The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, April 18, 2005

that "brand"

I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for the Maori Party to put out their policies, or even give an indication of their general policy principles. No dice. They were due in time for Waitangi Day and it is now nearly May. The latest I read is that they are "fine-tuning" them.

This means they can effectively be all things to all people - they haven't put a stake in the ground over anything except the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

Tonight I heard two interviews with Maori Party candidates on Mana Report that really worry me. They didn't talk about policy at all but both of them, and the introduction, waxed lyrical about the Maori Party "brand" - how strong it is, how well recognised, etc.

I can think of several other strong brands off the top of my head, and what their advertising portrays - Nike (read: shoes that some people think are cool), McDonalds (read: happy times and yummy food), Farmers (read: good quality but not expensive all-sorts of things).

But what does the Maori Party brand stand for? What ideals and principles are behind it? What is the kaupapa of the Maori Party? If the candidates know would they like to share it with the general populace please??

I guess I just find a political party with no policies a bit dishonest.


Scott said...

Well, we do have a few yardsticks - the oft-stated openess to a coalition with any party, including National, Tariana's vote against gay rights, her and Sharples' support for private prisons, the education policy released last year which seemingly differs from Labour policy only in offering free education to those studying Maori and Maori culture, the undemocratic internal structure established by the tikanga worked out last year, and the comments from Sharples in support of some of Tamihere's recent outburst.
The Maori Party is a cross-class party, and the 'brown bourgeoisie' has the upper hand.

Meanwhile the people of Moerewa fight to keep their school open, totally ignored by the Maori Party and the left, and the government makes noises about allowing the 'nationalised' seabed to be mined out by an MNC, against the wishes of local iwi.

The left has to avoid either romanticising the Maori Party or rejecting Maori nationalist struggles outright on the basis of the actions of the Maori Party. What we need to do is counterpose direct action to the failed parliamentary road - to say 'occupy the foreshore, not cabinet'. Apparently discussions are under way about an occupation in opposition to the ironsand mining scheme. This could be one means of reopening the path of the hikoi and drawing a class line through the Maori Party.

STC said...

Perhaps their brand is simply "anti labour alliance", and having policies Labour can annihilate would simply be a bad tactic.

I don't think they really have to have much substance, they can get along much like UF does.

span said...

UF does have policy, always has, but it doesn't get reported much (particularly before the last election when neither their policies nor their candidates got much scrutiny, resulting in many of their voters being a bit pissed off a few months down the track).

span said...

Scott - you are right about the indications Turia's voting, media statements etc are giving, but they don't seemed to be based on any policy principles, which is what concerns me (of course the direction of her outbursts also concerns me). The education policy was also only a draft apparently.

I'm not really a big policy wonk (as readers can tell, i'm more into the cut and thrust and the general principles) but I really do think that a lack of published policy is a big hole in the credibility of a party. If nothing else it shows that there is a lack of member input into the policy process - it means any MP MPs can vote on the basis of personal whim and strategy that suits the moment, rather than the actual kaupapa of their party.

STC said...

My point is that their tactic is to push against what the current government is doing, rather than push their own policies really hard.

Its what minor parties not in Govt do.

The Maori Party has some key policies as well, it just prefers to attack Labour, its more productive for them.

MERC said...

Peter Sharples said on radio/nz that the MP would deny access to the F&S to certain people.

The MS would decide whom those people would be deemed to be.

This is their policy. "Once we have the chance we will make up some rules."

I don't think they really understand the term...representative.

span said...

Minor parties who are not in Govt, in fact all parties who are not in Govt, do push against what the Govt are doing, but they usually put up actual alternatives instead of just saying "don't do that."

Surely voters will be wary of a party that merely attacks the Govt to solicit votes, eg NZF in 1996, when they swept the Maori electorates? I guess I am just a bit too hopeful sometimes.

merc - I think you mean MP not MS ;-) realistically they would be in a minority in any Govt and I don't think they could determine the rules around F&S access. could they?

Graham Watson said...

They could do whatever they want if they held the balance of power. We know that Labour are unscrupulous and would fold to any demand if it meant they kept their grasp on power.

Scott said...

I think the basics of MP philosophy and policy are clear.

They claim (correctly) that Maori are an oppressed group, victims of a institutionally racist society, and they seek to rectify this by creating increased opportunities for Maori businesses, including of course iwi organisations, which are in effect businesses, and by getting more state support and public sector job opportunities for Maori.

Where this strategy goes wrong is a) the assumption that Maori always have the same interests across class barriers and b) the belief that Maori capitalism can survive and prosper in a globalised economy dominated by foreign big fish.

Because the MP's strategy cannot succeed, there is a contradiction between the rank and file of the party, who are overwhelmingly working class, and the leadership, who espouse 'brown capitalism'.

But the glue which binds the rank and file and the leaders together, and which some people here seem oblivious to, is the simple fact that Maori of all classes are oppressed. The outrageously racist S and F legislation is only the latest chapter in a sorry history.

This history should be remembered by those who can't understand why ordinary Maori identify with dodgy nationalist leaders, or might consider restricting access to the foreshore. Maori have been watching racist Pakeha governments use the fig leaf of state ownership to strip them of their rights for over 140 years! The plans to give the seabed supposedly 'protected' by Labour's legislation to a multinational company only confirm Maori suspicions.

The way to go is to support Maori over issues like the S and F but argue that resources recovered from the enemy should be used by ordinary NZers of all races, not turned over to another set of bosses who will end up having to sell or loan them to the same multinational money sharks.

This argument will only become credible if large numbers of Pakeha get stuck in when Maori occupy, march etc A pity, then, that the Alliance didn't seem to intervene in the hikoi in any way.

MERC said...

Whoops MP not MS!

Scott, I agree. But the MP is going to have to be very clever to outwit this Govt.

As a surfer I'm with Maori on the F&S, but as a Pakeha I am excluded. The Govt in no way represent me on the F&S.

The Govt have granted licenses to mine Muriwai sand to the Chinese. I cannot believe we are so locked in the last century of denuding natural resources. It is so stupid. I million people visit Muriwai each year. Why not value that?

If the MP takes up this issue I will stand with them.

span said...

There were certainly Alliance members on the Hikoi (both of them) Scott - I think it is a bit unfair of you to say that, given that you know I was on the second one and that I wasn't the only one!

At the time the party was in a bit of a parlous state internally over the issue of joining the Maori Party and while our leaders marched they didn't take banners to show our presence, which was a pity I agree.