Labour have taken another step towards Green dependence by joining them on power policy. Since the retreat in Labour support at the 2011 election it seems to go without question that the Greens are essential to Labour if they are to form the next government.
‘FAMBO’ commented at The Daily Blog:
All political analysis and predictions has to take one fact into account. Labour will never, ever be in government without the Greens again. The Greens have taken too many Labour votes for good.
This looks to be the case for next year’s election but it’s too difficult to predict further into the future. For example there’s a very real possibility that a Green dominated coalition Government would backlash and reverse the Green support if they implement radical policies.
And FAMBO is making the same mistake some Clare Curran made – Greens don’t own their votes, they are very temporary lent to them by voters, until the next election.
If Labour thinks it can be National Lite and be in a coalition with the Greens it is dreaming. The Greens will compromise to some degree but never on core issues. That’s not the culture of the party.
Certainly Labour would have to compromise significantly if they form a coalition that is one third Green. But the Greens will also have to bite the bullet of MMP reality and compromise as well, or they will not be able to work in a coalition.
Hence Labour has not choice but to move back to the left a bit more, or National will be in power for pretty much the foreseeable future. It may, unfortunately, take another lost election before Labour finally recognises fact, and in the process removes for good its old guard.
The Greens will force Labour left, as they have done with the power policies – but that will make it easier for National to stay in power. Voters remain very wary of what the sum of Labour+Green will be.
Removing Labour’s old guard is a separate issue, it’s something that has to happen to revive the party.
The time for sitting in the middle is over. The middle ground doesn’t exist any more.
That’s wrong, elections are fought, and won and lost, in the middle ground. National have dominated in the centre in the last two elections.
Some from Labour dream that the 1 million people who don’t vote are all on the left, so Labour just need to move left and inspire the non-voters to turn out and vote for them.
But Labour are taking a huge risk. They clearly see the Greens as an essential for their chances in the next election. Instead of resolving to rebuild Labour to compete head to head with National as two major parties they have made a decision to accept being sub-National in size and rely on the Greens to make up the numbers they need.
The obvious problem is how much the Greens may affect Labour’s credibility as a Government-in-waiting, especially their credibility on being reliable managers of the economy.
Labour on their own have problems with economic credibility. John Armstrong says in his Saturday column:
This is part of National’s strategy to make next year’s election a referendum on which party can best be trusted with the management of the economy – a matter of some issue where both parties’ private polling has Labour far behind National.
Labour on it’s own is “far behind National”. Labour plus Greens will be seen as an even greater risk to the economy.
It’s possible that National will lose sufficient support (and support parties) so that Labour+Greens get to form the next government. But if that happens it’s likely to be despite their economic credibility.
And if a Labour+Green government goes too far left with the policies they implement Labour will be as tainted as Greens.
It’s quite possible that Labour+Greens win the next election. That would be the furthest left government for a long time.
Of course it could be a popular and successful government – but it will spend more, tax more and borrow more. Much will depend on the public appetite for adding to rather than pegging back the deficits and substantial borrowing increases we have seen over recent years.
And of course if Labour+Green form the next government they will be inextricably linked for the duration of that government, and if re-elected on 2017 they will almost certainly still be interdependent.
But if they form the next government and go too far left, and spend, tax and borrow too much, and get turfed out, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the Labour and Green numbers end up.
And that’s presuming they last a whole term successfully – Labour’s arrogance and Green’s determination to stick to their core principles may prove unworkable in practice.
Labour and Greens have signalled they are inextricably linked until the election next year.
But there’s no certainty that their alliance will succeed, nor that it will last.
There is no forever in politics.