Harawira prob­lem won’t go away

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION/NEWS -

Ever since the Mana by-elec­tion in Novem­ber, it has been ob­vi­ous that Hone Harawira’s re­la­tion­ship with the Maori Party was headed for divorce.

Since then, the party lead­er­ship has been do­ing what it can to min­imise the back­lash against them from Maori, for boot­ing out their favourite son. Faint chance.

No mat­ter how the ex­pul­sion is ra­tio­nalised, it will be im­pos­si­ble to deny Harawira the mar­tyr­dom he has been seek­ing ever since he went to bat for Matt McCarten in Mana, at the same time as Tar­i­ana Turia was throw­ing her sup­port be­hind the Na­tional can­di­date, Hekia Parata.

Es­sen­tially, Harawira has de­cided he can no longer play the role of the party’s tame house rad­i­cal. To date, his pres­ence has only served to val­i­date the party’s con­ces­sions to the Key Govern­ment.

So long as Harawira stayed on board – and re­mained will­ing to vote within the House for govern­ment leg­is­la­tion that he was happy to crit­i­cise out­side it – the testy re­la­tion­ship could con­tinue.

How­ever, the paltry gains to Maori from re-writ­ing the fore­shore and seabed leg­is­la­tion have now made Harawira’s con­tin­ued com­plic­ity in the whole cha­rade un­ten­able. Worse is now on the hori­zon. Come the end of Fe­bru­ary, the pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions likely to emerge from the Govern­ment’s work­ing group on wel­fare re­form would be im­pos­si­ble for Harawira to swal­low in the short term, let alone to cam­paign for in elec­tion year.

So what does the fu­ture hold for the tur­bu­lent MP from Te Tai Tok­erau, once he does strike out alone?

For months, there has been spec­u­la­tion that Harawira will form a new po­lit­i­cal party on the left, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Sue Brad­ford, McCarten and oth­ers. Noth­ing would please the Maori Party more.

The real dan­ger Harawira poses to his for­mer col­leagues would be if he stayed on as a true in­de­pen­dent, as a sole voice of in­tegrity for Maori against what he could then de­nounce as those sell-outs in Cabi­net.

If Harawira hitches his wagon to the rem­nants of the old Al­liance, he would blur his stand­ing with his Maori con­stituents.

If he runs alone this year, Harawira can choose next year whether to form a new left-wing party, or bid to be the saviour of a di­min­ished Maori Party.

At the very least, by stay­ing sim­ply as the in­de­pen­dent MP for Te Tai Tok­erau, Harawira could pull the Maori Party to the left in the up­com­ing elec­tion cam­paign and make it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for them to sup­port Key af­ter the elec­tion.

The op­tions for Harawira are all at­trac­tive, and time is on his side. For the Maori Party, the re­verse ap­plies. Over New Year, it will have be­come ap­par­ent to Turia and Pita Sharples that they would have to ban­ish their er­rant MP sooner or later.

Gor­don Camp­bell is an ex­pe­ri­enced po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist and colum­nist who has writ­ten for The Lis­tener and Scoop.

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