Labour and Greens

Many articles in the Herald on and the .

First Isaac Davidson writes:

In eighteen months, three or more Green MPs could become Cabinet ministers for the first time in the party’s history.

It will be more than three. If there are 28 Ministers, I would expect the Greens would have around seven Ministers, if their share of the Government’s MPs is around one quarter. Their top seven ranked MPs from the 2011 list are:

  1. Metiria Turei
  2. Russel Norman
  3. Kevin Hague
  4. Catherine Delahunty
  5. Kennedy Graham
  6. Eugenie Sage
  7. Gareth Hughes

Chapman Tripp solicitor Linda Clark wrote in a think-piece this week that if Labour formed a government with Greens next year, three Green MPs were likely to be part of the Cabinet.

She said that Greens co-leader Russel Norman was likely to become Economic Development Minister, co-leader Metiria Turei would be given a social policy role, and Kevin Hague could get the health portfolio.

Labour Party sources told the Weekend Herald that they agreed with this prediction, in particular the possibility that Mr Hague, a former District Health Board chief, would get the health portfolio in a Labour-Greens government.

They said Mr Hague was “highly competent” and “trustworthy”, with one source saying Labour “would rather work with him than any other Green MP”.

Kevin is very well regarded. And if they are in the Government, he will be Minister of Health. Annette King wants to be Speaker, not Health Minister. Trevor Mallard will be Leader of the House. They just don’t want to publicly say Trevor will be a senior Minister as he is so unpopular with party activists, and the public.

Dr Norman, Ms Turei and Mr Hague were seen as the only “shoo-ins” for a Labour-Greens Cabinet.

It’s not really up to Labour. How these things tend to work is they decide how many Ministers each party gets, and it is up to the party to decide who fills them – so long as the PM does not veto. So if the Greens want Catherine Delahunty (their No 4) as a Minister, she will be.

John Roughan writes:

Three opinion polls have come through this week. All of them have National still far ahead, two give the party enough votes to govern alone. …

More important probably, they are the first to be taken since Labour and the Greens put their heads together and announced a hare-brained scheme to bring the wholesale electricity market under price control.

This, the parties hoped, would simultaneously undermine the asset sale, allow them to promise lower power prices, distinguish themselves clearly from the Government and give voters an image of a Labour-Green coalition in action.

It definitely did that. And National is polling higher than votes in the 2011 election.

When Russel Norman snarls about business and profits, he might be winning the 10 or 12 per cent of voters that the Greens need to be in play after the next election. But he is turning off the mainstream that Labour needs if it is to get close to the 40 per cent it would need to lead a coalition.

Labour’s strategy to go after the voters on the left, not the centre, is strategically dumb.

So what is David Shearer to do? Obviously he needs to give the Greens a wide berth from here on but more than that, he needs to stop condemning John Key for every little thing. It is just opposition politics and it never works. He sounds programmed, unconvinced and bored, as he must be.

Shearer is an intelligent fellow, still fairly fresh to politics and must be finding some themes of policy and events particularly interesting. He needs to make the most of those subjects. They might not make headlines, his economic leanings, I think, are orthodox and sensible. It may be that while he is talking to small audiences more combatant parliamentarians in his party will command attention and commentators will start writing, Where’s David Shearer?

Let them. If he sticks to a conventional opposition script they will soon be writing him off anyway.

His advisors should let David Shearer be David Shearer.

John Armstrong writes:

It has long been assumed that should the next election deliver the requisite number of seats, Labour and the Greens would bury their differences and form a centre-left government.

That would still seem the most likely eventuality. But it is by no means guaranteed.

Shearer is increasingly making references to a “Labour-led” Government – not a “Labour-Greens” one.

This is in part to counter Key’s demonising of such a combo as the “devil beast” by making it clear that Labour will very much be in charge.

But it is also becoming clear that Labour increasingly thinks it might be preferable to strike a deal with Winston Peters.

There is a growing belief that it might be easier to govern with New Zealand First than the Greens who can be fractious, averse to compromise, and prone to being holier than thou, and, perhaps worst of all, are in fierce competition with Labour for the same segments of the vote.

There are also strong indications that Peters is becoming less inclined to be party to a Labour-led government which includes the Greens.

Wouldn’t that be hilarious if the Greens get more votes than NZ First, but once again Labour screws them over by going with Winston and leaving them without portfolios?

The immediate difficulty with that scenario is Labour and NZ First combined would be unlikely to secure a majority in Parliament.

However, the Greens might find they had little choice but to prop up a Labour-NZ First Administration if only through abstention. The Greens would have nowhere to go.

That is the problem. They could hardly put National into Government or force an election. They could face never ever becoming Ministers.

The two parties have an odd relationship. Labour and the Greens are the Siamese twins of New Zealand politics. They are forever trying to escape from one another but are doomed to having to live together. It is consequently a relationship which has the life and energy sucked out of it by an underlying and debilitating mixture of ambivalence and wariness towards one another.

Siamese twins – I like it.

The second argues that it is a mistake to allow Key free rein to “frame” Labour and the Greens in an image which becomes harder and harder for those two parties to wipe off.

This weekend the Greens will try to render as null and void Key’s potent line that next year’s election will be fought between “the centre-right and far left” by claiming he is the extremist, not them. It is a claim that is most unlikely to wash, however.

If an extremist calls you an extremist, I think that makes you a moderate.

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