New Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis has dubbed Internet-Mana “all steam and no hangi” after it failed to deliver on the hype on election day.
Leader Hone Harawira was ousted and Internet-Mana polled just 1.26 per cent, in spite of internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom’s hefty financial backing, last week’s Moment of Truth and a highly publicised national road show to try and drum up support.
“There was a lot of promises, a lot of hope and excitement but it was all steam and no hangi,” Davis said of Internet-Mana.
It was a case of fourth time lucky for Davis who reversed Harawira’s 2011 majority of more than 1100 votes.
Watching the votes come in had been an emotional experience, he said.
“I was ready to go home at about 7.30, he was 300 [votes] ahead of me and I thought ‘Oh shit here we go again’… and then someone said you’re down to 290 and you go ‘Oh okay, it must’ve been the local town I live in’s booth coming in’ and then the next one was down to 260 or something and then it just started dropping and everyone got bloody excited.
‘‘ Then they said ‘Kelvin, you’re ahead’ and then the gap kept going for me.
“It was good to watch I have to say. It was exciting.”
Harawira, who was visibly upset yesterday but who has declined media interviews today, had called Davis last night to say he was not going to concede, with special votes still to be counted.
“He started off [saying] I’ve never conceded anything to anyone and I’m not going to concede tonight… he has to deal with things however he sees fit,” he said.
“I said, ‘oh well... thanks for the call and all the best for whatever you do.’”
Davis put his victory down to a focus on exploiting Harawira’s perceived weaknesses - including Mana’s relationship with Dotcom, though he was also undoubtedly helped by a last-minute endorsement from NZ First leader Winston Peters and suggestions the Maori Party had also encouraged its supporters to back Davis to oust Harawira.
His focus on issues such as jobs and sexual violence had also hamstrung Harawira’s ability to attack him, while Harawira was limited in the candidate debates by his ambition to be more statesman-like and less aggressive, he said.
Harawira was flat in the local candidate’s debates as a result, he said.
Meanwhile, Davis believes the Labour Party has some serious soul-searching to do as a result of its failure at the polls, where it received just 24.7 per cent.
This would probably include a review of David Cunliffe’s leadership.
“The leadership is just part of the whole discussion that we’re going to have… in caucus on Tuesday,” he said.
“I think it’s time for some serious reviewing and serious discussions about the whole campaign.”
He said the whole party had to own the the failure, however.
“We can’t just say everything falls on the leader’s shoulders… We’ve all got to do our part and look at ourselves individually as well as collectively.”
He believed Cunliffe would hang on, though admitted it was not certain.
Speaking last night, Harawira said he would carry on fighting for the causes he believed in.
"It might be the end of my mainstream political career, but it won't be the end of politics for Hone Harawira."
He did not think the alliance with the Internet Party had caused his downfall.
He said he felt ganged-up on by the other parties “but not to the point where I'm going to cry about it. I think it's a measure of our success that four other parties backed one candidate.”
Two of those parties - National and NZ First - had not bothered to stand candidates in Te Tai Tokerau.
"Next time if you really want to get rid of me, stand your own candidate."
Dotcom took responsibility for the loss, saying his brand was poison to the party.
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