You'll Do It My Way: Observers have noted the extraordinary condescension of a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori. Her refusal to be bound by their votes, followed by the very public repudiation of both their judgement and their party, has given rise to considerable speculation concerning exactly who Sue Bradford thinks she is – much of it less-than-flattering.
THERE’S NO SHOW WITHOUT PUNCH, they say. But on the left of New Zealand politics it’s more a matter of there being no show without Sue Bradford. Hone Harawira and Vikram Kumar may have been the ones up on the platform announcing the formation of the Internet-Mana electoral alliance, but it was Sue who, once again, gate-crashed the party.
Since the decision to join forces with the German millionaire, Kim Dotcom, clearly struck at the heart of everything Mana stood for, Sue told the world, she was left with no other choice but to quit the party in protest.
No other choice? Well, not exactly, Sue. You could have decided to abide by Mana’s democratic decision-making processes. Having put forward the case against an alliance with the Internet Party to Mana’s membership, you could have left the final determination to them and accepted the outcome with good grace.
But, you weren’t willing to do that, were you, Sue? Right from the start, when you very publicly hung the threat of your resignation over Mana’s head, you made it very clear that if the party rejected your advice, made the wrong decision, then you were out of there.
Now, an unkind commentator might draw his readers’ attention to the extraordinary condescension involved in a middle-aged Pakeha and former Green MP setting forth the correct moral path for a party dominated overwhelmingly by young, marginalised Maori. He might even observe that her refusal to be bound by their votes, followed by the very public repudiation of both their judgement and their party, might give rise to considerable speculation concerning exactly who Sue Bradford thinks she is – much of it less-than-flattering.
And, while he was at it, that commentator might also question why a person steeped in the writings of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, and possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of twentieth century revolutionary movements, should be so down on politically motivated millionaires.
Was it not the Belarussian millionaire, Alexander Parvus, who bankrolled the Bolsheviks into power? And wasn’t it Parvus’s gold that paid for Lenin and 30 of his comrades to be spirited across Germany in a sealed train to join a Russian revolution that had had the temerity to start without them?
JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy once quipped to his son: “A man only needs three things to become President of the United States. The first is Money. The second is Money. And the third is … Money!” The same formula clearly works for revolutionary leaders.
And maybe, Sue, that is the real reason behind your rejection of Kim Dotcom’s money. That it might make Mana into something more than a mere pin-prick in the shins of power. That with the funding Mr Dotcom will undoubtedly make available to the alliance, Mana’s Annette Sykes will have a better than even chance of knocking Te Ururoa Flavell – and with him the Maori Party – out of Parliament. That with the Dotcom dollars behind him, Hone Harawira will be able to bring into the House of Representatives your erstwhile comrade, John Minto. (Not since the days of Harry Holland will our Parliament have welcomed a more revolutionary MP!) Isn’t that the unspoken explanation behind all your many party entrances and exits over the years, Sue? That, to remain pure, your parties must relinquish any prospect of political success?
If I’m wrong, you have my sincere apologies. It’s just that, sometimes, I think the entire New Zealand Left would rather cling to their principles in a state of weakness than compromise some of them from a position of strength.
Revolutionary ambition is made of many things. For Hone Harawira it was the crushing effect of the Pakeha nation’s economic and cultural power upon an indigenous people beaten to their knees by 150 years of settler injustice and racism. For John Minto it was the obscenity of Apartheid South Africa.
And for Kim Dotcom? Perhaps it was the experience of having his home invaded and his family terrified by 80 heavily armed police officers acting on information illegally supplied to them by the Government Communications Security Bureau, at the behest of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and with the smug approval of the New Zealand Prime Minister.
Sometimes, Sue, the story’s about more than your principles.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 30 May 2014.