A thoughtful view on Labour and Green election prospects from Te Reo Putake at The Standard. I have a bit of a history of clashes with TRP but this is out of (his usual) character, I think these comments are a useful and realistic look at what the near future may hold for the political left.
If Labour Needs to Move Left, Why are the Greens Stuck in the Teens?
A couple of themes that occasionally pop up in The Standard’s comments are the need for the Labour Party to adopt more left wing policies to ‘win’ the next election and, less often, and far less likely, predictions that the NZLP will soon be the junior partner on the left.
I’m in favour of Labour adopting left wing policies and I will be doing my best to make sure we have credible, well thought out left platforms adopted at the next national conference, in Christchurch, this November. Those policies will be binding on caucus and the party will expect the campaign to be fought on the ideas, issues and solutions the membership want taken to the electorate. I suspect some policies will be dead rats for Shearer and the coterie around him, but tough. That’s democracy.
But if the Labour Party presents policies that are as left wing as some of those espoused by the Greens, will that make the difference? Will that lift the NZLP vote into the high thirties/low forties, where it should really be under MMP?
I suspect not.
Whether Standardistas like it or not, a leftist, or even leftish, platform, by itself, does not guarantee support, let alone victory, in Western Parliamentary elections. If it did, then the Greens would already be outpolling Labour. But they are not; and, I confidently predict, they never will.
There are two reasons for it. Firstly, the Green’s branding limits them to single figures, or just above. The party name suggests that environmental policies are the limit of their ambition. Not true, of course, but that is how they are perceived and the results reflect that fact.
It is to the considerable credit of kiwi greens MP’s and activists that the GP has been more successful than any other Green Party worldwide, but that’s as far as its likely to go.
Secondly, the NZ Labour Party has history on its side. It has been, and remains, the only credible alternative leader of Government in NZ. It’s been National or Labour for 75 years and for a lot of voters, it’s barely different from choosing Ford or Holden when Bathurst rolls around each year.
National and Labour are the Big Beasts of NZ politics and MMP has not changed that.
So, what’s the other factor in getting a left Government in place? Well, it’s leadership, obviously enough. And David Shearer’s minor oversight in forgetting he had $50k or more socked away in a yank bank tells me that he doesn’t have what it takes for the kind of victory the NZ people deserve.
I’m not saying that he won’t be PM after the next election, but the majority will be painfully thin, when we should be heading for a repeat of 1999. But, then, in ‘99, we had a clear alternative Government to vote for: Labour/Alliance. Few signs yet that NZLP and the Greens will be able to present a similarly credible bloc to vote for this time round.
My prediction? NZLP 35%, Greens 12%. I’m not even sure that the Greens will be part of the next Government. It could well be a minority LP/NZF with GP support on confidence and supply, because the continuous slippage in National’s vote since the last election will help shore up Winston and I believe Shearer will opt for the least challenging coalition partner, being the pragmatist that he appears to be.
One final point on Winston; he doesn’t seem to be as belligerent toward the Greens as he was six years ago. Perhaps he’s ready to swallow a dead rat of his own?
The dead rat link and other links don’t work. If they are fixed at The Standard I’ll fix them here.