A victory for Mana or a victory for Labour? Actually, it was a win for both, and a win for the Left. The losers in Te Tai Tokerau were the true enemies of the Left – the kupapa Maori Party and National. Turia put up a weak candidate hoping to concentrate the anti-Hone vote behind Davis. Now, the Maori Party faces a three-way fight it can’t win.
On the numbers, Hone Harawira’s share of the vote went from 58% to 48%. Kelvin Davis’ from 29% to 41%. That’s basically a 10% swing against Hone. Labour did well with its formidable organisational capabilities in a tough electorate for organising. Mana did well too despite Harawira’s reduced majority. David beat Goliath with zero resources and an intelligent rebrand of Harawira showing a side that has been missed by the msm in the past. The Maori Party was slaughtered. The seat is safely Mana’s now. The general election will favour Mana: Labour won’t be able to dedicate the same resources to the fight and turn-out will be higher.
(rich of Tariana Turia to mock the low-turnout in TTT. There were less than 8,000 votes cast in her by-election in 2004)
I think some in Labour probably really wanted to kill Mana at its birth and thought they could. My fellow author here, Mike Smith, would be in that camp. With no offence to Mike, that’s FPP thinking.
It’s good for Labour to have a true Left party on its outside. As this election has evidenced, Mana will take bugger all votes off Labour but it will take lots of votes from the Maori Party. That’s good for Labour – better that those votes are held by a party that can only ever work with Labour than one that will prefer to work with National. Mana will also bring in a lot of the enrolled non-vote: 20+% of New Zealanders don’t vote and the evidence from turnout in different electorates shows that the lion’s share are the disaffected poor.
The Maori Party has gone from 12,000 votes to 1,000. That shows how broken their brand is, and how much their support has always been personal – which means they’ll be stuffed when Turia and Sharples retire. Turia is 67 and in poor health. Sharples is 70 next month. Both wanted to retire this term but they couldn’t because they didn’t want to hand the party to Harawira and they especially can’t with Harawira now an opponent.
Turia, who didn’t want to put a candidate, killed Solomon Tipene’s campaign in a desperate bid to have Labour win and strangle Mana. John Key even tried to put his weight behind the Davis. It is a slap in the face to both Turia and Key that Davis didn’t win. The voters didn’t listen to them.
Now, National and the Maori Party’s nightmare is going to come true. The other Maori Party seats will be three way fights, especially the ones held by the Maori Party. Rahui Katene is going to lose Te Tai Tonga even without Mana. Annette Skyes will split the vote in Waiariki, probably costing Te Ururoa Flavell his seat. Pita Sharples could lose to Shane Jones if Jones gets his finger out and a strong Mana candidate (Willy Jackson?) stands. Only Turia is safe. Ikaroa-Rawhiti will be interesting too.
Remember how the Maori Party said working with National would be ‘mana-enhancing’. Looks pretty ironic now, eh?
After the election, we can expect Mana to have 3 to 5 seats. They could be crucial in a Labour-Green coalition having the numbers to govern. I sure hope that Labour has been talking to Matt McCarten behind the scenes. It’s one thing to fight in public, it’s another to forget that you’re basically on the same side and to keep the underlying relationship working.
For National, Mana is real trouble. It is likely that the election will see at best two Maori Party MPs returned. Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu. And ACT is failing to fire under Don Brash. That means National is going to need something pretty damn near a majority to govern.
The scenarios were neither Labour nor National can form a workable coalition with the numbers to pass legislation just became a lot more likely.