Internet leans to Left with Laila in charge

Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014
LAILA HARRE: Last an MP in 2002, when she led the Alliance after the split with then leader Jim Anderton over New Zealand's role in the Afghanistan war.
Martin Hunter
LAILA HARRE: Last an MP in 2002, when she led the Alliance after the split with then leader Jim Anderton over New Zealand's role in the Afghanistan war.

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The election is quickly shaping up as a roll call for the old Alliance Party with news that Laila Harre is set to return to the national political stage as leader of Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

OPINION: Harre is a former Alliance leader, as is David Cunliffe's right-hand man, Matt McCarten.

Over in the Green Party, media supremo Andrew Campbell is another former Alliance activist, while Mana's Gerard Hehir is a former general secretary.

No wonder another of their former brothers-in-arms, Willie Jackson, is now musing aloud about whether to also join the "party" yesterday.

With Dotcom as its figurehead, the Internet Party had previously defied attempts to define it as Left or Right-wing. That all changes with Harre.

Steeped in the union movement, she was a former minister in the Labour-Alliance coalition who battled for paid parental leave and four weeks' annual leave. She led the revolt against Jim Anderton over Labour's participation in the war in Afghanistan.

There is absolutely no room for ambiguity about where she stands on the political spectrum. Harre is an unequivocal Left-wing warrior.

To say that her appointment came as a surprise to some of her former allies is an understatement. Harre, who had a double mastectomy after breast cancer in 2012, was working for the Greens till recently but had signalled she was winding down to pursue other interests, including a month in France on a language course.

Her decision to return to the national political stage may be a case of unfinished business.

But the spinoff for the Internet Party seems less clear even if, in Harre, it gets a proven organiser and leader with instant name recognition on the Left.

Her cachet among the "web geeks" the Internet Party might attract is likely to be minimal.

Given that she would likely be the Internet Party's only MP in Parliament - and even that would be a stretch - its brand would quickly be subsumed by Mana.

That doesn't seem like a lot of value out of Dotcom's $250,000 investment. Whatever the reason, the number of parties now jostling for votes on the Left is starting to make the field look decidedly crowded.

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- The Dominion Post


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