The Dim-Post

May 31, 2016

Notes on the Red-Green Wedding

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 3:56 pm
  • Gamechanger!
  • Or maybe not. I dunno. I do believe that the big mistake the opposition parties made in 2014 was to talk about things that a handful of activists and political nerds (like me) cared about, and not things that might have persuaded voters to vote for them like, say, what a credible alternative government might look like. So this feels like a big step in the right direction.
  • The obvious historic parallel here is Clark speaking at the ’99 Alliance conference. But contemporary opposition politics are complicated by the fact that Winston Peters was part of the National government back then, and now he’s also in the opposition but could easily be part of either a future National or a future Labour government. Which has constrained Labour until now, I think. But I suspect they’ve calculated that the cost of not looking like a credible alternative to National is greater than the cost of not placating Peters. I guess we’ll see if they’re right.

52 Comments »

  1. The obvious historic parallel here is Clark speaking at the ’99 Alliance conference…

    Wasn’t it the 1998 conference?

    But contemporary opposition politics are complicated by the fact that Winston Peters was part of the National government back then, and now he’s also in the opposition but could easily be part of either a future National or a future Labour government.

    Peters was fired from the cabinet in August ’98.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2016 @ 4:08 pm

  2. Well they are both deluded if they both think they can govern without NZ First so shouldnt they be open about how their promises will mean nothing as they will then be adjusted with Peters on board. And lets face it, if Peters comes on board can you see him playing second fiddle to the Greens or taking command from Andrew Little who refuses to win an electorate seat?

    Comment by rjs131 — May 31, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

  3. @rjs131,

    What you describe is “multiparty government” and applies to all parties seeking to govern – for instance, what happens to National’s manifesto promises if (say) Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell lose their seats in 2017? And let’s face it, Peters hasn’t exactly been John Key’s number one fan! So, yeah – sucks to have NZ First as potential king maker, but voters will be voters.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

  4. Given the illusion to Game of Thrones you obviously think it’s going to be a bloodbath.

    Comment by Robert Singers — May 31, 2016 @ 4:28 pm

  5. But I suspect they’ve calculated that the cost of not looking like a credible alternative to National is greater than the cost of not placating Peters.

    God, this is why I hate the words ‘Winston Peters’ so much. It’s one thing to be a shock jock politician, it’s quite another when entire parties are holding themselves hostage* “just in case” he arbitrarily might decide to give them his vote. Whatever his decision ends up being, it will be entirely personal and completely irrelevant to whatever the actual parties he aligns with want to actually achieve, so trying to adapt one’s policies around him is just… stupid. And the more one does that, the more importance you grant him, so the more likely he’s actually going to end up BEING in a position to tip the balance.

    So as far as I’m concerned, this is a fantastic step forward, if only because it’s shifting the mindset towards ‘everyone should just get on and do their jobs’.

    *Disclaimer: or the media and overexcited political commenters are stubbornly focused on portraying them as doing, as I really doubt that it’s quite as prevalent as the media would like to portray it as.

    Comment by flynnthecat1 — May 31, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

  6. Given the illusion to Game of Thrones

    It was either that or ‘the pact of low carbon steel’.

    Comment by danylmc — May 31, 2016 @ 4:35 pm

  7. This may be an obstinately pre-Key perspective but it seems to me that a pact that doesn’t talk about Cabinet positions in some way has to be regarded as at best a provisional pact. Although the concession that the Greens won’t get the finance ministry is substantial – but then there’s little chance they would seek it or be offered it, anyway.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — May 31, 2016 @ 4:40 pm

  8. There’s clearly a secret part of the pact – the bit that talks about knighting Winston Peters and accepting him as PM for the first 18 months of the the 3 year term before Shane Jones takes up the PM’s job and, being the liberal he is and reflecting the transition to the youth wing of NZ First, allows Green MPs in undersecretary roles.

    Comment by Tinakori — May 31, 2016 @ 4:57 pm

  9. It was either that or ‘the pact of low carbon steel’.
    I feel like Molotov-Ribbentrop has a higher probability of being prescient, but can’t find the right way to fit Andrew Little’s name into the pun.

    Comment by Phil — May 31, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

  10. Surely something about the taste of Valyrian steel and killing the austerity/no housing kings before winter arrives!

    Comment by sheesh — May 31, 2016 @ 5:54 pm

  11. It’s a first step to getting arse into gear, at the very least. Next steps: stay firmly on message; find weak spots in the Govt’s teflon coating; and give non-voters a bloody good reason to vote.

    As for Winston, I’m not sure he’d be both dumb and smart at once to get into bed with Key in 2017, given that his previous experience with Jenny Shipley broke his party in half and nearly sank him. Chances are he’ll stay on the cross-benches regardless of who’s in charge.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — May 31, 2016 @ 6:07 pm

  12. “Chances are he’ll stay on the cross-benches regardless of who’s in charge.”

    National don’t need him now so haven’t offered a bauble big enough to tempt him. But come 2017 and Foreign Minister Peters will have a nice ring to it.

    Comment by artcroft — May 31, 2016 @ 6:36 pm

  13. I want to see Labour/Greens in power, and for long enough to make a difference. Therefore I would have no problem at all if National embrace Winston, under Key’s successor (if he doesn’t quit before the 2017 election, he’ll certainly bail out as soon as he can in the Winston-hugging, self-destructing 4th term).

    Bigger MMP picture: unless/until a credible European-style centre party emerges (i.e. not dependent on a single personality or an electorate deal) then Labour will have to work with the Greens. Better to acknowledge that upfront than persist with the illusion that Clark is still there, and National are 20 points behind.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — May 31, 2016 @ 8:37 pm

  14. Seems like a good step in the right direction

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — May 31, 2016 @ 10:31 pm

  15. I thought ‘This is a game-changer’ too, but I also think ‘Oh no, looks like the Greens have fallen for Labour’s oily charms yet again”.
    I too despise Winston Peters and what he does, and if any alliance can dislodge him it would be a pleasure to watch. I agree totally with sammy – what is really required is what she described: “a credible European-style centre party”. Or in my view an alternative to Labour, rather than it, in its existing form. Net view: The Greens have more to lose from this than gain.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — June 1, 2016 @ 6:27 am

  16. I’m surprised at the optimism some people are showing. Little can barely confirm his name in most interviews. All this MOU does is give us a backdrop to measure how many things “remain to be seen” that should actually be already decided on.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 1, 2016 @ 9:58 am

  17. @Robert Singers,

    You know that saying about how a drowning person will grasp at straws?

    Seriously, but, even baby steps in a direction other than the clearly wrong one that’s been pursued over the last 8 years is worth celebrating a little bit.

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 1, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  18. Much like rumors of demise, rumors of game-changedness (?) are often greatly exaggerated.
    I suspect most voters are going to hear this news and say “This is no different from what we’ve expected all along”.

    Comment by Phil — June 1, 2016 @ 10:06 am

  19. Congratulations, the Greens have beaten NZFirst to become Labours preferred floatation device/coalition partner.

    Labour think they have done a deal that will allow them to take a more populist/centrist position and that the Greens won’t attack them for it. But you don’t need to attack them, just be a principled liberal left party. What the Greens should be saying to each other: “We’ve secured a deal Labour can’t break without looking like infantile toy-chuckers. What we have to do now is beat the Labour Party up down and sideways so that we can dominate the next government.”

    Labour is an old party and is there for the taking, it is dominated by leftist members who hate what Labour is trying to do (capture votes from NZFirst/National). This is the Greens best ever opportunity to secure great swathes of disaffected Labour supporters, do not let it slip.

    If the Greens do this well they could start polling in the 20s and be senior partner in the next government.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 1, 2016 @ 10:44 am

  20. @unaha-closp

    Novel advice – “perform well and get more votes”😉

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 1, 2016 @ 10:47 am

  21. leeharmanclark: United Future was supposed to be that “credible European-style centre party”. And look where it is now.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 1, 2016 @ 11:34 am

  22. United Future was supposed to be that “credible European-style centre party”. And look where it is now.

    UF (and its various ancestors) has been required for confidence and supply, at some point the the parliamentary term, for every government since about 1993.

    Comment by Phil — June 1, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

  23. Surely National is the “credible European-style centre party”, which is why it’s running the show? (As Labour was before it)

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 1, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

  24. Surely National is the “credible European-style centre party” …

    In

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 1, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

  25. Surely National is the “credible European-style centre party” …

    Goddam it

    As I was saying, in which case perhaps NZ needs a sizeable scarily crazy right wing party to bring that fact into better focus? And no, I don’t think David Seymour + a friend or two counts.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 1, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

  26. Novel advice – “perform well and get more votes”.

    Not at all, there is a certifiable difference between performing well and dancing the perfectly correct left wing moonbat two-step.

    Performing well involves sullying ideals with compromise and acknowledging the wisdom of others with the examination of past missteps. Scrapping for the centrist vote needed to take the coalition across the line will mean Labour takes stances against their left wing base, compromise a lot on principles.

    If the Greens take the mantle as a soundly correct left wing party of principle, it will allow them to take lots of votes from Labour. There are many people in politics who believe that their politics are perfect and a party that stokes this belief will make great gains.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 1, 2016 @ 1:46 pm

  27. There’s another couple of aspects that are not really being considered. United Future as pretty much a one man band can survive on it’s rate of financing but Labour is trying to be a nation-wide while circling the plug hole of insolvency. The Greens can at least rely on baby boomer guilt to top up the coffers and haven’t publicly (to my knowledge) said anything to upset past benefactors. The Greens also have a story that makes it appear they have a mandate but continually trotting out “we used to have coal mines” and “we’re a broad church” only serves to show how hollow and anachronistic Labour’s narrative is.

    I’m guessing the Green’s like Albatross tho’. It certainly does look like an attempt to prevent Labour going extinct from their perspective.

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 1, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

  28. I’m not sure what people mean by a “European-style centre party”. Like the German Free Democrats? Or the Nordic ‘Centre’ parties?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 1, 2016 @ 4:38 pm

  29. Antoine: The Nats are European only in the British sense; the mainland European centre-right are still “Red Tories” at heart. When Michael Cullen was Treasurer, he remarked that if he was in Europe he’d be an “Iron Chancellor”, in response to the usual suspects trying to reanimate Rob Muldoon’s dancing cossacks.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — June 1, 2016 @ 6:26 pm

  30. Don’t worry, the zeitgeist is coming, it does not matter what “they or you” think:

    Renewable energy surges to record levels around the world

    New solar, wind and hydro-power sources were added in 2015 at the fastest rate the world has yet seen….

    Over 8 million people are now working in renewable energy worldwide…..

    Falling costs key…..

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36420750

    Comment by Iron Sky — June 1, 2016 @ 8:17 pm

  31. @AG

    > perhaps NZ needs a sizeable scarily crazy right wing party to bring that fact into better focus

    That’s NZ First!

    Sizeable, half the MPs are a bit off the wall, and the policy platform includes “smaller Government”, “less tax”, getting people off welfare, and opposing immigration (http://nzfirst.org.nz/what-we-stand-for/fifteen-principles).

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 1, 2016 @ 9:57 pm

  32. Well if that’s what NZ wants I guess we all owe little a debt of gratitude for handing Northland to Peters….

    Here’s a nice theme song for them…

    Comment by leeharmanclark — June 2, 2016 @ 6:11 am

  33. I see Metiria is looking to be Deputy PM. With her as Deputy, Winston as PM and James Pshaw as Finance Minister with Shane Jones as Minister for Economic Development and Phil Twyford as the Housing minister the next left wing government is starting to look viable. Andrew Little can be the Minister for Homeopathic Solutions with Grant Robertson as his Associate Minister.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 2, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  34. @Tinakori

    Was that real news about Metiria or were you taking the p&ss?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 2, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  35. Given that she is struggling to break 1% in the preferred prime minister ratings, I would think her to be a poor choice of candidate

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 2, 2016 @ 10:15 am

  36. Given his past Greens-bashing, Shane Jones resurfacing within the Labour Party would be, to quote one of John Howard’s speechwriters, like Lazarus with a triple bypass. Still, who knows, being a onetime Helen Clark protege might still count for something.

    Comment by Joe W — June 2, 2016 @ 10:43 am

  37. Now that I am sure, is just Tinakori taking the mickey

    Comment by Antoine — June 2, 2016 @ 10:44 am

  38. No, no, the Metiria Turei stuff is in the Dom Post this morning. And Shane surely is the leader of NZ First’s youth wing.

    Comment by Tinakori — June 2, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

  39. I thought whomever had the most colour in their hair was automatically leader of the NZF youth wing?

    Comment by Phil — June 2, 2016 @ 5:25 pm

  40. Well, I reckon it would be poor for Labour’s electoral chances if the public got the idea that a vote for Labour was a vote for Turei

    Comment by Antoine — June 2, 2016 @ 10:01 pm

  41. I’m sorry, but all this passive-aggressive jousting is starting to annoy me. Let’s face it, it was a shit idea and will potentially consign each party into the dustbin of electoral oblivion.

    Yeah, I said it.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — June 3, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

  42. @LHC

    I don’t think there’s anything so bad in the MoU

    The problem is the stuff that’s not in it. Who is in the leadership team of the Labour / Greens / NZ 1st / Mana Government, and what policies will that Government enact?

    Hopefully that information is to come, otherwise I think it will be a hard election for the Left to win.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 3, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

  43. @Antoine,

    You’re still putting MANA in a post-2017 Government? Really? What next – vampires and zombies to scare the children?

    As for the “who is in the leadership team” line, perhaps you could point to where it’s clearly laid out who from National/ACT/UF/Maori/NZ First will be governing us post-2017, and how their various policies will align. That would be great, thanks.

    Because how does the MOU between the Greens and Labour really differ from the enhanced agreements for supply and confidence that National has with ACT, UF and the Maori Party … an agreement as to how they’ll work together for a single parliamentary term, but with no promises or commitments beyond there. And if that’s good enough for the right, why is it hopelessly loose and vague for the left?

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 4, 2016 @ 8:16 am

  44. @FL

    I could well be wrong about Mana, I just put them in because I’d been reading the Standard and people there seemed to think they were still in play. Maori Party is another possibility?

    On your second comment, the situation with National is quite different. We can be pretty confident that if we get a National-led government it will be run by senior National MPs who will do the things that National MPs like to do. Just like in the last 3 terms. Whether you want that or not is another matter, but at least there’s some certainty.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 4, 2016 @ 8:43 am

  45. We can be pretty confident that if we get a National-led government it will be run by senior National MPs who will do the things that National MPs like to do.

    National at 45%, ACT at 1.5%, no Peter Dunne, Maori Party at 1.5%, NZ First at 11%. Pretty confident “a National-led government it will be run by senior National MPs”? “Some certainty” that this is what will happen? Or, are you just hopeful it will, because that’s what you’d like to see happen?

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 4, 2016 @ 8:52 am

  46. @FL

    Three possibilities:
    (a) they don’t need Peters to govern (in which case a govt run by National MPs)
    (b) they need him but don’t reach an agreement with NZ 1st (in which case no National led govt)
    (c) they need him and reach an agreement involving offering him a position (in which case a govt run by National led MPs, with Peters swanning round in some sinecure).

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 4, 2016 @ 9:02 am

  47. Fourth possibility:

    (d) They need him and reach an agreement involving offering him a position but also keep ACT and the Maori Party in the picture with some ministerial portfolios (in which case a govt mostly run by National led MPs, with Peters swanning round in some sinecure and holding veto power over National policies while the Maori Party further develop Whanau Ora and something else and ACT gets more charter schools and something else … which we’ll discover once the deals are done post-election).

    Or other possibilities.

    Point being, post-election coalition matters are inherently unpredictable (National and the Maori Party? Governing together? Are you mad?), and unless you commit the error of assuming the future will be like the past I don’t think you can really claim there’s “some certainty” about what any post-2017 arrangements will look like. So to be arguing that Labour/Greens ought to be telling us right now what they will do (without demanding the same of National, much less Winston Peters) seems … odd.

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 4, 2016 @ 9:17 am

  48. @FL

    > Peters swanning round in some sinecure and holding veto power over National policies

    I’m pretty confident Nats would go back to the polls rather than tolerate that. Feel free to disagree.

    > So to be arguing that Labour/Greens ought to be telling us right now what they will do (without demanding the same of National, much less Winston Peters) seems … odd.

    Well, of course the Left doesn’t have to come up with a shadow Cabinet.

    But here’s the thing, if they don’t, there are plenty of right wing commentators that will. Here’s the latest, to my knowledge: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2016/06/gowers_labour-greens-nz_first_cabinet.html

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 4, 2016 @ 9:55 am

  49. If National were to get a 4th term it would be govt pretty much as we have now.

    If there were to be a change of give then we don’t know what that would look like or how it would work.

    There’s much greater tension in a Lab/Green/NZF arrangement.

    I don’t think that Labour needs to spell things out now but at some point they will have to go further than this.

    I think most Labour supporters would prefer to know before the election what time Peters might play. Or at least I hope they would.

    Comment by NeilM — June 4, 2016 @ 10:00 am

  50. I suppose that doesn’t have to be particular details on cabinet positions. It could be such statements as what sort of say Peters, for example, would have on issues such as immigration and minorities in general.

    That’s probable of significant interest to many wanting a change of govt.

    Comment by NeilM — June 4, 2016 @ 10:05 am

  51. @Antoine,

    I’m pretty confident Nats would go back to the polls rather than tolerate that. Feel free to disagree.

    Guess only the fullness of time will tell … but if not all policies, at least some? Which ones? How can we know? Where’s the certainty?

    But here’s the thing, if they don’t, there are plenty of right wing commentators that will.

    Not sure that the Labour-Greens’ decisions should be based on “what will David Farrar/Matthew Hooten/etc do if we don’t?” Also, consider the counter-factual. Let’s say Labour-Greens announce “here is our cabinet post-2017”. It then renders one of those parties irrelevant in respect of those policy areas they are not going to have ministers in. Why would any party want to make large parts of their manifesto functionally irrelevant prior to the election?

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 4, 2016 @ 10:18 am

  52. > Not sure that the Labour-Greens’ decisions should be based on “what will David Farrar/Matthew Hooten/etc do if we don’t?”

    It’s about controlling the narrative

    > Let’s say Labour-Greens announce “here is our cabinet post-2017”. It then renders one of those parties irrelevant in respect of those policy areas they are not going to have ministers in. Why would any party want to make large parts of their manifesto functionally irrelevant prior to the election?

    Definitely some challenges for the parties here,

    I think Labour and Greens would still insist on having a comprehensive set of policies – but distinguishing between those that they could reasonably hope to push through in the current term of Government, and those that would have to wait for later.

    As for NZ First, I don’t think they’ve ever seriously tried to have a comprehensive policy platform, have they?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 4, 2016 @ 10:47 am


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