Thanks – but here’s why I’m not standing for Internet Party

PAUL BARLOW
Last updated 11:52 10/06/2014

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OPINION: I woke up on Friday morning to three messages from friends, three friends who don't know each other and all come from very different walks of life - but the messages were all the same - you should run for the Internet Party in Hamilton West.

It's very flattering to be considered a viable option for government, and I love the fact I've got friends who see potential in me like that.

And I can certainly see how it may seem like a good fit - after all I'm youngish, politically savvy, actually work in IT, kind of Left-leaning and have an affinity for larger-than-life Germans - being a descendent of a German immigrant family.

I'm in the key demographic of voters they want to strike a chord with.

Well, I was until the Internet Party signed an agreement with the Mana Party - effectively stopping me having even a passing interest in it any more.

I can see their logic - it presumes that Hone Harawira will cruise back into his seat and drag with him a few other MPs.

While it makes sense as a presumption based on his last few election results, I don't like the idea of an MP presuming an automatic election result. It's almost anti-democratic. But the fact it's Hone Harawira really annoys me.

He's the sort of MP you get the impression is there to inflate his own ego more than do any work for the electorate.

Of course, my view is possibly skewed by the fact I'm not anywhere near his core voter demographic, although I'm the core voter demographic for his new political partners.

Then there is political movement itself. Here in Hamilton, the members of Mana seem a little like that creepy conspiracy theorist from a backwater town when it comes to politics.

The one people nod and smile at in a polite way when they see him in public but everyone pretty much avoids because he's apparently not all there.

At O-Week this year, they were out in force, and students weren't responding to their in-your-face activism, and seeing members of the party try to hijack the end of a broadcast of Seven Days shot in Garden Place at Christmas was met by derision and disregard by the surrounding crowds.

It's not that their message is wrong or pointless, it's that their delivery of the message is standoffish, and alarming.

Hamilton's a conservative city, we have never had a history of backing the loud obnoxious activist type.

Of course, if I was running under the Internet Party banner, that need for extreme activism isn't needed.

An ability to know the difference between Reddit and 4Chan might be, and knowing the difference between Tindr and Grindr possibly could be handy.

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I'd also then have to be able to work with people like Laila Harre and Pam Corkery, and that, I suspect, would be harder than it seems.

Now don't get me wrong - in parts these sort of choices make sense - Harre is a competent civil servant; and Corkery, while flamboyant, opinionated and as cuddly as a cheese grater, is well versed in media.

But my big two concerns, besides the party partnership itself, is that they're all spectacle and don't really bring anything extra to Hamilton.

I mean don't get me wrong - if anything this spectacle will get people out voting, that's important. They'll vote for it and Labour and the Greens will miss out or they'll vote Right and we'll see a return of a John Key-led Government - the opposite of their primary objective.

Spectacle is good if it achieves the reasons for its existence.

But this election is going to have a lot of it - with the Conservative Party promising it, Winston being skilled in it and the other parties getting better at it.

It's strange that the first place in New Zealand to get the internet doesn't feel like a natural fit for the Internet Party and, while their guidelines make sense from a practical perspective, our schools are starting to see technological upgrades, we're tech-savvy here and one of the safest places in New Zealand, if a little conservative.

It's a party that wants to be edgy, interesting and captivating of the youth vote - of which Hamilton has a significant amount - but I just can't shake the notion that it doesn't seem like a match made for Waikato.

- Waikato

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