monday evening, while Kim Dotcom was busy throwing his credibility under a bus, Maori Television was delivering his party further bad news, in the form of their poll of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. That poll showed Hone Harawira just one point ahead of Labour’s Kelvin Davis – 38% to 37%. The Maori Party’s Te Hira Paenga was well behind, on just 9%.

Of course, as Harawira said, he’s been in that position before, and won. In 2011, the sole poll of Te Tai Tokerau electorate showed a neck and neck race, before Harawira went on win with a relatively comfortable 6% majority.

If Harawira loses Te Tai Tokerau, the Internet Mana Party is toast. Which meant that the Maori TV poll provides the Maori Party with the perfect excuse to call for some utu-exacting strategic voting, by telling its supporters to vote for Kelvin Davis. After all, Harawira hasn’t exactly been silent about his intention to destroy the Maori Party this election.

At the outset of the election campaign, the Maori Party couldn’t risk a declaration of war against Harawira. If they’d openly declared an intention to not field a candidate, or to tell their supporters to vote for the Labour candidate, they risked the possibility that Labour and Internet Mana might engage in strategic reprisals in Waiariki, Te Tai Hauauru and Tamaki Makaurau. Now, however, it’s far too late for such shenanigans from Internet Mana and Labour (not to mention that the Maori TV poll of Waiariki showed Flavell on 50%).

So will the Maori Party declare open war, and call for strategic voting? Hone Harawira certainly seems to think it’s on the cards. At a meeting in Omanaia, he reportedly told the crowd:

“Things have just got real tough for me. I’ve heard that the Maori Party is considering standing their man down and giving their votes to Labour’s [Mr Davis] as well.

“So the fight for this seat has just become the kind I really like, which is us against the rest. I’m upset about it, because it’s tough enough in Parliament on your own. I take it also as a bit of a compliment.”

The Maori Party don’t seem to know exactly what they want to happen. Te Ururoa Flavell stated:

“[Strategic voting has] been a part of our strategy meetings for a while, but the official line is that Te Hira Paenga is standing as the candidate. We’ve endorsed him.”

However, that endorsement wasn’t categorical, with Flavell refraining from confirming that he actually wanted his supporters to vote for the Maori Party candidate: “Everyone in the Tai Tokerau can make their own decisions.”

If the Maori Party want to make an unequivocal declaration of war against Hone Harawira and Internet Mana, they’ve got one day to do so. In the meantime, Harawira is playing the sympathy card…

UPDATE:

And just to complicate matters, Winston Peters has thrown his weight behind Kelvin Davis, describing him as “by far the best person for the seat”. At a meeting in Paihia, the NZ Herald reports Peters as saying:

“I’m from up north. I see the need for some consistently strong Northland voice that is speaking for the interests of this province, that has been largely Cinderella-ised, marginalised and forgotten. And that voice cannot be contaminated with an arrangement by a crooked German that’s been here for five minutes.

“I’ve got no doubt that NZF voters on that [Tai Tokerau] roll are going to be voting for Kelvin Davis.”

Te Tai Tokerau will definitely be one to watch on Saturday night!

UPDATE 2:

Things keep moving at speed up North! Maori TV’s Maiki Sherman has just tweeted that the Maori Party executive have asked their candidate, Te Hira Paenga, to stand down, but that he’s refused.

#MaoriParty in damage control. There is a rift over #TeTaiTokerau. Executive wanted Te Hira Paenga to stand down – he refused.

There’ll be more on Maori TV’s Te Kaea programme at 5.30pm.

Was Tim Barnett proposing a secret trust to fund Kelvin Davis?

So Tim Barnett, Labour’s General Secretary, tells Kelvin Davis’ team (via Kaye Taylor) that Team Davis’ proposed anti-Dotcom website isn’t a goer. It’s too negative. It uses National’s “Working for New Zealand” slogan.

Kaye Taylor responds with this:

I think we as a party need to realize that the battle we are fighting in the north is unique. Our opposition is not Keys and his party. We are fighting against Hone who is being funded by a multi- millionaire who is frankly trying to buy his way into parliament. The website is confrontational as it is a wakeup call, it’s not aimed at traditional supporters, honestly I think national supporters may contribute.

Frankly our ability to fund this campaign is limited and that is why we are trying something different that carries some risk.

To which Tim Barnett replies:

Of course the obvious response is that we are one party and whatever you do will be seen as happening on behalf of Labour, and with the full agreement of Labour. If the fundraising was carried out by a third party organisation which then donated that would be less risky to the whole Party. Is that an option?

In other words, we don’t mind receiving funds from right-wing sources, but we don’t want anyone to know we’re taking that money. Let a third-party entity collect the individual donations, and then funnel it to the Labour Party in one lump sum.

Is it just me or does that sound suspiciously like funnelling donations through a trust to obscure their source?

Leaking like a sieve

Further to the leaked Labour Party emails relating to Kelvin Davis’ Te Tai Tokerau battle with Hone Harawira, you’ve got to wonder just who’s done the leaking, and why?

It’s either someone from Kelvin Davis’ campaign team or it’s someone from Labour HQ, and the motivations that each camp might have had are rather different.

If it’s Camp Davis, you’d have to presume that they were expecting to lose if they simply adopted a steady-as-she-goes campaign strategy based on party billboards, public meetings and press releases. You’d also have to presume that Labour’s current polling is scaring the hell out of them. As I pointed out in my previous post, Kelvin Davis is in the danger zone, based on Labour’s current average polling. And things get worse for him if NZ First make it over 5% and take two Labour list seats.

Camp Davis knows that the only ways Harawira is losing Te Tai Tokerau is if a) the Maori Party instructs it’s supporters to vote for Davis, or b) enough Harawira supporters begin to really dislike the Internet Mana deal. Given that the Maori Party continues to pretend that it can win all seven Maori seats, that leaves just Option B. And Option B requires a negative campaign – an unrelenting assault on Dotcom and Harawira.

Unfortunately for Camp Davis, it’s rather obvious that a negative campaign against Dotcom is, as Tim Barnett pointed out to Davis’ team, somewhat at odds with Labour’s “Vote Positive” slogan. Therefore, if Camp Davis leaked the emails, they’re hoping to stoke the anti-Dotcom/Harawira message through the media, keeping the spotlight on Mr Davis as the Defender of Democracy.

There have been all sorts of accusations regarding Labour candidates turning their backs on a coordinated party vote campaign, in favour of focusing purely on winning their own seats. If the leak has come from Camp Davis, then this is a doozy of an example, flying in the face of Labour’s central campaign message.

If the leak came from Labour’s HQ, then who knows what the motivation might have been. Was it someone who disagrees with the decision to rein Davis in? Was it someone who simply relished the chance to put another spanner in David Cunliffe’s spokes? Whatever the reason, it’s yet another example for the public that Labour remains a divided party, working at cross-purposes to itself.

And just check out this comment from Matthew Hooton at The Dim-Post:

A series of emails, including this one, was leaked to me last week from within the Labour Party. I wrote about it on Friday in the NBR but I think Labour HQ then issued this one to the Herald, which had a story in Saturday’s paper. Others have HQ advocating fund-raising through third parties.

Whoever leaked those emails really, really wanted them blazed all over the media…

Kelvin Davis – rock and a hard place

Kelvin Davis really, really wants to win Te Tai Tokerau. You can’t really blame him for that. The vagaries of relying on the party list to get into Parliament mean that he missed out in 2011 and is only back thanks to Shane Jones departing for other climes.

And now Mr Davis is back in the danger zone. Yes, he’s number eighteen on the Labour list, but when you take into account those who will or could win electorate seats, Mr Davis is effectively between 32 and 34 on the list (depending on whether Labour hold Palmerston North and/or Port Hills).

In this site’s Poll of Polls, Labour are currently sitting on 27.7%, which gets them 36 MPs. That gives Mr Davis a little bit of buffer room, but only because NZ First are sitting on 4.6% and zero MPs. If we imagine NZ First taking 0.4% off National, and hitting the 5% threshold, it’s suddenly a very different story – Labour would have just 34 MPs, leaving Davis with little to no buffer zone at all.

Which leaves him in a spot of bother, given that his party doesn’t seem to want him to win Te Tai Tokerau. Although Labour are in public stating that they want to win all seven Maori seats, it’s plainly obvious that on current polling Labour has no chance of forming a Government without the Internet Mana Party bringing in two or more MPs. If David Cunliffe can’t lift Labour’s polling rather dramatically, then Internet Mana are vital to Cunliffe’s Prime Ministerial dreams.

So what to make of Kelvin Davis’ personal crusade against Kim Dotcom?

It’s been revealed that Mr Davis’ campaign team had sought head office approval to run a website taking aim at Dotcom and picking a fight with Internet Mana. Here’s the response from Tim Barnett, Labour’s General Secretary, taken from emails leaked to 3News:

This website and its messaging is problematic and presents a risk for the Party for the following significant reasons:

  • Its’ overall tone is negative and not consistent with our Vote Positive message
  • The first sentence uses the National Party slogan “Working for New Zealand”
  • The cartoon of Kim dot com is could be viewed as offensive and the website picks a fight with Internet Mana. I know that is your local fight, but to present that nationally would not be helpful when both parties are presenting as progressive
  • The messaging about anonymous donations is inconsistent with Labour Party policy and practice, both at Head Office and across electorate campaigns, and would be messaged by media as . [sic]
  • The website has no Party Vote message and does not carry an authorisation statement.

The response from Davis’ campaign team?

I think we as a party need to realize that the battle we are fighting in the north is unique. Our opposition is not Keys and his party. We are fighting against Hone who is being funded by a multi- millionaire who is frankly trying to buy his way into parliament. The website is confrontational as it is a wakeup call, it’s not aimed at traditional supporters, honestly I think national supporters may contribute.

Having had the orders come down from on high to keep the Te Tai Tokerau campaign clean and positive, Kelvin Davis then publishes the following Facebook posts:

Kelvin Davis 1

 

Kelvin Davis 2

With Hone Harawira calling on Davis to resign for attempting to solicit funds from National Party supporters, Davis is unapologetic, as his above Facebook posts demonstrate. There may not be many Kelvin Davis hoardings up in the Far North, but he’s made it as public as he possibly could that he intends to win, which may well be a thorn in David Cunliffe’s side.

As Patrick Gower tweeted yesterday morning:

What will Cunliffe, McCarten & Barnett do about Kelvin Davis who is going hard, going negative and wants to win the Tai Tokerau?

Poll of Polls update – 19 June 2014

As if David Cunliffe wasn’t already under enough pressure, the latest Fairfax Ipsos poll was released this morning, and it’s awful for Labour. Labour falls 6.3% to a horrible 23.2%, while National gains a massive 8.9% to 56.6%, well and truly governing alone.

For the minor parties, there’s nothing much to smile about either. The Greens lose 0.9% to a still creditable 11.9%, but with Labour dropping so dramatically, they would surely have expected to have hoovered up some of that support. NZ First drops 0.5% to 3.6% – the third major poll in a row to show the party falling back below the 5% threshold. The Maori Party are down 1.2% to 0.7%, leaving them with just a sole MP, assuming they hold Waiariki. ACT are down 0.2% to 0.7% – yet another poll to show the party’s leader failing to make it into Parliament. The Conservative Party are down 0.7% to 0.9%, making them barely worth bothering about for John Key, and United Future doesn’t even register. The only minor party that might look at the poll with any comfort is Internet Mana, which picks up a combined 2.1%, which would likely bring them a third MP, should Hone Harawira hold Te Tai Tokerau.

So how does the Poll of Polls look now?

National: 49.2% (+0.8%)

Labour: 29.6% (-0.7%)

Greens: 11.5% (+0.3%)

NZ First: 4.7% (-0.3%)

Maori: 1.1 (nc)

United Future: 0.1% (nc)

ACT: 0.7% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.3% (+0.2%)

Conservative: 1.4% (-0.1%)

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

National: 63 (+4)

Labour: 38 (+1)

Greens: 15 (+1)

NZ First: 0 (-6)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (nc)

With NZ First falling back below the 5% threshold, National would receive 63 seats, governing alone for the first time in this Poll of Polls. Labour pick up an extra seat, despite dropping below 30% for the first time, but a Labour, Greens and Mana coalition would have just 55 seats.

If one takes 0.3% from National, giving it to NZ First and getting them over the line, Labour would instead drop to 36 seats, while National would have 60, needing just one of either ACT or United Future to govern.

What’s interesting is the change in language from David Cunliffe over the level he considers Labour’s support is actually at. Despite previous polls showing Labour bouncing around just above or below 30%, Cunliffe has held the line that Labour was actually at around 34%. This morning, he described the party’s support as being either late-twenties or early-thirties, an implicit acceptance that Labour’s own polling is occasionally putting the party at under 30%.

Poll of Polls update – 17 June 2014

The latest Herald Digipoll has just been released, and it’s the fourth major poll in a row to show National governing alone. National drops slightly, but are still sitting on a comfortable 50.4%, while Labour can at least console itself that it’s gone up 1% to 30.5%, escaping the dreaded twenties. The Greens take a significant hit, down 2.4% to 10.7%. That gives National a significant 9.2% lead over a combined Labour/Greens bloc.

For the other minor parties, NZ First and the Conservatives stay steady on 3.6% and 1.5% respectively, quite some way below the 5% threshold. ACT falls 0.1% to 0.7%, nowhere close to getting a second MP, while United Future actually registers for once, sitting sadly on 0.1%.

This is the first major poll conducted entirely since the formation of the combined Internet Mana Party. They’re on 1.4%, enough to bring in Annette Sykes Laila Harre, but considering the huge publicity they’ve had, it’s hardly an inspiring result.

So how does the Poll of Polls look now?

National: 48.4% (+0.5%)

Labour: 30.3% (-0.3%)

Greens: 11.2% (-0.3%)

NZ First: 5.0% (nc)

Maori: 1.1 (-0.1%)

United Future: 0.1% (nc)

ACT: 0.7% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.1% (nc)

Conservative: 1.5% (nc)

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

National: 59 (nc)

Labour: 37 (nc)

Greens: 14 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (nc)

Maori: 1 (-1)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (+1)

Unfortunately for the Maori Party, they drop just enough that their second seat disappears, snared by the tiniest margin by Internet Mana.

With a one seat overhang, the centre-right bloc of National, United Future and ACT have a total of 61 seats, to make a governing majority.

For the centre-left, Labour, the Greens and Internet Mana have 53 seats, short of a majority by one seat, even with NZ First and the Maori Party.

Labour drop to a new low for the fourth Poll of Polls update in a row. Conversely, National is the highest they’ve been this year. That’s a set of trends that should be extremely worrying for the Labour party. The left-right gap may narrow (and even be in the left’s favour) in the occasional poll, but Labour’s poll ratings have simply remained stalled. The party hasn’t got above 32% in the last fourteen polls, and you have to go back seven polls to find a result where Labour got over 31.5%.

To put that in perspective, Matthew Hooton noted on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme yesterday, with no dissension from Mike Williams, that if Labour drops below 31% on election day then Kelvin Davis doesn’t make it back in on his current caucus ranking. Given this Poll of Polls update puts Labour at 30.3%, Mr Davis currently has no incentive to let Hone Harawira win Te Tai Tokerau.

EDIT: Laila Harre would make it in as second Internet Mana MP, unless Annette Sykes wins Wairiki.

Labour wrestles with Te Tai Tokerau

What does Labour in Te Tai Tokerau? Does it give Kelvin Davis carte blanche to go for Hone Harawira’s throat? If he succeeds, Harawira, the Mana Party and the Internet Mana Party all bite the dust, but at the risk of losing vital left-bloc votes. Or does Labour rein Mr Davis in, grit its teeth and (assuming they’ve got the opportunity after 20 September) get used to the prospect of having to work with Harawira, Harre and Sykes et al?

Whatever it decides to do, it needs to make the decision quickly, as the anti-“coat-tailing” dissension in Labour’s ranks is looking messy.

As was to be expected, Kelvin Davis was first out of the ranks to attack Hone Harawira on Radio NZ – unsurprising, given that Davis wants Harawira’s seat, and Harawira had just provided Davis with a very big stick to hit him with.

Then came Chris Hipkins’ tweet:

The good old days, when political parties formed from movements. Now all it takes is a couple of million and some unprincipled sellouts.

And Phil Goff chimed in on Facebook with:

Image

Image

Not to be out-done, Chris Hipkins lurched back into the fray with:

I’m out the [sic] campaigning for Labour to win the election, not steal it through the type of dodgy deals we’ve rightly criticized National for.

When you’ve riled Chris Trotter up enough for him to write a blog post entitled “Authoritarian Labour: Why Kelvin Davis Needs To STFU – Right Now!“, you know that a little dose of party discipline is required.

The problem Labour has is that David Cunliffe has hardly made it clear what the party’s position should be. When he was first interviewed on Radio NZ, just after the Internet Mana deal was announced, Cunliffe’s position was that Labour was aiming for a clean sweep of the Maori seats. However, his language was hedged – he wasn’t announcing a full-scale assault on Te Tai Tokerau, but he also didn’t want to be seen to be simply abandoning the seat to Harawira.

Since then, the rumours from unnamed sources within Labour have been that the party will tell Kelvin Davis to pull his punches, but there will be no public announcement that Te Tai Tokerau voters should support Harawira – an Epsom-style “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” situation, if you like. Besides, having been so vociferously opposed to the deals that National has done with ACT and United Future (and may very well do with the Conservatives), Labour can hardly now turn around and openly endorse such a deal with the Internet Mana Party.

Nonetheless, Labour needs to decide quickly whether it gives Harawira a tacit endorsement or whether it decides to try and take him out. And the Labour caucus needs to know what that decision is, so that a coherent party line can be followed. In Andrea Vance’s latest article on the subject, she writes that, “A spokesman for Labour said Cunliffe was “off the grid” and not available for comment”. That’s terrible political management from Labour. Cunliffe looks like he doesn’t have a clue about what he should say or do on the issue, which just gives Davis, Hipkins and Goff licence to say or type whatever comes into their minds.