Sore Loser: Labour's Kelvin Davis won 41 percent to Hone Harawira's 48 percent in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election - and that was after Labour had thrown everything they had into the contest. No matter which way Davis and his colleagues attempt to spin it, they tried to strangle Mana in its cradle - and they failed.
WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN? Listening to Labour’s Kelvin Davis putting the boot into Hone Harawira and Mana on Radio New Zealand this morning, I was reminded of the petty viciousness that also attended the birth of the NewLabour Party in 1989.
It was all there: the same overweening arrogance; the same blithe assumption that only the Labour Party has anything to contribute to the development of progressive politics in New Zealand. And, worst of all, the same sneering, belittling, mocking and disparaging tone.
It was the tone Labour adopted 22 years ago to deride and undermine Jim Anderton. Now it was being deployed against Hone Harawira.
As I listened to this political popinjay parroting the lines prepared for him, I found myself wondering how anybody could possibly have described Davis as “a good guy”.
Good Guys surely aren’t so reckless with the truth. Good guys surely don’t indulge in such small-minded character assassination. If Kelvin Davis is a “good guy”, all I can is: I’d hate to meet a bad one!
The most infuriating aspect of Davis’s spin is his proud boast that the by-election result has opened up the possibility of Labour reclaiming the Maori seats of Te Tai Tonga, Waiariki and Tamaki Makaurau.
There is, of course, some truth to this statement, but what Davis overlooks, in his indefatigable arrogance, is that the possibility of Labour taking these seats has only arisen because of Hone Harawira and the Mana Party.
It is Hone Harawira and Mana, the same man and the same party Davis so enjoys disparaging, that have redrawn the political landscape. Without Mana’s intervention there is every chance the Maori Party would have been able to hold those now at-risk seats. In doing so they would have provided John Key with at least four reliable votes – and in all likelihood the numbers to keep the National Party in power.
The success of the Mana Party, in almost certainly depriving National of those four votes, has improved dramatically the likelihood of Labour being able to form a government.
So why did Labour go all-out to strangle the infant Mana Party in its cradle? Why seek the political death of a man who could, potentially, do it so much good?
The answer to this question, sadly, is the same as the answer to the question: “Why didn’t Helen Clark intervene to rescue the Alliance?”
Because Labour remains absolutely determined to have “no enemies to the left”.
Labour simply cannot afford to loosen its grip on the working-class vote – even at the cost of remaining in Opposition – because it knows the moment any other political party succeeds in winning over the electors of seats like Mangere, Manukau East, Manurewa and Mana, Labour’s days as the leader of progressive politics in New Zealand are numbered.
Labour fears that it will end up fading from the electoral scene in precisely the same way that an increasingly right-wing Liberal Party faded in the years following the organised working-class’s 1916 decision to extricate itself from the Liberals’ paternalistic, middle-class grip.
In the words used by an old comrade to describe the political instincts of the Moscow-aligned Socialist Unity Party (which had a similar horror of a politically independent working class):
“[Labour] would rather keep control of the losing side, than lose control of the winning side.”
This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.