This has already caused intense debate amongst the left about how Labour should approach the confirmation that Laila Harre is the Internet Party leader with a war chest of $3 million to spend on a campaign. This number made my eyes water. The effect is already becoming evident. If the Labour Party had this sort of money in the bank anything could be possible.
This morning on Morning Report Laila Harre urged Labour to think strategically and effectively gift the Te Tai Tokerau seat to Mana thereby ensuring that any Mana Internet party votes are not wasted.
John Key thinks it is unfair. From the Herald:
He said he had not known the law allowed parties to stand as joint force and then split into separate parties after the election and “it seems a bit of a rort.”
Mr Key said there was a difference between that and the deals National struck over electorates with Act in Epsom and United Future’s Peter Dunne in Ohariu. “Those people win their seats outright, in their own right. Their motivations are the beliefs of those parties. That’s not the case here.”
Key really is an irony free zone. Through the most unsubtle of transmitted hints National has gifted Epsom and Ohariu to National puppets and National is busily doing the same now as well as getting ready to ditch Murray McCully in East Coast Bays to give the Conservative Party a lifeline. In its pursuit of power there are no sacred cows as far as National is concerned.
Labour’s candidate Kelvin Davies was also interviewed this morning on morning report. He criticised the arrangement describing it as a ruse and a scam.
He made some very good points in his interview with Guyon Espiner. He has said that he will stand up and fight hard for what he believes in and that he wants this to be a campaign of issues and what is best for Te Tai Tokerau.
Of course this problem would not exist if Judith Collins had accepted the recommendations of the MMP review. Paddy Gower has described the arrangements as a dirty deal and at one level he is right. But National set the rules and should this mean that the left should not use them to their maximum advantage?
The situation creates a dilemma for Labour. Does it stick to the spirit as well as the letter of our electoral laws in the hope that it will be praised for its principled stand or does it do a deal which shows it is no different to National?
Kelvin Davis makes the important point that campaigns should be about policies and what is good for the country and not personal intrigue and who is the smartest operator. Time will tell what the correct approach was.
Disclaimer: These are my own personal thoughts. And as you can see I can see advantages and disadvantages in either course of action.