Maori Party future: Mayday
Party President, Pem Bird is right to say the non-aggression pact should be reviewed, as all commitments ought to be reviewed. Pity they would rather review their deal with Hone than review their deal with National. But if Pem Bird - or the national council - think that unpicking such a finely woven garment will benefit the Maori Party then they would be even more foolish than when their caucus passed the foreshore and seabed law. Don't go there. That cloak protects them all.
That deal was as much to save them as it was to save Hone - to prevent a civil war breaking out in the Maori Electorates in which neither of them may have been able to prevail over one another. When I put it forward as a solution the kaupapa was to maximise the representation of Maori who stand for Maori (and keep the Maori who stand for - or rather behind - Pakeha, viz: the Labour Party, at bay). The situation since February 22 however has changed: it is now become clear through their actions and inactions that the Maori Party caucus are in a dependent relationship with National.
The awful thought I have had since this foreshore and seabed imbroglio came to a head in February - and of which I have hitherto left unexpressed because of its gross cynicism - is that the only way to have gotten Te Ururoa and Rahui to support the bill in such trenchant terms and along such a self-destructive pathway, is because they have been offered Ministerial positions and will be appointed before the election. There - I've said it.
Tariana has her so-called repeal of the FSA through the House and Pita... is just old and tired and has little more than helping the Tories privatise prisons as his political legacy... and the thought that the two co-leaders may retire shortly and be replaced by Te Ururoa and Rahui is not that dramatic. Are the trappings of leadership and a limo and an office in the 'hive what was motivating these two to support National's version of the foreshore and seabed bill against the wishes of their own constituents? Tell me it ain't so.
If it does turn out to be so, and they are made ministers, then their credibility with their constituents - already shot - will collapse because everyone will be able to see the back room deals over the Takutai Moana for what they are: sleazy political opportunism. At that point - if it happens - it will then be Hone who will be reviewing the non-aggression pact and it will be the Maori Party who will come begging to Hone to honour it. The pact was supposed to be about preserving the ability for Maori to represent Maori, it was never supposed to be just an escape clause.
Anyway, heard the latest jokes doing the rounds?
Q. What starts off brown, walks the land in red, white and black, turns blue in the house, is afraid of green, and finally dies at sea?
A. The Maori Party.
Q. What's the difference between a dog turd and the Maori Party?
A. The turd took longer to turn white and start crumbling.
Q. Why is the Maori Party like a cloakroom of reversable jackets on a wet day?
A. Because it's full of turncoats hung out to dry.
Q. Why did the Maori Party pass the Takutai Moana Bill when it was basically the same as the Foreshore and Seabed Act?
A. They don't know either!
and my favourite:
Q. What do you call the Maori Party caucus in Chris Finlayson's office?
A. A sell-out audience.
See, that's criticism. Hone hasn't gone anywhere near critical. If anyone should be reviewing anything it is Hone - the MP have lost so much support.
As reported Hone has not decided which way to go and will be meeting many groups up and down the country to help make up his mind. It rests with his own electorate however. Whether Hone and Sue Bradford can put together a ticket and an organisation and whether a Maori and Pakeha party could be formed with Maori at the front rather than the back must be live options. If Hone continues to meet only with Maori (as he seems to be doing at the moment) then his thinking will be toward a Maori party to take on his former colleagues. If he meets with tau iwi as well then it would give a different perspective. If he wants to pursue the party list and not stand candidates against his colleagues (as per the pact) then a wider party using Sue's connections would be best.
And that anti-drilling protest on the East Cape at the weekend, the only visible Maori Party presence was a lone flag in the background (as seen in this totally random picture).
There were a lot of Maori Party members present, but after the disgraceful performance over the Takutai Moana bill, no-one (bar that lone flag-flyer) wanted to be identified as Maori Party. This is what is happening at the flax roots level on the ground. Hone was talking to many people and has gained a substantial following for his stance. If the MP looks like it will implode completely then he could put together a team to take on the Maori electorates and may take two, three or all four of their seats and so a list-based scenario is off. However, if the MP manage to struggle on and standing against means Labour winning on the split votes then he would be wise to follow the list-based scenario, which means appealing to Pakeha and a different sort of party.
He has given 30 April as his deadline to make a decision. I note that the following day is the leftist carnavalé of May Day.