What's in it for Mana to side with Dotcom?

Last updated 17:09 24/03/2014
Kim Dotcom
KIM DOTCOM: Setting up the Internet Party.
Fairfax NZ
IN THE HOUSE: The Mana Party's Hone Harawira.

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ManaNet? InterCom?

OPINION: What ever it might be called it's hard to see what is in it for Mana to strike a "codeshare" deal with Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

The obvious dilution of Hone Harawira's Mana Party brand is one issue. While it's not polling well across the country, it has definite pull in a handful of Maori electorates and urban Auckland and is rivalling - and may destroy - the Maori Party.

That may be resolved by some sort of stitched-together name - Mana-Internet Alliance was one suggestion - but does it really deliver that much to Mana?

There is Dotcom's cash, but Mana insiders say the party is reasonably well resourced and is not that desperate for cash for the 2014 election.

It may be able to bring a few more votes from Dotcom's followers - especially among the young - and from the previous non-vote attracted to piratical parties.

That potentially makes the whole larger than the sum of its parts, by allowing both camps to reassure voters the alliance will be in Parliament and therefore their votes will not be wasted.

But right now it is only Mana, thanks to Hone Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau seat, that can be confident of that.

For all Dotcom's claims he has an electorate MP - or is that a former MP? - nailed down no-one can come up with a name or a winnable seat.

Without that, Mana is the one with the MMP lifeline so holds most of the cards in any negotiation.

And then there are the negatives. It risks a split inside the already small Mana team.

Activist Sue Bradford has already expressed her opposition, John Minto - and the broader non-Maori arm of the Mana movement - will likely be sceptical at best.

And, one Mana insider told me, it's hard to see synergies between a rich German-born internet entrepreneur who lives in one of the ritzy-est house in town, and the mostly Maori and lower income constituency Mana stands for.

Anti-establishmentarianism would be about all they had in common.

Dotcom's assertion that, while difficult, he could work with National has also set the cat among the pigeons.

Mana is root and branch in favour of a change and its opposition is not just to a John Key-led government. Harawira did not go through the bust-up with his Maori Party colleagues just to turn around and strike a deal with National.

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Some advising Mana fear an Alliance-style umbrella group, that brought in Mana and Internet MPs, could easily dissolve after the election; that it risks Mana MPs being left high and dry if a deal was put on the table that would suit the Internet/Dotcom agenda.

And then there is the list issue.

Would Dotcom's team agree to Harawira, Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes and Minto taking the top three slots?

Meanwhile, it smacks of gerrymandering the MMP system, so it will hardly endear the mixed party to the Labour-Green grouping who have used potential "dirty deals" with ACT, UnitedFuture and the Conservatives to attack National's integrity.

Mana says it is waiting to see more of the Internet Party's policies, philosophies and personnel this week, as well an assurance it will not back National.

But it all looks an idea that has run ahead of itself - a plan that is too clever by three-quarters.

- Fairfax Media


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