Hard News by Russell Brown


New Old Left?

The Herald has reported on what seems to have been some informed speculation by Eddie at The Standard on prospects for a "New Left" political party to be kicked off via Matt McCarten's candidacy in the Mana by-election –- and the story, officially, is that there's no story here.

McCarten and Sue Bradford – two of the names mentioned by The Standard -- told the Herald's reporter Claire Trevett that "there were no current moves to do so and they had not discussed the idea with each other."

David Farrar has headlined a post on the matter It’s only official when it is denied, and offered, no doubt mischievously, that: "What I find interesting is that neither McCarten or Bradford see the Greens as a suitable vehicle."

In fact, neither of them have actually said that, but it's not unreasonable to suppose that the Greens set an ideological course when they chose Metiria Turei over Bradford as co-leader.

Not mentioned in the Herald story, oddly, is the figure who could actually make it more than a fantasy exercise – Hone Harawira. Should Harawira really become so frustrated with the Maori Party's accommodations that he stood for a new grouping in his electorate, he would stand a very good chance of winning his seat.

Then, of course, you'd have some tricky business to work through. Chris Trotter would presumably have conniptions at the idea that "The Left" would embrace the goals of Maori sovereignty, but I'm not sure his view would matter much. (By the same token, a man as entrepreneurial as Harawira might find it uncomfortable sharing a party with a bunch of Marxists.)

What would Labour think? I imagine the first response would be anger at having its by-election hijacked, followed by panic at the idea of its vote being split. By the same token, it would doubtless be happy to work with a party to its left if that party brought with it two or three seats.

Personally, I'd be unlikely to vote for such a party on policy grounds, but I'd be delighted to see McCarten and Bradford in Parliament. Bradford was a notably constructive MP with the Greens and McCarten, his health problems notwithstanding, is a remarkably effective campaigner.

For bonus points, you may feel free to also speculate on the prospect for a post-Act party of the angry right. I rather think, though, that David Garrett has other things to worry about at the moment, as does Michael Laws. And the prospect of Paul Henry joining such a party, as suggested by Eddie, is roughly zero. Whatever Henry's personal failings, he's not a complete idiot.


Oh, and because I didn't link to it on Friday: last week's Media7 on Wikileaks and the US midterms, with Paul Buchanan and Tim Watkin, and an online-only bonus chat with both of them.

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