Is there a worse way to launch a new left-wing party than by pissing away $500,000 of the public’s money on a completely unnecessary by-election?
Hone Harawira plans to force a by-election in his Northland Te Tai Tokerau seat before the general election.
At the launch of his new Mana Party today he vowed to have a by-election held within six weeks.
Sometimes I just want to strap the entire spectrum of left-wing politicians into dentists chairs and patiently explain to them – using chisels and barbed wire – that most the state’s wealth comes from ordinary people working hard and then giving a huge chunk of their income to the government, so spending it is a sacred trust not an endless opportunity to squander it all on gimmicks and whims and political stunts.
Anyway . . .
Sue Bradford lent her support but made no mention of whether she would stand as a candidate.
Bradford described the break-away party as a “party of activists” that has the support of unionists and political activists.
“We need a party that can really lead a fight and wouldn’t just fiddle around the edge or cozy up to the Government for crumbs,” the former Green MP said during her speech.
“There’s only one way to ensure our rights and future and that’s to fight for them.”
Political activist John Minto also aligned himself with the Mana Party.
I have no idea what the purpose of this party is. Are they going to contest the party vote in the Maori seats? If so, then why do they need Sue Bradford and John Minto? Are they going to launch a nation-wide campaign aimed at the far-left? If so, won’t most of those votes just come from the Greens, and risk them falling under the 5% threshold?
Brian Easton touched on Don Brash’s willfull ignorance approach to race-based issues in a Listener article back in 2004:
Don Brash says, “I can’t think of anything in health which is specifically Maori.” So why treat Maori differently?
Sadly, the proportion of Maori who smoke, and as a consequence suffer the diseases from smoking and die early, is higher than that of Pakeha. Moreover, although there has been some success from the campaign to reduce smoking, it seems to have had little impact on Maori rates. So it makes sense to have a specifically Maori anti-smoking campaign, administered by Maori. One of its successes has been that most marae now ban smoking. No Pakeha-dominated organisation could have achieved such an outcome.
I don’t think it’s very fair to criticise peoples interest in the Royal Wedding, since when they’re watching it I’ll be playing a recently released video game called Portal 2, which is even less defensible as a past-time. I am irritated by the media obsession with the wedding; we now have loads of journalists over in the UK who have nothing to do but cover the most meaningless events imaginable: ie, a corgi licked the Prime Minister’s hand.
If the media devoted this much attention to a video game like, say, Portal 2, we’d think there was something horribly wrong. But if you look at google trends, for a couple of days last week New Zealanders were – by this metric at least – sometimes more interested in Portal 2 than the royal wedding.
What if a corgi licks the hand of one of the Portal 2 game designers? Who will tell their story?
The whole Brash/race argument comes down to this:
Brash: We shouldn’t have race based electoral seats or laws because everyone should be equal.
The left: That’s racist.
Brash: Ah, but how can it be racist for me to insist that all races be treated equally?
Brash is right, of course. If we started a new society tomorrow, a blank slate, there would be no race based laws or Maori electorates. The thing is, we’re not a blank slate – we’re New Zealand and we have about 700 years of history preceding Don Brash. The Maori arrived, then Europeans, and they signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and citing the provisions of the treaty Maori were granted seats in Parliament and then the treaty was not honoured, there were land grabs and a civil war with an ambiguous outcome, and over a period of roughly a hundred years Maori became the most disadvantaged members of our society, and then for decades successive governments all agreed that they had been mistreated and introduced various mechanisms to address their grievances.
Then Brash shows up demanding to know why Maori are getting such special treatment: ‘Why can’t we all just be equals?’
Brash’s appeal for equality is based on the idea that we have no history. Nothing happened before now: we just have a bunch of laws that privilege Maori over others, for no apparent reason and so it’s only fair and just that we get rid of them.
And here’s why Brash is a racist – his appeal that we forget our history is restricted solely to our history of race relations. He gave a dozen interviews over ANZAC weekend and while he said plenty about Maori and race and equality he never whispered a word about ANZAC’s historic meaning. He doesn’t appear to have an opinion on why our head of state is a Queen living in a castle on the other side of the world. Those are huge anachronisms if you’re starting from an ahistoric context. But Brash doesn’t care about any of those other issues. He just wants us to ignore our history and then change our society in a highly specific way that disadvantages the members of a single race.
(Update: Reworded the section about the treaty to avoid confusion.)
Actual and speculative consequences of Brash becoming ACT leader:
- ACT will probably survive the election.
- I think people overestimate Brash’s appeal to voters and his basic competence. Instead of ‘Don Brash almost won the 2005 election’ I think it’s more accurate to say ‘Stephen Joyce almost won the 2005 election and would have if Don Brash didn’t happen to be leader at the time’.
- The current coalition arrangement – National + ACT + Maori Party +/- United Future – is no longer viable. Even Dunne might rule out going into coalition with a Brash-led ACT.
- Brash and the Maori Party can enter into a mutually beneficial antagonistic pair during the campaign, in which they build support with their own base by attacking one another, ensuring ongoing media coverage.
- Brash’s strategy will be to attack National vigorously from the right and try and take as many of their voters as possible to strengthen their position in post-election negotiations.
- I predict we’ll see a major policy speech from Brash within the next four weeks, focusing either on race or welfare issues (probably the latter, since it defies expectations and he can use the Welfare Working Group report as ammunition).
- This all makes Labour’s job easier. They can focus on Brash, not Key – in much the same way that in 2008 the focus was on Peters not Clark. Phil Goff could actually get to be Prime Minister, if Labour sends him off to the Christmas Islands until early December.
Don Brash appears to have the numbers to roll Rodney Hide as ACT leader. He met with Hilary Calvert yesterday, presumably to explain to her slowly, and in a loud clear voice, using charts, diagrams and anatomically correct dolls, that she won’t get back into Parliament if nobody votes for her party.
This was a really terrible way to take over ACT. There’s no reason Brash couldn’t have done the numbers quietly, then presented Hide with a fait accompli and given him the option to stand down with dignity. Instead it was all done as publicly and clumsily as possible. Hide (who, Brash claims, has been his personal friend for fifteen years) has been humiliated. He will, presumably, want revenge. He may stand in Epsom as an independent, or leak damaging material about Brash or the traitors in his party to the media. The ACT Party president launched a vicious public attack on Brash when it appeared his coup failed; now Brash will have to replace him six months out from an election. ACT activists who are loyal to Hide (incredibly, there are such people) will hesitate to campaign for their party in the wake of its hostile takeover.
In terms of the election, Brash will campaign on a
white supremacy racial equality platform. He’s decided that this is endorsed by article three of the Treaty of Waitangi (I’d love to hear someone ask him where articles one and two fit into this framework). He’ll make various racist speeches and deny – angrily and with apparent sincerity – that he’s a racist. I’m really not sure how many votes this will be worth. In 2005 it fed into a latent fear about the Clark government, and I’m not sure if voters have the same apprehension about Key.
The Christchurch Mayor is NOT going overseas:
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has turned down an all-expenses-paid speaking engagement in Switzerland because he is too busy.
Days before the February 22 earthquake, Parker was criticised for travelling more than 30 hours to give a 15-minute address to a United Nations-sanctioned quake summit in Nepal.
He confirmed yesterday that he had been invited to speak at a UN gathering in Geneva next month, but declined because “I’ve just got too much on my plate here”.
I hope the Press journalist who nailed this scoop didn’t have to cut too many corners or make too many powerful enemies to get the story out.
Surely the smart thing for Brash to do would have been to join ACT in exchange for a high place on their list and then, after an appropriate period of plotting and conspiracy, bring Hide down from within?
Whether it succeeds or not this looks like the worst planned coup since – well, Chris Carter’s, I guess, which was only like, ten months ago.
Link inspired by some penguin footage in the comments to the previous post: