Labour/Maori MoU

In contrast to the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Greens all Labour seems to have for the Maori Party and MANA Movement is Memories of Utu

Ever since Maori MPs split from Labour and created the Maori Party in 2004 Labour seem have wanted revenge, or at least nothing to do with a party competing for the Maori seats in Parliament.

Leading in to the 2005 election:

SAINSBURY: If you had to, could you deal with the Maori Party in terms of forming a coalition? Yes or no.

HELEN CLARK: They would be the last cab off the rank, because I’ve got other options.

Twelve years later Andrew Little’s Labour seems antagonistic towards both the Maori and MANA cabs, wanting to slash their tyres and smash their windows. Little has all but ruled out trying to work with either party in government.

But does this make any sense apart from exacting utu on the party that split from Labour?

Labour are in a weak position and may all the potential coalition partners it can get, if not to form a government with but at least to strengthen their negotiating position.

It would probably be much easier to get Green and Maori parties working together in coalition than the Greens and NZ First.

Last month Bryce Edwards wrote in Labour’s balancing act with Mana-Maori:

Of course Andrew Little has no choice but to support his Maori MPs, and it may be politically astute to distance Labour from the Maori Party and Harawira before the election. But a ruthless examination of Labour’s path to government would suggest that losing the Maori seats would not necessarily be a disaster.

While Little’s comments have been interpreted as “all but” ruling out working with the Maori party, it would be foolish to damage the relationship and re-kindle the bitterness that existed when Tariana Turia was leader.

It’s a delicate MMP balancing act that requires party leaders to look beyond the individual and factional interests of their MPs in order to secure the treasury benches.

Labour seem to think differently, having ramped up their attacks and antagonism towards the Maori Party and since they have joined forces also MANA.

At The Standard in Kaupapa Pākehā Weka wrote yesterday:

I understand why Labour need to be pragmatic around the Māori seats. Not only is this traditional Labour territory, it will be important to the Māori MPs in the party. There’s mana at stake. But technically Labour don’t need to win the Māori seats to govern. They could lose the six of the seven seats they hold and it wouldn’t affect the number of Labour MPs in parliament, because Labour get their MP total off the list vote.

It would affect the balance of MPs across the house (in part to do with the overhang issue), and I’m sure Labour have been crunching the numbers, but there are other ways that this could play out. Labour don’t need the Māori seats, but they do need coalition partners.

This raises an interesting point.

Of course Labour would like to have all the Maori seats, but that’s not what will get them into government. They need to improve their all important party vote.

Stirring up and dividing the Maori vote may work against Labour’s overall interests.

There is a jarring contrast between Labour and the Greens trying to show how well they can get on and work together.

NZ Herald: Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern strike up friendship in Mt Albert

The least bitter rivalry in New Zealand politics has broken out in the Mt Albert by-election, with the two leading candidates striking up a new friendship.

The Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern have been car-pooling to events together and handing out leaflets side by side.

Genter, who is the Greens’ health and transport spokeswoman, said she had built up a close relationship with Ardern on the campaign trail.

“It’s been really fun being on the campaign with her. We get on really well and I’ve really appreciated it.

Genter and Ardern have made a point of not attacking each other to show their parties can work together under their Memorandum of Understanding.

In contrast Little has been vigorously attacking the Maori parties over the last few weeks, with things escalating this week.

Bitter battles seem to be overriding common sense.

If Labour want to increase their party vote, which is what they need more than any Maori seats if they want to get back into government, then they should be showing they can work with any other party, including Maori and MANA.

If not they are both limiting their chances of maximising their party vote, limiting their coalition negotiating strength and limiting their coalition options.

I’m not the only one baffled at Labour’s approach.

Memories of Utu seem to dominate their thinking, which puts their party vote and their coalition options at risk.

Maori Party-Mana Movement

Here is the agreement signed by the Maori party and the Mana Movement today.


The Executive of the MANA Movement and the National Executive for Maori Party have the power and authority to act on behalf of their respective parties in entering into this agreement.

Any and all contravening clauses/rules contained within existing party rules / constitutions / ture will be suspended for the duration of this agreement and replaced with the terms contained within this Kawenata and will conclude on September 23, 2017.

PRINCIPLES:

  1. The MANA Movement and the Maori Party recognise the importance of showing unity through diversity and the strength that this arrangement provides for the betterment of the people we serve.
  2. Through mutual respect and a commitment to build on the strengths each party possess, we sign this Kawenata to help us achieve the aspirations of both parties and more importantly Maori.

TERMS:

1. MANA confirm the decision made at its 2016 AGM, to focus on Te Tai Tokerau at the 2017 General Election, and to not stand candidates in the other 6 Maori seats (Tamaki Makaurau, Hauraki-Waikato, Waiariki, Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Te Tai Hauauru, Te Tai Tonga).

2. The Maori Party confirm their determination to stand candidates in those 6 Maori seats (Tamaki Makaurau, Hauraki-Waikato, Waiariki, Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Te Tai Hauauru, Te Tai Tonga) at the 2017 General Election, while agreeing to not stand a candidate in Te Tai Tokerau.

3. Both MANA and the Maori Party also agree to allow each party:
a) to develop, present and promote the policies they think most appropriate;
b) to campaign for the party vote;
c) to criticise policies, without attacking candidates.

4. This Kawenata will take effect on signing and remain in force until 5pm Sat 23 Sep 2017.


Meaning of Kawenata from the Maori Dictionary:

1. (loan) (noun) covenant, testament, charter, contract, agreement, treaty – any undertaking that binds the parties in a permanent and morally irrevocable relationship.

The Maori/MANA Kawenata is not permanent as it has a termination date – election day.

Maori/Mana party deal

The Maori and Mana parties have announced a deal that will remain in place up until the election on 23 September.

Hone Harawira will stand in Te Tai Tokerai again (Labour’s Kelvin Davis one the electorate off Harawira in 2014), and the Maori Party won’t stand a candidate there.

And Mana won’t stand a candidate against the Maori party in any of the other 6 Maori electorates (one held by Te Ururoa Flavell, the rest held by Labour).

Both parties can still campaign for the party vote and criticise each other’s policies but won’t be allowed to attack each other’s candidates.

This looks like a good deal for the Maori Party, with Mana seemingly intent on putting much of their effort into taking Te Tai Tokerau back again and perhaps picking up a list seat or two through party vote.

This seems a fairly realistic and pragmatic approach.

RNZ: Māori and Mana parties sign deal to work together

Annoucing the deal in Whangārei this morning, Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan blamed Māori disunity for gifting the Māori seats to Labour in 2014.

He said it was time to bring all the seats home to kaupapa Māori parties, so they could hold the balance of power in Parliament and ensure a strong voice in government, regardless of which major party ruled.

Mr Morgan said a simple analysis of the Māori seat results from 2014 showed the combined votes for the Mana and Māori Party candidates would have given the parties three electorates.

But the Labour MP for one of those electorates, Te Tai Tokerau’s Kelvin Davis, said the dynamics had changed and people needed to know a vote for Mana was a vote for National.

No, it would be a vote for Mana. While it could help National retain power the aim is to get Mana back into Parliament.

If Labour diss off both the Maori and Mana parties they are reducing their own chances of ousting national from Government.

The Alternative Maori Party?

The Green Party used to be known as an alternative party promoting environmental betterment and social goodness.

Under Metiria Turei’s leadership it is putting a lot more emphasis on Maori things.

Yesterday on Facebook:

Top of the billing is the Treaty of Waitangi, something not mentioned by Andrew Little at all in his ‘state of the nation’ speech last week.

In the past Turei and the Greens have only used electorate contests to push hard for the all important party vote, but their are signs of that changing, with Julie Anne Genter having a testing the waters in the Mt Albert by-election, and Chloe Swarbrick challenging to contest Auckland Central saying she wants to win an electorate.

Turei is switching from a quite un-Maori electorate, Dunedin North (where she has been very successful at growing Green support), to the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

I suspect that given her increasing emphasis on Maori she fancies winning a Maori seat.

Are the Greens morphing into an alternative Maori Party?

Labour seems to think it deserves Maori votes due to historical electoral habits, but the Maori vote looks like being hotly contested with five parties with the Maori Party, Mana, Greens and Labour all competing for traditional Maori votes, plus  Winston Peters and Shane Jones looking like going hard out in Northland as well.

Opposition parties at Ratana

Yesterday it was the turn of opposition parties to make their pitch to Maori voters at Ratana.

Andrew Little criticised others for political bickering but he also bickered at National and the Maori Party, and he won’t have been happy about Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters hijacking headlines with their war of words.

The ODT reports Labour leader emerges from Ratana unscathed

Labour leader Andrew Little has emerged from his Ratana visit unscathed and confident his party’s relationship with the influential Maori church has been restored.

Mr Little arrived at the pa near Wanganui under pressure to restore Labour’s relationship with the Ratana Church. The Maori Party, which recently won the support of the Kingitanga Movement, made a strong pitch for Ratana’s support yesterday, calling for a “One Maori” movement.

Speaking on the pa, Mr Little he said he took the relationship between Labour and Ratana seriously. Rather than simply turn up for the headline event, his MPs had been meeting with the church regularly over the last 12 months.

He wooed the church’s 30,000 followers by pledging to financially support its centennial celebrations in 2018 if Labour was in Government. Ratana was “an important figure in the history of Maoridom” and were “entitled to some support”, he said.

Mr Little also pledged housing support for both Ratana and Maori generally, saying a Labour Government would help improve Maori home ownership rates – which are currently about 25%.

That could look like some election bribing.

Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

Ratana Church senior secretary Piri Rurawhe told the Herald that Mr Little’s comments were “well received” and there was none of last year’s criticism.

Bill English seems to have received a good reception at Ratana on Monday despite Little’s criticism.

And Little also took a swipe at the Maori Party:

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mr Little described the Maori Party’s claims about Ratana as “high-level trash talk”. He has all but ruled out a post-election coalition with the Maori Party and the Mana Movement, who are considering an agreement to work together.

Labour seem to be worried about the potential threat of the Maori and Mana parties to their party vote and their Maori electorates.

But the biggest attention seekers were Morgan and Peters. ODT: Morgan, Peters trade insults at Ratana Pa

Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters have traded insults at Ratana Pa today over whose political party is best for Maori.

Mr Morgan, who recently formed The Opportunities Party, “implored” the Ratana members to “call out” the New Zealand First party and Winston Peters because of their anti-Treaty of Waitangi views. He compared Mr Peters with former Act Party leader Don Brash, saying they were “black-and-white facsimiles of each other”.

Mr Morgan went further, describing Mr Peters as “nothing more than an Uncle Tom” and saying that he “gets away with this anti-Tteaty stuff” because he is Maori.

“The old adage that you can’t be racist against your own race – I don’t accept that excuse.”

Mr Morgan also urged the crowd at Ratana to give The Opportunities Party its party vote, saying it was the only party which would “take the Treaty of Waitangi conversation to non-Maori”.

He reiterated calls to make te reo Maori compulsory in schools and to create an Upper House in Parliament which would identify breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi in law-making.

When Mr Peters took his turn to speak at the pa, he only briefed touched on Mr Morgan’s comments.

“Excuse me for laughing, but it’s a long time since I have been ravaged by a toothless sheep,” he said.

He added that Mr Morgan was another rich man trying to enter politics, describing him as “a thinned-out version of Kim Dotcom”.

Criticising Mr Morgan’s proposed constitutional reforms, Mr Peters said Maori did not want an Upper House. “Seventy-five percent of them just want a house.”

He said Mr Morgan was “riding a motorbike through Mongolia” while he was defending Maori as a lawyer and in Parliament.

I suspect both Morgan and Peters were using their Ratana appearances to target wider audiences.

James Shaw spoke for the Green party but he must have been too nice, the media don’t seem to have given him much coverage.

This Herald headline wasn’t referring to Shaw’s input: Fighting talk as politicians visit Ratana

Green Party co-leader James Shaw talked of his party’s agreement to work with Labour, to address the issue of Maori poverty. He said Maori and Greens shared a focus on caring for the land, and the number of Maori voting Green had trebled in the last few elections.

“The Maori vote is becoming more powerful, and it’s more powerful when expressed with unity. This year you can vote for the status quo or vote for change, for being closed and defensive or open and welcoming, for fear or hope.”

And from Maori Television: Criticism, challenges, promises and jokes at Rātana

“We will field more Māori Candidates in more Māori seats then even before,” said James Shaw from the Greens.

It looks like Maori electorates and Maori party votes will be keenly fought after this election.

 

 

Labour versus Maori/Mana, et al

The annual political pilgrimage to Ratana is highlighting growing competitiveness between the Labour and Maori Parties, with the latter now working more closely with the Mana Party and Hone Harawira.

Audrey Young: The political dance begins at Ratana celebrations

Labour faced criticism last year from Ratana speakers telling leader Andrew Little that he could not take Ratana for granted.

Little said he had heeded that and he and the Maori caucus had worked on strengthening the relationship with Ratana.

But Little has come out swinging this year.

He described the Maori Party as “effectively the Maori branch of the National Party.”

Asked if they would “last cab off the rank” if came to coalition building after this year’s election, he said: “Certainly after Greens and New Zealand First.

There’s whole collection, Maori and United Future, if they are still there. So they are certainly down the pecking order, that’s for sure.”

What if Labour+Greens gets say 45-46% and could get over the line with Maori Party support rather than needing Winston Peters? Little kicked of his election year with an attack on Peters over Pike River.

Labour is competing with NZ First and the Maori Party in particular for votes.

In August last year, King Tuheitia criticised Labour and New Zealand First during an unscripted part of his speech at Turangawaewae coronation celebrations.

“It really hurt me when the leader of the Labour Party says ‘I’ll never work with that Maori Party.’ I’m not voting for them anymore,” Tuheitia said.

So there is a lot of tension between the Labour and Maori Parties evident at Ratana.

Stuff: Maori Party co-leaders warn the Labour Party’s grip on the Maori seats is loosening

The Maori Party has fired shots at the Labour Party saying their exclusive relationship with Ratana has come to an end.

The Maori King’s son, Whatumoana Paki, and members of Kingitanga descended on Ratana Pa, near Whanganui, on Monday where they were welcomed along with the Maori Party co-leaders and Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira.

Traditionally party leaders and Kingitanga are welcomed separately but the united front is symbolic of the Maori King Tuheitia’s abandoning of the Labour Party in a speech at the anniversary of his coronation last year, which led to him throwing his support behind the Maori Party.

Ratana has a close bond with Labour and its MP in the Te Tai Hauauru seat, Adrian Rurawhe, is the brother of the Ratana church secretary, Piri Rurawhe.

RNZ: Flavell: ‘Times have moved on’ from historic Rātana-Labour link

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has denounced the historic political tie between Rātana and the Labour Party and is proclaiming a new unified Māori movement.

Speaking at Rātana Pā yesterday, Mr Flavell, supported by hundreds from the Kīngitanga, various Māori organisations and Mana leader Hone Harawira, made a direct and convincing play for Rātana’s political support.

Well versed in Te Reo Māori and speaking on the paepae, Te Ururoa Flavell paused, pointed to the sky, and told the crowds the agreement made by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana and the Labour Party all those years ago was in his opinion, over.

“Well I think it’s finished. At the end of the day, as many speakers have said, that was made for a place and a time. Times have moved on, the political environment is totally different,” he said.

Mr Flavell said he was ready for a new unified Māori movement.

“Now is the time for us to make that a reality. One political movement under a Māori Party banner, which will pull back those seats from Labour and stay in kaupapa Māori hands forever.”

Patrick Gower: Hone’s back with a Mana-Maori deal

The new Mana-Maori Party alliance had its first formal outing at Ratana today, meaning Mr Harawira is back from the political dead.

After years of fighting, the Mana Party and the Maori Party are making the pilgrimage to Ratana Pa together – not as enemies but as friends.

“It means Mana and Maori walking alongside one another together,” said Mr Harawira.

There is also competition from the Greens. From Stuff:

Labour’s attempts to hold on to the Maori seats could also be tested by the Greens’ new push for the Maori vote.

Co-leader Metiria Turei confirmed yesterday that she would run in Te Tai Tonga after previously running in non-Maori electorates. The party is also hoping to run in all seven Maori seats.

Curious timing for that confirmation, I thought a done deal had been announced last year.

It will be interesting to see how Labour approaches their turn at Ratana today.

NZ Herald: Andrew Little to visit Ratana Pa as Labour Party woos voter

The Labour Party will arrive at Ratana Pa today under pressure to show it deserves to maintain its hold on the Maori seats at this year’s election.

Ahead of his visit to the pa near Whanganui today, Labour leader Andrew Little said he had worked to rebuild ties with Ratana after being criticised at last year’s event.

It is understood he will make an election promise today – the first day of the political year – to build or upgrade housing in the small Ratana settlement near Whanganui.

The first day of the political year? There was a lot of politics evident at Ratana yesterday, and David Seymour delivered his ‘state of the nation’ speech. Last week Labour and NZ First did their Pike River promising.

And now Little is trying a wee bribe at Ratana? Is he going to do similar in Maori areas around the country?

Labour versus Maori/Mana is going to be a fascinating aspect of this year’s election campaign. Alongside Labour versus NZ First. And Labour versus Greens – despite their ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ they will be competing for similar vote pools.

With all these small battles Labour have a much larger challenge, in being seen as competitive with National.

Today Andrew Little has to try try and impress the gathering at Ratana.

Considering a minority government

A minority government hasn’t been tried under MMP, but perhaps it is time to seriously consider the option.

If the other parties call Winston Peters bluff, take him at his words on his bottom lines, it is unlikely either National or Labour+Greens will be able to form a majority coalition Government.

MMP was designed to provide a more representative Parliament, which it has. But this could be taken further and give us a more representative governing arrangement. This could be done with a minority government.

Here is a feasible outcome of seats from this year’s election:

  • National 56
  • Labour 28
  • Greens 16
  • NZ First 16
  • Maori Party 2
  • ACT 1
  • UF 1

This puts Labour+Greens+NZ First > National, and Greens+NZ First > Labour, and NZ First=Greens so there is no clear majority in any situation. If the result is approximately along these lines similar uncertainties will exist.

National with twice the MPs of Labour could form the Government, perhaps with the small parties in formal confidence and supply arrangements, but they would still have to rely on either of Labour, Greens or NZ First to pass any legislation. This means successful bills would have a clear majority rather than a bare majority as happens often now.

For Government to be truly representative ministerial positions could be given to opposition party MPs. The best of each party could then participate in running the country.

Some suggestions for portfolios:

  • Andrew Little: Minister of Labour – he has a good background for this and it would allow him to focus on his party’s roots.
  • Grant Robertson: Minister of Foreign Affairs -David Farrar has recommended him for this role, perhaps he has done polls on it.
  • David Parker: Minister of Economic Development, Associate Minister of Finance
  • Jacinda Ardern: Minister of Women’s Affairs, Minister of Communications – she has an affinity with women’s magazines and I couldn’t think of what else she could do.
  • Metiria Turei:  Minister of Social Welfare – giving her experience with the reality of fixing all of our social problems within a budget.
  • James Shaw: Minister of the Environment – something most people expect the Greens to be experts in.
  • Winston Peters – Minister of Workplace Safety, Minister of Mines.
  • Ron Mark: Minister of Defence – it would be good for him to work on the opposite of attack).
  • Te Ururoa Flavell: Minister of Māori Development, Minister of Whanau Ora – makes since for the Māori Party.
  • David Seymour: Minister of Education – time he stepped up to a real challenge beyond his Partnership Schools agenda.
  • Peter Dunne: Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Justice, Associate Minister of Corrections -it would be interesting to see what changes he could make in drug law reform without being hobbled by National.

Being the largest by far National would be the dominant party but would have to work with the whole of Parliament to get things done.

On confidence and supply, with all parties contributing to Government they should be responsible for ensuring it doesn’t fall over.

Those on the right and the left who want radical reforms may complain about a representative arrangement like this, but if they want ideological lurches they need to build sufficient support in Parliament to achieve this.

They won’t do this by sitting on the sidelines complaining, they need to do what everyone else does, build a big enough party with enough MPs to achieve what they want.

A minority government as suggested is unlikely to be a radical reform government, but that’s not out of the ordinary under two decades of MMP anyway.

Incremental change with clear majority support in Parliament is the most sensible way of operating a government – and I believe it is what most voters prefer and want.

Minority government may seem in itself a bit radical but I think it is something well worth trying. It’s really just a step further than what we have now, and a logical step under MMP.

An eye opener for the WO bubble

Followers of Whale Oil over the the past two weeks will have seen a daily diet of pro-Israel and anti-Security Council resolution, anti-Murray McCully and anti-National government posts.

There has been no attempt at balance, and little attempt at accuracy – support of the Security Council vote (14-0) has been labelled as anti-Israel, but obviously countries like the United States and United Kingdom (and New Zealand) are not anti-Israel overall, they have just become exasperated by Israel’s ongoing provocative settlements.

The activist campaign on WO continues today. Already there has been Is the Maori Party a friend of Israel? which promised much (teasers were posted yesterday) and delivered little.

And  Face of the Day  featured another cherry picked article (also posted on here ‘One Nation’ wants to kick New Zealand). Comments are more interesting:

Hookerphil:

I am interested in just what the rest of New Zealand outside of W/O actually think. Stuff accepted just 4 comments on this story, one person wrote “that Israel violated international law with their ILLEGAL settlements, therefore it’s only logical they be reprimanded for that.” This has received 395 up votes. I am really surprised at that. It would appear that Israel are not overly supported in this Country – perhaps the ripple in the polls may actually be very small by the simple tactic of ignoring it.

BigNose:

Yep, majority of comments and votes on other news sites/blogs are all very anti-Israeli. While it is probably no more than the screaming skull’s rent-a-crowd, it is an eye opener.

No, not anti-Israel, most are simply pro the Security Council resolution.

Rick H:

As I have been saying all along – – -the vast majority of NZ people (and probably most in the rest of the western world as well) know very little to nothing at all about the facts of the middle east. They believe what they have seen on the TV over the years, that Israel is the evil one.

No amount of trying to show them the real truth makes a difference.
They turn off and simply don’t want to be told.
They aren’t interested.

I’m not surprised that these two Oilers are ‘very surprised’ and find it ‘an eye opener’ what reality outside the WO bubble is.

The ‘truth’ and gospel according to Whale Oil is not what the vast majority of New Zealanders see preached.

Typical of online bubbles they portray any sort of disagreement as totally anti their way of thinking, you are either friend or enemy, similarly of WO and of Israel.

With such a persistent one-sided diet that’s what often happens.

And those who venture out of the bubble are shocked that the real world is more mixed and nuanced, and see this as totally opposite to the lines they have been fed.

Christie:

Apart from articles on WO, I have seen and heard very little about it, and have had no discussions about it at all.

I’ve seen quite a bit in a variety of places – it’s there if you look for it beyond your self reinforcing zone.

It’s funny that different opinions are seen as an eye opener.

Postscript: “This is a 2000-year-old struggle that the Māori Party is not about to wade into. Both sides claim tangata whenua status. However, we note that the current sanctions imposed against Pallestine are inhumane and cause great suffering of innocent women and children.”

I’m not surprised that the Maori Party didn’t want to ‘wade into’ the frenzy at Whale Oil, but they have probably fed it by suggesting that “innocent (Palestinian) women and children”  are suffering.

Update: while I was writing this post pro-Israel post #3 so far today at WO – Guest Post: Our world: The PLO’s zero-sum game – another cherry picked article from the Jerusalem Post.

Trotter predicts

Chris Trotter makes a number of debatable predictions for the year in 2017 in the shadow of Trump (Stuff).

The political consensus at the beginning of 2017 – election year – is that the National-led Government will hold on to power.

Who is in general agreement that National will hold on to power? I think there’s too many unknowns and uncertainties to claim this with any confidence.

National are very likely to comfortably get the most votes and seats in this year’s election, but it’s far from certain whether they will be able to form a similar coalition to this term (with ACT, UF and the Maori Party), or if the need more whether NZ First will join a coalition or let National run a minority government from the cross benches. It’s also possible (but unlikely with Turei as leader) Greens  could enable a National led Government either in coalition or from the cross benches.

Not in its own right, as might have happened had John Key led them into battle, but with sufficient parliamentary support to govern comfortably.

They don’t govern comfortably this term, requiring two of the three minor support parties to back any legislation, and they have been limited because of this.

The most significant political event of 2017, however, could well be the collapse of the Labour Party and the emergence of the Greens as New Zealand’s leading party of the centre-left.

Labour collapsing is a real possibility, and any further decline in their share of the vote could be seen as a collapse. But they could just as likely stay at a similar level of support, or increase their vote a bit (to the high twenties), or recover into the thirties. At this stage i think which of these will happen is impossible to predict with any certainty.

In a way Greens can already be seen by their actions as the leading party of the centre left going by performances inside and outside Parliament. Their party vote seems to have hit a ceiling at about 11%, but even if they increase to say 15% (their target last election) they are likely to remain smaller than Labour.

A number of people have predicted that NZ First grow bigger, causing a drop for Greens to fourth in the party pecking order. I think this is quite possible – NZ First are likely to pick up more ex-National vote than the Greens if the National support declines.

A key factor driving the New Zealand electorate’s flight to the right will be the profound and ideologically toxic influence of Donald Trump’s presidency.

There has been no sign of New Zealand moving much to the right this century.  Both Helen Clark and John Key aimed at the centre and apart from a few policies mostly stayed moderate. Even National’s asset sales were watered down to being only half sales.

If anyone has learned anything yet about the effect of Trump they should know that it’s difficult making predictions about his influence. It’s quite possible Trump as US president will have a negligible effect on New Zealand overall. Or not.

Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman predicts a global trade war, and the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is filled with disquieting articles foreshadowing an ominous deterioration in the relationship between the USA and China.

The future for US trade relationships and US foreign relations are uncertain. Trump will definitely do things differently – but it depends on how China learns and adapts as to whether problems will escalate or not. Predictions of Trump trashing the economy have already proven to be premature at least.

If the US and China clash New Zealand may manage to stay out of the melée. That could be complicated by Winston Peters – but if there’s trouble abroad and Peters is seen to try and stir that up here it could easily backlash against him in the election.

In a neat division of political labour, NZ First will lead the attack on China while, publicly, National condemns (but not too loudly) Peters’ racially-charged rhetoric. Meanwhile, privately, the conservative supporters of both parties will be encouraged to recognise the inherent electoral synergies of the unfolding crisis. As the countdown to the election shortens, the prospect of a National-NZ First coalition government will begin to acquire the aura of inevitability.

Some voters here like maverickism, but most prefer stable status quo government when it comes to economic matters.

Especially if there is an ‘unfolding crisis’ a National-NZ First coalition government will become more uncertain rather than certain. If Peters ramps up his attacks on China it is more likely to create further division between NZ First and National, and voters tend to avoid this sort of uncertainty.

Amplifying the conservative message among the Maori electorate, the Maori Party will cast the Chinese as a second-wave of colonisers threatening not only tino rangatiratanga but also Pakeha sovereignty. Iwi corporations will be portrayed as the foundation stones of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s economic independence. The incipient government of the centre-right will thus be presented as a National-NZ First-Maori Party alliance.

Is Trotter serious? Or is he taking the piss? Or is he trying to stir something up?

An alliance involving NZ First and the Maori Party seems unlikely given Winston’s previous antagonistic attitude towards a ‘race based’ party.

I think it’s highly unlikely that Winston will present an alliance including NZ First and National prior to the election – he has been staunch in not indicating which way he may go – and even less likely of any NZ First-Maori Party presentations.

The turmoil created by the Trump administration will similarly throw into sharp relief the serious disjunction between the beliefs of the Labour Party and its electoral base. Even if Andrew Little and his advisors were of a mind to join with Peters in attacking China, the reflexive anti-Americanism of his caucus and Labour’s wider membership would drive the party inexorably towards their enemy’s enemy. Immediately, what was left of Labour’s support among “Waitakere Men” would decamp for the Sinophobic right.

That’s more likely to be to  NZ First rather than to National.

The reverse manoeuvre – in which Little prevails upon caucus and party to follow National, NZ First and the Maori Party into Trumpism and Sinophobia – would only drive Labour’s younger, more progressive, voters toward the Greens.

I think Trotter is in fantasy land here trying to connect National and the Maori Party with ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’.

And to claim ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’ would split Labour is even more bizarre.

The classic Labour solution – trying to have a bob each way – risks losing both the conservative and the progressive components of its electoral base.

Labour already seem to be trying the bob each way approach, and have already lost both conservative and progressive parts of it’s electoral base to an extent. An international crisis, should it happen, is more likely to force Labour into being seen as responsible rather than divisive.

The extreme-nationalist complexion of the Trump administration and its geopolitical focus on the burgeoning power of China can only hasten the disintegration of Labour’s electoral position.

I think this is far from certain, and even if it becomes a contributory factor  in further Labour decline it would be impossible to quantify.

It is, however, highly doubtful that sufficient young people will participate in the 2017 general election to significantly offset the emotionally powerful appeal of an unabashedly nationalistic, Sinophobic and pro-American coalition of National, NZ First and the Maori Party.

I think Trotter is trying to create an absurd political meme here, either ignorantly or disingenuously. Fantasy or deliberate fiction.

Neither conservative fish nor progressive fowl, Labour is likely to see its party vote plummet into the teens – and with it any hope of reclaiming major party status.

That’s already possible without any Trump crisis involved.

The baton of progressive politics will pass to the Greens. Real political power, however, will remain with the National Party and its allies.

It may be that Trotter has genuinely given up on the Labour Party. Labour could collapse further.

But NZ First becoming allies with the Maori party seems preposterous. And National joining Winston’s Asia bashing and siding with Trump is more so.

Trying to promote Greens as the progressive baton carrier and the dominant opposition party seems to be wishful thinking, at best.

Trotter’s political propositions were all over the place last year, and they seem even more confused now.

Winston’s bottom lines

There’s a lot of unknowns about how next year’s election will go. One of the biggest questions will be how National goes under Bill English’s leadership – will their support drop now John Key has stepped down? Will it stay dropped?

Labour are still struggling to be a major party. They seem to have given up competing head to head with National, and are now relying on Labour+Greens, but their Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t seem to have enthused voters.

There is one certainty – the media will continue to promote Winston Peters as ‘kingmaker’. There’s a good chance (but no guarantee) NZ First will end up in a position where they can play National off against Labour+Greens. Winston remains adamant he won’t do that until after the election.

But there have already a few bottom lines mentioned.

1. Superannuation

New Zealand First’s objective is to preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) as it now is with eligibility at 65 years and as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme with no means-testing.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/superannuation

It’s very unlikely Winston would relent on this one.

2. No Maori Party

Ensure the future of the Maori seats is a decision for the people to make having examined the significant increase in representation numbers of Maori MPs under MMP.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/maori_affairs

And (in June 2016):

Stopping separatism …is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…and for example a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/winston-peters-separatism-and-mass-immigration-bottom-lines-nz-first

Peters has ruled out a coalition that included the Maori Party in the past. This doesn’t look like changing.

3. Immigration

New Zealand First is committed to a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s interests. Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.

http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/immigration

The rest of their Immigration policy sounds strong but is actually vague.

…stopping mass immigration is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…if mass immigration continued…then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/winston-peters-separatism-and-mass-immigration-bottom-lines-nz-first

It’s difficult to know what Winston would insist on for immigration, but he plays the immigration card often to supporters so would have to make some demands.

4. Pike River Re-entry

Winston Peters says Pike River re-entry is bottom line to election deals

Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.

“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be,” he said on TV’s Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning.

Any political party seeking New Zealand First’s support to form a government in the 2017 election will have to commit to re-entering the mine.

National want to leave any re-entry decision up to Solid Energy. Andrew Little has supported re-entry but has not absolutely committed Labour to it.

5. Police numbers

Winston Peters demands 1800 extra police

The New Zealand First leader and Northland MP wants the number of police officers increased by 27 percent, in line with Australia’s per capita ratio.

“We’re looking at something like 1800-1900 officers just as a start now to get to a level where we once were, and then build upon that,” he says.

He says it’s a bottom line in any negotiations regarding the formation of the next Government.

So that is five bottom lines that I’m aware of.

? Prime Minister

Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

…here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

And:

Forget ‘kingmaker’, Winston Peters wants to be the next Prime Minister

That seems to be a claim only on the Paul Henry Show, Peters doesn’t say that. But is that one of his goals?

I don’t think National would agree to a Winston as PM deal, but would Labour and Greens, where none of none of Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw have any government experience? Peters has already been deputy Prime Minister, from 16 December 1996 to 14 August 1998 (under Jim Bolger).

Are there other Winston/NZ First bottom lines so far?