Stacey Kirk at Stuff reports:
Labour leader David Cunliffe has dismissed suggestions of a cooling in relations between his party and the Greens, saying the Greens would be the obvious first choice for Labour to strike a coalition with.
Yesterday, Cunliffe refused to say whether he would negotiate with the Greens before NZ First.
But today he appeared to back down from those statements, dismissing speculation that tension had arisen between the two allies.
Well Cunliffe not only distanced himself from the Greens, but described Winston as a good guy. That’s a great deal of enthusiasm for him. I guess he regards lying to the media, public and Parliament over his knowledge of the Owen Glenn donation doesn’t stop him being a good guy.
The backdown comes after the Greens lodged an official complaint with Labour over outspoken MP Shane Jones’ attacks on the party.
Yesterday, Cunliffe said he would work with whatever cards the voters delivered after the September 20 election.
“That may indeed quite likely be with the Greens, it may well be with Winston first … NZ First.”
But he would not say the Greens would be his first choice, saying there was “no preordained order”.
This morning, he told Firstline talking with the Greens first was the logical step, if in a position to form a Government.
The Greens are somewhat terrified that Labour will lock them out of Government if Winston demands it as the price of his support. And what could they do about it? Vote for a National-led Government? Of course not. They’d have to just swallow the butter medicine.
The reality is that it looks incredibly improbable that Labour and Greens will have enough seats by themselves to form a Government after the election. Even a bauble to Hone won’t get them over the line. They’ll need Winston and as he has the option of going with National (which the Greens do not), he has all the power.
UPDATE: And looking even worse for the Greens, as Peters says they can’t win without him and his policy is to rule them out:
Winston Peters doesn’t think a Labour/Greens coalition can win the September 20 election.
Chris Trotter thinks they can’t win also. Back to Peters:
Mr Peters says Labour’s strategists must be worried because they must know they can’t win with the Greens.
“They know full well that those two parties can’t get up in this election,” he said on Radio New Zealand.
“Some people should get their hard hats on, because together they won’t make it.”
Before the 2005 election Mr Peters ruled out working with the Greens in a coalition government, and says his position hasn’t changed since then.
But he didn’t rule it out.
“We are six months out from an election and from what we have heard thus far our position has not changed from 2005 on the Greens,” he said.
“However, they’ve got six months in which they might make changes, so you can’t rule that out.”
The Greens are not going to change their policies in the next six months to appease Peters. So if he holds the balance of power, he will block the Greens from Government as a price of support for Labour.