The "bizarre spectacle" of Kim Dotcom and the timing of the Dirty Politics publication sucked the life out of Labour's campaign, David Cunliffe says.
Cunliffe told Newstalk ZB this morning it was clear New Zealanders had voted for stability, and he credited National for running a slick, well-funded, well-resourced campaign.
But the Labour leader also said there was no doubt Dotcom's "Moment of Truth" event last Monday "simply sucked airtime and resources" away from both Labour and the Greens.
Cunliffe said issues raised in Dirty Politics would resurface in coming months, and it would take time for the public to digest the book's allegations. "You can't do all of that in a week, in a campaign."
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He said even when National Party elements were under fire for allegations such as abusing power in collusion with right-wing bloggers, Labour couldn't get a word in.
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Yet Cunliffe said he was happy Labour won six out of seven Maori seats. "We now, beyond question, carry the strength of Maori representation."
Although Cunliffe castigated Dotcom, one of his MPs appeared to be a beneficiary of anti-Dotcom sentiment.
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Among Labour MPs who won Maori seats was Kelvin Davis, who defeated internet-Mana's Hone Harawira in the Te Tai Tokerau seat. As a result, the Dotcom-bankrolled party won no seats in Parliament.
Dotcom last night blamed himself for the loss, saying his brand was "toxic".
"He should have put the money up and got out," former Alliance MP Willie Jackson told TV One's Marae this morning, discussing Dotcom's influence on internet-Mana.