[Image sourced from Radio NZ]
There is a great deal of debate about whether Labour ought to be supporting the Internet Mana Party (IMP) alliance or whether it should stand its ground. To the contempt of some, they appear to have taken the latter approach – standing their ground and campaigning on ‘principles’.
Labour’s ‘principles’ strategy, might just see it creep up a percentage point or two in the next poll as those who fear the influence of IMP in a left leaning government may consider throwing their weight behind Labour to ensure a strong majority. On the other hand, those same voters might instead flee to the right preferring the status quo to a potentially volatile left.
The IMP’s mouthpiece, The Daily Blog (TDB), consider Labour’s strategy divisive. However, Labour are doing what Labour does – engaging their own strategy. It’s only criticised as divisive because Labour refuse to submit to the election strategy template designed by a contentious minor party. Instead, Labour are reasserting their role as top dog on the left and are attempting to reclaim it [the left] following their decline over the past few elections. This is evident in David Cunliffe’s response to Mana’s stance on amnesty for overstayers:
We should probably remember Matt McCarten’s role in all this too. McCarten was employed to ensure a Labour victory. Not a victory for the left, a victory for Labour. He appears to be keeping a low profile but this is arguably a smart move. It ensures that the Labour Party isn’t equivocated with him, given his high profile in political commentary, activism, and unionism, and allows Cunliffe to lead without distraction.
In contrast, IMP have allowed Bradbury and Trotter to belch into their (TDB) echo chamber putting off probably more people than they claim to have gained. Additionally, the IMP alliance is supposedly led by Hone Harawira, but Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom and the Internet Party are dominating the media (social and news), which makes it difficult (for voters) to see who is in control. Noting, Harawira’s weary interjection that he was still the leader of the alliance during Harre’s IP leadership announcement.
Its difficult to say at this stage whose strategy will win. I don’t see Mana gaining significantly more votes than it already enjoys. And prior to Harre’s appointment, I thought the IP might have more appeal across the board thereby picking up a wider spread of voters, because they were not wedded to a left ideal. However, I’m not sure she’ll attract new votes [from the missing million], instead she may simply steal votes because her fans are most likely politically engaged types who already participate in elections. As a combined number, I speculate that the next poll will show a small increase for IMP, not quite the game changing stuff predicted.
Although Labour has languished in the polls, I think they will start to increase their share of the vote as election day rolls near. If history is anything to go by, small party’s get lots of attention pre-election, but when it comes to the crunch, votes are often cast in favour of the major party. Labour’s strategy appears to be: (i) refuse to make an unequivocal statement about their relationship with IMP to plant some doubt, thereby (ii) avoiding any fallout if more adverse information is released about Dotcom, and (iii) claim to be standing on principles and for democracy by not gifting electorate seats. Come election time, they’ll have created just enough doubt to convince the voter that their vote is only guaranteed to count if cast for Labour and they wont have ruled out working with IMP (so the option remains open, if necessary). This is at least how I see Labour reclaiming the left. However, I’m not convinced (yet) it will translate into a win at this election.