Jan 24, 2011

So much can happen in a week

Following my week long hiatus I’ve finally had the chance to catch up on the news and I guess there is only one story – Hone Harawira. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to read much or time to gather my thoughts. Nonetheless I have quickly put together my initial thoughts on the issue.   

The key to understanding the latest Hone Harawira saga is simplicity. Much of the commentary in the blogsphere and mainstream media speaks of complex motives and hidden agendas – I think there is actually an absence of both.

Hone Hone is an activist not a politician. He is not surrounded by flash advisers or expensive press secretaries. Honesty as opposed to strategy is his modus operandi. Hone penned that column in the SST as a warning to his colleagues. It was not a threat or thinly veiled strike against the Party rather a piece of honest prose critiquing the direction of the Party - a strong attempt to push the Party left I thought. It is important to realise that Hone is impulsive rather than considered and is supremely confident in his beliefs to the point of arrogance and uncompromising in the extreme. He does things without first grasping the possible consequences and when the consequences do not fit his purposes he fights them. We have seen this throughout his Parliamentary career for the example the Paris trip and his reaction to criticism and of course ‘that’ email. This latest saga is a perfect illustration of how Hone operates – with honest intent but without thought.  

I am fairly sure Harawira would not have anticipated such a strong reaction to his honesty. Like me I think he sees the complaint as an over reaction. What he wrote was merely repetition of what he has been saying for months. However, Hone presented his enemies with the perfect opportunity to move against him for the following reasons:

  • His colleagues do not like him as a person.
  • His colleagues do not like him as a politician
  • Te Ururoa may be motivated by self interest. He is Pitas natural successor but he knows if Hone wants the leadership it is his for the taking.
  • Tariana knows it would be easier to manage the Party’s relationship with National without Hone
  • Tariana will NEVER support Labour and she knows Hone WILL NOT support National for a second term. Tariana is stubborn and she is the superpower within the Party – she will get her way.
  • Iwi are satisfied with the relationship between the MP and National and are comfortable with the continuation of that relationship. The iwi elite know that Hone and the left are hostile to their corporate agenda; therefore iwi will exert pressure to oust him and prevent the formation of a hostile government.
  • Hone scares National voters and is an impediment to a long term relationship that pleases both sides. With this in mind it is not unreasonable to assume the Nats are pushing for his removal.

I was surprised to learn the complaint was made by Te Ururoa, however I think he is merely the vehicle for Tariana’s discontent. If Tariana made the complaint and Hone survived she would look like a weak leader. It is also not in her interest to irritate the Party’s base anymore than she already has. There is a huge degree of hostility between the Party faithful and Tariana. This hostility boiled over when Tariana chastised Party members for criticising iwi leaders and more recently when local electorate branches formally opposed the MCA bill.

This is a battle for the soul of the Party. A battle that may end up ripping the Party apart. If Hone leaves on his own terms, kei te pai, if he is forced he will take the base with him and as a result the mana of the Party. This is why I think this whole issue is a strategic blunder of epic proportions. The Parliamentary wing has allowed their own personal feelings and short term political considerations get in the way of what the people want – and they want Hone. Te Ururoa has tarnished his name and it will be interesting see how Waiariki perceive his move. I know Tuhoe and to a lesser extent Ngati Awa will think twice about supporting him this time around.

At the end of the day Hone will not leave on his own accord. He loves the Party. Expulsion is a worst case scenario.

NB: I blogged about the conflict between Hone and Tariana exactly two weeks ago. The post is well worth a read in light of current circumstances.

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