The Mana Party AGM was held over the weekend in Auckland. I don't have time to write a substantive post so I’ll list a few observations I’ve made (for the record I did not attend):
· Mana is Maori led, but working class focussed. Two socialist (McCarten and Minto) and two Maori nationalists (Harawira and Sykes) form the head of the party. Tim Selwyn attributes this to Matt McCarten attempting to reconcile the two factions of the party – a smart move in my opinion.
· Mana will target the party vote. Mana will hope to attract disgruntled Green/Labour voters, the entire Maori Party vote and non-voters.
· Mana will stand in all seven Maori seats. Mana will hope to stand high profile candidates who can create talking points. Mana does not expect to win all of the electorates; rather the party sees standing in all seven electorates as a profile building exercise.
· Mana risks becoming a party of recycled politicians. The top brass of the party reads like a socialist party from the 80’s – Bradford, McCarten, Minto, Jackson – these guys are yesterday’s (wo)men. Sure, they have a part to play, but Mana needs an injection of new blood to remain relevant and avoid been labelled a party of old hacks.
· Mana enjoys access to a brilliant policy team which includes academic Veronica Tawhai and the amazing Jane Kelsey (I hope she is a top 5 list candidate).
· Mana is relying on prominent Unite members, for example Gerard Hehir, for strategic advice and campaigning infrastructure/expertise.
· Mana branches are now established all over the country, however most branches seem to be concentrated in the upper half of the North Island.
· Mana must attract experts. It is difficult to attract Maori political specialists because most, if not all, are working for existing parties and are, as a result, loyal to those parties. Mana does not have the money, or at least I think they don’t, to employ contractors. The party, therefore, needs to woo people who are ideologically sympathetic, for example former Alliance operators like Chris Ford.
· Mana will stand candidates in general electorates where those candidates have a realistic chance of attracting votes and building the party’s profile. All candidates will stand at their own expense.
· Angeline Greensill may have another go in Hauraki-Waikato and Annette Sykes is sure to stand in Waiariki.