Today the MCA bill will face its second reading. As I/S at No Right Turn points out, the government, and by extension the Maori Party, are using the Chch earthquake as political cover. This is politics at its most dishonest.
The Maori Party have approached this issue in a most shameful manner. Not only are they putting their name, not to mention their credibility as representatives of Maori, on this bill they are also actively colluding with the Nats to push the bill through without public scrutiny.
The party’s actions are beginning to have an unintended result. The party is beginning to vacate the middle ground. If the leadership is not careful Hone will pick up dissatisfied left voters while Labour will swoop upon the middle ground. Overwhelmingly, Maori tend to vote left. The Maori Party knows this but does not appear to appreciate it. As the party continues to move right they are distancing themselves from their largest constituency. Clearly this is unwise.
When Hone launches his new party (by no means is that a foregone conclusion but I am picking that he will) he will pick up every Maori vote left of the Maori Party. The challenge for Labour is to pre-empt Hone. Labour needs to target the left vote before Hone has the chance. Strike while he is out of the picture. If Labour is complacent Hone will, without doubt, solidify the left vote and stymie Labour. It is notoriously difficult to get people to alter their political allegiances; therefore Labour will have little chance of altering the current away from Hone and towards Labour unless they are quick off the mark and thoughtful in their approach.
A few slogans and soundbites will not do it. Labour needs to get out on the road. Beat Hone at his own game. Of course the chances of this are slim. Hone speaks to Maori and they listen, because he speaks like them. Labour, at the moment, speaks in tongues. The message is not coherent, the message is not positive, the message does not resonate. Labour does not have a coherent Maori team focussing on a coherent issue. Kelvin Jones is always talking about looking forward and not back, Shane Jones is always throwing around labels, Parekura and Nanaia stand mute while the rest are nameless faces rarely seen outside Bowen House. This is not good enough. If Labour wants to re gain the Maori vote the party must centralise. One message, one team and one goal.
In my opinion Hone will be laughing all the way to the Cabinet Table with Maori voters in tow. Labour just does not seem to be up to the task.
I support Hone and I support his objectives. However, I want to see a genuine contest of ideas. I don’t want to support Hone because he is my only option. I want to support the party with the best policy and to a certain extent personalities. But Labour is offering me nothing. Looks like Hone is it then.