As suggested here some time ago, a slow re-alignment on New Zealand’s political Left is under way.
Labour has been in slow decline for 20 years: the decline started during the battles over Rogernomics and Helen Clark’s 15-year reign saw further chipping away of Labour’s core vote.
New Zealand’s political Left has what we have called the “Tea Party Tendency” which holds Labour has not been sufficiently socialistic enough: the Tea Partygoers are spread among Labour and the Greens but their views are similar: they hold that Helen Clark was a sell-out “neo-liberal” (whatever that term is defined as this week) and nothing will do but a total overturn of the post-1984 economic reforms.
Yeah, they’re still obsessed by the late 1980s. How you tell if someone is a member of this following is if they use the term neo-liberal in political conversation.
Ms Harre is something of a hero to many of this faction and will pull further votes from Labour – probably more from Labour than from the Greens. The Green Party now has a strong brand and whatever else can be said about the party, it knows what it stands for.
The advantage for National will be twofold: most obviously, the parties are scrapping over the same vote. Few, if any, National voters feel Labour needs to become more left wing.
The other advantage can be framed in terms of the economic concept of opportunity costs: what is spent on one thing cannot be spent on another thing.
In political terms, Labour, Green and Internet/Mana activists will spend more time, energy and money fighting each other than fighting the government.
Which is why it took Labour three days to comment on the Greens’ carbon tax. Hosking notes:
Labour, though, was caught flat-footed again: after sending mixed messages on the Internet Party/Harre/Mana mashup over the past week, Labour appeared to be blindsided by the Greens using a party conference to announced an eye-catching policy in election year.
The best Labour managed was a spluttered comment that it “does not comment on other party’s policies.”
Someone perhaps needs to sit down with the Labour Party and go over the basics of this politics thing again. I suspect diagrams might be needed, and perhaps a big thick crayon.