McCarten on Labour’s lack of friends

Matt McCarten looks at the minor parties, and concludes it may be , not National, that has no friends when it comes to coalition options:

However, the ultimatum by Winston Peters and Peter Dunne – that they would not support a Labour-led government if the were in it – set up the situation where Labour’s hegemony of the minor parties would ultimately fracture. …

Once Clark had dismissed the as the “last cab off the rank”, the Greens were screwed. Labour went for the short-term, expedient deal, which, at the time, seemed a master stroke. It kept the Cabinet and, by offering Peters and Dunne ministerial portfolios outside Cabinet, had a comfortable parliamentary majority. The Greens had no choice but to take a few crumbs as a consolation prize. …

At the time, Greens co-leader Rod Donald was devastated at what he thought was a betrayal by Labour. The current leadership, after Donald’s untimely death shortly after the election, understood clearly that they would not be put in the position of Labour’s footstool again. …

So we are in an ironic position where Labour needs loyal electoral allies. The Maori and the Green parties, which Labour will need to survive, are hedging their bets.

Labour’s decision to do a deal with NZ First and United Future has come back to haunt them. Neither is politically viable and won’t survive when their leaders retire. The Green and Maori parties, which will survive long term, were alienated and are now taking their revenge.

On election night, Clark may well find herself in the same position as National three years ago. Key will have many coalition options and Clark none. The irony is that her political isolation will have been self-inflicted.

I still think when push comes to shove, the Greens will fall in behind Labour, no matter what. But the Maori Party will genuinely not make their mind up until after the election. ACT and United Future are showing a clear preference for National and NZ First has said it will negotiate first with the largest party. Now that is no guarantee of a successful outcome, but Peters would be wary of putting back into office an unpopular party rejected by the electorate.

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