Why Mana Voters Would Be Crazy Not to Vote for Fa’afoi
I needed to find out for myself whether the National Party candidate in the Mana by-election, Hekia Parata, is as warm and genuine a person as the scuttlebutt insists. While niceness and politics are not incompatible* — Annette King, for example, is among the loveliest people I know — it is a surprising enough combination to invite an degree of skepticism. Here I invoke the only useful contribution made by Ronald Reagan to the political lexicon: Trust, but verify.
To test the depths of Ms. Parata’s alleged humanity, I emailed her. I suspected she may know me by reputation: one-time Porirua Labour identity and factional troublemaker, once-closeted whoopsy, erstwhile drunk. It turns out she does, although she was far more generous in describing how: Parata is, she says, a fan of my writing. Cue blush.
The purpose of my email was quite prosaic, really. I wanted to ask whether her intention was to remain committed to Mana even if she was unsuccessful in the byelection. This strikes me as the pivotal question for undecided Mana voters.
I will quote only that section of her correspondence that pertains to that question.
- YES – I am absolutely committed to the Mana electorate. We bought our house and lived there BEFORE running for it was even on the radar. I had the option of running again for Wellington Central but chose Mana. And I will continue to choose Mana. The challenges and complexities, and the opportunities and possibilities in Mana are absolutely absorbing and energising. This place pumps!I will be seeking selection to run again for National in 2011.
What a great answer!
Hekia Parata is clearly a great asset for Mana as a government backbencher: a strong and committed voice for the electorate. A passionate advocate.
The point, though, is: Ms. Parata is these things already. And that’s why voting for her makes no sense whatsoever.
Whether or not she wins, Parata will continue to work as she does now, utterly committed to doing the best by Mana. Don’t take my word for it; Parata’s email makes the case far more eloquently. As a National Party list MP, she has added great value and impetus to Mana’s representation in Parliament, and this will continue unabated — and undeterred by the whatever the outcome in the by-election.
In fact, a Parata victory in the by-election would have the unintended consequence of greatly diminishing (halving, in fact) Mana’s presence on the political stage. Laban may be replaced by Parata, but Parata herself will open the way for some party list bottom-dweller whose closest connection to Mana is their occasional consumption of Whittaker’s Peanut Slabs.
Hekia wins and Mana loses: there is, bluntly, no getting around this.
Kris Fa’afoi, by contrast, is the only viable candidate to truly replace Winnie Laban and to join Ms. Parata as one of two advocates for the Mana electorate.
In politics, it always seems wise to back the horse called Self Interest because, as Paul Keating often says, it’s the only one trying. In the case of the Mana by-election, it is clear to me that it is Kris Fa’afoi, not the delightful Hekia Parata, who sits atop that ride.
(May they long work together).
* Sometimes the word “nice” is wielded in a political context as a euphemism for weak and hopeless, a’la Bill Rowling, Don Brash, and even Geoffrey Palmer. This is not my intention here. I mean it sincerely and without sarcasm.