Thursday 29 May 2014

Game-Changer: Laila Harre Accepts The Leadership Of The Internet Party.

Tailor-Made: Dotcom’s representatives wooed and won Laila Harré, the former Alliance MP, Cabinet Minister and Party Leader. Often described as the best MP Labour never had, Harré ’s appointment was critical to the success of the Internet-Mana alliance announced on 27 May 2014.

FROM THE MOMENT he was appointed CEO of the Internet Party, Vikram Kumar’s quiet competence told me two things. The first was that Kim Dotcom, for all his ebullient playfulness, was perfectly capable of recognising and bringing on board extremely talented individuals. Clearly, he had not acquired his considerable fortune by chance. Beneath all the video games and the vanity recordings, the flash cars and statuary, there beat the calculating heart of an astute German businessman.
Which brought me to the second thing. If Kumar was Dotcom’s choice for CEO, then he was clearly very serious about the political venture he was launching. The same strategic and tactical skills which he had brought to the creation of Megaupload (Dotcom’s billion-dollar file-hosting enterprise that struck such fear into Hollywood moviemakers that they were willing to call in some of their most valuable political markers to have it and him destroyed) were now being brought to bear on the problem of how to bring about the downfall of those responsible for destroying his business and instigating the armed Police raid on his home – the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand.
Those who characterise the Internet Party’s strategic alliance with the Mana Party as an unlikely pairing fail to grasp the sheer, unwavering strength of Dotcom’s purpose. John Key’s government was never going to be brought low by the forces of the Right. That left only the forces of the Left as his potential allies.
It would not have taken Dotcom long to determine that Labour and the Greens were too rigid, too locked into the political and electoral status-quo to serve his purpose. Above all else, the Internet Party he was building needed to be flexible – a political force capable of adapting instantly to the constantly changing circumstances of the modern election campaign. If it was to align itself with any party at all, it could only be with the smallest and most nimble left-wing party in Parliament. The party with the least to lose and the most to gain by allowing the Internet Party to exploit the “coat-tail” provisions of the MMP electoral system. Mana. That Hone Harawira shared many of Dotcom’s swashbuckling character traits made the prospect of such an alliance even more attractive.
The final stage in the Internet Party’s formative process involved finding the right person to lead it. The successful candidate would have to be credible, experienced, electable and, most importantly, ideologically compatible with both Hone Harawira and his Mana Party comrades as well as the broader progressive community. He or she must also be capable of fulfilling Dotcom’s mission if the US Government’s efforts to extradite him for copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering proved successful. Considerable financial resources were being poured into the Internet Party, Dotcom had to be satisfied that its leader possessed the management skills required to use his money wisely and to the best political effect.
Incredibly, there was a person available who fulfilled every one of Dotcom’s criteria. Laila Harré  had been working for the Greens, but when the time came to draw up the latter’s Party List no one in the Green hierarchy considered Harré  worthy of a winnable slot. Harré  was then snapped up by the CTU to direct its “Get Out and Vote” campaign. It was from that position that Dotcom’s representatives wooed and won the former Alliance MP, Cabinet Minister and Party Leader. Often described as the best MP Labour never had, Harré ’s appointment was critical to the success of the Internet-Mana alliance announced yesterday.
When they learned of Dotcom’s decision, the Greens are said to have been incandescent with rage. Their fury is understandable, with Dotcom’s resources behind them, the Harawira-Harré  pairing is certain to generate considerable excitement. To complement the launch of the Internet Mana Party (which very appropriately shortens itself to IMP) Dotcom himself is said to be preparing to launch his own version of “Rock-the-Vote”. In its American form, this is a concert-based exercise in persuading young people (especially young people of colour) to enrol and vote. Of all the parties on the Left, it’s the Greens that have the most to lose if IMP and Dotcom are successful in mobilising the 18-25 years demographic.
But the Greens problems pale into insignificance when placed alongside those of the National Party. The appointment of Harré  as Internet Party Leader changes the electoral equation significantly. No matter how hard they try to characterise it as such, IMP is no longer a “dotty” addition to the electoral mix – not with Harré  in charge. John Key and his advisers must now recalibrate their predictions to accommodate a left-wing challenger that could take as much as 4-6 percent of the Party Vote.
In a fight which Key himself has acknowledged to be very close, that 4-6 percent will not only be a game-changer, it will be a government changer. Whether he is still here in New Zealand, or languishing in a US prison cell, the taste of revenge on Kim Dotcom’s tongue will be very, very sweet.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 29 May 2014.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

This is absolutely fascinating. I've just heard Joe Bennett witter on about how little they have in common. I think it's probably the first bit of sense I've ever heard him say :-). I was going to vote Mana, but now I'm not too sure. What the hell does the Internet party stand for? Particularly considering their boss used to donate to John Banks. This is utterly, utterly weird.

David said...

I'm a Green Party member but I'm not incandescent with rage. I doubt many in the Greens are. I see this as a good thing as while the Greens may lose a seat or even two, that will be made up by having more seats won by the left, and this is by far the more important objective. IMP has the power to do what no other Left party can do - get young people to vote who otherwise wouldn't. So I wish them the best.

CarbonGuilty said...

Chris your perfectly understandable desperation to see the left succeed in September has blinded you again to not seeing the other possibility the latest alliance has of influencing the coming election.
My bias and instinct is says JK will now much more likely get 50%+. It will motivate even more people out there to vote for him to stop a gross foreign crook from rorting our electoral system. The media have not yet made much of the evidence against the foul Kim person. It clearly shows him as plotting to breach copyright. And he collects NZI memorabilia! You can expect at least the Greens to have posters with quotes from the transcripts of the intercepted Mega discussions on copyright.
But it is great stuff this squirming about and fighting on the left. I'm loving it!
If I was the Greens, I would seriously consider talking to Key on a Blue-Green alliance. He would go for it in the current crazy political climate! Think what they could achieve for green causes. Pity that is no longer their prime motivation. If it was they would already be in the centre, where green matters should be.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I could also say, I'm not sure I would want to vote for a party whose leader is willing to overturn his political principles for revenge :-). Whatever his political principles might be. If he even has any. If he isn't has any principles at all.
Man's an arse who has been lionised because of this stupid FBI organised raid on his house. Can't blame him for wanting revenge for that, when sending the most junior constable in the country round to have a chat with him probably would have got the same result.

Kat said...

So........does this still make Winston 'King Maker' ?

Martin English said...

You measure a person by what they do not what they say. Kim Dotcom's behavior as an employer suggests that he is not of the left at all. But for the left in general, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

You have stated the real reason for the formation of the IMP with the sentence John Key’s government was never going to be brought low by the forces of the Right.

This is not about social justice, or environmentalism or any of the other policies that the Mana party espouse. It is purely and simply a rich man buying his way into politics for revenge. Bradford sees this and was not willing to accept it. I'm sure many others on the left also see it, but they just don't care.


Jigsaw said...

This is without doubt the most extraordinary column you have ever written Chris! Whatever you I felt that you were at least some sort of realist! My suggestion is that you retitle it 'How to Buy a Political Party'. That a incredibly unattractive German capitalist with a criminal record and with nothing whatever in common with a racist party-(the left bit seems to have been tacked on by his latest followers) could work together is beyond imagination. If you can perhaps imagine this happening then try, I dare imagine them working together in any sort of government for even a short time.
Personally I doubt that it will make even the slightest difference to the overall result. it will just redistribute the votes on the left. But then the left are good at fragmenting their support-just ask Laila she is the expert.

The Flying Tortoise said...

I love the audacity and the genius of the idea!
Laila Harre is an inspired choice!
I'm approaching seventy and they have my party vote!
Talk about the cat amongst the pigeons...

Don Franks said...

Well Chris i had been thinking for sometime you might have lost your mojo somewhere since the '70's and even said as much in my cups.
Take it all back and well done.
That is the best satirical piece I have seen in cyberspace for ages.
The horse trading road to socialism. Love it.
If I might edit just a wee bit for the collected works, "an astute German businessman" is in the same ballpark with Sue Bradford's "German billionaire" objection. Lose that and we're all good.

Skippers said...

Have you not noticed that the agreement between Mana and Internet Party expires just a few weeks after the election? Surely that indicates the expediency of the whole deal.
I have always been a Labour supporter but the smell of this deal suggests I may have to vote - forgive me - for National.
I am surprised that Dotcom has three million to spare - didn't he recently ask the courts to release more of his possibly ill gotten gains to pay his bills?

Anonymous said...

My G.Grandfather's many decades of effort before his first Labour Govt at 70 years old suddenly seem a better way than this instant contraption

Chris Trotter said...

Gee, Carbon Guilty, I had no idea New Zealand Insurance memorabilia was so collectable. I'm sure I've got an old calendar stashed away somewhere.

Craig said...

This sordid little episode casts rather a hash light on the left, if Kim Dotcom had been colluding with the right (which would have been the case with a concurrent Labour government), this blog would be full of melodramatic huffing and puffing about the 'dark massing forces of the neoliberals' or 'how the 1% run our lives'. Instead we are treated to comically tortured justifications in an attempt to misdirect from the rather vulgar opportunism which is actually occurring. Interesting how selective 'The Left' are with their 'Rick Pricks'.

alex said...

@Don Franks - Hah, good call. This whole story does have a large dose of the absurd.

Having said that, more unlikely partnerships have been successful before, and if Harre gets in to Parliament she is unlikely to throw the left under a bus.

ianmac said...

Well done IMP. The objections put up by those on the Right have an air of desperation don't you think? The interviews so far with Laila show an astute no-nonsense warm person.
And by the way the desperate who try to miscast the post election review as something ominous are just wrong. It rather shows forward planning and every Party would have such a review whether in an alliance or not.

Jigsaw said...

Is there a single person who thinks that Kim Dotcom is putting $4 million into the Internet Party because he favours a left wing government in New Zealand?

Kat said...

When you consider the extremely dubious and political malevolence practised by the National party and its extended family of subversive commentators, bloggers and corrupt political crony mates its a bit rich to decry the Internet Party's deal with Mana.

Keys comments on the appointment of Laila Harre remind of a the pitiful squeak of a trapped mouse. The National party are behaving similar to the Republicans in the US, and risk becoming a slowly dying breed. Or perhaps they are already there.

Phil said...

This is a creative NZ response to the global malaise that confronts many 'democratic' nations. Namely, the plague on all your houses.e.g US, GB, Ausy, to name a few. The current horse's arse de facto government is dead and
stuffed, but is still being flogged as worth a bet. The world awaits ...... Ride on! Ride on!

CarbonGuilty said...

Yes Chris wake up! NZI is actually a well known front for the NAZI Party of Aotearoa.
No seriously, Chris you have blown it on this one don't you think? Enthusiasm for excitement perhaps? I'm excited too.
And biased too, very biased. I'm one of those 50%ers who think Key the best leader of the best gov I have ever had and I rejoice at what is going on left of him. But surely Key's mob is very much in the middle of politics now, which is just the place to be. So isn't it more likely now that even more people will get up to vote for him (as expressed above by Skippers) than others on the left will get up to vote for that Dotty-Commie cum racist brown party.
The loss to Labour-Green of some deluded, previously non-voters who could have voted for them may hurt their chances too. It is hard to get those non voters out, but why would more be from the far left than in the middle in response to this very silly party jackass stunt? Loads of middle voters don't vote either. Some may now.
In the long run it is another nail in the coffin MMP is building for itself. You should support that though since all on the left, except the Dotty-Commie Party, should be in Labour's previously broad church. Or maybe the saviour for MMP, a German system, with a German trying to nobble it, is after all German: A Grand Coalition?

Victor said...

Yes, the Internet Party may well drive youthful voters to the polling booths, though we can’t yet gauge in what numbers.

But Ms Harre’s appointment will also add plausibility to the already familiar trope about the unmanageable coalition likely to emerge from a left/centre left victory.

I expect National to make electoral hay from this potentially unwieldy mix, from the apparent cynicism of this alliance of convenience and from Mr Dotcom’s Teutonic origins. The implication will be “dancing Cossacks” in lockstep with waltzing storm-troopers.

So, my reading is that Dotcom has just handed JK a third term.

In the meantime, my own voting intentions have finally crystallized. I’ll be voting Green in order to prevent the wipe-out of this intelligent, principled and experienced bunch of parliamentarians, even though I’m quite often in disagreement with them.

I urge others on the non-partisan centre left to do likewise.

Loz said...

Mana is consistently polling in the fractions of a percent area for support with very large sections of voting public being unimpressed with what the Harawira family actually represents.

The Internet Party could have potentially leveraged the Dot Com celebrity factor as an anti-establishment protest similar to the groundswell of "Jedi"respondents in former Census. Given that Mana is so unpopular my gut feel is that any celebrity appeal to a non-political generation has probably just evaporated.

Anonymous said...

It is despicable for someone t buy their way into the House. Chris, how can you support it?
Key will win out of this, Kiwis don't like corruption at the highest level.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"It is despicable for someone t buy their way into the House. Chris, how can you support it?
Key will win out of this, Kiwis don't like corruption at the highest level."

Did you create a fuss when the Brethren tried to buy their way into Parliament? Or did you keep quiet because they were right wing?

Chris Trotter said...

Of course I made a fuss, Guerrilla Surgeon, for the very simple reason that the Exclusive Brethren made every attempt to keep their involvement in the election hidden from the voters. As did the National Party until Rod Donald directly confronted Don Brash on a city street.

Kim Dotcom, by contrast, is a model of transparency. His involvement is upfront and the size of his donation has been disclosed.

New Zealanders are, accordingly, free to judge the Internet Party and its founder on their merits.

Entry into the House cannot be bought for the very simple - and obvious - reason that one enters the House solely on the basis of the votes of the citizenry.

I suspect your true objection is to the Left having access to a campaign war-chest of a size usually restricted to the Right.

Anonymous said...

but the Exlusive Brethren did not bankroll National to the tune of hundreds of thousands, and nor are they ciminals of the highest order, ripping off the creative indurstry and beconing mega rich in the process.

It's like comparing chalk and cheese. So, the ends justifies the means does it??

Chris Trotter said...

Actually, Anonymous@20:47, they did.

The EB contributed $1 million towards discrediting Labour and the Greens on National's behalf - a move which neither they, nor the Nats, admitted to until they were forced to do so by Rod Donald and the news media.

That subterfuge is credited by most political scientists with tipping the 2005 election to Labour.

Furthermore, in our country (and in the USA) a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. In Kim Dotcom's case that has yet to happen.

Methinks your mind is closed on this matter.

Anonymous said...

Likewise, Chris, likewise.

Closed and made up. In this case, the man is guilty, we are his safe haven...ironically and most annoyingly!

Do you think it's right that he disturbed hte peace outside JK's private home? Anyway, last post on this, and best wishes.

KjT said...

As a "Green". I am far from raging.

I think it is hilarious that NACT have been hoist with their own petard, so to speak.