Dotcom a neoliberal millionaire who sounds like John Key - Mana's Sue Bradford
UPDATE / April 14: Dotcom might want to usher in a new type of politics, but he has old fashioned barney on his hands.
The Internet Party leader did not manage to seal an alliance with Mana when he visited the party's AGM on Saturday (although talks will continue). And his charm seems to have singularly failed to win over one of Mana leader Hone Harawira's key lieutenants, Sue Bradford.
Instead, Bradford hardened her opposition, and walked out of the meeting before the key vote - creating a schism Mana can ill-afford given Labour candidate Kelvin Davis is polling ahead in Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) seat.
"Getting into bed with a neoliberal millionaire who’s facing legal challenges is quite a curious proposal for a party like Mana that has stood so strongly and staunchly on its reputation for fighting for those who have less … and for standing up against the neoliberal agenda that John Key that others are running," Ms Bradford told Firstline this morning.
"It’s not compatible and undermines everything Mana has achieved over the past three years ... When I heard him speaking on Saturday, it was like listening to John Key," Ms Bradford said.
She said she supported some Internet Party policies, such as its total opposition to the TPPA, and cheaper and more accessible broadband for all. However, Ms Bradford noted other parties, including the Greens, had similar policies. If Mana was going to ally with anyone, discussions with the Greens would make sense.
She said debate about the Internet Party was heated before the unanimous vote to continue talks, adding "I don't think it's a done deal."
Free education, kickbacks for those who buy online
Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom, staged an Internet Party picnic and pool party at his $25 million rented mansion in Coatesville on Sunday, attended by around 700.
The Internet Party leader floated two new policies: "free education for all" and "financial kickbacks" for those who buy online.
He said some students left university with a loan "the size of a mortgage".
However, he did not offer any policy detail, or costings, or take questions from media.
This morning, Internet Party CEO Vikram Kumar said this was part of the political startup's "transparent" policy-making process. An idea is put forward, then party members or other experts would put forward ideas to help shape it. Part of this process will include a "Wiki" website, where members will colloborate on and edit policy - though who has the final say on "edits" is still up in the air.
No decision on alliance ... talks to continue
UPDATE / April 13: With uncharacteristic waffle, Mana leader Hone Harawira says his party has decided .... to hold further negotiations with the Internet Party about a possible alliance.
Neither party has put forward any bottom lines yet, he told TVNZ's Q+A.
Harawira said the decision to pursue further talks was unanimous, with all reps from all seven Maori electorates and the youth wing voting in favour. Sue Bradford left before the vote, the Mana leader said.
Dotcom faces hostile response from Harawira's lieutenants
April 12: Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom will speak to the Mana Party's annual conference in Rotorua at midday today.
It's clear how a Mana-Internet Party alliance will benefit Dotcom. His party would have decent shot at a presence in Parliament after September 20, even if it polls well under 5%.
But what's in it for Mana? In part, money, which can buy profile, and maybe nudge the party over the 1.5% of the vote mark (which would get the party a second seat in Parliament under MMP's coat-tail rule). But is that, along with some liberal policies around broadband and surveillance, enough to overcome the cringe factor involved in getting into bed with what one Mana staffer called the 'Fat rich white pr**k'?
Dotcom has already found a degree of common ground with Mana's leader and sole MP, Hone Harawira.
Harawira says while he wants to see policy detail, he supports the Internet Party's broad stance to offer cheaper internet access for all, and to peel back GCSB powers.
And although Harawira says he's not wedded to the idea of an alliance), the pair a have a shared love of being seen as outsiders, sticking it to The Man and poltiical theatre. It's easy to see them bonding (though also tricky to see either giving up his alpha dog status in a partnership).
I can also see Dotcom making a decent fist of his speech today, and perhaps winning over some Mana members. He knows how to work an audience, and some National-baiting will go down well.
Close fight with Labour
But it's still hard to see Dotcom's mansion-lifestyle, and (ahead of his arrest), pro-business politics going down well with votes in Harawira's Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) electorate.
Bear in mind that recent poll showed Labour ahead in a close race; Mr Harawira can't afford any backlash.
Top lieutenants not onboard
And as the Mana leader admitted on Maori TV's Native Affairs last week, two of his top lieutenants - John Minto, Annette Sykes - have expressed wariness about Dotcom, while a third, Sue Bradford. is outright hostile. Bradford says she'll quit the party if there's a hookup with Dotcom - and she'll take some of the party's white liberal faction with her. We're note talking big numbers here, but the context is to push from 1.08% of the list vote (the mark Mana hit at the 2011 election) to 1.5%.
I can't see Minto stomaching Dotcom, either. Minto is a true believer who has fought all his life for left wing causes. He's not going to hold any truck with a fairweather friend who, in the recent past, donated $50,000 to John Banks.
Will Sykes give up no. 2 place on list?
Harawira can probably live with a few Pakeha defections - he might even make hay from it. But I suspect Annette Sykes' thinking is starting to crystalise, too.
On Native Affairs, Harawira said "Annette thinks it's worth a look."
Yet the outspoken Maori lawyer is at the sharp end of things.
Harawira refused to say if a shared Mana-Internet Party list would go Mana, Internet Party, Mana, Internet Party, Mana as candidates from both camps were evenly interweaved.
But that's the only outcome the Internet Party could be pushing for. And it would mean Sykes - currently number two on Mana's list - would have to agree to demotion to third to make way for an Internet Party candidate at number two.
Good luck with that one, Kim.