With the recent merger of the Internet party and the MANA movement, it’s raised a lot of questions for those of us on the left fighting for a fairer and more just Aotearoa. Many were initially opposed to the MANA movement, a grassroots, democratic, force for social change joining forces with a German millionaire. Just like many other groups around the country, there have been internal discussions and debates around what this merger would mean for MANA.
Members of Socialist Aotearoa have been given time to think about what this merger means for their involvement in our organisation as well as the MANA movement. Some have been more outspoken than others in their views, but we have not sought to limit the debate around what we perceive as one of the most important developments for the left since the formation of the alliance in the 90’s. We recognise the potential for creating a truly left wing block in our parliament that will be firmly grounded in street politics. We do not believe that this merger is selling out, rather it is using the resources available to us to effect the maximum amount of change.
Socialist Aotearoa recently voted to formally support the Internet-MANA alliance until the election. We agree with the principles this merger has been built on, however we reserve the right to withdraw that support if the prospect of entering a coalition with a capitalist government becomes apparent. We are steadfastly against MANA joining in coalition with any capitalist parties that are in a position to form the next government. MANA needs to maintain it’s independence and Rangatiratanga and not follow the example that led to the destruction of the alliance party.
So while Socialist Aotearoa currently supports the Internet-MANA alliance, we will argue strongly for MANA to maintain it’s independence, and ensure it remains grounded in the movements on the streets that has helped get it to where it is now. MANA is a movement of the people, and we will argue it stays that way.
Below is a piece written by Comrade Eva on why she initially opposed this alliance, but now supports it.
Why I initially opposed the Internet-MANA deal and why I now support it.
When Hone Harawira first announced the possibility of a deal between the MANA movement and the Internet party, I was shocked. I wasn’t entirely certain that the MANA movement PR machine could handle the increased publicity that was likely to follow the announcement of such a deal. I was also unsure of the nature of the Internet party as no policy had been announced, nor had there been any announcement of a leader or candidates. I also felt that negotiations for such a deal had the potential to slow the MANA movements preparations for the upcoming general election, leaving the movement in a seriously weakened position at this important time. My position was also influenced by the recent merger talks between the MANA movement and the pro Tory Maori party that had been carried out in secret without the grassroots membership being consulted. As such, although I could see some potential to an Internet-MANA deal, it appeared at the time to be far more likely to have a negative effect on the MANA movement than to provide any actual benefit to anyone but the most opportunistic members of the MANA movement.
Leading up to the 2014 AGM it looked likely that a deal with the Internet party would be forced through by the leadership with little thought given to the wishes of the wider movement. When Kim Dotcom proclaimed his support for foreign investment and his disapproval of the MANA movements tax policies at the AGM, I felt that an Internet-MANA deal would fundamentally undermine the principles that attracted me to the MANA Movement. Having to make a decision about such a deal with no more knowledge of the Internet party than I had when the deal was first announced was a somewhat alienating prospect. As the Internet party began to take shape I was still hesitant, although I felt the sight of young immigrants wearing Internet party colours at the TPPA march was promising. Young overseas born workers are a largely disenfranchised group that the MANA movement has little chance of reaching, but a group that suffers from the Xenophobia of the mainstream political parties. However at that stage it was still unclear what the Internet party stood for.
Even when the final vote for the MANA Movement came to enter into a deal with the Internet party was taken, nothing was known about the Internet party leadership. To vote for such a deal without knowing who we would be working with would have been a big gamble for me, so I voted against the formation of the Internet-MANA deal. But, remained willing to accept the will of the majority pending the announcement of the Internet party leader. In the weeks since the deal was announced most of the issues I had with the Internet-MANA deal have been addressed. When the internet party began to take shape, the future of the Internet-MANA party alliance began to look quite promising with Laila Harré’s announcement as leader. She is a politician that I deeply respected during her time in parliament, whose time was unfortunately cut short by the right wing of the Labour party. As well as a slate of promising young candidates including Miriam Pierard, who I worked with during the Aotearoa is not for Sale campaign, and Ray Calver, who I worked with during the Occupy Auckland protests.
The collapse of any opposition to the deal into disorganised personal cliques, and the appointment of a strong centre left internet party leadership contributed to my decision to cautiously support Internet–MANA going in to the 2014 general election. My feeling is that Internet-MANA represents the fresh, new, left wing political force that Aotearoa desperately needs after 30 years of free market tyranny under successive Labour and National governments.
Neither the Internet party or the MANA movement has suffered any loss of identity due to the deal, with the two parties enhancing one another without fundamentally affecting the grass-roots support of either political party. Many of the fears that I had at the beginning have been addressed and as such I am willing not only to remain in the Mana Movement, but also actively support Internet-MANA in the 2014 general elections.
member of SA and Mana Owairaka.