John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Internet-Mana needs to get cracking

Internet-Mana's Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom and Vikram Kumar. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Internet-Mana's Hone Harawira, Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom and Vikram Kumar. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Given the hype and the publicity, Kim Dotcom and his fellow comrades in Internet-Mana have not exactly set the world on fire in yesterday's Herald-DigiPoll survey.

As the beneficiary of copious amounts of media coverage in recent weeks, the party must be disappointed it has not done better than its 1.4 per cent showing.

It is enough to bring another MP into Parliament assuming Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat. But the level of support registered by the collective Internet-Mana vehicle is barely above what Mana on its own has been scoring.

There may be several reasons for this. First, the Internet Party wing of the collective has done little so far to define itself in terms of policy. It does have a number of positions on a range of disparate issues, such as curbing the intrusive powers of the intelligence agencies.

But these positions are either replicated by competing political parties or are not a compelling factor in determining how people cast their vote.

Second, the party still lacks a clear ideological foundation as to where it stands on basic economic and social beliefs. There is a danger that it will be defined by its personalities - Harawira, Laila Harre, John Minto and so forth - as some kind of old boys and old girls reunion of the hard left. And the market for a hard-left party is tiny.

Third, it is a rather strange arrangement which has the founder and prime funder of an activist party confined to essentially a backroom role - rather than out front as leader. Maybe a bit of frustration at that was behind Dotcom's musings about becoming a New Zealand citizen so that he can stand for Parliament if not at this election, then at the next one.

The current arrangement also makes it difficult for Harre as leader of the Internet Party. Is she speaking for herself? Or is she merely the voice of Dotcom?

She and others in Internet-Mana will argue it is still early days. And they have a point. But if Internet-Mana is going to make a big splash in the coming election campaign, it must start creating waves now.

- NZ Herald

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John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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