The Maori party are at a set of cross roads and how they deal with it will determine whether they remain a relevant voice for their voters, or end up gradually disappearing into irrelevance.
You’ll note I say ” a voice for their voters”, as I think it would be arrogant for them to claim to be a voice for Maori. Maori didn’t exactly break any records for voter turn out this election and not every Maori who did bother, voted for the Maori Party. So they can’t claim to be a voice for all Maori.
The Green Party here has failed to get over it’s left-of-Labour ideology, and because it’s got a lot of ex-Alliance members and Unionists in it, it can’t be viewed as a real Green Party as say the Green Party in Germany is. How not smacking your kids is good for the environment is lost of me, and obviously a lot of other voters. The Green Party here actually has a real problem because it’s not an environmental issues political movement, it’s a left wing political movement with a lot of Big Government, Statist, Unionist type policies. The fact that they can’t bring themselves to deal with National shows they have lost the plot. I’m sure if they were just an environmental political movement, they could, like the Green’s in Germany have with the Conservative and Liberal parties, have found some common ground with National. This is a huge loss for the Green’s and until they get rid of left wing unionist and ex communists from their ranks and focus on the environment, they are going to become more irrelevant.
This is where the Maori Party comes in.
They can either allow the left wing Maori Sovereignty idealists of their party to push a certain type of political ideology on them, or they can become a party focused on issues important to their voters (and lets face it, every other NZder). This way, they can (like the German Greens) work an agreement with any party who will give them some ground (left or right). Indeed the Maori Party really needs to run a mile from such tags that the MSM will try and pin on them. Like ACT, who I don’t see as being right wing (that’s a convenient MSM tag) the Maori Party should be able to work with anyone.
I understand the Maori Party are keen on vouchers for school children, they have this system in place already and it works well. ACT’s for this as well, and obviously there’s some synergies. Hell, I’d vote for the Maori Party if it was going to see a voucher system put in place because if it works for them, it’ll work for everyone else.
The Maori Party too understands that Social Welfare is not helping it’s voters, and here again they actually have some common ground with ACT.
If the Maori Party can become a practical ‘issues’ party, a bit like ACT, instead of being stuck as left or right (ACT is very socially liberal, much more so than National), then they have a long and successful future ahead of them, and there’s every reason to believe that they will have more than just Maori votes, but in fact have a broader appeal just like the Green’s in Germany have.
If, on the other hand, they allow extreme ideologues to dominate the debate and come out with things about Maori Sovereignty, then they can expect to inhabit the fringes and the practical policies that would not only benefit Maori, but everyone else as well, will never see the light of day.
That’s why the Maori Party are about to make the most important decision in their existence, and for all our sakes given some of the excellent policy ideas coming out (apart from the silly $500 for all Maori families for Christmas type policies) I hope they decide to take the path of a party focused on progressive social and education policy and not run by academics and ideologues like the Green Party is.