So Hone has just gone quietly. This is good. The last thing anyone wants to see at the moment is petty political bickering.
It appears that Hone and The Maori Party have come to a sort of mutual compromise. And I say sort of because I think the deal primarily benefits The Maori Party. Hone quits without fuss and rules out standing in any other Maori electorates, stressing that it is best for the party and him as an individual, while The Maori Party agrees not to stand a candidate against him. A pretty one sided agreement if you ask me.
This will have serious repercussions for The Maori Party. Firstly, they lose their principled voice. The only remaining sign of integrity and connection to ordinary Maori, especially rangatahi. The Maori Party is now a wholly complete corporate vehicle with a single ideological purpose. The Maori Party is unique in its ability to move between the left and right, the party’s ideological fluidity means they can form a government with either the left or right. However, with Hone gone it becomes very difficult for the party to move left and as result they lose their greatest strength. The party becomes rooted to the Nats.
Secondly, as Gordon Campbell puts it, Hone can now denounce the party as the “sell outs in Cabinet”. Its not like this theme needs to be cultivated either, it is already firmly rooted and Hone can now refine it by the day. If Hone does choose to do this the Maori Party will suffer enormous damage. The evidence is right there, Harawira just needs to highlight it. Easy.
Thirdly, The Maori Party has alienated their base. Te Tai Tokerau is fiercely loyal and they will not accept this result as fair (because it wasn’t). In the eyes of Te Tai Tokerau the way the party handled the entire process was nothing short of insubordinate. As a consequence membership will bleed heavily between now and ultimate defeat at the ballot box in November.
Shane Jones will now rate his chances, and rightly so. As I have said previously I think Pita enjoys a personal following rather than a political one. However, his affable persona has taken a huge hit. He has displayed a fair bit of rhetorical aggression towards Hone and at Waitangi he was exposed as double dealer by actively seeking a replacement for Hone. Not a good look.
Tariana is probably safe. Then again I do not know much about her seat.
Te Ururoa is probably safe, for now. At the moment blame is directed towards the leadership and to certain degree Pem Bird. Te Ururoa has managed to stay under the radar but that may change. I do not think he will lose his seat. Labour is standing Louis Te Kani, a local barrister, although I do not want to write him off I am yet to see or hear anything from him which is a bad sign. The election is coming and he cannot afford to begin his campaign late in the piece. Te Ururoa is vulnerable and he should be formulating a plan of attack.
Rahui will probably lose her seat as a mere reflex action. What has she done? Nothing. About the only thing I can remember is her stomach stapling operation and a quote she gave in a story about the GST rise. The people of Te Tai Tonga expect better. They deserve better.
Hone will romp home in Te Tai Tokerau. Kelvin Davis may as well not turn up. In the past few days Hone has been gifted two issues. The WWG report and the MCA bill. One is a bread and butter issue while the other touches everything it means to be Maori. Standing on these two issues alone Hone could probably court a few thousand Maori votes if he were to form a new party.
The Maori Party is cultivating a significant amount of distrust among their supporters and it will probably be fatal. Certainly this whole affair is turning off many non-aligned but sympathetic supporters. To be brutally honest I think the Maori Party has had it. Tino rangatiratanga is out the window and the corporates are in. There is no way the party can ride back into Parliament on the backs of one or two indigenous corporates. The party needs the people, the problem is the people just left with Hone.