Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Extradition and the Internet Party

A 3 News-Reid Research poll showed that while one in five New Zealanders (in a sample of 1000) would consider voting for the Internet Party, zero said that they would actually vote for them. A blow to any party (not that it's stopped ACT), it is especially bad for this party because they need to quickly build relevance to be taken seriously. They need to find a niche, rather than competing over the same issues and policies as bigger parties that already exist. Part of this is down to the fact that barely any policy has been announced, and for the most part the party has been relying on the "celebrity" status of Dotcom. They also need to quickly shake off the ghosts of Martyn Bradbury and Alastair Thompson, and get on with the job. If the Internet Party wants to do well, they need to find the individuals whose needs are not met by existing parties, and target policies towards them - only then can they start to poll above 0%.

3 News' Patrick Gower has this fascination with the Internet Party and Kim Dotcom, and continues to cynically insist that the party predominantly exists to somehow advantage Dotcom in any extradition case. To be fair, John Key has said the same thing. Yes, under the Extradition Act 1999, the Minister of Justice can override the courts and block an extradition for any reason. However, believing that the Labour (and Green to a lesser extent) parties will somehow be resistant to the pressures exerted by the US government is nothing short of naive. Gower claims that Dotcom wants the opposition in government to increase his chances of staying in New Zealand.

Pity for him that Kim Dotcom responded with:
Dotcom hates John Key - that much is clear from his statements and tweets over the last year. The aforementioned poll also showed that the Internet Party had the lowest level of support amongst existing National supporters in comparison to other parties. But just because John Key is not the Prime Minister is no guarantee that Dotcom is safe from the long arm of the United States. My opinion is that realistically which party is in charge is unlikely to change whether Dotcom gets extradited or not. It is far more likely that his case will shrivel up in court (either here or in the US) and Dotcom gets to spend the rest of his days freely in New Zealand. The Minister of Justice won't get to play any role in that decision.

The relationship between Kim Dotcom's extradition and his political party is interesting - it sells news because it nudges at our deep suspicion of all politicians that they always have some ulterior motive and are just in it for themselves. However, I feel that the reason that the party exists has more to do with dethroning John Key than saving Kim Dotcom. He'd certainly be able to build more support that way, pulling away voters from NZ First, Labour, and the Greens who feel that their parties aren't doing enough to stop National. A major unknown is still who will be standing for the Internet Party - if they can pull some ace out of the deck it could drastically improve their chances.

At the end of the day, the Internet Party is not going to win any seats on the issue of blocking Kim Dotcom's extradition. He has his supporters, and lots of New Zealanders would say that he should be allowed to stay here, but they're not going to give up their one vote to save him. It's not selfish, it's just a bad choice to throw away your opportunity to help decide which party makes important decisions on the economy, education, social welfare, health, and other critical issues just to save one guy (well, actually four guys, let's not forget the other defendants). The Internet Party has started on the right track by talking about broadband and opposition to mass surveillance, but for most New Zealanders these issues wouldn't crack the top five of the most important issues facing them today.

In other news, Reid Research still tracks Preferred Prime Minister stats for Don Brash, Helen Clark, and Jim Anderton. Looks like Auntie Helen still manages to pull in around 2-3% as on July 2013, four years after she left Parliament. Given some of the atrocious graphs on this page, the lack of updates, and no public explanation of methodology, I'm suspicious as to whether this really is the "number one news poll". Then again, I'm not paying them to do any research for me, so they don't really have an obligation to keep me (and the rest of the public) informed about how their stats work.

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