Kelvin Davis and Te Tai Tokerau

Recently there have been some stories doing the rounds in the media about a potential deal between Hone Harawira and the Labour Party in relation to Te Tai Tokerau. As well David Cunliffe has refused to rule in or rule out working with the InternetMana Party. Last night TV3 News ran a story about leaked emails from within the Labour Party about disagreements on the campaign in Te Tai Tokerau. The underlying tone of the leaked emails is that the Labour party is positioning itself to deal with the InternetMana Party after the election.


Part of the email exchange has been released and Kelvin and his campaign have been told, by the Party Secretary:

The cartoon of Kim Dotcom is could be viewed as offensive and the website picks a fight with Internet Mana. I
know that is your local fight, but to present that nationally would not be helpful when both parties are presenting as

Yet he has gone out on social media with the following posts:

Kelvin_Davis 3



He followed this up within 20 mins with account details to donate to his campaign:



Therefore we have a party candidate, and current MP, who has been told directly by his party leadership not to attack the Internet Mana Party taking to social media and using it as a method to do exactly that. Needless to say the Internet Party has felt the need to reply, both on Facebook:



This reply indicates that the Internet Party sees the Labour Party as a potential political friend. But then one of its candidates, who is also the social media manager for the party, has responded with a veiled reference to Kelvin being a con artist.



This same tone continues on Twitter:


So potential coalition partners are using social media to slag each other off. Patrick Gower asks the question that many will be asking:


How will they deal with him? In previous elections, it was a lot easier for the party head office to keep control of the message coming out of electorates. The worst that could happen is that a candidate said something silly in front of a TV camera, and it might run on the news that night. But those candidates could be kept under control with minders and the like. Now, candidates are able to post whatever they want on social media. Some will say silly things without thinking, in which case, once this is pointed out to them by head office, they will either delete it and try to pretend it never happened, e.g. Tamati Coffey, or they will own up to it. But I don’t think that this is a case of Kelvin making a mistake and posting something silly. These posts from Kelvin are indicative of the deeper issues within the Labour Party.


His actions on social media have helped to, once agin, expose factions within the Labour Party. Those who are willing to deal with Kim Dotcom and the InternetMana Party, and those who don’t want to have anything to do with them. Kelvin is not the first Labour MP to go on record attacking Kim Dotcom, former leader Phil Goff has:



As has Chris Hipkins:


The fact that Kelvin feels that he is able, or needs to, go against the orders of the Party leadership is an interesting development. In the past this break down in discipline would not have been as apparent. The Party would have been able to keep the divisions behind closed doors. However, with social media, it is a lot easier for candidates to speak their mind. Unless the party head office has admin rights on every single social media account, there is no way they can control what is going to get posted. However I must say, taking a step like that, direct head office control of all party related accounts, would be a step in the wrong direction.Social media events, such as from Phil Goff, Chris Hipkins and Kelvin Davis, are not the disease, they are simply the symptoms of the disease. The way to solve them is to address the deeper issues that meant those members felt they could, or had to, post what they did. Social media makes apparent any weakness in internal discipline. However at the same time, it will make apparent any  heavy-handed, draconian measures put in place to make it look like everyone is on message. Party control and discipline should be obtained by consensus, not through brute force.