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Pride cometh

Written By: - Date published: 7:41 am, January 27th, 2011 - 17 comments
Categories: maori party - Tags: , ,

Senior Maori Party staffers have been deserting the party in droves in recent months, including chief of staff Harry Walker, repulsed by the leadership selling out to National. It’s gotten so bad that they’ve had to out-source their spin doctoring to the Tories. You think I’m joking? I wish. This illuminates Hone Harawira’s fight with the leadership.

Check out these two press releases from the Maori Party on Tuesday after Phil Goff’s announcement:

Goff too doom and gloom on Maori youth

Goff’s silence on Treaty an insult to Ratana and Maori

Remember, this is the response to a speech that promised to put $525 a year into the pocket of every Maori (and everyone else) and reduce the cost of buying a house. Great news for Maori. Bad news for National. And that’s why these press releases have come out swinging with totally uncalled for aggression at a time when Labour is trying to mend bridges.

Watch the lines from the Maori Party and National over the Harawira issue and they’re exactly the same. National says Harawira must go and the Maori Party has made gains it couldn’t have in opposition, and up pops Tariana Turia saying exactly the same thing.

The leadership of the Maori Party has been co-opted by the National Party and there is no way out for them. They tied their mana to making the coalition with National work. They told their skeptical supporters: ‘trust us’.

Now, the Harawira camp is saying ‘you have failed to deliver for Maori’. If they had any sense, they would admit it, take the blow to their mana, and either the coalition or lay down the kind of bottom lines that Harawira suggests. But pride cometh before the fall. The leadership is too proud to admit they made a huge mistake, even to themselves. Instead, they’re spending the scandalous sum of $25,000 hiring Mai Chen in their effort to evict Harawira from the party.

But I think it’s pretty clear the leadership don’t have the grounds to do it (it’s also not clear from the party constitution that they have the power). The only clause they can try to get Harawira with is:

11.2 Disciplinary action may be brought against a member who – in any other way wilfully brings the party or its members into public disrepute.

But Harawira hasn’t brought the party or its members into disrepute – he’s earned the most acclaim from Maori Party supporters and the public in general for what he has said than any other Maori Party MP in years. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He has just said that the party should listen to its base and stand by its principles. It’s not his fault that the leadership has sold out.

What initially looked like Harawira picking a fight as a cause to leave the party is now looking more like a leadership challenge. Both the leadership and Harawira have gone all in this time. If they can’t win the support of enough National Council members to oust Harawira (and win any subsequent litigation) then the leaders while be fatally undermined. And into the void, Harawira is increasingly signaling he is ready to step.

17 comments on “Pride cometh ”

  1. “But I think it’s pretty clear the leadership don’t have the grounds to do it (it’s also not clear from the party constitution that they have the power).”

    At the risk of taking people off-site, Scott over at Imperator Fish has a pretty good analysis of this question: http://www.imperatorfish.com/2011/01/legal-case-for-hone-harawira.html

    I’ve also said something on it: http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-hone#comments

    [lprent: That is why links were invented. Personally I rely on people putting links in so I get off-site. ]

    • Marty G 1.1

      it does appear to be a dangerously weak set of rules that on one interpretation say ‘the Disciplinary and Disputes Committee can do whatever the hell it likes’ but also gives Harawira vague concepts like kaupapa to defend himself with. and it suggests that if the TTT electorate says it doesn’t ahve a problem there is nothing the national council can do

      • Marty,

        Of course, the vagueness of the document can work both ways … if the Disciplinary Committee says “HH has breached the Constitution’s principles such that his membership is forfeit”, who can say otherwise? Or rather, could a court step in and say to it “no – you’ve got it wrong – actually HH has acted completely consistently with these principles”? I mean, whose principles are they, and who gets to decide what they mean in practice?

        On the issue of the TTT Council saying the issue has “been resolved” – yes, that is a very curly one. I suspect that if Flavell were to say “no it hasn’t”, then there’s an implied right of appeal to the central Disciplinary Council. I mean, turn it around … imagine the TTT Council were to “resolve” the matter by expelling Flavell (or HH) from the Party. Surely that decision wouldn’t be the final word on the matter?

        • Blighty 1.1.1.1

          this is why you need clear rules, otherwise you have the arbitary exercise of power, which is anathema to justice

  2. Bill 2

    Eddie. I’m no lawyer, but since the level of public disrepute isn’t defined or quantified, then any level of public disrepute could be used as grounds for disciplinary action.

    Besides, the increased level of disrepute he has visited on the leadership by articulating from within the party what many outside it already thought, is considerable.

  3. Looks like the Maori Party is on the ropes. I thought too that Harawira was heading for the new left wing party but it looks more and more likely that he is going to stay and fight it out. He has too much invested in its formation to be able to walk away.

    This suggests Key’s privatisation idea float may be a bad idea. With ACT looking terminal and the Maori Party looking unstable he is running out of partners, apart from the coiffured one.

    If National’s support starts ebbing things will get very interesting. This could be a tight election.

    All good lefties HAVE to kick up a huge stink NOW about privatisation. Your country’s future depends on it.

    • Alwyn 3.1

      MIcky.
      You aren’t seriously suggesting that Phil Goff will take the Labour party into a grand coalition with National are you?
      That’s what your second paragraph appears to be proposing.

      (Sorry, I couldn’t resist it)

      • And why not Alwyn .Goff is certainly more able to run a a good government than this smile and grin make believe PM we now have.

        I would presume that you like other Right-wingers were saying exactly the same comments when Helen Clark was the leader of the Labour Party.Remember the “miss 2% gloating by the Nats and their mates.
        The attacks on Goff are typical of Tory sleaze ,they have always done this. Its the type of people they are , Nasty and self interested .

        • Alwyn 3.1.1.1

          Now, now, calm down.
          It was just a joke.
          And no, I never had any opinion on the preferred prime minister vote of any opposition leader.
          Anyone in that job who can get recognised at all, except in the few months before an election is doing well.
          It is the worst job in politics, as I think Helen Clark herself said.

  4. Those two press releases suck teh kumara…big time !!!

    Sharples really has lost the plot and is looking increasingly desperate while Katene sounds like she’s just killing time, passing the buck…

    …both appear to lack the strength of conviction

    unlike H-1

  5. ianmac 5

    Hasn’t it always been a problem for small parties in supporting the ruling party, that they risk getting sublimated or else blamed for the “wrong” directions? Wasn’t this a concern for the Greens v Labour? (This is a bit different because the Maori Party has a mandate from a separate constituency.)
    So maybe Hone is wise to set up a separation from National now and the other MPs might be wise to support his position. (Remember Key actually wants to abolish the Maori seats.)

  6. ak 6

    Hone won’t leave and nor will the party disintegrate. But neither is it any longer mesmerised by flattery and NACT’s broken promises. Holding the balance has always been crucial. Hone’s slap to Grinny’s face was always inevitable, and it hurt, bad: watch for an increasingly hissy narcissist. The interesting stuff now will be just how far the MP will go to pull Labour and Winnie up, and the Iwi/Kiwi party’s reaction. I’d predict Orewa III for a month out from the election as the noose tightens.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    Hone was on Morning Report again this morning. He said he had no interest in taking over the leadership, and that he backed Flavell for it. He also said that his problem is that the MP has gotten to close to National, and (paraphrasing) National hasn’t provided enough gains to Maori to justify the MP’s sucking up. He pointed out that Key didn’t make a single mention of Maori, the MP or anything Moari would be interested in, or any spending for a Maori initiative in his state of the nation speech.

    He said that come the next election if MP were the kingmakers, if they had 10 areas of interest and National could only offer support for 2, while Labour offered support for 8, then they’d go with Labour in such a situation.

    It’s a good way for him to make clear what angle he’s coming from, but it’s much more likely that if MP is in a king-making position, Labour might be offering 6 areas to work on while National would bid-up to 7, but what they effectively get out of a National government would probably be more compromised than what they got out of Labour, mainly because the MP *should* be more leftwing as that’s where it’s base actually votes with the party vote.

    captcha: representative

  8. Blighty 8

    the signs of the apocalypse keep coming. Garth George praising Hone as too good for politics:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10702218

    • Tigger 8.1

      Or at least too good for government. It’s a valid point – people who’ve spent their life railing against ‘the man’ never do well when they become ‘the man’.

  9. Interesting. The Maori Party leadership really are proving to be utter fools – no wonder any staff with talent is running in the opposite direction for fear of having their reputations tarnished by association.

    Hone’s ongoing membership in the Party has proved to be a great asset to the left, I hope those who called for his blood over the ‘mofo’ comments see that now.

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