Tonight on TV3 news, John Key ominously warned that ‘a Labour government will include Winston Peters, Hone Harawira and Metiria Turei’.
I guess the goal here is to have Hone Harawira respond and call Key a racist, and this will ‘close the circuit’ and give the story some legs. The bulk of the population dislikes Harawira so they’ll sympathise with Key; and Winston Peters will be associated in the minds of potential voters with Harawira and classified as a ‘big-spending, unstable and volatile’ Maori.
Meanwhile Key rules out any preferential treatment for Iwi:
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says his party is opposed to the plan to partially sell the energy companies, but could support the policy if iwi would be able to have priority access to the shares.
During campaigning in Auckland on Sunday, Mr Key was asked if he would rule out a sales programme which gave iwi preferential access, and replied that New Zealanders have to be treated equally and fairly.
On Key’s dogwhistle, I don’t think anyone’s surprised. Most New Zealanders hold a base fear of Maori and politicians from the left and right understand this. The worst perception a politician can attract is the “pandering to Maori” line. This is why Key is ruling out “preferential treatment” for iwi re asset sales. Having said that, I don’t think anti-Maori sentiment is so salient anymore. This is thanks to, in a large part, Key and his relationship with the Maori Party.
I actually expect Key to renege on his position and extend an olive branch to iwi. I think Key will create a program where New Zealand investors, think iwi, Kiwisaver schemes and National’s rich mates, are allowed the first right of refusal. Iwi would make a powerful ally. Just imagine if Key secures iwi support then the Nat’s will absolutely and utterly dominate provincial New Zealand. Unions are weak in the provinces while farming and iwi are the two major players.