Opposition floundering after budget

The Opposition has been left floundering after National encroached further into the centre with last weeks budget, which included substantial tax cuts and housing assistance.

Andrew Little in particular has had trouble responding, but the Greens also caused some opposition embarrassment after they voted for the family tax package while Labour opposed it.

Little has tried to criticise small parts of the package, unconvincingly. His first attempt to oppose question Bill English over the budget in Parliament was underwhelming – see Little versus English on the budget.

Vernon Small writes: Opposition all at sea after Joyce’s ‘non-election year’ Budget

The Budget was a lot of things, though a visionary document wasn’t really one of them.

However, before we get too high and mighty about the absence of the “vision thing”, it’s worth bearing in mind what it did achieve – especially with an election looming.

Because it melded income assistance, a billion and a half of tax cuts, a side dish of debt reduction, a 3 per cent growth outlook, a big infrastructure spend and some extra – though probably not enough for many – for stretched public services.

Most spectacularly it seems to have thrown the Opposition – but for Winston Peters’ usual chutzpah – into a counter-productive spin.

Labour leader Andrew Little’s iPad-assisted first speech was a tame and lame affair, which wound up before its allotted time.

See Andrew Little’s budget response.

The Greens managed to undermine the sense of unity they have been so keen to build with Labour, through a Memorandum of Understanding and their Budget Responsibility Rules (BRRs), by voting for the centre-piece of Steven Joyce’s Budget without discussing it with Labour or giving them any prior warning.

This appeared to breech their MoU:

2 (d) We agree to a “no surprises” policy that means we give each other prior notice and the details of major announcements and speeches. This includes matters where we disagree.

3 (b) We support each other’s right to express alternative views, whilst acknowledging our responsibility to discuss our position with each other before public debate.

Small:

The way the parties voted on the incomes package was largely academic, since their speeches made their positions clear. But for powerful symbolic and tactical reasons they simply had to vote the same way.

It was a memorial to misunderstanding and a failure of political management not to get those two simple ducks in a row. And it was a blunder the Government exploited during the Budget debate, and will continue to exploit to exhaustion.

Outside of election the budget is the biggest political event of the year (of any year), so Labour and the Greens should have been prepared for it and how they would deal with it jointly.

At a more fundamental level the Budget’s family income package seemed to put Labour into a quandary.

Little has long stressed Labour’s tax plan was to move on housing and speculation ahead of the election – and part of that was his keynote speech to the party congress earlier in May – while leaving any major changes for consideration by a post-election working group review.

In simple terms, it was an attempt to inoculate the party against any charges that it planned to bring in new and higher taxes to fund its spending plans.

The surplus, debt and fiscal parameters, set up by the BRRs with the Greens, were designed to underpin that message.

And then along came Joyce’s Budget, which seemed to throw Little off course on Tuesday.

In an interview with Susie Ferguson on Radio NZ – that he consistently seems to fluff – he got down into the weeds, discussing small groups who would miss out or get less than others, rather than concentrating on Labour’s main attack theme – that the Budget increased inequality and put far too much into tax cuts and far too little into income support at lower levels.

By that morning’s media stand-up in Parliament he was tighter on message, but then he threw the party’s tax strategy into doubt by failing to rule out other tax increases.

Little has got better at reciting well rehearsed party lines, staying on message and diverting to his messages, but he has not mastered the art of thinking on his feet during interviews.

Whether this is a fundamental inability, or a lack of depth and breadth of knowledge, or a lack of confidence, it is seriously impeding his attempts to look like a credible Prime Minister-in-waiting.

At that point Joyce – he who denied an election-year motive in his Budget – and Bill English must have steepled their fingers and reclined their office chairs with satisfied smiles. They had all the ammunition they wanted to paint a picture of a divided Opposition with a waffly stance on tax.

Labour has the opportunity to right the ship in the next few weeks, when it releases its own families package-cum-alternative Budget.

It will have to be a thorough, well thought through policy response, expressed clearly. Little will need to improve markedly, especially in being prepared to respond to the inevitable questions and examination of the policy.

A stream of frontbenchers for Labour have criticised the accommodation supplement as evidence of the Government’s failed housing policy, but they are likely to wave that through.

Their attacks on the Working for Families element suggest they will proffer a big lift there.

But it is not just a case of unwinding and redistributing the $2 billion of tax threshold changes.

The party has already committed to increasing paid parental leave, more police, the early resumption of payments to the Cullen superannuation fund and three years of fee-free tertiary study at a cost of $1.2 billion by 2025. (There is some more cash available from Labour’s slower debt repayment plan, but that is further down the track.)

Labour have so far avoided specifics in policies that will cost a lot of money, to an extent understandably prior to knowing what would be in the budget.

Ideally they would have been prepared for a quick and comprehensive counter to the budget. Instead they seem to have been woefully unprepared.

Now Labour will have to hope the budget tax, housing and benefit package doesn’t grow on voters as something worthwhile for many to expect.

They will have to come up with a credible alternative that attracts support, and one that is extremely thorough because it is certain that it will be examined and critiqued minutely.

And Little and Grant Robertson will have to be very well prepared to answer and explain thoroughly and clear and unambiguously.

Selling their key policy against a fairly well received budget will be a real test of their abilities and capabilities. It will be much more difficult for them than sniping at government policies and plans.

Labour in particular have given the impression they have been left floundering “all at sea” by the budget. They have a big challenge to be seen to be on firm fiscal footing.

The MoU paradox

Vernon Small brings up a reminder of the paradox of the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding in the aptly headlined Ready or not, it’s election year and the annual theatrics have started – a key aim of the MoU is to present Labour and Greens as a joint ‘government-in-waiting’, but it terminates on election day, before the haggling over coalition arrangements begins.

But the two parties are sailing into a paradox that will only be made more stark by their closer co-operation.

If they are a presenting themselves as a “government in waiting” why does their memorandum of understanding (MOU) formally expire on election day?

We all know why, of course. Because as much as the Greens would like a more enduring pact, Labour does not want to indelibly ink a deal ahead of polling day for fear that will ostracise Winston Peters and NZ First – and give him reason to opt for National if he holds the balance of power.

It makes the sales pitch of a two-party government in waiting too cute by three quarters.

It is a contradiction the parties ought to resolve before election year gets very much older.

Perhaps Labour have indicated a resolution may be coming – Andrew Little attacked Winston Peters over his theatrics over Pike River.

Labour has to compete with NZ First for votes, especially any that National might shed, but Labour will also be keen to get back support that NZ First has been picking up.

The union of Labour and Greens will be emphasised in a week with their joint ‘state of the nation’ act.

While Greens will be pleased with this arrangement, according to Small some in Labour are not so sure.

But the most significant move yet has been that decision by Labour and the Greens to step up the momentum of their agreement to cooperate, with a joint “State of the Nation” event in Auckland next week.

There were misgivings in Labour over the move, with some questioning the wisdom of doubling down on their memorandum of understanding, which had already seen leader’s speeches at their respective annual conferences.

The concern is that greater and greater efforts to present as “one Opposition, two parties” will alienate centrist Labour-leaning voters who are spooked by the Greens – and to be frank there are those inside the Labour caucus who would rather not tie the party to the Greens, full stop.

Labour’s problem is that their support has slipped so much they have a couple of choices:

  1. Concede major party status, accept that they can’t compete with National on their own any more, so semi-join with another party.
  2. Revitalise, rebuild and make a determined effort to be the best supported party again.

They have tried the latter a number of times – including trying four leaders – without any  success.

So last year Labour chose the former, hence the MoU. It is too late to change before this year’s election.

The MoU paradox is still there, despite the Peters attack and the planned joint ‘state of the country’ speeches.

The latter could give us a better indication about the state of the parties, the state of the MoU, and whether Labour is prepared to stop trying a bob each way on NZ First versus Greens.

It would be a nonsense if Labour and Greens campaign together as they are, with the degree of togetherness that next week’s speech emphasises, but to leave prospects of a Labour-Green coalition  up in the air as a maybe, if it suits Labour at the time.

It hasn’t been the game changer some predicted, but Labour is harming their prospects if they buy into Winston’s ridiculous persistence in refusing to let voters know in advance what coalition arrangements they rule in and rule out.

We know that the Greens have to go with Labour if they want to be a part of Government unless Green Party members have a major change of heart about dealing with National.

Perhaps we will get clarity on Labour’s post-election aims from Little’s speech next week, alongside Metiria Turei.

If not the paradox will keep highlighting Labour’s duplicity.

Green MPs “a really busy and positive year”

The Green Party have good reasons to be fairly happy with their year.

James Shaw has settled in as co-leader after Russel Norman’s exit in 2015, they secured a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, there’s been no major embarrassments or stuff ups, John Key stepped down, they gained a second new mid-term MP (Barry Coates), and two more MPs indicated they would step down next year making room for more fresh faces (if they at least maintain current levels of support).

The loss of one of their most respected MPs, Kevin Hague is a negative but not a major considering how everything else has gone for them.

Metiria Turei reflects on 2016 and looks ahead in Well, THAT happened: reflecting on 2016 and beyond:

2016 for our MPs

Green MPs have actually had a really busy and positive year working on the nation’s most pressing issues: poverty and inequality, housing, climate action, inclusive education, safe drinking water and clean rivers to name a few. We’ve been talking with people up and down the country, promoting legislation, setting out the solutions, and, where possible, working with other parties in Parliament to achieve progress.

They have done as much as could be expected from Opposition, and have been visibly more active on policies and issues than NZ First and probably Labour most of the time. The are far more organised and persistent in social media.

2016 for us and Labour

In May, the Green Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour. It’s the first time political parties have reached such an agreement before an election, and means we get to have a conversation with New Zealanders about why we are working to change the government.

We worked constructively with Labour on the Homelessness Inquiry and early in 2017 you’ll see us working together on a range of other issues.

The Greens got what they wanted with the MoU and are happy with it, but it’s yet to be seen whether it will help their cause. They are very reliant on Labour to get into Government and are keen to do what they can to make that happen – but they also want to increase their share of the party vote relative to Labour to give them more leverage.

2016 for me

For me, this year has been one of consolidating my work on housing and inequality because I am determined to do all that I can to ensure that families have the resources they need to nurture their babies.

We need mothers educated, healthy, and secure so that they can shape the future of our nation. It will be women that determine the fate of our country next year, make no mistake.

I don’t know how that will work, there are about as many male voters as there are female.

So, I’ll be spending the summer resting and getting ready for a busy 2017. I want to spend time doing craft, reading, walking my dogs and connecting with my whānau so that next year I can run hard with the Greens to change the government.

‘Change the government’ has been repeated a lot by the Greens and Labour already, trying to get voters thinking about it being time for a change.

Turei is well supported and respected amongst her own. It’s yet to be seen whether she can appeal to a wider constituency so that Greens grow their vote (they failed to do that last election) and so that Andrew Little and Turei (plus James Shaw) look like a viable alternative to run the country.

If Little continues to try to appeal more to the left than the centre Greens and Labour may end up competing for the same votes – unless they can find the formula for inspiring current non-voters to back them, a strategy that failed last campaign.

But with Bill English taking over from Key next year’s election is wide open.

Greens thought they had their best shot in 2014 and that didn’t work out for them. They get to have another go – and it may be Turei’s last shot at making it into government.

Proof of poll movement

With the latest One News poll Colmar Brunton revealed evidence of how much opinion – or the polled measure of opinion – can move over a short time.

One aspect that is usually ignored is that voters may think quite differently during an election campaign as they consider the governing possibilities and they decide how they want to vote – strategic voting has become more common – than how they might think in a spur of the moment poll mid-term.

The main poll question asked was “If a general election was held today, would you be eligible to vote?”

As usual One News show how the seats in Parliament would look if an election ‘was held today’.

But the polling in this week’s poll was done over 6 days, from Saturday 28 May to Thursday 2 June. And the poll was reported on Tuesday 7 June, 10 days after the first day of polling and 5 days after the last day day of polling.

How much could opinion change in that short a time? Quite a lot going by poll numbers split pre-MoU announcement and post-MoU announcement provided by Colmar Brunton:

cku-ghbuoaaoo3x

The Memorandum of Understanding was announced by the Greens on Tuesday 31 May at 3.30 pm.

There is no indication of when people who were polled heard about the MoU, how much they heard about the MoU or whether they heard about the MoU at all before being polled.

There was quite a bit of ongoing discussion and news about the MoU after the polling was complete, especially over the following weekend with coverage of the Green AGM where Green leaders and Andrew Little spoke about the MoU.

And Labour and Green leaders, as well as Winston Peters,  were interviewed about the MoU on Saturday on The Nation and on Sunday on Q+A.

So people who were polled in the last two and a half  days of the polling period, as opposed to the first three and a half days days of the polling, would at best have only based their poll decisions on very preliminary consideration of the implications  of the MoU, if at all.

It should also be noted that the MoU was not the only news over the polling period. Other news may have affected people’s opinions other than the MoU. Assuming that the MoU was the sole cause of a shift in opinion is baseless.

So as far as the MoU goes the before and after poll results should be viewed with a lot of caution.

As well as this single polls in general should be viewed with caution. Trends of one pollster over several months and aggregation of multiple pollsters are generally regarded as much better indicators of public opinion.

And another point – the before and after results show how much opinion measured by a poll can change in a short space of time, a matter of a few days.

NZ First support dropped from about 11% to about 7%, by about a third, a big variation.

Greens support increased by about a quarter, despite it being stated this wasn’t statistically significant I think it is notable.

And Labour support moved over 5%, from 26.1% to 31.3%. We don’t know whether support moved up a further 5% in the next 3 days, or dropped back again, or if the poll was an outlier poll.

All we know from this with any certainty is that polled opinion can change significantly over a short period of time.

Therefore the precise seating arrangements displayed by One News and others, and the ‘analysis’ of what a poll result might mean and why it might mean whatever they claim should be viewed with a lot of scepticism.

Reporting on polls by the mainstream media is usually awful and ignores the realities of political polling.

Single polls are no more than a rough indicator of opinion averaged over a few days.

One last point – a sample size of 1500 is unusual, 900-1000 is far more common.

As far as I understand it most polling results are usually obtained in the initial days of a polling period with the rest of the period used to fill the gaps in their demographic quotas.

So was a mid-poll decision made to increase the number of people being polled by 50%? Polling 628 people in two days seems unusual to me and may make polling variances more likely.

This latest Colmar Brunton poll demonstrates about how much opinion, or the measurement of opinion, can change over time, even over a very short time.

One News Poll – June 2016

One News Colmar Brunton poll for June 2016:

  • National 48% (down from 50)
  • Labour 29% (up from 28)
  • Greens 12% (up from 10)
  • NZ First 9%
  • Maori Party 0.7% (down from 1.1)
  • Conservative Party 0.7% (up from 0.3)
  • ACT Party 0.3% (down from 0.7)
  • Other 0.6% (up from 0,2)

Base(n=) 1,245

Despite the commentary on One News I think it’s far too soon to read much into this result in relation to the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding.

Polling was done between 28th of May and 2nd of June, after the budget and with the MOU announcement part way through.

Regardless of that, Labour+Green at 41% is still a long way short of National’s 48%.

ColmarPollJune2016trend

For preferred Prime Minister:

  • John Key 39%
  • Winston Peters 12% (up from 10)
  • Andrew Little 7%

Before and after MoU:

cku-ghbuoaaoo3x

That might surprise and worry some people but I still think it’s too soon to judge much from this poll in relation to the MoU announcement. I’d say that Greens will be a tad anxious.

Full report (PDF)

Pushing a perception – gutsy or stupid

Going by the lines Andrew Little and Metiria Turei have been pushing, and others like JulieAnne Genter – see No NZ First aim – and Martyn Bradbury bombs on basic facts where he says “that new perception changes everything” it has become apparent what the strategy is.

There’s been a number of claims about ‘perceptions’ being all important over the last few months.

Labour and Greens want to to create the  perception in polls that Labour+Greens can compete head to head with National, and hope that will then become a reality.

They are deliberately leaving Winston Peters out of their MoU lines.

Andrew Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw in weekend interviews tried to divert from any mention of Peters or NZ First, and also in their speeches at the Green conference they repeated ‘change the Government’ and Labour and Greens over and over with no mention of the elephant in their election room.

They are working on creating a Labour+Green versus National perception, hoping to turn that into a reality.

Turei called it a game changer.

But if reality remains as it is, or if Labour or Greens or both take a hit in the next few polls, the opposite perception could become apparent – that there is no way they can make Government without Peters and NZ First.

Peters will be doing everything he can to promote the latter perception, and to pick up as many disillusioned Labour voters as he can to make his perception the reality.

Labour and Greens have effectively changed the battle they had and will now be fighting on two fronts, against Key and National, and against Peters and NZ First.

That’s either very gutsy or quite stupid.

Bradbury bombs on basic facts

Martyn Bradbury has been all over the place on the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding, initially criticising it but eventually claiming that it changes everything.

His claim that the “new perception changes everything” fails basic fact tests, and “the way the media must now report the Polls and the way voters see the Polls that is the most immediate impact of this MoU” is bollocks – media already report on polls in the way he says they must.

When the MoU was announced, and since, Bradbury has slammed the announcement:

June 3:

“The launch was a clumsy flop…”

June 4:

“The inhumane haste at which the Labour Party and Greens announced their Memorandum of Understanding last week has been stripped bare by a power struggle that has quietly been occurring behind the scenes within the Greens.”

But by June 5:

The launch of the MoU may have been rushed, clumsy and with little detail so as to avert a strategic change of position for the Greens, but Andrew’s performance helped prove that a union together was better than cross bench neutrality.

What few political pundits or commentators could understand last week, was the unseemly haste with which the Greens and Labour rushed out their Memorandum of Understanding. While many progressive voters have wanted this announcement for 8 years, the timing seemed odd and the actual details very light, the Green Party AGM in Christchurch this weekend helped answer some of those questions.

All this talk about haste probably means that Bradbury wasn’t told in advance so it caught him by surprise. But after attending the Green AGM in the weekend it seems like Labour or the Greens might have promised him a new laptop or something.

Today: Why the MoU changes everything and why the NZ mainstream media are the worst enemies of democracy

The haste of stitching together the MoU to stall the Identitarians and blue-green factions inside the Greens from moving to a neutrality stance at the last AGM aside, the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding changes everything in one simple move.

New Zealanders aren’t too bright, partly from the lack of quality information they get (Jane Bowron makes this point today – yet manages to miss the impact Waatea 5th Estate has had at 7pm)…

Bowron missed the impact of quite a few things, like the of landing of a golden autumn leaf in the mildest of June zephyrs.

The mainstream media, apart from colluding with hate speech merchants like Cameron Slater (until they were caught) and pimping for the interests of bankers, corporations, farmers and property speculators are the worst enemies of democracy in NZ because they never take the time to point out how close the MMP environment makes the election for National.

That sounds like nothing apart from a general bellyache at enemies.

When TVNZ and TV3 do their latest Polls, they sell it as ‘Labour 30% and National at 47%. This constant advertising for National gives the impression that Key’s 4th term is assured. What the MoU does is force Paddy Gower and other mainstream media pimps to reflect the real Parliamentary equation, that combined, Labour-Greens are 42% and National 47%.

That new perception changes everything.

It forces the media to acknowledge the election is closer and it suddenly dawns on sleepy hobbits that actually Key isn’t untouchable.

It is this perception change in the way the media must now report the Polls and the way voters see the Polls that is the most immediate impact of this MoU.

Except for one thing – this is bollocks.

The media can report things however they like, their is no compulsion to report polls in a way that Bradbury or Labour/Greens want them to.

It suggests that Bradbury and possible Greens and/or Labour are trying have their cake and eat it – they say the MoU is entirely about changing the Government and ends at the election, but won’t say how a coalition may look until the voters have ‘spoken’ at the election so has nothing to do with coalition convolutions.

They don’t want to be connected in coalition configurations, except when it suits it seems that they are.

And TVNZ (One News) and TV3 (Newshub) already report on combined poll results anyway, so Bradbury fails on facts on that.

One News in April 2016:  Flag flop fails to dent Government’s popularity

When converted into seats in Parliament, it’s a clear cut win for National who get 61 seats and the ability to govern alone in a Parliament of 121.

Labour would have 34, and even with the Greens 12 seats could only muster 46 as a left wing block.

NZ First would have 11 seats while Act, United Future and the Maori Party all would have one.

Newshub in May 2016: Key’s popularity plummets to lowest level

2_seats_in_the_house1
Roy Morgan does similar: National and Labour vote up in May but NZ First still holds the balance of power position despite vote falling

During May support for National rose 3% to 45.5%, now ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance 41.5% (up 1%).

If a New Zealand Election were held now the latest NZ Roy Morgan Poll shows NZ First 9.5% (even though down 3% still NZ First’s second highest level of support in twenty years) would be in a position to determine who would form the next New Zealand Government.

So all polls highlight the fact that Labour+Greens can’t do it alone and would need NZ First.

Back to Bradbury:

When TVNZ and TV3 do their latest Polls, they sell it as ‘Labour 30% and National at 47%. This constant advertising for National gives the impression that Key’s 4th term is assured. What the MoU does is force Paddy Gower and other mainstream media pimps to reflect the real Parliamentary equation, that combined, Labour-Greens are 42% and National 47%.

They already do that.

That new perception changes everything.

It isn’t a new perception so it changes nothing.

It forces the media to acknowledge the election is closer and it suddenly dawns on sleepy hobbits that actually Key isn’t untouchable.

The media have made it clear that the reality that seems to escape Bradbury – or he wants to hide it or hide from it – is that NZ First can on current polling decide who to side with.

It is this perception change in the way the media must now report the Polls and the way voters see the Polls that is the most immediate impact of this MoU.

So going by this it will have no impact.

Bradbury fails the fact test. That is probably no change either.

Peters on Labour-Green MoU

Winston Peters was asked about the Labour Green memorandum of Understanding by Katie Bradford on Q+A yesterday.

First, does he now have a better relationship with the Greens?

Winston Peters: Well, look, first of all, this memorandum of understanding the Greens have had one with the National Party. And this one, I understand, expires on election night. So, frankly, I don’t know how it works. We’ve not been a part of any discussion. And so, I suppose you’re being presented with this option: ‘Us two have got married over here, and we want New Zealand First to join us even though they’ve not been part of any discussion whatsoever.’

Peters didn’t answer the question.

It’s hard to believe that there has not been any discussion whatsoever between anyone in Labour and anyone in NZ First about the Memorandum. I’ve seen claims that there has been.

Katie Bradford:  But did you really think they would come to you and talk to you? You wouldn’t have had a bar of it.

Winston Peters: The reality is that on some things we’ve cooperated with all sorts of parties. You know, on the Reserve Bank Act getting amended, we got within one vote of getting that done – twice. But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works. And if it’s going to end on election night, then what is it about?

He didn’t answer that question either.

Katie Bradford: You haven’t answered my original question, which was, ‘Do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you have in the past?’ James Shaw said you and Metiria are good friends. Deborah Morris-Travers is obviously now the chief of staff for the Greens. She was a former MP of you. I mean, is this a good sign?

Winston Peters: It seemed he came to that interview to talk about New Zealand First, and I’ve just seen the interview. One party doesn’t go into those sorts of arrangements, because we don’t know how the cards will fall.

He didn’t answer those questions.

Katie Bradford: But I’m asking you about your relationship with the Greens.

Winston Peters: Let me make one thing very clear. We have a very good relationship with everybody, as you well know, including New Zealand media.

He didn’t answer the question again, and his response must be a joke. He smirked as he said it.

Katie Bradford: Okay, but do you have a better relationship with the Greens now than you did in the past, and with Labour, for that matter?

Winston Peters: I mean, I never attacked the Greens in the past…

Another question avoided and another laughable response.

Now, there’s no doubt about the Greens, if you look at their manifesto, for a parallel state. Now, we are not going to compromise our policies on critical things to do with this country’s social and economic advancement.

That looks like an attack on the Greens, in almost the same breath he says he has never attacked the Greens.

Katie Bradford: But you are saying, then, that perhaps on areas like immigration you would be able to work better than in the past. Who’s your favourite Green? If you had to name one, who would you prefer to go…?

Winston Peters: Now, what I’m saying to you is that I can’t understand why Labour did this, because it’s from a position of weakness, and the only beneficiary will be the Greens. And their supporters will find that out very quickly. That’s been my experience in politics.

He doesn’t answer the questions again.

Otherwise it’s hard to argue with his comment.

Katie Bradford: So you think Labour will suffer as a result of this?

Winston Peters: New Zealand First is not coming in from a position of weakness. We will grow this party seriously, and all the signs are saying that, all the polls say that.

He doesn’t answer the question. Otherwise his response seems reasonable, NZ First looks to be in a position of strength, particularly compared to Labour and the Greens.

Katie Bradford: The numbers show that. The numbers show Labour and the Greens would need New Zealand First if they were to govern. Therefore, would you not say to the voters, ‘Well, this is a viable option’?

Winston Peters: No, what’s viable is what is sound for the country economically and socially. If, for example — two things go with this — mass immigration continued 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.

He answered a question!

He appears to state unequivocally two bottom lines but they are not clearly defined.

It’s highly questionable that ‘mass immigration’ applies to New Zealand.

And ‘a parallel state’ and ‘separatist racist laws’ are emotive but very non-specific, so there’s plenty of wiggle room there.

Katie Bradford: So voters next year, it’ll continue to be the line from you – wait and see.

Winston Peters: No, voters will have a choice. They’ll have a real choice with New Zealand First, because on some of these issues, the only party making a stand is us, and we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now.

 

He answered another question, incorrectly and misleadingly.

Voters will have a number of choices of course, but Winston’s line has been ‘wait and see’ for many years, he refuses to state any possible coalition arrangements he would consider and discuss prior to an election.

Winston is adept at sounding like he is ‘making a stand’ but he never defines exactly what stands he is making. He is practised at sounding like he is making strong stands but when you look at what he actually says it vague and waffly and avoids answering simple questions.

And “we’re the party that’s been proven right in so many areas now” is highly questionable – Peters claims, insinuates and accuses but most of the time he avoids substantiating or backing up his assertions.

I think what we can most assume from this interview and his other responses to the Labour-Green MoU is that Peters will strongly oppose the Greens and this agreement and a number of vague aspects of immigration and the Treaty of Waitangi – unless it suits his interests to do otherwise.

Interview: Winston Peters dismisses Labour Green alliance

 

Learning to work together is important

Learning to work together is as important as changing the Government according to Weka, a long time prominent commenter at The Standard, who has become an author there and has posted “Our Plan to Change the Government”.

Weka’s comments on her own post give some insight into the perceptions of at least one Green supporter on what the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding is about.

  • “We do have to learn how to work together even where we disagree. To my mind that’s as important as the overt purpose of changing the govt.”
  • “…presenting Labour and the Greens as competent enough to manage the country”
  • “It’s not a coalition agreement. “
  • It’s about working together in a new way (this hasn’t happened in NZ for decades) to
    (a) keep the focus on how badly things have gone for NZ with this particular govt, and
    (b) present an alternative
  • “The MOU/co-operation is to change the government.”
  • “The Greens have always been about getting us to do politics differently. This is what the relationship with Labour is about.”

Getting Labour to do things differently may be more ambitious and more difficult than changing the Government.

Greens will be hoping Labour does things differently in coalition negotiations and don’t spurn Greens and turn to NZ First like they did in 2005. In three terms in Government Labour have never included Greens in a coalition agreement.

Weka 1.1.2

“Will for instance Andrew Little announce that the Labour Party will drop their support for deep sea oil drilling and other unconventional extreme fossil fuel technologies like fracking?
Which are a major stumbling block preventing a strategic alliance between the Labour Party and the Green Party.”

This isn’t a coalition deal. It’s an agreement to work together to over the next 18 months to change the govt. Election campaigning, and coalition deals will happen at the election time. I agree the issues you raise are very important, but I would ask you to consider this. How could the Labour party as a whole adopt Green policy across the board? I just can’t see how it could happen, given the party is made up of members, activists, staff, MPs etc, who are overall environmentally more conservative than you and I. Do you suggest that Little impose policy on the party?

I don’t see any single policy as being a stumbling block preventing an alliance. What I expect from the Greens and hope from Labour is that they will develop a new way of working together and then forming a coalition govt, that isn’t centred on ideas around conflict and difference, but is instead focusses on co-operation and diversity.

Think party political intersectionality. We don’t have to agree on everything (or even everything major). We do have to learn how to work together even where we disagree. To my mind that’s as important as the overt purpose of changing the govt.

Weka 1.1.2.2.2

“The problem with that approach Weka is the Nats and the media will focus on those differences. Highlight them and say that is the reason why they will not be a stable government.”

Enough, I reckon National and the media will focus on whatever negative shit they can dream up no matter what L/G do, sot it’s kind of a moot point. Time to stop being afraid of Dirty Politics and media bias and do the right thing because it’s the right thing. L/G can still be canny, and I agree a strong counter is needed.

Truth and being real has its own power. I noticed Shaw made no bones of the fact that they are up against a formidable enemy in the NACT trashing machine.

Weka 5.1

tbh, I don’t think this is about getting votes (that will happen in the election campaign). I think it’s about spending the next 18 months changing the narrative and presenting alternatives to National.

One is presenting Labour and the Greens as competent enough to manage the country. Another is saying so many of us are angry about what has happened to NZ, here are some alternatives, we don’t just have to keep doing the same thing.

Weka 5.2.2.1

I think there is quite a bit of misunderstanding about what the MoU is. It’s not a coalition agreement. They’re saying that voters will decide and any coalition formation will happen after the election.The MoU is pretty clear what they will do between now and then.

I don’t read it as starting from scratch at the election because the whole point is relationship building and that will long outlive the piece of paper.

Weka 5.2.2.1.1.1

Peters might hold the balance of power, but Labour and the Greens still have choices in how they respond to that. Time to stop being beholden to the idea that Peters is in charge. It’s unhealthy.

Weka 6

Watching The Nation with Little and Turei. This is an important point. The MOU/co-operation is to change the government. Lisa Owen wants to know what the govt will look like, but it’s not possible to know that at this stage. What Labour and the GP can do right now, is campaign together to change the govt. That’s a vital act in and of itself. The voters will decide, and then the parties can get together and look at what the govt should be.

Trying to pin down Labour and the Greens to all the coalition detail now is old school, macho politics that doesn’t serve NZ. Yes, ask the questions, but be prepared for answers that don’t fit neatly into the box you have prepared. L/G don’t control NZF, nor each other, but are open to all of them being part of the change the govt strategy.

As a GP voter, I’m actually ok with Labour and the Greens working together now even if that doesn’t mean that the Greens end up in govt. I want the govt changed and I want the Greens to be a core part how that happens. And it would be a huge lost opportunity if the Greens weren’t in govt.

But we have to remember that we need change more than we need power. The Greens have always been about getting us to do politics differently. This is what the relationship with Labour is about.

Weka 8.2

“In my world (which admittedly isn’t a social democratic centred one) I thought opposition was always about changing the government.”

It’s not about changing the govt because they’re the opposition and that’s what they do. It’s about working together in a new way (this hasn’t happened in NZ for decades) to (a) keep the focus on how badly things have gone for NZ with this particular govt, and (b) present an alternative, not just any old opposition alternative, but one that will actively turn around all those things that people are so concerned about now.

For a country that has had no effective opposition/govt in waiting for 8 years, that is a significant thing.

Besides, campaigning on ‘we’re doing what we should be doing anyway’ doesn’t really engage the imagination does it 😉

(Note: Authoring is quite different to commenting on blogs, it involves quite different skills and a different approach. Typically authoring is more thoughtful and can be more balanced as a result. Commenters who become authors often also change their commenting style due to more thought and a higher level of exposure).

“Memorandum is really paper thin”

Waatea 5th Estate looked at the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding, and Dr Wayne Hope said that with no Labour policies and therefore no shared policy platforms the agreement is just “a piece of paper”.

Martyn Bradbury: Wayne All Labour and Greens really want out of this is the perception of a bloc so that when TVNZ and TV3 (Newsbub) roll out that latest polling data they look far closer to National’s total than they do when it’s separated out. Will this announcement be enough to help remind New Zealander’s that the election is a hell of a lot closer than than is currently being perceived?

A typical Bradbury question loaded with his own opinion. The election is still well over a year away, probably closer to 17 months away, about half a term.

Former Alliance Party candidate, political media blogger and lecturer at AUT School of Communication – Dr Wayne Hope

Wayne Hope: The announcement’s too little too late in the absence of any shared policy platforms on key areas. And the key areas are taxation, housing policy, climate change mitigation, employment creation.

Now without a shared platform, costed policy platforms around those key issues, then this Memorandum is really paper thin, nd you can’t have one without the other.

And that’s why I’m a little bit cynical about it, because one of the problems here is that the Labour Party itself has not developed it’s own policy on those particular areas.

Labour have said they will work on their own policies, and on any joint policy agreements with Greens, some time in the future.

Wayne Hope: What is the labour Party policy on taxation as of now?

What is the Labour overall strategy to redress the housing crisis as of now?

What is Labour’s view on climate change as of now?

In the absence of developing settled positions on those policy areas we’re not going to get shared policy platforms with the Greens, and if that doesn’t happen soon enough then this memorandum will just be a piece of paper.

It’s hard to argue against that, unless you are a dedicated Labour or Green supporter with  ambition absent any substance.

Andrew Little and Metiria Turei have repeated their shared policy platforms:

  • Get bad John Key
  • Get that awful National Party
  • Change the Government
  • Change the Government
  • Change the Government
  • Don’t mention Winston

They want voters to dump the known and trust in the unknown.

They seem to hope that the voters don’t care that what happens after the election because the memorandum is just a piece of paper that gets ripped up on election day.

Source: Waatea 5th Estate  – Left Wing Jedi Council debate the Labour-Green MoU
– segment from about 6:40