Monday, 31 January 2011

Are we being groomed for something?

Just some odd coincidences of late ...
  • Matt McCarten, former president of the Alliance, more recently strategist for the Maori Party, makes a modestly successful run in the Mana by-election on a leftwing ticket.
  • Chris Trotter, hirsute voice of the trade unionist left, and occasional addresser of Alliance party conferences, writes a column telling we, the left, how much we love Hone Harawira. And follows it up with a scornful column targetting Phil Goff for political timidity and centre-chasing (1).
  • Sue Bradford, recently retired leftwing Green MP, suggests that a new leftwing party might provide a home for the disgruntled Maori MP, Hone Harawira (2) - or, more realistically, Hone might provide an electoral rock for a new leftwing party to cling to.
Now, I can't begin to imagine what such a combination might look like, but it doesn't strike one as immediately appetising. Trotter, I suspect, is not 'in' on whatever deal is being brokered. He's probably got wind of it, and is jumping up and down trying desperately to make it look like he is on the inside, all the time desperately hoping someone will ask him if he want to be part of the gang. Whatever constituency he might be said to represent, it isn't at one with the more logical Bradford-Harawira axis.

Bradford-Harawira-McCarten seems workable, but probably a hard sell to the electorate. Of the three, only Matt McCarten won't isn't immediately alienating to one or other constituency; but he's also never been elected, and doesn't have the name recognition that you could hang a party on.

If the new combination tries to hang itself around Hone Harawira's hold on Te Tai Tokerau, it risks being marginalised as being an ex-Maori Party troublemaker, plus whatever riff raff he can drag in with him. Which would an accurate enough description.

So while I'm cautiously welcoming to the possibility of a new leftwing party, the emphasis is very much on the caution. It will need to establish itself quickly, and clearly identify itself as not just the disaffected off-cuts of other parties.
1 - "The Left's Favourite Warrior," by Chris Trotter. Posted on Bowalley Road, 21st of January, 2011.( and, "Who Doesn't Dare - Loses," by Chris Trotter. Posted on Bowalley Road, 28th of January, 2011 ( - "Bradford confirms Leftist party talk," by Martin Kay and Tracey Watkins. Published on, 31st of January, 2010. (

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