Rodney Hide: Revenge put to work as policy

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Kim Dotcom at the launch of his Internet Party. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kim Dotcom at the launch of his Internet Party. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Motive matters, especially in politics. Voters want to know the "Why" just as much as the "What". And that's where the internet Party falls down. Kim Dotcom is driven entirely by revenge. And his fight with the US Government.

His beef is with the Prime Minister. Dotcom holds John Key personally responsible for the raid on his home and the taking down of his internet business. Hence the internet Party.

In the absence of the raid - and the threat of extradition and conviction - there would be no internet Party. That's its point.

The party therefore lacks uplift. It's not in any way inspiring. It lacks any underpinning philosophy or guiding principles. That's a must-have for political parties. It's what generates the passion and the drive that politics demands.

Not surprisingly, those involved desperately lack passion and belief. The internet Party's chief executive Vikram Kumar jumped from Dotcom's Mega company.

He says his job now is that of a "start-up" and of taking "a concept to market".

That's not the stuff of politics. For lawyer Graeme Edgeler it's just a job. "There aren't a lot of electoral law jobs out there. To be honest, there would be a few different parties I would have worked for if they'd offered me a job," he told the Herald on Sunday.

Media guru Jim Tucker is the internet Party's media and policy adviser. He says he's staying politically neutral. He won't commit to the party even though he's advising on media and writing policy. If he won't commit, why should we?

To succeed, a political party needs a flock of volunteers and supporters and candidates. That's not going to happen. That's because the paid staff lack any belief or passion for the party cause. That's because there isn't one.

Their motive is that of a job. That's their stated "Why".

Dotcom is not a citizen, can't vote, can't stand for election and can't lead the party. He very much is the party but can't do any of the things we expect of politicians and political leaders. He also faces extradition and serious charges in the US.

The usual hurdle confronting a new party is the 5 per cent MMP threshold. The internet Party has an additional hurdle: will its founding guru still be in New Zealand come election day?

The motives behind the very public dance of Dotcom and Mana's Hone Harawira are equally disturbing. The Mana people see money and momentum. Dotcom sees Harawira's electorate seat. That would make the 5 per cent threshold redundant.

The "Why" is not about the people's concerns and the country. It's about Dotcom and the Mana Party. It's about what suits them.

Harawira's executive assistant, Jevan Goulter, publicly described the Mana-Internet Party deal: "Okay, so we would be helping a fat, rich, white prick with a bunch of money but it would obviously help Mana too ... The difference could be two or three Mana MPs," he told the NZ Herald.

The calculation is crude and self-serving. The internet Party does at least have some policy: fast, cheap broadband that's universal and unlimited. There's no explanation of how that's to be achieved. Or what it would cost.

It's also not enough of the "Why". People won't march up Queen St for better broadband.

But I wouldn't be so rash as to write-off the internet Party. There's always a protest vote.

I well remember in the early days of Act asking a taxi driver who he was voting for.

"Still making my mind up. Can't decide between Peters and Prebble. I am trying to work out which would cause the government the most trouble."

- Herald on Sunday

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