Forget about the the Maori and Mana Parties – let’s study Act’s cunning plans to win Maori votes

Alf is surprised it took the Maori Party more than two minutes to reject a proposed deal by the Mana Party not to stand against each other in the Maori electorates at this year’s general election.

Mind you, he must acknowledge that maybe it didn’t take that long.

Whatever happened, we learn from Stuff today that representatives from both parties met in Rotorua last week in an attempt to heal the rift which has been growing since Hone Harawira quit the Maori Party in February over its support of the National-led government.

As Stuff reminds us, it culminated with name-calling and heckling from both sides during last month’s Tai Tokerau by-election campaign.

Having vilified his former colleagues and won the seat, Hone extended an olive branch to meet and put the parties’ differences between them before November’s election.

The Maori Party’s national council discussed the matter in Huntly at the weekend and later issued a statement saying “no deal”.

President Pem Bird said there was a strong message from the party’s membership that it should remain loyal to the people of Tai Tokerau by continuing to build its presence in the electorate.

“We had a large contingent from Te Tai Tokerau with us at the hui… Our brothers and sisters of Te Tai Tokerau led us to an emphatic conclusion that we would not sacrifice their seat for what might be seen as political opportunism and expediency.

“Basically the message we received loud and clear, was no deal.”

But Bird is much more generous to his party’s tormenters than Alf would be if he had been subjected to the treatment meted out by Hone.

The Maori Party has rejected just two proposals put up by the Mana Party, he said – it is not rejecting the prospect of working together in the future.

“There could well be that something else comes up in the meantime,” he told Radio New Zealand. “We’re not closing the door on any relationship.”

Alf has an idea.

A provocative idea, in the light of events at the weekend.

The Maori Party should try striking an electioneering deal with Act.

The aim would be to ensure no Act party candidates competed for votes in the Maori electorates.

Don Brash seems keen to acknowledge that another party might have a better candidate in some electorates.

Not too many days back he said he did not feel any candidate could compete in Rotorua with the incumbent MP, National’s Todd McClay, and Act was more interested in securing party votes to exceed the 5 per cent threshold so the party could have a voice in Parliament.

In other words, he won’t be pulling out all the stops to win Rotorua.

This strongly suggest he would be open to a deal not to bother running at all in some seats.

But whoa.

The Maori Party does not have to strike a deal with him because –

He said the party were looking for candidates to stand in all electorates in New Zealand, including Rotorua, but not in any of the Maori electorates.

“We don’t believe the Maori electorates should exist and it’s hypocritical to stand a candidate in a seat you don’t think should exist.

“I have to say that I gave some thought of standing as a candidate in the recent by-election in Te Tai Tokerau to make the point that the Act Party has policies that are absolutely relevant to Maori in Northland as it is to every other New Zealander.”

But he decided against standing, saying he felt television media would focus on the tension generated by his candidacy, instead of on policy.

Pity. In the light of the weekend advertising brouhaha, it would have been fascinating to see how he pitches for Maori votes.

Obviously he intends doing just that.

He said that nationwide there were a lot of people putting their hands up to represent Act and he was sure the same would apply in Rotorua.

“Act policy should be very attractive to Maori New Zealanders, indeed, particularly to low-income New Zealanders.

“The Government has made very few policies designed to increase our growth rate … low-income people have every reason to want income levels improved.

Brash reckons, for example, that re-establishing a youth minimum wage would go some way to alleviate the “scandalous situation” of Maori youth unemployment that had reached almost 40 per cent.

It’s hard to agree with accusations he is a racist when he can eagerly push ideas like that to do Maori a favour.

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