- Date published:
1:17 pm, April 12th, 2014 - 405 comments
Categories: election 2014, internet, mana-party, poverty, Spying, telecommunications, us politics - Tags: kim dotcom, The Internet Party
The Mana Party AGM is underway today.
The mainstream media (MSM) is mostly focused on the Mana and Internet (TIP) Party negotiations, and most particularly on the appearance of Kim Dotcom at the Mana Party meeting. Michael Fox reports:
After weeks of speculation, Mana Party members will today finally get to hear the case for the controversial proposed merger with the Internet Party.
The party was due to hold its annual meeting in Rotorua where Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom would attempt to convince Mana members of the benefits of a merger which has already found favour with leader Hone Harawira, but seen other leaders threaten to walk out if it goes ahead.
A formal deal could give the Internet Party a shot at seats in Parliament by riding on the coat-tails of Harawira as he attempted to hold Te Tai Tokerau electorate in September’s election.
But that’s not all that’s happening at the meeting:
There was a chance they could approach other parties to set up a deal to campaign together, like that posed by the Greens to Labour.
”The strategic thing would be to focus on building numbers of seats opposed to National rather than attacking one another. So we could just concentrate on tearing the Left apart or we could look at trying to build the numbers.”
This could also involve discussions around electorate deals or an agreement not to attack each other.
The invitation to economist Gareth Morgan to speak was also aimed at broadening the party’s appeal and opening up new ideas.
”Both of them bring ideas which mark out the fact that in my view Mana can no longer be pigeonholed as a party for Maori, the disaffected and for the radical fringe.”
Other speakers scheduled include Georgina Beyer and Donna Awatere-Huata (is there a party Awatere-Huata has not been connected with?
The common interests between Mana and TIP usually foregrounded are their common opposition to John key and removing National from power. They also share some concerns about issues to do with corporate dominance, Internet use and copyright controls, plus the excessive and intrusive surveillance by the NSA dominated “5 eyes” network, which includes our spy agencies, the GCSB (international surveillance) and SIS (domestic surveillance).
The main skepticism that many of us have had about the Mana-TIP connection is to do with the apparent contradiction of Mana’s focus on the poverty, and Dotcom’s focus on acquiring excessive wealth. It looks like in his speech to Mana today, that Dotcom is aiming to build some bridges around experiences of living in poverty.
Kim Dotcom tells the Mana AGM about growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father pic.twitter.com/217KoMsxMu
Dotcom hasn’t been reported a lot as having mentioned this aspect of his background.
There was also this tweet from Dotcom back in December:
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice.” – Nelson
It also got a mention in Dotcom’s interview by Rachel Smalley on Qu & A, 30 March 2014:
RACHEL Do you know what it’s like to be poor?
KIM I know very much what it’s like to be poor.
RACHEL When have you been poor?
KIM Well my father was an alcoholic, and when I was a child he used to beat us up, and my mother was working three jobs just to feed us, just to keep us going. I was living in a small apartment building that people would probably consider a slum, if you saw where we lived in Germany, and when I was a kid I often had to eat toast with sugar, or toast with ketchup, that was my food. So I know what it means to be poor, I know what it means to struggle and to be hungry.
This is an interesting focus. Of course, there are some who have such backgrounds, but go on to pull the ladder up after themselves: these are the ones who have grown up in poverty (or at least in modest circumstances), and become part of a small minority who later become wealthy.
I am among those who have concerns about TIP ultimately destroying Mana’s flaxroots connections with, and advocacy for, the Kiwis who are struggling to get by. I will be watching to see if TIP develops policies and campaigns for those in poverty, or if Dotcom is just using his childhood background as a bit of bridge-building PR.
The controversial German internet tycoon received a positive reception from about 200 Mana members at Rotorua’s lakeside Mataikotare Marae.
He told them that having grown up poor, he was committed to Mana’s core principles of tackling poverty.
“I’m for social fairness. Who in his right mind isn’t?”
Along with his pledge of support for Mana’s policies around alleviating poverty Mr Dotcom sketched out his vision to create jobs by dragging New Zealand into the internet age.
He also underlined how the Internet Party’s technology could help boost Mana’s engagement with voters.
[Update #2: Sunday] NZ Herald – “Alliance on the Agenda”
… Mana Party members agreed late last night to move forward in negotiations with the Internet Party.