Mana Tangata - The People's Party
John Minto is in. Along with Sue Bradford and Nandor - meaning the Mana movement looks at this point to be transcending ethnicity. Having established itself firstly as a Maori vehicle and having secured the support of many Maori there is no threat of being relegated or subsumed that exists in popular parties where Maori are not the majority, this leaves them free to focus on class and other social issues and widen their appeal. The inclusion of high profile Pakeha is a handy riposte to the calls of racism that have been made by the Hone-haters.
The Horizon Poll putting Mana (2.3%) ahead of the Maori Party (2.1%) is a respectable polling debut, but the risk of Bradford and Minto - and Sykes - fronting the top of the list is that it becomes easy to pigeon-hole Mana as the protest party and nothing more. The ultimate protest vote. Now that alone - the Left and Maori protest vote - is at least in the Alliance ball-park. Enough to get over the 5% if they go for it. If they widen the list beyond what currently resembles a cliquey 1970s/80s protest circle to include non-protest/institutional figures then it becomes a 10%+ party. With a 2002-style opposition meltdown scenario looming for Labour it becomes possible for a party of the Left to get 10%+. If they want to get over 5% they firstly have to want to. Brash wanted to - now Act's on 5.3%.
Hone has quite low expectations of the party vote - I haven't ever heard him say he was wanting more than 3 or 4% max. If Mana didn't stand in the other Maori electorates (as per Hone and the party's divorce settlement) that would mean the Mana Party (at least for the next term) will be dependent on his electorate seat - giving him more power in the relationship, but not having the numbers in the House to get anything done - or undone. Convenient for leaders who hold an electorate (Peters, Dunne, Anderton and Hide have all been beneficiaries of that exception to the 5% rule) to keep their sole electorate seats as a bastion against the caucus, but Rodney Hide's extra-parliamentary execution proves even holding an electorate isn't a veto over the party. There is nothing to lose in aiming for more than 5%.
The Mana Party should be aiming for at least 10% and putting a list together on that basis. The names should be household ones if possible and each able to pay their own way as far as earning votes. If there were some names like Tim Shadbolt, Derek Fox, Sandra Lee, Laila Harre etc. in the mix then the story goes from protest/negative/oppositional to constructive/positive/governing. The media would have to take them seriously and so would the voters - and then Labour would have to react - and then the story becomes Labour v. Mana (rather than ghettoised to Mana v. Maori Party).
Maybe that is too much to ask in a first outing for a party - a movement - that is still not officially registered, but the goals should be set high.
There are plenty of pickings and the Horizon polling confirms the harvest has already begun:
A May 3 to 7 poll of 517 Maori nationwide by Horizon Research finds the Mana Party could win 12.6% of electorate and 15.1% of party votes cast by Maori nationwide.
This would allow Labour to win 21.2% of votes cast by Maori in all Maori and general electorates, compared with 20.7% for the Maori Party. A large group of 28.1% is undecided.
Labour would attract 22.6% of party votes cast by Maori nationwide, compared with 19.9% for the Maori Party, while 12.1% don’t know.
Among those who voted for the Maori Party in Maori seats in 2008 only 37.7% remain loyal in electorate voting and 33% in party voting.
The weighted survey, conducted using the specialist Horizon Research Maori Panel, with a maximum margin of error of + or – 4.3%, also finds:
* Maori are split 31.2% for the formation of the Mana Party and 30.7% against (38.2 neutral)
* 55.3% think the by election Mana Party leader Hone Harawira announced he would cause by resigning his Te Tai Tokerau Maori seat is a waste of money, with most aware its estimated cost is about $500,000
* Only 18.9% think he is right to force a by election, while 31.8% think he should have waited until the November 26 general election
* 39.7% think the new Mana Party is really only about Hone Harawira, and
The Mana Party could also damage Maori Party membership.
Some 42% of the Maori Party’s Maori electorate voters would consider joining the Mana Party.
Overall, 30.5% of Maori surveyed said they would consider becoming a member of the new Mana Party.
The Labour and Maori parties are seen as more likely than Mana to advance Maori interests in a number of areas.
Horizon research in March identified health, unemployment and education as the issues Maori most want the government to act on in the next year.
In this survey Labour was seen as most likely to advance Maori on employment (52%, Maori Party 50.6%, Mana 42.4%). The Maori Party is ahead on advancing Maori education (60.1%, Labour 50.3%, Mana 42.9%) and health (62.3%, Labour 47.8%, Mana 43.8%).