As it became clear late on Saturday evening that National had lost key coalition partners in the Māori Party and UnitedFuture and ACT was never going to be enough, Matthew Hooton suggested the Greens would be foolish if they would dismiss outright a coalition offer from National.
His basic premise was James Shaw could be offered the chance to make real change as Climate Change Minister under a National-led government.
Immediately my hackles regarding Mr. Hooton’s (and National’s) motivations were immediately raised. My question: why would the Greens go into coalition with National when the latter are effectively diametrically opposed in just about every policy area?
Then late yesterday afternoon I ended up in a twitter exchange with someone talking about the possibility of a Greens / National alliance after reading Audrey Young’s post-election commentary.
My thinking is thus: National are ruthless. Although they won’t want say it publicly, a parliament without the Greens would suit them fine. Considering how visceral the attacks on Metira Turei were following her admission of fiddling the system, I have no doubt in my mind National are only motivated by what is important to National – self-preservation and remaining in power.
Then I got into a discussion over what I would “flip-flop” on.
As I said to Tim last night, National would never cancel their precious tax cuts (despite being fiscally irresponsible). After all, remember when you don’t lower taxes and keep them at their current level, that’s actually raising taxes.
Ask yourself, what would National get out of this hypothetical relationship with the Greens? First of all, their desired goal to remain in power of the machines of government is immediately satiated.
Secondly, the Greens would make National look good both ethically and environmentally; it would be like they were the conscience of the National Party. Aside: wouldn’t it be nice if National could develop their own conscience?
Thirdly, and most importantly, National and many, many media commentators remain stuck in a first past the post world where there must be a winner on election night. That can only happen in a two-party system. Previous relationships with long-term governments – both New Zealand First coalitions, first with National (1996) and then with Labour (2004) – have resulted in disaster for the minor party. The Alliance also disintegrated following their relationship with Labour in the early 2000s. I am certain this will be in the back of National’s mind. If the Greens go with them they will, in seconds, destroy the credibility they’ve built up over the past twenty years. Their poll numbers will collapse and, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, probably return to Labour. That outcome would suit National fine.
For the Greens, it is a lose/lose situation. Yes they would be in power, but at what cost? Going with the party that has intensified dairying in Canterbury to such an extent they had to replace the Canterbury Regional Council with unelected commissioners to continue intensification without the impediment of democratic accountability and council rules. For the Greens the hypocrisy would be palpable.
The MMP environment offers up a range of coalition options for major parties. If National or their supporters are so keen on going with the Greens, surely it would be far more sensible for them to offer a coalition deal to Labour? They would have control over 100 seats between them. That’s a massive voting block. Imagine what they could get done?
Of course, this is a nonsense. National are never going to offer a coalition deal to Labour because Labour are not a minor party. They were a couple of weeks back, but now they are a threat. That’s why this suggestions the Greens go with National is nonsense.
As a final thought, I actually do think many National supporters would prefer their party work with the Greens instead of New Zealand First. If, however, the Greens signed the deal, their vote would collapse. I absolutely believe that and, I am thinking, so do Matthew Hooton and National.
The brains-trust of MyThinks has been crunching the numbers following the election day result. Our analysis has offered up some very interesting possibilities in terms of the make up of the next parliament.
National / New Zealand First
The most likely outcome. New Zealand First have a history of forming coalitions with the party winning the largest share of the vote. National have a history of doing just about anything to stay in power. A National /NZ First government would probably have Bill English as Prime Minister and Winston Peters as Minister of Whatever He Wants. Paula Bennett will be left out in the cold and given something unimportant like sports or tourism. Look for Gerry Brownlee to order a new speakers chair after breaking the old one.
Labour / New Zealand First / Greens
An unlikely scenario as Winston Peters has ruled out ever working with the Greens, unless he gets exactly what he wants, in which case this is possible. Since Labour are not National this is not really on the cards. The Greens have said they are happy to work with Winston so this could be an option, but Winston thinks they are a bunch of dirty hippies, so this is highly unlikely.
Labour / New Zealand First with support from the Greens
Possible. Helen Clark’s last parliament left the Greens on the cross benches supporting Labour on confidence and supply. Since Winston has said he won’t work with the Greens it is possible Labour could go with this option. Watch in the coming days for National and its proxies to repeat over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again that they are the largest party in parliament and therefore it is written into lore they must form the next government. With the media wanting an instant solution to the those claims to round off their 24 hour news cycle, this could put a nail in this coffin for Labour.
National / Green
Not content to have destroyed the Māori Party, United Future, nearly New Zealand First and almost ACT, National proxies have today suggested the Greens start sniffing around for some baubles of power. Far right commentator Matthew Hooton said James Shaw could be Climate Change Minister in the new National government. National don’t really believe in climate change so it would be like putting Helen Clark in charge of dishing out knighthoods. No, Hoots is only suggesting this because he knows a) the Greens would never do it so he can take the moral high ground if they go with Labour, and b) if, by some bizarre stroke of fate, do decide to do it, then National can take them out (and not the pleasant table for two at Denny’s take you out, the Tony Soprano concrete gumboots take you out).
National minority government
National could try to run it alone. After all, Bill English said almost half of New Zealand voted for him. Tough shit that over half voted against him. A minority government would be doomed to failure so, by all means, crack on.
National / Labour
There’s nothing stopping these to neoliberal centrist parties creating a grand coalition. Except the inability of all of Labour to prevent a little bit of sick leaping into the back of their throat every time they thought about it.
ACT-led minority government
Feasibly ACT could cobble together a loose arrangement with some of the larger parties in parliament (at last count, that was all of them). In that way ACT could be the first single seat minnow party to lead a western government. But back in the real world where relevance is a key issue, with just 0.5% of the party vote, ACT might now be the Nigel NoMates of New Zealand politics.
Greens-led party coalition
The Greens could throw caution to the wind and ask individual like-minded MPs from any party to join them for a party on the roof of Bowen House. This has nothing to do with what we’ve been talking about but one can only imagine the quality of the craft beer at this gathering.
PR guru and far-right enthusiast Matthew Hooton tries to run the government from inside the plush offices of the Taxpayer’s Union. WhaleOil and David Farrar get wind of it and tell on him to Judith Collins. National implodes after six months in power and the country heads back to the polls.
Nobody has any idea what the hell Winston Peters is going to do so we should all just go about our normal everyday business until the National Party bribes him the most and they sign the contract.
If you haven’t watched the debate between Bill English and David Parker on The Nation over the weekend, you probably should get stuck in to it straight away.
It is very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, when asked about his plan, Bill English was unable to say anything other than, “well… we’ve got a plan.” Host Lisa Owen asked Bill several times to name one thing that his government was going to do to boost New Zealand. I suppose, if one was being kind, one could argue that Bill was saying National is doing many different things together (this is what he said after being pressed).
The only issue I have with the various people arguing this, including panelist Fran ‘Whale Source’ O’Sullivan from the New Zealand Herald, is when David Parker was asked the same question he rattled off a list of policies Labour have planned. It is prudent to note the amount of policy Labour and the Greens have released this election campaign compared with the amount National have released. Sure National have a lot on their website, but it’s not easy to find and apart from their big ‘housing’ announcement (giving more people more money to buy more houses in an effort to bring an end to ) and their tax ‘plan’ today, there has been very little in the way of tangible and meaty policy released and discussed in the media. Everybody knows about Labour’s capital gains tax and the reasons they believe the country needs it. What do we know about National? Oh… you might get tax cuts… if it’s ok to do it. How much? Oh… we don’t know. When? Oh… not ’til 2017.
National’s plan seems to hinge around telling New Zealanders they would rather hear about the issues that matter – housing, health, education and the economy – before attacking Labour or the Greens or Nicky Hager for printing out their emails. They aren’t really that keen to talk about policy. Not keen at all.
The other important takeaway from this interview was Bill English’s inability to draw a line in the sand under the Dirty Politics issue. Lisa Owen asked him point-blank whether he approved of someone trawling through the Labour website and downloading private information. He could have easily said no. That would have put him off side and off message.
The fact Bill stalled and struggled to answer when he was first asked was very telling. It was like he really, really wanted to say yes but his instinct to toe the party line gazzumped his instinct to answer in a way that showed greater amount moral fortitude.
It is such a shame, but not unexpected, that Dirty Politics has fallen off the news cycle somewhat in the last week. It was like Judith ‘Princess Diana’ Collins got the sack and the media went, “oooh sweet, we can stop talking about this.”
Some of us actually have many, many questions that remain unanswered. Media types reading this can click here to read some of those questions. John Key must, he just absolutely must answer them. Not doing so highlights just how ethically challenged the leadership of the National Party are.
September the twentieth is a chance for New Zealand to set up a royal commission into political corruption. Voting for the National Party means that will definitely not happen.
So the latest polls are out. Labour are mid-20s, National are mid-50s, and the Greens are mid-teens.
I tweeted this morning about the vast number (nearly 16%) in the Fairfax Ipsos poll who register as ‘undecided.’ The same figure for Roy Morgan is 5.5%. I’m no polling expert, but I am quite good at the maths. Having one sixth of people not knowing who they will vote for only 2 months out from the election suggests to me that people want to vote for someone else other than Key and his wonderful band of merry joy-bringers, but are yet to be enthused by Labour and the Greens as a viable option.
Also, that means National’s 50-odd% is actually a percentage of DECIDED VOTERS which actually gives them a support figure under 50%.
40% of voters want a change of government. That’s quite a large proportion.
Of course, Farrar is bringing out this old argument again:
However it is hard to see how Labour can credibly form a Government if they get a result in the 20s, even if it becomes mathematically possible.
Although at the moment a change of government is looking unlikely, I would point out that the conservative sector of the vote in Australia has been a coalition for years – made up of the (ironically named) Liberal Party and the country / farming National Party. They even call themselves the Coalition. I don’t hear Tories complaining when that coalition wins power.
Ooooo…. they shouldn’t be allowed to form a coalition because they don’t have the mandate. Labor has the mandate. They are the biggest party.
Yes. It is mathematically possible because you need 61 or so seats to form a majority in an MMP parliament. If you only have 49.003% and all the other parties form a coalition because they decide they have similar ideals then ya-boo, sucks to you.
It’s not Labour or the Green’s fault that National’s chosen coalition partners have self destructed over the course of this parliament and the only one they’ve come close to fostering causes bile to rise in the back of many throats.
Ultimately, when Key and Cunliffe go head-to-head we will see some fireworks and maybe momentum will swing to the progressive side of the spectrum.
Yesterday Labour leader David Cunliffe delivered his first big policy announcement of the year – $60 a week for parents of new-borns. On Sunday the Greens announced their plans for “school hubs” where social services are coordinated through schools. Maybe Labour’s policy targets too many of those households earning over $100,000, but both policies are fresh and redefine the gap between a progressive left and the same-old same-old we’ve been swallowing since I was at high school.
What was very telling, however, was the overwhelmingly rabid reaction of the right-wingers I follow on twitter. The sputtering death gurgle of the neoliberal beast may very well be upon us.
Here’s just a sample of the quality dialogue we will be getting in the lead up to the election.
Steven Joyce (@stevenljoyce) tweeted at 2:21 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
Labour advises their spend-a-thon would resume immediately. Labour & Greens already an extra 3/4 a billion a year & it’s not even end of Jan
David Farrar (@dpfdpf) tweeted at 1:49 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
So this policy will pay $60 a week to any Labour MP (except Ldrs, Whips) who has a baby. That’s really targeting to those most in need.
Whaleoil (@Whaleoil) tweeted at 2:29 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
@CactusKate2 the feral underclass who already vote Labour will be ecstatic they get $60 extra a week for fags, booze and lotto
There are a number of things to consider. Firstly, these people are all successful, intelligent people. I don’t for on second think they actually believe New Zealanders are going to charge straight off to bed and start creating new humans on the promise of sixty bucks a week. Labelling the poor as useless, drug-dependent, booze-fueled baby factories suits their narrative just fine.
Secondly, the sheer repugnance of some of the bleating suggests those on the right are utterly terrified the narrative is changing from “me” back to “us.” Cunliffe and the left are offering New Zealanders something different to trickle up and they don’t like it one bit.
Thirdly, the reactions suggest there’s just a little bit of “this money’s mine. I made it. You can’t have it.” Which is just a little bit rich since they’ve been supporting policies that fleece low income earners for years.
Any way you look at it, this is now a battle of the mouths. Communication is paramount. If Labour and the Greens can project a positive vision onto the electorate they may send them packing.
Then we will hear some real whining.
PS: this looks a bit off formatting-wise because I wrote it on my phone.