Little versus Shaw, plus the Winston factor

Colin James has made an interesting observation about Andrew Little and James Shaw in his latest column. He wonders if Little may struggle to look like Leader of the Opposition alongside Shaw.

His introduction in The workers’ flag is deepest red — and Green:

It’s Labour Day next Monday. What’s the point nowadays?

Once there was tradition: organisation and regulation for decency and dignity for those who got their sustenance from work for others.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is in that tradition. It held its biennial conference last week.

He discusses unions, the union of two unions into E Tu (stand tall is the official translation) and Helen Kelly and the CTU. Then he concludes with his observations of the Labour and Green leaders.

Those times are redefining how work is found and contracted: the likes of Uber and Airbnb or online auctions for specified tasks.

Can unions devise an organisational response? Can there be a legislative response, since these arrangements don’t respect national boundaries?

That poses big questions for Labour and the Greens. For Labour that goes without saying because the “labour” in Labour tags it as a party for those who work for wages.

It goes for the Greens, too. James Shaw was at the E Tu launch and spoke at the CTU conference. That parks the Greens definitely on Labour’s side, however much Shaw insists he and the Greens will work with any party.

It was obviously deliberate parking of the Greens alongside both labour and Labour.

That, along with a much improved personal and operational relationship and greater mutual respect than last year, is a plus for a potential Labour-Green coalition in 2017.

But there is a risk: Shaw.

At the CTU conference Little, the unionist among friends, scanned some important trends and future challenges in the future of work, including different ways workers will associate. But he spoke with his head mostly down, eyes on his notes.

Shaw delivered a succinct gender-equality message, making eye contact with delegates, with humour but dead serious.

The risk is that Shaw in 2017 looks and sounds to voters more the leader of the opposition than Little. That could stick a competitive edge into the relationship.

And if that went bad, it could delay the resurrection of Labour Day.

There will be tension anyway between Labour and Greens in 2017 – they somehow have to look capable of being a united government-in-waiting while competing hard from the same voting pool.

The last thing Labour wants is to have no more seats or democratic say in a coalition than Greens+NZ First.

And that’s one of the first things the Greens would like. And also Winston, who seems to quite like being seen as the de facto leader of the Opposition as well.

Peters first stood for parliament (for National) in 1975, forty years ago. He became an MP in 1978 (it took an electoral petition to overturn the election night result to do that). He successfully set up NZ First in 1993.

He missed three years in Parliament when NZ First failed to beat the threshold in 2008 but returned in 2011.

Peters has been an MP for 34 years, for three electorates (Hunua, Tauranga and now Northland) and has contested 13 general elections plus a by-election earlier this year. He has won electorate seats ten times (and campaigned and lost once).

In contrast the combined Parliamentary experience of Little and Shaw is four years, lest than one eight of Peters’ time sitting in the big House. Little has contested and lost the New Plymouth electorate twice. Shaw has stood once as a list MP, ranked just 13th by his party.

Even if NZ First only gets a quarter of the combined Labour+Green vote (about the best they can hope for) he will keep sneering at their inexperience.

Little versus Shaw versus Peters could be an interesting contest in 2017. And all three of them united have to better John Key to succeed.

Will election day in 2017 be Labour+Greens+NZ First Day? Probably not, if the get enough seats combined it’s likely to take weeks to work out a coalition. But it could happen, albeit uneasily.

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3 Comments

  1. This will be interesting… if the current numbers stay till the election then its pretty tight and Winston becomes king maker…..

    Will National try and undermine Winston and destroy his vote hoping it will come to them?

    Will a detente break out between Winston and the Nat front bench [watch question time closely over the next 6 months and see if the jibes tone down]?

    Winston is running the nationalistic banner up regularly around land and trade… and that doesn’t sit with Keys current position… so a coming together there becomes difficult I would have thought

    2017 will be interesting – Maori Party swamped by Labour, Dunne gone…. National have no real allies to build a coalition apart from a 1 seat ACT…..

    A government lead by Little and Shaw doesn’t bear thinking about…

    Reply
  2. Zedd

     /  21st October 2015

    Is there an ‘official rule’ as to who is called ‘Leader of the opposition’ ?
    It seems to be just defaulted to the party with the most seats, regardless of ‘Seniority’.
    If it was taken on seniority.. then Winston should jump to the front of the queue ! :/

    btw; NZ1st are sounding like they intend to challenge Greens for their no.3 spot.. before 2017

    Reply
  1. Genter versus Robertson, Greens versus Labour | Your NZ

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