I’ve never quite understood the reason why politicians of all descriptions flock to Ratana every year. But most politicians aren’t mugs, so I figure they must see some benefit in abasing themselves before the Ratana leadership.
But some within Ratana are now sounding like attention-seeking children.
Radio New Zealand has reported that a senior Ratana leader, Kereama Pene, is upset because none of the people with Ratana connections on the Labour list have a show of getting into parliament, based on current polling. He is calling upon Ratana followers to vote for another party.
Quite why Ratana followers shouldn’t make up their own minds about who to vote for, rather than be told by church leaders, isn’t clear.
The fact that Louisa Wall, the new Labour MP, has ties with Ratana also appears to have been ignored in all of this.
I profess relative ignorance about Ratana, and I don’t know much about the religion beyond what I can find in Wikipedia. I’m sure Ratana’s version of the imaginary friend in the sky is just as benevolent, all-powerful and all-knowing as everyone else’s. So this is not a dig at the religious beliefs of Ratana specifically.What I take offence at is a religious leader demanding more power for his church, on the back of a threat to take his people elsewhere.
What would the reaction be if Pope Benedict demanded high list rankings for Catholic Labour Party members? Okay, so that might not be a good example, because for all I know there might already be a good number of Catholics high on the Labour list. But we'd still be mortified if such a demand were ever to be made. The fact that it's Ratana making the demands doesn't make it any less wrong.
We should not tolerate interference in our political system by any religion. That is all.
Monday, January 25, 2010
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?