Dotcom party lacks vital guest

Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014

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D is for desperate and dateless and Dotcom.

OPINION: The Internet Party's last throw of the dice for a multi-party deal seems to have come up short.

Despite Kim Dotcom's schmoozing of MPs from most Opposition parties at his mega-mansion, the last chance for a significant tie-up - at least with a party that can be confident of holding a seat after September 20 - seems to have faded to black.

Without that, the Internet Party is facing the reality of its pledge to fold the tent and endorse another party if it is not polling more than the 5 per cent threshold before the election campaign.

Would it be too cruel to mark a party's death on the day it is born?

Dotcom's party boss, Vikram Kumar, was still looking on the bright side yesterday.

It is not clear, though, that he will be in any position to address Mana's most obvious concerns at today's party launch - Dotcom's musing that he could conceive of working with John Key and the fear he is angling to be the kingmaker in any future government.

Both are anathema to Mana and Hone Harawira, who are committed to a change of government and owe their existence as a party to their distaste for the Maori Party getting into bed with National. But Harawira's late-Tuesday press release - presumably rushed out, because it was initially missing the last few lines - went much further than a call for Dotcom to be clear on a change of Government.

It included a check-list of seven other reasons a deal was not possible. Count them.

- They don't have a real membership base.

- They don't have clear policies.

- They don't have recognisable political leaders.

- They don't have any candidates.

- Time is short to prepare for the election and to organise the campaign.

- Asking members to put election prep on hold "while we wait for the Internet Party to decide what they stand for is just not an option".

- There will not be any more meetings on possible co-operation until those intentions are clear.

Kumar's optimism that there could be a quick wedding later, even if there is precious little time for dating, seemed to hinge on the statement's final kiss-off.

"If the Internet Party commits to getting rid of National, announcing policies similar to Mana's, and getting candidates and leaders that can be trusted to implement them, then we can talk. They know how to get in touch with us."

But there is a lot more "no" than "wait and see" in the tone of the statement.

Frankly, it was always somewhere between a long shot and inconceivable that the two parties could do a deal.

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From the Internet Party's perspective, the near-certainty of an electorate seat, to ensure a percentage of the seats in the House, was the stand-out reason to put together an umbrella party, harking back to the Alliance model in the 1990s.

It also saw a fellow traveller opposed to intrusive cyber-powers that was also anti-establishment and focused on the voluntarily and involuntarily disenfranchised.

But for Mana it was always more problematic, and that boiled to the surface with activist Sue Bradford's "No way Hone" statement.

In short, did they really want to get into bed with someone with his track record? And what did a party advocating for the no-paid, low-paid and tangata whenua have in common with a super-wealthy internet entrepreneur living in a ritzy pile out Coatesville way?

Mana may not be recording mega-support in opinion polls but it has an established brand, respect on the Left and real hopes after September of seeing off the Maori Party.

It has a clearer long-term future, and a more energetic activist base than its Maori Party rivals.

Money counts in campaigns, of course, and Dotcom probably has enough to go around. But Left-wing foot soldiers will hardly be enthused if their campaign efforts deliver one in every two votes for MPs from another party.

Nor is the push to attract the non-vote a simple unifying factor.

Statistics New Zealand's research, based on its General Social Survey, suggested it is nowhere near a monolithic group. And the profile of a non-voter looks much closer to a potential Mana voter than a Dotcom supporter.

But that begs the question whether Mana-type messaging will have more luck motivating people to vote than in previous elections.

On that score maybe the techno-rapping anti-establishment geekery of a Dotcom party would add value to a joint approach.

But now it looks as if we will never know.

- The Dominion Post


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