Friday, April 29, 2011

Hone Harawira’s expensive divisive politics

We all know that Hone Harawira is a loose cannon and a drain on the taxpayer. He draws an MPs salary and trips around the country attending hui and promoting himself and his new party. The speaker line up for the launch of the party this weekend is here and includes Veronica Tawhai, Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford, Nandor Tanczos, Matt McCarten, Margaret Mutu and John Minto. I've met most of them and it is an impressive list.

Since Harawira left the Maori Party the Maori Party travel expenses have dramatically reduced. In the past few months the Maori Party has spent $44,000 on travel, just $1000 more than Harawira alone. So Harawira was responsible for half the Maori Party travel bill bill and we are still paying that half while Harawira trips around as an independent MP trying to stitch up his divisive party.

And it will be divisive. It will pit Maori against Maori at the taxpayers expense. If he wins his seat as a leader of a parliamentary party he will get even more money. There was even talk of Harawira resigning from Parliament to force a by-election to get a mandate for his new party so he could be a Parliamentary leader in parliament before the General election – at a cost of $500,000.

Harawira must realise that the only way to get extra MPs for his Mana party is to challenge the Maori seats, just like Tariana Turia did. So you can expect that Harawira’s agreement not to challenge the Maori seats will be broken.

Then it will be an all-out Maori-against-Maori divisive political battle. Instead of Harawira discussing white mother***ers raping our land, he`ll be focusing on the Maori Party, tripping around the country attempting to create a wedge between his party and the Maori Party, and many ofthose speaking at the launch of the party this weekend will not be impressed. In addition the party will struggle to create an identity, as it jumps between nationalism, unionism and left wing politics. That has started already with Sue Bradford announcing she is unwilling to join a party that is more focussed on nationalism than the Left.

The Mana party will get nasty as it will need all the publicity it can get, in the absence of broadcasting funding. If it is successful it could split the Maori vote and be quite divisive. A similar scrap has happened before when Christians Graham Capill and Graeme Lee had their public scrap within the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, and more recently when the Gordon Copeland and Brian Tamaki kissed and fell out. The difference here is that Capill and Lee were never going to win seats, and Copeland was a list MP-turned-independent.

In addition, the leaders of the two Maori parties are current MPs thanks to MMP, and are likely to retain their seats after the election.

Harawira wants to be an “independent” voice - and I think he`ll get his wish as the lone MP from his party in parliament. Whether this voice will have any worthwhile influence within Parliament, even if he does take others in with him, is another matter.

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