Election – governing possibilities

National have a 10% lead over Labour so have the stronger mandate to form a government, and last night Bill English acted and spoke like a winner, but their options are limited.

English said they will work with NZ First to try to form a ‘stable government’ over the next few days. The outcome of course depends on Winston and his party.

Jacinda Ardern looked and sounded defeated last night but she said Labour would have a good look at the results and their options today, and that they would have a few conversations.

Labour did well to bounce back from their 2014 disaster but they didn’t get a strong mandate to lead a new government.

James Shaw claimed that people had voted for a change of government so would be working to try to achieve that with Labour and NZ First.

This depends a lot on NZ First, who may demand Greens stay on the sidelines again as a condition of supporting Labour.

Greens have dropped from 10.7% to about 6% and have less votes than NZ First so don’t have a strong mandate, and their presumed continued refusal to work with National puts them in a weak bargaining position.

David Seymour is at risk of being left on the sideline if Peters refuses to deal with him combined with National. The alternative, a Labour led government, is also the sideline.

Greens could strengthen their hand significantly if they were prepared to negotiate with both National and Labour-NZ First, but unless their membership has a massive change of heart and gets some common sense this looks unlikely.

James Shaw could try to lead his party to negotiate with National, if he wants to put the interests of the country first, but Greens have a habit of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

My personal preference is for National to continue to lead the Government with the best option between NZ First and Greens. This would be the best guarantee of stability, sound economic management would continue but National would be forced to deal better the key issues of housing, poverty, inequality and the environment.

Ardern did well to lift Labour out of oblivion but she and her party came up short. Ardern would benefit from working over the next three years to rebuild Labour with a new injection of talent (current depth of  talent is not strong) ready for a strong bid in 2014.

Ardern – not too young but rattled

A  Herald ZB Kantar TNS poll shows that most people don’t think Jacinda Ardern is too young to be Prime Minister. Age no barrier for Jacinda Ardern, new poll says

The actual question asked isn’t clear, but here are the reported results:

  • Her age should have no bearing on how voters view her 44%
  • Her age could be an advantage as a Prime Minister in a modern government 22%
  • She was too young and inexperienced as a political party leader to take on the top job 28%

Youth and inexperience are not the same.

Not surprisingly older people thought she was too young or experienced – 43% of over sixties.

And “More than three-quarters of 18-to-29-year-olds either said her age was irrelevant or that it was a positive.”

The poll of 1000 people took place between September 13 and 19 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

No sign of them polling Bill English, James Shaw or Winston Peters on the suitability of their age or experience – or staleness.

Also NZH: The verdicts on the final Bill English vs Jacinda Ardern leaders’ debate

Audrey Young: Winner? Bill English

Jacinda Ardern was on the defensive for most of the debate, possibly because the 1News poll showing a dive for Labour knocked the stuffing out of her.

English won more points, but he didn’t shine. He wasn’t very nimble and it looked as though the campaign had taken its toll.

The campaign has taken it’s toll on many of us, but understandable the party leaders are getting jaded and a tad tired of repeated the same stuff over and over.

Toby Manhire: Winner? Draw

Ardern looked properly riled, challenging English to look her in the eye and repeat the claim. He was sticking with his hole, but gave a little ground.

She called him Bill countless times; he didn’t say Jacinda but he did tell voters they had a choice, several thousand times over.

…it’s hard imagine anyone having had their mind changed.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Winner? Bill English

It’s the first time Ardern has looked rattled. She struggled to maintain her usually ever-present smile.

Ardern struggled to defend her plans on a number of fronts but performed well on the health crisis.

English has never looked so in command this campaign.

He attacked both Labour and the Greens for hopping on the water tax “populist bandwagon”, over-talked Ardern and pulled her up on facts.

Liam Dann: Winner? Bill English

Ardern never got a roll on.

English smiled and talked his way through the tricky issues like a Prime Ministerial robot.

In the brief moments where he was vulnerable – the fuel pipeline debacle, poverty and the imaginary fiscal hole – Ardern needed to go for the knockout.

In fact, never mind the boxing analogies, she needed to hit him in the nuts like a street fighter. It’s probably to her credit as a person that she didn’t but it handed English a clear points victory.

If you haven’t voted yet make up your mind and do it.

I’m going to vote on Saturday. I’m still observing and pondering.

Ardern and English post debate comments

Bill English and Jacinda Ardern were interviewed after their final debate of the campaign.

She wasn’t drilled about Labour policy, just mainly asked about English’s comments on various things, and how she has been attacked, and the nature of the campaign.

Just one Labour policy issue was raised, on renegotiating the trade agreement with South Korea.

TVNZ take:

Ironically English promoted a lot more policy ‘ideas’ than Ardern in his stand-up.

English responds to a number of questions about the alleged fiscal hole. English sticks to claiming that ‘everyone’ agrees that there is ‘a hole’ and is sticking to his/National’s estimate of the size of the ‘hole’.

He says he backs his experience of having delivered eight budgets in making his claims.

Also asked about Nationals income tax claims. English is still claiming Labour will raise income tax. He has an argument with journalists about semantics. English rewords it as Labour needing to pass legislation that will change/raise the level of income tax . They give up and moved on.

Also covered was the prospects of coalition deals with Peters. Nothing new came out of it.

The interview with English was much longer (11 minutes) and more substantial than Ardern’s (3 minutes). English was still in campaign mode.

He said that if returned to government National would not be in a position next week to decide on an appeal of the Teina Pora compensation.

Last debate, Ardern versus English

The last debate between Bill English and Jacinda Ardern will be on TVNZ 1 at 7 pm tonight. I think that Mike Hosking will be back running it after an illness ruled him out of the second debate.

English was rocked by a bad poll result before that debate, but it has swung the other way with tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll has national back up to 46% and labour slipping 7 to 37%.

It will be interesting to see who is finishing the campaign stronger.

The Spinoff:  The final battle: A fight to the death in the last English-Ardern debate

Duncan Greive:

What we saw tonight was essentially the entire campaign, distilled. English: dogged, stolid, indefatigable. Ardern: passionate, idealistic, frustrated.

English looks like he has grown into the task and is enjoying it, Ardern looks like she is just about over it – but she may have to pick herself up on Sunday and launch into another major exercise for a few weeks, which may launch into three years of hard yakker.

Simon Wilson: Ardern failed to land a death blow.

Jacinda need to crush Bill tonight. Land those body blows, leave him looking like he wasn’t sure what day it was.

She was never going to do that with reason or calm reassurance, and certainly not with relentless positivity. The defining characteristics of her campaign have been phenomenally successful, but at this point, like the campaigns of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, they have not been successful enough.

Annabelle Lee: The winner on the day was… that giant desk

Both Ardern and English gave as good as they got and played well to their respective strengths (him: it’s the economy stupid. Her: kids are living in cars stupid) so no clear winner other than the desk which could double as the iceberg in the remake of The Titanic.

Ben Thomas: A plodding draw

It was also a harder English that emerged. Rightly challenged on his characterisation of Labour scrapping planned tax cuts as a “tax rise”, he doubled down. Asked about the now-notorious $11 billion, he nakedly misrepresented the argument and its outcome saying economists agreed there was a “hole” (no economists agreed, either on the accounting or the metaphor). Hosking slumped in his seat exasperated, but Ardern’s response of surprise rather than fury failed to settle the matter for anyone unfamiliar with the facts (still a possibility even after the last few exhausting weeks). She called him “mischievous”, which fed into English’s narrative that it was all just a typical politicians’ semantic playfight.

Ardern’s own vision, expressed during the election period as a concern for the children in poverty and locked out of homes, didn’t make an appearance until the dying minutes. It was her strongest moment, but not enough to save the debate from being a plodding draw.

Madeleine Chapman: Please, god, can this be over now?

This debate was so boring. Usually I can do screengrabs while also remaining engaged but by god, I felt like I was watching a family argue at dinner.

I think a lot of people are over the campaign.

When Jacinda told Bill “look me in the eye” regarding his insistence that Steven Joyce (very much wrong) was right about the $11.7b Labour fiscal hole, I expected her to follow up with an “I’m the captain now” to make all my meme dreams come true. Instead I could only manage some uninspired memes from an uninspiring debate.

I think that most people have already decided or will still be undecided after this debate.

English has improved, Ardern has faded

The election campaign was turned on it’s head six weeks ago when Andrew Little stepped down, Jacinda Ardern took over the Labour leadership, Metiria Turei stepped down and to a lesser extent Peter Dunne pulled out altogether.

Labour surged, Greens and NZ First slumped, and National slipped.

The campaign had suddenly transformed into a head to contest between National and Labour, Ardern and English.

Bill English was seen as a (reliable enough) colourless plodder, and Ardern was a bright new thing and she attracted a lot of attention and support.

Ardern started her leadership with a lot of praise for how well she grasped the opportunity and how well she measured up to greater responsibility.

But she has struggled to sustain the euphoria. She has stumbled over important policy positions, especially tax.

Ardern has highlighted contradictions. She repeats how absolutely transparent she has been – about a very opaque tax policy. She keeps saying she’s prepared to make the hard decisions, but defers to a working group on critical tax policy.

She is looking and sounding like an actor reciting the same old lines over and over. She sometimes looks like she is over-acting. She says ‘absolutely’ too often.

English already have a reputation of having width and depth to his policy knowledge. He also has a direct and honest looking way of speaking (except when faced with embarrassing issues like Todd Barclay).

He has fumbled and blundered on National’s deficit hole attack, and he has said a few other questionable things.

But he has grown into his campaign role, looking relaxed and assured and confident.

Over the last few days Ardern has not looked confident. It’s been a huge step up for her and she understandably has found it tough going.

Despite this the election is still in the balance.

Indications are that National is gaining back some of the advantage as the Jacinda gloss is revealed as superficial, and it loses some of it’s lustre, and English still looks reliable but with some glimpses of personality.

I think it looks likely that National will edge Labour, but that may not be enough.

National look unlikely to be able to form a government without NZ First. That is a problem for them.

But if Labour lose a bit of ground they may not be able to form a government without both NZ First and Greens – if either or both get over the threshold.

It seems unlikely but don’t rule a late swing to the two major parties, and the possibility that both Greens and NZ First miss the threshold and Winston Peters may lose his Northland electorate.

If that happens and Labour and National are close that may put the Maori party in the box seat, in a deciding position.

If it’s even closer ACT may have the deciding vote.

There’s still a range of possibilities, and none of us knows how it is going to end up. Even if polls this week paint a particular picture hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, and they could decide the outcome.

It’s wide open, and despite the efforts of the media and pundits and poll-of-pollers to predict the result we have no way of knowing until Saturday night.

How English and Ardern handle the last few days could be critical.

Signs are that English is finishing better, but will it be enough?

Identity politics: Is Jacinda the new Mabel?

It’s not unusual to see over the top articles in an election campaign, and there has been a number of people popping up getting an airing.

Is this over the top from Katie Pickles (Associate Dean of Postgraduate Research and Professor and Head of History at the University of Canterbury):

Jacinda Ardern channels ‘that bloody woman’ Kate Sheppard

During the current election campaign Jacinda Ardern has channelled some of Labour’s old fathers – Michael Joseph Savage, Norman Kirk and Michael Cullen are making appearances, and Auntie Helen Clark has done her bit.

She missed Gandhi (take your pick which one) and Mandela and Cleopatra.

But is Ardern missing her real historic doppelganger? Is Jacinda the new Kate?

There is a Kate literally lurking within Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern. On first appearances, could it be Kate Middleton, with her glossy looks and long locks? Au contraire, this is not about princess hair and an engaging smile. Ardern is actually Kate Sheppard with her hair let down.

The similarities between Ardern and Sheppard abound. Sheppard was educated, intelligent and articulate, and the same definitely goes for Ardern.

The same could be claimed of many people, but we don’t know how Sheppard would have been on the telly.  Sheppard also probably didn’t have the opportunity to study communication studies in politics and public relations.

Both women have music in common, finding creative outlets as DJ Jacinda and chorister Kate. Both women were of a similar age when they took on and performed political leadership roles.

Quite different roles, and quite different paths to those roles.

Sheppard joined the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union and saw women’s suffrage as a way of advancing it’s aims – prohibiting alcohol.

Ardern has promoted her fondness for drinking whisky as a connection with Winston Peters, and supports liberalisation of cannabis laws.

When it comes to being charming and possessing impeccable social skills, the two women set the bar high. Kate Sheppard was considered “feminine and not unsexing of women”, meaning that she exuded a non-threatening, appealing womanhood.

No comment on that.

As for a moral compass, Sheppard was steeped in Christianity and dabbled in Fabian socialism. Ardern had a Mormon upbringing and has socialist tendencies.

Ardern has separated herself from Mormonism.

Sheppard lived her private life in quiet alternative fashion, at times living apart from her first husband, and marrying her second husband whose home she resided in for many years after he was widowed.

Ardern has a partner in her private life and is an advocate for modern families.

What the hell is similar about that?

I have a partner in my private life but I’m nothing like Sheppard or Ardern.

Underpinning Sheppard’s politics, and justifying her right to speak, was an emerging 19th century belief in women’s place as maternal leaders. It was women’s perceived innate ability as mothers that equipped them as guardians of the home, nurturers of children, and protectors of the family. Women were to gain equality based on their difference from men. From that standpoint, it became increasingly acceptable for women to have a say in the running of the country.

Ardern’s focus on children and young people, and her mission of ending child poverty, continues in the footsteps of Sheppard. And Labour’s promises of quality, affordable housing, better healthcare, more police and free education echo the concerns of capable maternal feminists, as well as Labour’s founding fathers.

So they have roughly similar political ideals – like millions of others.

Sheppard found that she could get on with conservative politicians.

Temperance tends towards conservatism.

Ardern and Bill English are both claiming to advocate for children, youth and families in their current campaigns. The common ground is once again an emphasis on the importance of doing the best for families, however evolved and diverse they are.

So is English the new Kate?

His continuation of his religious beliefs is more in common with her than Ardern.

If Helen Clark took on the mantle of Edmund Hillary, Jacinda Ardern has mentioned Ernest Shackleton as her masculine explorer hero. Shackleton was not adverse to a wee tipple while out on his adventures.

Here Ardern’s moderate indulgence in alcohol sets her apart from teetotal Sheppard. And Ardern’s pro-choice stand on abortion links her to feminists of the 1970s, rather than those of the 1890s.

So despite trying to moderate the differences they are quite different, and from quite different eras.

We know that women don’t always vote for women candidates, but back in 1893 one quarter of New Zealand’s women signed the suffrage petition. If that Kate-induced feminist spirit has grown since, women’s support for Ardern is looking like a force to be reckoned with.

That’s a big leap.

Of course women supported Sheppard’s campaign for women’s suffrage. And polls suggest that many more women than men support Ardern. But that doesn’t make Ardern a Sheppard clone.

If Ardern keeps on embracing her inner Kate, it’s very possible that she’ll give Sheppard a good run for her money. There is a $10 note at stake. Will the image on it need updating soon?

Ardern’s ‘inner Kate’ is a construct of an academic who seems to have started with an idea and then cherry picked to try to justify it.

If Ardern ever becomes as society changing as Sheppard, and she’;s a long way from that at the moment, by the time that happens it’s unlikely we will have $10 notes. We may not have traditional type money at all.

This is a fairly lame way of trying to write up Ardern, and it is more different from academic rigour as Ardern is different to Sheppard.

But Ardern isn’t the first female politician to be connected to Kate Sheppard. From The women who shape New Zealand: Helen Clark

Who are the New Zealand women who you believe have most shaped our nation? Kate Sheppard, leader of the women’s suffrage movement; Elizabeth McCombs, first elected woman member of parliament; Iriaka Ratana, first Maori woman member of parliament; Mabel Howard, first woman cabinet minister; and Dame Cath Tizard, first woman governor-general and mayor of Auckland.

What’s next? Is Jacinda the new Mabel?

Greens will push Labour to advance CGT

James Shaw has just said that the Greens would push Labour to bring forward a Capital Gains Tax in post-election coalition negotiations, in an interview on Q+A.

This came just after Jacinda Ardern reiterated her back-flip on pushing any possible CGT out until after the next election in 2020.

Shaw said that the CGT would be one of a couple priorities in coalition negotiations.

This won’t help alleviate uncertainties about what a Labour led government might do on tax next term.

This also highlights the uncertainties voters face when presented with individual party policies when what we end up getting is negotiated compromises – or small party policies are potentially used as an excuse to sneak in different policies.

In a following interview Winston Peters stated that CGT would be off the table as far as NZ First was concerned.

Q+A: Ardern, English, Shaw & Peters interviews

A good chance to see how the leaders of the four largest parties are shaping up and holding up as the campaign heads into it’s last week.

Which party will form New Zealand’s next Government?

Political Editor Corin Dann interviews the leaders of the four biggest parties: National leader Bill English, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, Green party leader James Shaw and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Host Greg Boyd is joined on our panel by Dr Claire Robinson, Robert Reid and Fran O’Sullivan.

Why do they keep including obviously biased people in their panel?

I hope they give disclosure about Reid. He is general Secretary of First Union, and has openly supported Labour policy – Press Release: First Union

Labour’s employment policy gives working peope something to vote for

The 27,000-strong FIRST Union has described Labour’s newly Employment Policy as giving its members something to vote for.

“FIRST Union represents a large number of low paid and vulnerable workers,” said Robert Reid, General Secretary of FIRST Union.

“The current employment relations laws are stacked against low paid workers and their unions meaning many working people are unable to make ends meet from one week to the next.

“It is pleasing to see the Labour Party putting forward policies that will reverse all of the anti-worker changes made to the Employment Relations Act by the National Government over the last 9 years, as well as promoting longer term policies that will prevent the race to the bottom on wages.

“Together with Labour’s health, housing and education policies this employment relations policy shows a stark difference to the policies of the current government that have failed working people over the last 9 years,” said Reid.

English started under pressure but became more assured as the interview progressed.

Ardern look far less confident than before, perhaps a hard campaign is catching up on her.

James Shaw throws a CGT spanner in Labour’s works:

Interestingly no poverty in his priorities.

And a twist from Winston:

Ardern has failed the left, apparently

I’ve seen comment in various places along the lines of how Jacinda Ardern could have embraced Metiria Turei’s sacrifice and led the revolution that would rescue new Zealand from a calamitous era of ‘neo-liberalism’.

Much of this is encapsulated here:

For there really was a window. An opportunity. Instead of playing her part in the political assassination of Metiria Turei, Ardern could have used her new position and her extraordinary popularity to stand by her side.

Together, she and Turei could have broken the siege that has prevented beneficiaries – which is to say, a significant portion of the working class – from leading a dignified life and participating in society.

Hope rippled around New Zealand’s far left that revolution was finally in the offing.

Yesterday, it was Jacinda Ardern’s turn to take the pledge, and she didn’t hesitate for a moment. ‘Yes,’ she said. Neoliberalism has failed. This may be what the majority of her supporters wanted to hear her say, but it also turned every other answer she gave in the course of the half-hour interview into a test of that premise.

This in turn underscored that it is one thing to look at Labour’s policies going into this election as a series of discrete (and largely desirable) interventions into various areas of New Zealand’s life; quite another to view them in aggregate as an expression of an overarching political project. Which – since the leader is so adamant that neoliberalism has failed the country – ought to be a project of anti-neoliberal reform.

It’s expecting rather a lot of a new leader who has risen in urgent circumstances leading in to an election to suddenly ignore all of the policy development done by her party over years and to adopt reforms demanded by a radical but small minority outside the party.

The term ‘neoliberal’ is often said to be excessively vague, but its value in this context was in fact to give specificity to Espiner’s line of questioning. Most obviously: would Ardern consider revisiting the Reserve Bank Act, the Public Finance Act or any of the other legislative instruments that have allowed the last four governments to put neoliberal reforms into practice?

The answer – need I say it – was no.

And in the process of the fairly gentle interrogation that followed, the much-vaunted boldness of the Ardern project evaporated.

She thinks that climate change is the ‘nuclear-free’ issue of our time, but wouldn’t commit to divesting from coal or even ceasing to issue new licenses for deep-sea oil exploration.

She wants to end child poverty, but wouldn’t resile from her predecessor’s foolish commitment to contain spending to 30% of GDP and keep guaranteeing operating surpluses – one of the main causes of the staggering, crippling rise of our household debt – nor does she think that the government needs to seek more revenue through taxation.

She is even open to getting the TPP back on track, subject to conditions that she would not reveal in order not to show her hand in the upcoming negotiations.

Ardern has left her self open to criticism by claiming that neo-liberalism has failed and the climate change is the most important issue of our time.

But she could hardly have made as radical changes as Lange/Douglas had in the 80s, in reverse, just before an election.

Such a decision would have carried its own risks, naturally. But then this is what defines political courage, and it’s nothing if not courage that we desperately need.

That would have been crazy. it would have been political suicide, and Labour would have headed the same was as the Greens in the polls.  Winston would be vying with National to run the next government.

In other words: Ardern gave every indication that under her leadership, and with a much diminished contribution from the Greens, Labour remains committed to the continuation of the fundamental policies of the last 30 years. Call it the interlude we get to have every nine years or so in-between Tory governments.

We’ll see the back of some truly dreadful ministers, associate ministers and undersecretaries. Some people’s living conditions will improve, or at least stop deteriorating – which of course is not insignificant. It never is.

But the desire for deep and lasting change that the enthusiasm surrounding Ardern both evokes and demands will likely remain unfulfilled. Nothing illustrates this prospect better than the literal papering over of last month’s empty, self-defeating slogan – ‘a fresh approach’ – with an even emptier one – ‘Let’s do this.’ This what?

This is from a post by Giovanni Tiso: The neoliberalism question: notes on the Ardern/Espiner interview

If Tiso, and Trotter, Slater, Bradbury et al really want to start a revolution then they should stop expecting someone else to do it for them.

They should start a party, put forward the policies they want to see, and put them to the electorate.

Or they could join an existing party and argue their case in policy meetings and put themselves forward for candidacy and for the party list and sell their revolution to the voters.

This is a democracy, and like it or not that’s how things work here.

Sitting on the sidelines complaining because yet another party leader doesn’t instantly turn into a party dictator is fairly fanciful and futile.



Greens versus Labour

Tensions are rising in the Green camp with them hovering around the threshold in a number of polls.

There are efforts being made in social media to rescue the Greens from parliamentary oblivion. It’s common to see things like ‘if you want a Labour led progressive government volte Greens’. This is annoying some Labour supporters.

There are also tensions over Labour ‘stealing’ Green policies and also campaigning strategically to try to out manoeuvre the Greens.

The Memorandum of Understanding has become a sham, and of course each party wants to maximise it’s own party votes.

But frustrations and fears of failure are boiling over.

From The Standard (which has become more Green the Labour):

Jacinda Ardern in her interview with Espiner this morning wouldn’t even indicate a desire, never mind a preference, to have Green MPs in Cabinet.

If NZ Labour can go into coalition with NZF, they will. (Ardern held that out as a possibility).

If you merely want National gone, then vote for NZ Labour or the Greens or NZF or the MP.

But if you want Liberalism challenged within the beehive, then the only way to vote is Green or MP.

The Spinoff: Greens anger at Labour seeps out in attack on ‘petty’, ‘half-arsed’ climate policy

At the Back Benches debate in Auckland last month, a Green Party supporter held aloft a sign that declared, on a green background “Campaigning against climate change since last century”. And, on a red background, “Campaigning against climate change since last weekend”.

That “last weekend” was, of course, the Labour Party campaign launch, where new leader Jacinda Ardern had told a smitten Town Hall that climate change is “my generation’s nuclear-free moment”. Ardern rejected suggestions that this was a tactical appeal to Green voters to decamp – climate change should be at the forefront of every party’s thinking, she said.

There was a Twitter spat between Green and Labour staffers.

It concerned the two parties’ climate policy unveilings, with Labour seen by some to have attempted to gazump the Greens’ big announcement on Sunday with their own on Friday, and began with Auckland Labour councillor Richard Hills’ exasperated tweet. “I love my Greens whanau,” he wrote. “But ‘Labour is stealing our policy’ one day, then ‘Why is Labour not in line with our policy?’ the next day.”

In response, Greens staffer Deborah Morris-Travers wrote: “Could have been collaboration that saw Greens announce climate policy and Labour welcoming it instead of trying to beat it with half-arsed version.”

Hills’ response: “That’s ridiculous. So the lead opposition party is not supposed to have a policy on the biggest issue facing our world?!”

Morris-Travers – who until recently was the Greens’ chief of staff – countered: “Of course they should but doing a rush job to try and get something out on Friday before the Greens on Sunday is petty.”

At this point Neale Jones, Labour’s chief of staff, leapt in. “Deborah, there was no rush job. I told Greens personally well in advance of our policy plans, as I always told you. Only change was venue.”

Morris-Travers: “Media perception was different to that. Either way, as I always said, Neale, mutual respect is necessary and I think people are right to question where Labour is at.”

Jones: “Media perception sure, but accusation could go both ways. Both parties had planned climate policies for same time, we discussed and were cool.”

Neale Jones has been venturing into Twitter quite a bit.

Labour’s approach to deep-sea drilling and coal mining has been attacked already by the Māori Party. Ardern’s refusal on RNZ this morning to rule out approving new developments in either was leapt on by Greenpeace. “If climate change is our nuclear free moment, then oil, coal and gas are the nuclear bombs. Today Jacinda had an opportunity to walk the talk, but she failed.”

That failure be Ardern to speak against mining and drilling got quite a bit of social media attention.

The ‘everyone for themselves’ seems to have reached the highest levels: