I’m not sure a torrent of abuse as a tactic is going to help Labour

I’ve been watching Rino Tirikatane going full retard on Twitter for quite sometime. Ever since Trevor Mallard dialled it back it seems there have been competing interests inside Labour to?see who could be the nastiest and most abusive politician on Twitter. Sue Moroney had a good crack at it and now it seems Rino Tirikatane is trying the wrest the crown of nasty off her.

For a man who was selected only because his old man died and he had the right surname it is somewhat flawed policy.

After five years as the Invisible Man’s doppelganger, Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene has finally broken out.

The trigger was the Budget tax on smoking. His chosen dance floor was Twitter. In person, Tirikatene is a shambling, genial, diffident character. It was akin to watching the Incredible Hulk hulk out.

He started by saying the Maori Party “are slowly turning Aotearoa into a kuia state”. On and on he went, using the hashtag #kuiastate (Nanny State) for each tweet.

He was only goaded further when Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox pointed out that Labour was in fact voting for this “kuia state” measure.

Rude, overbearing and entitled.

The reason for the flurry was a prod from his leader to lift his game. He did it so effectively he ended up being told to rein it in again, mostly over his jibes about the Pew Foundation’s advocacy for the Kermadecs marine sanctuary.

Twitter has long been a soapbox for the oppressed backbench MP. The emergence of Tirikatene as an unsanitised force in this field is quite a relief. Political twitter hasn’t been the same since the days of former National MP Tau Henare and former NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor. Tirikatene is more articulate – he could even be heading into Shane Jones’ territory in terms of exuberant insults.

The Maori Party has been his primary target. On the Maori fisheries legal challenge over the Kermadecs, he quipped “their mouths are too full of crayfish to care”. On funding for Te Puea Marae to house the homeless, his verdict was: “Talk Maori. Act Pakeha.”

There is now talk in Labour circles about whether it can exterminate the Maori Party altogether by wedging Te Ururoa Flavell out of its sole remaining seat of Waiariki.

Labour might want to be careful what it wishes for. At the moment, the Maori Party is the enemy because it is in Government. Even worse, it is in Government with the National Party.

Yet the Maori Party could end up being the solution to a tricky problem for Labour. There are scenarios in which the Maori Party could give Labour and the Greens the extra numbers they need to get into Government without having to go to Winston Peters. Andrew Little could well find himself bracing to knock on the Maori Party’s door, come 2017.

National has shown it can work across the political spectrum. It has previously had a limited MOU with the Green party, worked with Act and Peter Dunne and also with the Maori party. They have shown that they can work cooperatively within the framework of MMP.

Labour for their party have shown that they are highly tribal, extremely negative and have crapped over everyone they may have to call on to finally overtake National. They have treated Maori abysmally, but for some reason Maori keep on voting for Labour the way battered wives stay with their brutal husbands. Their condescension towards Pasifika is well documented and the way they have attacked Peter Dunne, who once propped them up, and also the Maori party is appalling.

Labour thinks they can win with the Greens alone, ignoring and maligning Winston Peters without actually saying so. But the reality is Labour traditionally drops support in elections and so it may well be likely that they will need Peter Dunne, and/or the Maori party…but not if they are ritually abused by fools like Rino Tirikatane.

Politicians who live by Twitter will likely die by Twitter.


– NZ Herald