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Why are Turia & Sharples cuddling up to Key?

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, January 25th, 2011 - 22 comments
Categories: maori party, national - Tags: , ,

At this stage in the electoral cycle, government support parties are usually looking to try to differentiate themselves from the main governing party. They need to do this to show they still hold true to their own values and have a separate identity that is worth voting for. The Maori Party is doing to opposite.

The enduring image from Ratana is Pita Sharples walking on to the marae with John Key. Earlier in the day, Key had said he didn’t think this was going to happen. It seems, then, it was an intentional move by Sharples. By standing literally shoulder to shoulder with National, the Maori Party leadership was sending a message to its disgruntled base: ‘we’re not ashamed, we’re sticking with National’.

The leadership is determined to defend its decision to sell-out for a few crumbs by supporting National but, in doing so, it is kicking sand in the face of the bulk of Maori Party members, who are unhappy with the direction the Party is heading. Publicly cuddling up with Key is only likely to antagonise the base further.

Both the Maori Party leadership and National are running the same line that by being a support party of the government the Maori Party has achieved wins it couldn’t have from opposition. This logic is completely fallacious, of course. Sure, the Nats could have governed without the Maori Party’s votes but all the parties may as well support the government and take what crumbs they get thrown by that reasoning. It would be a Parliament of 122 Peter Dunnes.

By supporting the government, the Maori Party has had to turn its back on its principles – it has voted against workers’ rights, it has voted for tax cuts for the rich, it has voted for higher GST, it has voted to weaken the Emissions Trading Scheme, which it had previously opposed as too weak. And the Maori Party has failed to play the long game.

Opposition isn’t useless. It is a platform to criticise and undermine the agenda of the government so that, eventually, you can win power and implement your own agenda. By supporting the government, the Maori Party has given up the chance to effectively criticise it and, instead, become a fig-leaf for its rightwing agenda.

In asking their supporters to believe that they are better off thanks to the National government, the Maori Party leadership is telling them to disregard the evidence before their eyes. They’re supposed to ignore rising crime rates, rising unemployment, rising rates of diseases of poverty, falling wages, and the fact that only 57% of working-wage Maori are in work. Instead, the leadership would have them believe a fairytale that things are better now and sacrificing a few values to support the National party has all been worthwhile.

The danger here isn’t just of a New Left party breaking away with Hone Harawira’s seat, potentially taking on the Maori Party in the other Maori seats and, in doing so, splitting the vote so they go back to Labour. It isn’t even just the risk of many Maori Party supporters leaving for the Greens. It’s that the leadership is alienating the activists. By unrepentantly supporting National and, indeed, symbolically tying themselves ever closer to a government that is anathema to the Maori Party’s values the leadership is driving away the activists. Without them, the party is sunk.

22 comments on “Why are Turia & Sharples cuddling up to Key? ”

  1. Daveo 1

    Since Harry Walker’s gone as MP chief of staff the MP backroom ops have gone to shit (and they weren’t that good to start with). I’ve heard they’ve been getting support from National’s team especially in media. Which will be why they’re so on message with the Nats.

    • Bright Red 1.1

      yeah, they’ve lost a lot of their backroom people I hear. People who didn’t go into political work to be writing speeches about how tax cuts for the rich are great or to be making excuses to the media on why their MPs won’t front when they vote against the position on the ETS that they articualted just days earlier.

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    “Earlier in the day, Key had said he didn’t think this was going to happen. ”

    Whatever. There are plenty of criticisms that can be made of the mP leadership, but thinking that Key has them anywhere but over a barrel misses a huge part of the picture.

    If the mP is to survive at all, in any form, it needs to show to the major parties that it can be trusted in coalition.

    The things thay have gained by being in coalition may not be much, and they may not meet the expectations of the mP base, and they may not even meet the expectations of the mP leadership for all we know; but unless they can construct a narrative that clearly says National hasn’t lived up to their end of the agreement then they are stuck with it as far as I can tell.

  3. Tracey 3

    Whanau Ora, the recent new prison initiative to transition from prison to society? Are these not achievements unachieveable outside Govt?

    • The Voice of Reason 3.1

      Well, it’s a bit of a stretch to call Whanau Ora an acheivement seeing as it doesn’t exist yet and nobody seeems to know what it is anyway. And Key apparerntly thinks the prison initiative is to transition maori from society to prison, so no credit there, either.

    • Blighty 3.2

      Whanau Ora hasn’t done anything. It’s months late just identifying the providers. And the money is coming out of existing service funding – so, Whanau Ora has to prove that it is better than what was there. Not proved.

      New prison initiatives are welcome (and could potentially be achieved by talks from outside government) but that doesn’t excuse the Maori Party supporting the building of more prisons and the lengthening of sentences, let alone all the other awful stuff they’ve voted for.

    • Deadly_NZ 3.3

      Well they probably would not need the prisons if the government had not made life so hard for the young and unemployed, But there again, as there are a disproportionate amount of Young Maori in the prison system, then I suppose the Maori Party can say they have done something, by getting them a nice new shiny prison to keep more of their young people in.

      • Colonial Viper 3.3.1

        by getting them a nice new shiny prison to keep more of their young people in.

        And even better if the prison is a PPP which directs prison profits made straight back to Maori business interests.

  4. millsy 4

    Lets see them for what they are. Matua Toms.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Key is the one who gives them the ‘keys’ to the ministerial baubles.
    Remember the new house Sharples could afford once he became a minister!

  6. Anne 6

    Have no sympathy for the leadership of the Maori Party. Indeed I hope they eventually go down in flames. The MP as far as I can see was created for negative reasons. It was essentially the ‘brain child’ of Tariana Turia who set out to spite Labour because they wouldn’t let her have her own way. That is entirely the wrong basis on which to form a new party. Without a firm set of principles and beliefs – be it based on the ideology of the left or right – and a set of concrete policies and solutions to reflect those beliefs, then it is doomed to failure.

    The fact, too, that they have been so willing to drink at the NAct trough with hardly a glance back at their own people, suggests to me: not only have they lost their way, but the baubles and beads turned out to be far more important.

  7. randal 7

    Pita keeps saying this is the last chance for Maoridom but what he really means this is the last chance for him.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    and the fact that only 57% of working-wage Maori are in work.

    Minor typo above.

    Sharples and Turia must be confident of their support in their own base to do this. At least that is what they are trying to portray to Harawira and his faction. Also publicly at least, no signs of reconciliation.

    What’s Hone’s next move.

    • Bored 8.1

      Once you get offside with Turiana there is no forgiveness, ask Helen. She will dance with the devil to get you.

      • Jum 8.1.1

        Helen Clark helped Turia get her parliamentary wings, protecting her from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; then Tariana flew off to JKeyll and Hide and shat on the Labour Party. When’s duck shooting season? I’m not surprised Turia was last cab off the rank; why harbour a asp?

  9. fabregas4 9

    All this stuff about how you don’y get anything done in opposition is not an an excuse to fall in line with whomever is in power. Plenty of example sin history where opposition was the correct and morally and ethically only thing to do. The Maori party could by extension of this theory fall in line with the government of the day when the land sales (confiscation) was at its greatest, the Maori party would have supported the Springbok Tour too and would support a government which sees Maori as second class citizens, unemployable and on the automatic road to prison – oh it does!.

  10. sharples and turia have hitched themselves to the gnats and they will not move. They will go down with that ship and good I say – the sooner the better. They aren’t the maori party – they are just the current leadership and their time is nearly over. But if per chance they are the maori party then we need a Left Maori Party ASAP for all the disgruntled maori party ex-supporters.

  11. Chris73 11

    Because they quite like having some power
    They remember when dear leader called them the last cab off the rank
    Treaty settlements are up during Nationals term
    Take your pick 🙂

  12. George.com 12

    I am wondering whether the Maori Party is simply about race & cultural identity, simply about being Maori, rather than any significant focus on the material factors of work, unemployment, income etc. The racial & cultural identity things have being valued more than material realities for Maori. The lack of material progress is what Hone Harawira is picking up, and as I understand it, being told about in his electorate.

  13. Jum 13

    I’m not surprised Turia was last cab off the rank; why harbour an asp?

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