The Kingmaker but only one potential King

Written By: - Date published: 11:59 am, September 30th, 2008 - 50 comments
Categories: election 2008, greens, labour, maori party, national - Tags:

Let’s get serious about the idea of the Maori Party working with National. Yes, they want to play up the possibility to enhance their bargaining position, just as the Greens were last month, but it’s not going to happen. National and the Maori Party voted together in only a third of votes in the last parliament. The Greens and the Maori Party voted together 70% of the time. Despite their conservative elements, the Maori Party is a left-wing party in practice. Its support base is former Labour party supporters who rejected Labour’s sop to the right over the foreshore and seabed.

Look at National’s constitutional policies. They want to abolish the Maori seats. That’s the death knell of the Maori party right there. Add to that National’s desire to move away from MMP to a less proportional system. MMP has lead to a more diverse Parliament with a proportional Maori presence for the first time. Arguably, the Maori Party itself would not survive without MMP because Maori voters couldn’t split their votes MP candidate/Labour Party.

Or let’s look at National’s ACC policy, its opposition to rising the minimum wage, its tax cuts for the rich paid for by borrowing or spending cuts, and its welfare policy. All would further impoverish the poor, including Maori. National opposed the Emissions Trading Scheme because it wanted it to be weaker, whereas the Maori Party opposed it because they wanted it to be stronger. National wanted us in Iraq and it wants to sell New Zealand assets to foreign investors. It is just not consistent with the Maori Party’s kaupapa to support policies like these that attack the poor, disrespect our environment, and give up our sovereignty.

Yes, there are differences with Labour and the Greens too but they are not as fundamental. National would have to change what it is to be acceptable. A Labour-led coalition is already most of the way there; it would need only a few policy concessions.

Given the choice, the Maori Party would undoubtedly end up supporting a Labour-led government. Even if the MPs would prefer National, they will be taking the decision to their people – people who have never, ever supported a National government.

50 comments on “The Kingmaker but only one potential King”

  1. Joe Blogger 1

    Steve I tend to think that much of your analysis on this subject is fairly accurate, which emphasises the point that the only way to guarantee a National led government is for voters to give both their votes to National.

    Any other combination is simply another vote for Labour.

  2. cheers Joe… I would say a vote for National. ACT, or UF, is a vote for a National-led government.

  3. Lew 3

    The thing about the māori party is that they’re not hungry to be in government or in coalition with either National or Labour. As with any bargaining position where you’re not really that fussed about whether you `win’ or not, they’ll set a very high bar to partnership. In fact, the warning shot has already been fired by Whatarangi Winiata – they want to be Treaty partners, not coalition partners. I don’t think either National or Labour really know the full meaning of this – one of the few matters on which I agree substantively with Chris Trotter.

    Their primary task is still to simply normalise the idea and implementation of Māori political philosophy – to get NZ’s electorate, political establishment and media used to the idea that there are valid perspectives which don’t emerge from within a Westminster system. They can do that better from within government – but they can’t afford to enter government at the expense of that role. They must remain accountable to their constituency – measured and maintained by their regime of consultative hui – above their coalition partners or agreement. If they sacrifice that for a position on the government benches without any genuine mana, they’ll lose everything.

    I think the wisest (and most likely) course of action is for the māori party and the Greens to form a power bloc which doesn’t necessarily vote together on every issue, but colludes for mutual benefit. That bloc could realistically comprise 15 seats, and the only circumstance in which this would not be part of a government is if National, ACT and United Future can pull a majority.

    I still believe the māori party’s recent retraction of the strategic voting plan (where their supporters give their party vote to Green) was a mistake, since a split like 1% party vote and 7 seats would mean an overhang of five seats – which makes a clear majority among the other parties so much harder to achieve.

    L

  4. the sprout 4

    This election the Maori Party will be punished by voters for their ongoing cosiness with National and their apparent ambivalence about the Maori seats.

    Because it’s apparent that unlike the last couple of elections, this time Labour could well lose, those who were happy to vote Maori will think twice about voting for Maori.

    A vote for the Maori Party will be seen as a vote for National. A vote for Labour will be a vote for retaining the Maori seats.

    And then there’s always voting for Winston, once a popular choice amongst conservative Maori. This time it’ll be a vote for the underdog Maori MP who’s been given a hard time by the media.

    Either way the Maori Party will shed support.

  5. Lew 5

    Joe: I mostly agree, which is why everyone else’s key message this campaign must be `if you can’t in good conscience vote for Labour, vote for a minor party’. National could still form a government with the Greens and/or the māori party, but they will act as a significant handbrake. I don’t think the Labour voters deserting Clark/Cullen in droves really genuinely want a single-party majority National government.

    L

  6. Graeme 6

    people who have never, ever supported a National government.

    I know they weren’t in government at the time, so this *is* accurate, but the (re-)election of Apirana Ngata in 1938 gives at least some lie to the implicit claim that Maori have *never* supported National.

    [lprent: fixed blockquote]

  7. MikeE 7

    I’m pretty sure that their voting record is closer to ACT than the greens.

    [well, you’re a fool then. I’ve provided the link to back up my statement, you’re just making things up. SP]

  8. A mysterious comment received by us — nay I’ve no idea why â€” was:—
    This is what Sharples says:
    “Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says his party receives signals “privately’ that the National Party is not too committed on its position of abolishing the Maori electorate seats.”

    Sure looks very trust worthy..wot!

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    Hi Pita,

    Never mind what we say about the Maori seats, that’s just politics.

    With the polls being what they are, we totally need to dogwhistle the talkback racist vote. But don’t worry about it, we’ll stab them in the back once we’re in govt (if we need your support).

    Trusting you understand,

    The Nat’s.

    xox.

  10. Tame Wilson 10

    You have no idea how it feels for Maori to be told what to think or what to do by a white blogger.

    IrishBill: Neither do you. Because you are Mathew Hooton. It is considered good blog etiquette to stick to one handle, Matthew.

  11. Greg 11

    This is what annoys me about politics. Commentators own bias (which is not a bad thing when controlled) means that fact gets mixed in with opinion. Two concepts which I believe should be strongly differentiated. To pick apart your post:

    National want to abolish the Maori seats – fact.

    National’s desire to move to a less proportional system? – Opinion. National want a binding referendum on MMP, hardly a stated desire to move back to FPP or the like, in fact from what I’ve been reading, the result is much more likely to end in a MORE proportional system.

    National’s ACC policy? – fact. (yeah it probably isn’t in line with Maori party views)

    Opposition to raising the minimum wage? – opinion. National want to increase productivity so all wages are raised, including the minimum wage. You can’t just legislate to raise the minimum wage with no increase in productivity, that would just further impoverish the worst off in our society by increasing unemployment among unskilled workers.

    Tax cuts for the rich paid for by borrowing or spending cuts – opinion. Actually its tax cuts for all, not just the rich. Its National party policy that tax cuts will not be paid for by a cut in services. Its also their policy that they’re only borrowing to pay for infrastructure (ok I’m as cynical about that one as you, but still, its just opinion).

    All would further impoverish the poor – opinion. I strongly believe these policies would substantially help the poor in the long run. The corrolation between GDP and living standards is very strong.

    National opposed the ETS because they wanted it to be weaker – opinion. National opposed the ETS because they recognised this is a very significant piece of legislation, and one you want to take the time to do right because if its not, its just going to make the poor even worse off. Why rush it through when there is point?

    National wanted us in Iraq – fact.

    National wants to sell assets to foreign investors? – No asset sales in the first term, and I suspect National would want to selll them to those who’d pay they highest price, therefore give the biggest benefit to New Zealand.

    National want to attack the poor, disrespect our environment, and give up our sovereignty? – Very emotive opinion. Why would any logical person want to do these things? Just because National doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they want to run the country into the ground.

    As an endnote, I think you underestimate just fow pissed off the Maori Party were about the seabed and foreshore legislation. I can see them going with National just to spite Labour even if they are more ideologically aligned with Labour. Can you see Turia and Clark jumping into bed together any time soon?

  12. Greg 12

    Tame Wilson – just saw that comment. I don’t agree with SP on everything. But I do agree with his right to have an opinion. How is the colour of his skin relevant to his political opinions? That comment was racist in itself.

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    About Graeme comments on Apirana Ngata here’s what Chris Trotter thinks about that: Hekia attempted to advance Ngata’s example as proof that Maori voters once supported National. The truth of the matter is that for most of his political career Ngata supported the Liberal Party – which was the centre-left party of its day, and responsible for the introduction of such key social reforms as old age pensions and the Industrial Conciliation & Arbitration Act.

    Ngata was, therefore, not a conservative politician in the way most National Party politicians are conservatives. Indeed, his progressive policies in relation to Maori were almost certainly behind the machinations which saw him removed as Minister of Native Affairs in the early 1930s. (People might like to dig into the history of that affair for some interesting insights into the sort of racism that lies behind the viciousness of the attacks on Winston Peters.)

    When the United Party (successor to the Liberals) merged with the Reform Party in 1936 to form the National Party, Ngata did indeed become a “Nat’, but only in a formal sense. His tremendous mana among his Ngati Porou people enabled him to withstand the Ratana challenge in the election of 1938, but in 1943 the Ratana-Labour alliance proved too strong for even a man of his stature to resist and he was defeated.

    So yes, Maori have voted for a “Nat’ – but not in the straightforward sense most people would have understood Hekia’s comments on the Eye-to-Eye programme.

    But you knew that already didn’t you Graeme.

    [lprent: how about a link as well as the quote…]

  14. gobsmacked 14

    I don’t agree that the Maori Party won’t do a deal with National. They will demand a high price, and National will be willing to pay it. At first.

    Once that price filters through to National voters (these things take a while, especially when they’re only fixated on dumping Clark rather than looking forward) then there will be a huge backlash. The people who loved Orewa haven’t gone away, or had their mindsets magically transformed – unfortunately.

    The media’s dim-witted horse-race commentary ignores a basic fact: doing a deal immediately after the election, and making that deal stick for three years, are two very different things. And in every Parliament for the last 20 years, MPs have jumped ship and/or parties have been born and died between elections. It will happen again.

    Prediction: by 2011 the Maori Party will have split (they are all electorate MPs and some will stand by their voters, not an unpopular government), and National will be trying to hang on against a rejuvenated Labour/Green opposition, free of Winston Peters. (Key will be long gone, dumped by his caucus in 2009).

  15. Stephen 15

    Wot PB said.

  16. Tame. I’m not telling anyone to do anything. I have an opinion on the practically and reality of the Maori Party working with National. To come to these conclustions: I’ve read the Maori Party’s kaupapa and compared that to National’s policies – they’re at odds, I’ve researched the history of the Maori Party and their voting record.

    But if you think the Maori Party should go with the rich old white boys’ club that is National to spite me, well, that’s your opinion.. seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face though.

  17. Bill 17

    This link is bloody interesting. You guys really need to give it a listen. I look forward to seeing Pakeha NZ getting its collective head around the concept. Sounds to me that the Maori Party are going to demand a sort of devolution. Unlike in the UK where Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland are separate countries, Maori hasn’t got a separate country to claim governance over, so you wind up with two governances within the one geographic area…hence a treaty partner, not a coalition.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/__data/assets/audio_item/0003/1734348/aft-20080922-1607-The_Panel_Part_1-m048.asx

  18. John Stevens 18

    Been smacked in the jaw or on drugs gobsmacked, like clark you are with the fairies. Rejuvenated LAB/GR opposition, with Goff in charge? The Owera people are not as dim witted as you are, yes, they can see the benefit in getting rid of Labour, but they see we will all be better off dealing with the Maori Party as a partner come 10 November than have a return to Clark and her corrupt allies. There is a good chance the Nats and ACT may form a government and that will make life entertaining for the MP.

  19. Bill 19

    BTW. The interesting stuff begins about 8 min into the link.

    Just been thinking on. If the Maori Party achieves this, it would make sense for the party to then divide into it’s constituent parts….ie dissolve.. unless they see themselves as a vehicle for empowering the grass roots lke Chavez in Venezuela.

  20. gobsmacked 20

    John S

    OK, tell us all the Maori Party policies you’d be happy to see implemented. What does Tino Rangatiratanga mean to you?

  21. gobsmacked 21

    *tumbleweed* …

  22. TomS 22

    The Maori party isn’t a party for all Maori, and all the populist blustering of Pita Sharples, the simmering victimhood of Tariana Turia or the overt anti-Pakeha racism of Hone Harawira cannot hide that fact. The Maori Party stands for a particular interpretation of Maori – an iwi based one frozen in the nineteenth century and where a newly enriched tribal aristocracy gets fat on treaty settlement money courtesy of the taxpayer. Of course this section of Maoridom would tack towards National. If you are a reactionary, patriarchal, undemocratic oligarchy getting rich on rentier income what isn’t there to like about the Tories? All the Maori Party stands for is using the treaty to ensure their is a continuing wealth transfer to the new brown aristocracy. Call me a cynic, but within this context the devolution of money to unaccountable iwi based organisations sounds more like a recipe for Pacific style corruption by the Maori oligarchs than a real solution to Maori problems.

  23. DD 23

    From the Radio NZ news archives

    “Mr Harawira says the problem with the Labour Party is that it is working in the Maori seats to destroy the Maori Party, while National poses no competition”

    Labour will happily try to win as many of the Maori seats it can. That will not necessarily destroy the Maori Party as it is likely Labour wont win all or any of the seats. National will abolish the Maori seats which will destroy the Maori Party as their share of the party vote is miniscule. No Maori seats, no Maori Party.

    Mr Harawira appears to have a problem with democracy. If I stand against him, I’m trying to destroy him?!

  24. Um – I’ve just read through this thread and I have one question. Was that really Matthew Hooton pretending to be Maori further up the page???

    IF so then I guess he has cemented his place in the ‘sphere as a compulsive liar!

    [Tane: Yes, it was Matthew Hooton. You’d think he’d at least get a clean IP address before trying to pull a Hone Carter. Punter.]

  25. lprent 25

    It was stupid for Hooten to comment like that. We back-check the provenance of comments that look like they’re trolling or trying to start flame-wars. Usually they’re someone who is banned.

    But hey guys, you do have to be slightly kind to the technically illiterate. They will be around for while yet. It is better to get them to the point that they’re aware of the implicit standards of behavior.

    Hooten may have been around in print for a while, but is a newbie to the net. He probably doesn’t realize exactly how offensive the behavior is, or how easy it is to back-track once we observe it. I’m also pretty sure he doesn’t realise how long that comment will be linked to in the usual net way. Poor old bugger.

  26. Damn! I’m gonna be doing a post on this…

  27. Felix 27

    Carter had the same problem with his ignorance of that other new technology, the wireless.

  28. Phil 28

    Steve,

    Why cling to the fantasy of “Kingmaker”?

    On current polling, National won’t need anyone outside of ACT and UF. That might change between now and the election… equally, it might not, and Labour goes down the plug-hole.

    I think the far more likely interpretation is that National forms a government that has ACT and UF on-side, with the Maori party just another voice in opposition wilderness…
    OR the MP comes to the table as a partner in a National-led government, acting as a voice of moderation to centre-right policy.

    Put yourself in the shoes of an MP supporter. If the only choice is to do a deal with the devil and rein him in, or let the devil run free, which do you take?

    It’s a no brainer.

  29. Phil. people aren’t willing to sacrifice anything to be in power. It would be against everything they stand for if the Maori Party were to support a National government – better to be in opposition rather than aiding the Nats’ programme.

    And every serious commentator has been saying the Maori Party will be Kingmaker (I’ve been saying it since 2006) – because no-one expects National/ACt/UF to poll high enough to govern alone. Especially as the Maori Party is likely to caue a large overhang. Only a large wasted vote from NZf is likely to see a Nat/ACT/UF majority

  30. Quoth the Raven 30

    Here’s the link.

    That Matthew Hooton’s a hoot. Someone should go wind him up on his blog about that one.

  31. Matthew Hooton 31

    Sorry to disappoint you, but that was not me at 12.58 pm.

    [lprent: Exactly the same static IP as an earlier comment – that seems VERY unlikely? It is statistically unlikely that a static IP (from the backtrace) has been transferred from someone else who also blogs here since the last time you used it with this e-mail address.

    Statics at that ISP are paid for and therefore are usually held by companies or organisations. I’d suggest looking for someone else is unlikely as well. Unless there is a silly tricks campaign from the same location?

    I suppose I could go and ask… You’re starting to pique my curiosity]

  32. the sprout 32

    is this you now matty? or is this one of your ‘representatives’?

  33. Felix 33

    Matt, Matt, Matt.

    It’s the lie that gets you.

    lprent, any idea just how statistically improbable?

  34. Oh it so was Hooton – the Maori Party is an old obsession with you and you got caught out from an IP address! You should ask Bryan about that ‘cos he likes to publish them.

    Matthew “Tame” Hooton – the last shreds of your credibility just went down the shitter mate. Why you ever thought your limited intellect could rough it in the blogosphere I’ll never know – was it vanity or were you just too dumb to realise you’re yesterday’s man, you stupid lying bigot?

  35. Felix 35

    That’s so funny ‘sod, I was just thinking how Hooten is such a stupid lying bigot.

  36. randal 36

    so its tommy tooton hooton now is it. thgen all of a sudden it wassnt me. I think peter williams was right. Hooto0n has a “mental problem”. The two faces of Mathew Hooton. Coming soon to a theatre near you. Watch the politics crazed schizophrenic manque try and overcome his “mental problem” and go for the brass ring. will he make it? Sort of abit like the remake of the day the earth stood still and he stepped in the doo dooo but different.

  37. Wall St Wanker 37

    Bryan Spondre is a [deleted] !!!

    [lprent: You will be a rapidly disappearing banned person if you don’t kick your standard up. Read the policy about (pointless) personal attacks]

  38. What I find particularly funny is the fact he chose “Tame” – I guess he couldn’t think of many Maori names…

    I’m surprised he didn’t use “Rangi”

    edit: Hi Dad, aren’t you banned for a while yet?

  39. Matthew Hooton 39

    I can assure you that was not me. I ask that you desist from accusing me of posting under that name.

  40. randal 41

    Back on topic there is some serious commentary on this thread that many would do well to ponder. readers of last sundays sst will no doubt recall Chris Trotter’s column being forced out of sight by a page of advertising (that rag is getting more and more scruffy by the day) and what he had to say about the Maori party and their modus operandi. the above post by Toms rounds the substantive argument out nicely. I think the Maori Party are going to get a big shcok when the reutns come in on nov 8th. We still live in a dmeocracy and the people are going to speak. yes indeedy

  41. Pascal's bookie 42

    hahaha.

    Assure away. But how about trying to explain the evidence, can we ask you for that before we desist drawing the bleedingly obvious conclusion.

  42. Felix 43

    Ooh, he said desist. That’s lawyer talk.

  43. PB – we’re supposed to take him at his word as a gentleman and a purveyor of truth…

    I mean he has such a reputation for integrity ‘n all

  44. randal 45

    and…he likes seeing his name in lights! Please please please please Steve can I call him a……….

  45. Pascal's bookie 46

    Oh yeah ‘course. I forgot about his reputation.

    Sorry Tame, no need to ‘splain nuffink.

  46. lprent 47

    This is probably getting too far off the topic and has the possibility of descending into mud-slinging. As I said earlier it is possible that someone else at that address put up the comment.

    In any case this isn’t the sewer, thats the comment section on whale or kiwiblog.

  47. Lew 48

    TomS: “The Maori Party stands for a particular interpretation of Maori – an iwi based one frozen in the nineteenth century”

    This is really one of the big questions in NZ history: when were the Māori?

    The answer, of course, is that the question is bogus. Just as most political parties’ philosophies derive from European philosophical traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries (or as far back as the Greek and Roman republics, if you want to take a looser interpretation), the māori party’s philosophy is based on old principles. The point is that these principles can be adapted to modern political situations.

    Most of the objections I ever hear of this nature stem from ignorance – and I mean ignorance not in a really negative way, but in the naïve sense of `thinking one knows what something means when one doesn’t really’. Most of the objections are from people who don’t understand the kaupapa they’re claiming no longer apply, or are making their interpretation based on a dictionary definition devoid of context or wider understanding of the matters at stake. Principles are complicated in any philosophy, more so in one not exhaustively documented (in English). This is why I say the māori party’s most important task is simply propagating understanding of and familiarity with their ideas in the proper context – normalising them so they’re part of the standard political lexicon, rather than being alien terms which are always misunderstood. In order to start understanding the māori party’s aim of political decolonisation, I wrote a sort of disambiguation guide to the kaupapa. Email lewis at feayn dot org if you’d like to read it.

    In any case, are you prepared to explain which of the māori party’s kaupapa are so firmly entrenched in the Victorian era that they can’t be applied to modern politics – and what is it you think they actually mean?

    L

  48. lprent – more than one person can use an IP address, so I would give Matthew Hooton the benefit of the doubt. I share my IP with people whose opinions I certainly don’t agree with.

  49. lprent 50

    GD: That is what I already said.

    However the net being what it is, I’d also expect that this is going to resonate around for quite a while. It seems to do so with everything I work on despite anything I bother to say.

    I’m afraid that I’ve had this sense of glee after having Matthew linking this site as “The Prime Ministers Office”… And that has probably shown through in my comments today. But the moment has passed now.

    There are more serious things like an election on the horizon to worry about.

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