Hone Harawira is many things but stupid isn’t one of them. He has cleverly created a situation where Tariana Turia and her lackeys have had to attack him for daring to speak truth to power. It’s Hone who has been the protagonist. It’s he who has fronted to the media while Turia has hidden. He’s been planning this and he knows how it will play out.
The Sunday Star Times column was an ultimatum to Turia: return to the party’s roots or face the consequences.
It would have been naive and optimistic in the extreme to think that Turia would react positively to this critique. She takes everything personally, she has no wider values. So, she could only take Harawira’s column as an attack on her leadership to which she would be bound to respond.
Having initiated the fight, Harawira would have known it could go down in a couple of ways: with Turia being disposed or with him being booted from the party.
Knocking off Turia would take the support of his fellow Maori Party MPs. That was never likely. We’ve seen Rahui Katene sell out her personal mana in deference to Turia over the Emissions Trading Scheme – after she had written a minority report damning National’s ETS, Turia did a deal behind her back, leaving Katene in the humiliating position of trying to suppress her own views and then voting against them days later. Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell are both too weak and lazy to call Turia to account.
Turia having Te Ururoa Flavell act as her lackey in making the complaint, co-signed by all the other Maori Party MPs, only confirmed it.
So, Harawira knew that if would come to this. He’s facing being booted out but he has already telegraphed the fact that he isn’t too worried because he sees the Maori Party as only a vehicle for his ideals and, if the vehicle stops working, he’ll jump on to another. Supporting Matt McCarten during the Mana by-election (while Turia was up the road supporting Hekia Parata) was one sign. His frank admission that his daughter is planning to vote Green instead of Maori Party this year is another.
Now, we have seen Harawira at loggerheads with the leadership before and it has come to nothing. But this time is different – both sides have stepped up the level of brutality. It is hard to see how they can kiss and make up after this. And why create the situation at all if that’s the intended outcome?
No, Harawira hasn’t engineered all this without a plan. My money is still on him taking his safe seat and using it as the anchor for a New Left Party with McCarten and Sue Bradford among others.
Being evicted from the Maori Party for standing up for his (and the Party’s) values, rather than just leaving, means Harawira takes more cred into that new vehicle.
Turia will right now be considering whether she can afford to lose Harawira’s seat. But the decision isn’t really hers. Hone made it weeks ago.
(btw, Phil Goff may have said he won’t talk to Harawira but I think you’ll find he will talk to a New Left party that includes Harawira if the numbers work after the election. If Labour is smart, Kelvin Davis will be running a party-vote only campaign in TTT).
[Bunji: couldn’t resist adding the appropriate Herald cartoon: ]