Lew at Kiwipolitico has the kind of post up at the moment that reminds me why mainstream media is such an unsatisfying read/consume when it comes to political commentary.
He calls war between a Maori Party demanding race allegiance, and a Labour party demanding class allegiance. War signposted by Phil Goff’s recent speech – a strategy Lew is calling “blue collars, red necks”:
…the ‘blue collars, red necks’ strategy fails at the tactical level, because it asks Māori to choose their economic identity over their cultural identity; it fails at the level of principle, because it represents a resort to regressive politics, a movement away from what is ‘right’ to what is expedient; and it fails at the level of strategy, because by turning its back on progressivism the party publicly abandons its constituents…
Bang on I’d say. And I’d add that the conflicts within the Maori world over conservatism vs liberal social justice ideas – for example, Tariana Turia voting against the Civil Union Bill despite widespread queer Maori anger – is equally real, if less well understood within the Pakeha world.
And if Hone Harawira is no poster boy for queer human rights, he is a champion of the working class – particularly working class Maori – hence his importance in the conflict over exactly what kind of allegiance working class Maori choose.
Without him, the Maori Party lose much more than his undoubted talents in the House. They lose the semblance of connection with many Maori who want tino rangatiratanga, not brown capitalism.
Tim Watkin at Pundit, I think, has got it right in terms of how this has played out within Maori Party structures (despite Chris Trotter’s disagreement in the comments). This is a fascinating period for politics in Aotearoa – and Hone, just as he was in the 1980s, is right smack bang in the middle of it.