Monday, January 25, 2010
Should Labour Dance For Ratana?
This time every year we see a pilgrimage by politicians to Ratana.
I confess to not knowing much about Ratana and what it stands for. But it identifies itself as being both a spiritual and political movement. Being of a non-religious persuasion, I have strong reservations against any political movement that also takes on religious or spiritual aspects. So I have no fondness for Ratana.
The demand by Ratana that Labour recognise Ratana’s support with four places on the Labour list is unwelcome. It would be like the Pope telling John Key the support of the Catholic Church would be assured if National placed four bishops on its list. That Ratana chooses (reluctantly it seems) to go with Labour must be very nice for Labour, but it would be inappropriate for Labour to reward that support in any material way.
I’m not a party strategist, but I assume the support of Ratana must be worth a few votes. Quite how many I don’t know. Otherwise, if you were Labour, why would you endure the annual humiliation? And for what? It appears Ratana’s traditional support for Labour may be wavering, if the praise of John Key and the Maori Party over the weekend are anything to go by. Labour needs to find out what Key’s secret is – because for the life of me I can’t think what he has done to earn such praise. The best thing you can say is that the leader of a party traditionally hostile to Maori has prevented his party from doing anything to make things much worse for Maori. After all, it’s hard to point to a single meaningful thing Key’s government has done.
Does the demand for four Labour list MPs and the almost unfathomable support for Key suggest that what matters to Ratana’s leaders is not so much substance as the baubles of power?
And does it really matter which party Ratana endorses?