31 Jan 2011

Discussions held on new left-wing party

8:19 pm on 31 January 2011

Veteran protester and former Green Party MP Sue Bradford says discussions are "simmering" on forming a new left-wing party.

Ms Bradford says interest in a new left-wing party is coming from unions, students, beneficiary groups and others wanting to reclaim the economy for all - not just the rich.

She says it is unclear whether one will be set up in time for this year's election.

Ms Bradford says although she and Unite union head Matt McCarten gave speeches about the need for a new party in November last year, there have been no formal talks.

She said there is a "yawning gap" on the left and many people are excited at the thought of setting up a new party.

Ms Bradford says she has not spoken directly to Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, who is facing disciplinary action for criticising his party's support of the National-led Government.

Ms Bradford says although she has not spoken to Mr Harawira directly, she is saddened by the way the Maori Party has treated him.

If Mr Harawira leaves the party and becomes an independent MP, he could help a new left-wing party establish a presence in Parliament, she says.

Ms Bradford says the party would have to be anchored by a sitting MP in order to build the credibility and capacity needed for the necessary 5% before this year's election

While she hopes the Green Party will always have a place in the New Zealand Parliament, she says there is a gap on the political left and there are a great many people who are feeling disenfranchised by the main parties, Labour and National.

The Council of Trade Unions and the National Distribution Union on Monday would not be drawn on the possibility of a new party.

However, Service and Food Workers' Union national secretary John Ryall says his union has held talks with people on both sides of the Maori Party and is watching developments closely.