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Matt For Mana - About Time!

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford
Matt McCarten

In one of the saddest weeks for the Left in Aotearoa, a bit of hope has emerged on the horizon. Matt McCarten is going for Mana!

After many years of solidifying the Unite union (to which I proudly belong) Matt is back! He is determined to wage this fight to represent one of the poorest electorates in the country.

As an Alliance member, myself and other comrades were stunned at his late entry into the race on Wednesday. Almost immediately, our candidate Kelly Buchanan, attempted to pull out but couldn't get the required paperwork in on time. Her name will still appear on the ballot but I urge any past or intending Alliance voter in Mana reading this to BACK MATT! After all, he is our former party president and leader. We owe him this chance for victory on behalf of the Left.

Already, other left-leaning bloggers/commentators such as Bryce Edwards have endorsed McCarten. What's more important is that Unite, while not flush with cash, will unleash a street army that will rival Labour's in the coming weeks onto the streets of Mana. As a campaigning union, they have perfected the tactic of scaring bully boy employers shitless. Now it will be the turn of the prevaricating Labour Party (who have flip flopped over GST so many times, it's not funny) to feel the heat. And, into the bargain, the Nats will be hoping that McCarten's intervention will aid their cause by splitting the left vote.

Given all these factors and the unpredictable nature of by-elections, I wouldn't be surprised if Matt won outright or came very close to doing so. In the 1990s, political observers on both the left and right came to respect Matt's ability to wage electorate-level campaigns as Alliance National Director. Any student of political history, like me, will tell you that the Alliance almost caused upsets in the Tamaki and Selwyn by-elections. These seats were deemed very safe Tory seats until Matt came along.  With the campaign manager turned candidate now in the hot seat in Mana, anything is possible.

Another exciting possibility is that this could open up the prospect of a new party or other alignments on the left. McCarten has championed this idea for many years but he has strategically sought to develop Unite as a powerbase from which to do this. It is likely that any new arrangement will replicate that used by the Labour Party after its founding in 1916 where trade unions served as the industrial arm while the party became the political arm of the wider labour movement. Hence, Unite (and other progressive unions) might serve to anchor a new left political party or grouping.

All of these matters will no doubt be up for future discussion. McCarten has timed this move perfectly as the Labour Party is at its weakest point since the 1990s. And the last time Labour was weak, the Alliance was strong.

That's why I'm saying Matt McCarten for Mana - about time!


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