Tail bites dog
Hide accused of playing race card
Relations between the Government's two support parties have soured, with Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia accusing Act leader Rodney Hide of playing the race card over his threat to resign if the Auckland Council gets Maori seats. The pair have prided themselves on their good relationship and Mrs Turia has been a guest speaker at the Act conference. But yesterday, she said it was "sad for the country when we have a politician who continues to play this card every time there is a significant issue". Mr Hide was trying to appeal to a "particular sector of New Zealand" that he knew existed, Mrs Turia said. Mr Hide faced attacks in Parliament on the issue. Labour accused him of grandstanding to lift his party's low poll ratings, but he said he had not intended to make his stance public. Mr Hide said he had apologised to Mrs Turia because he had not intended for his position to become known and he had not been grandstanding. He said he told Prime Minister John Key on June 3 that he could not be the minister sponsoring a bill with race- or tribal-based seats on the council and he had done that not as a threat but to ensure there were no surprises in the coalition relationship.
I am loving this spectacle of raw power. So Hide threatens the National Party that if Maori Seats go ahead he will stand down, it’s a private threat he claims wasn’t supposed to be public, who leaked and why is essential to understanding the strategy. If it was ACT who leaked, then it is a muscle move by Hide to force the direction of Government policy in the ideological vacuum Key brings to the leadership. If National released it then it’s a counter move to publicize Hide’s threat – the problem with the idea that it is National playing Machiavellian genius is that if they outed Hide then they’ve let him paint himself into a corner, one which Hide will be forced to resign over. Long term that doesn’t add to stability and the friction it causes it’s two main political partners isn’t worth the trouble, so this swings things back to seeing Hide as the leaker.
By risking all the momentum Hide has built up annexing Auckland with a threat to stand down, National will be forced to either snub the Maori Party making their mana enhancing relationship a joke causing Maori voters to leave in disgust back into the waiting arms of Phil Goff (if he can shut Mallard up long enough), or National let Hide resign leaving their dreams of being seen to be doing something in Auckland in tatters.
It’s a Mexican stand off and how Key deals with it is the first real test of his legacy. Is he really a moderate who will side with the Maori Party or is he a privatizer in sheeps clothing who will ditch the moderate camouflage to side with Rodney? Either way he can’t enjoy being played by ACT or having the country know he’s getting played by ACT.