I’m calling it right now. This is last election where the Maori Party will return MPs. It has gone from 5 to 3 MPs, 2 of whom are retiring this term, and the survivors have had their majorities slashed (on the back of scandalously low turnouts). Turia and Sharples will take the baubles again, which will just be the final nails in the party’s coffin.
Key has signaled he will offer Turia and Sharples their old ministerial jobs again. He will need the Maori Party in every circumstance where Dunne or Banks doesn’t back him. And, if as could well happen, National loses 2 seats on specials, he will need them on all votes to make a majority (that’s why Key was whining about the votes in Parliament being tight despite his large “majority”. He’s a clue, John, a majority is over 50% – you didn’t get one, and your allies a one man wonders, so, yeah, it’s tight).
But don’t expect Turia and Sharples to leverage that power. They will support, directly or by abstention, whatever heinous budgets, attacks on worker rights, and asset sales National puts up because the alternative (in the scenario where National loses 2 seats on specials) would be an early election, which would be the end of their political careers.
Turia and Sharples will keep their heads down and sell out for the next 3 years like they did the last 3.
We’ve seen the results of 3 years of selling out. 1 MP jumped ship. 1 MP voted out. Turia’s share of the electorate vote slashed from 66% to 46% and a 5,000 cut to her majority. Sharples share of the vote from 63% to 39% and his majority slashed by 90% to 746. Flavell’s vote share from 68% to 41% a 4,000 cut to his majority. Nationwide, the party got only 27,000 votes.
Flavell and Sharples were only saved by vote-splitting between Labour, the Greens, and Mana (expect Annette Sykes to get a clear run in 2014 if the new Labour leader has brains), and low turn-out, which was down up to 25% in the Maori- Party-held electorates.
In 2014, Sharples and Turia’s successors are not going to have their mana or profile. The party’s brand is going to be further damaged by 3 more years of selling out. The Mana Party will be better organised (it is only 6 months old, remember) and Sykes will be poised to beat Flavell. It’ll be a rout.
And a well-deserved one. Many of us on the Left welcomed the Maori Party as a dedicated voice for Maori. They turned out to be the very worst of hypocrites. They still spout the left-wing lines and offer up left-wing policies but they support National and vote for a government that has seen Maori unemployment skyrocket and Maori incomes plummet.
In 2014, no-one will lament the passing of a party that betrayed its people.