Boots Theory: On the M.O.U.

Written By: - Date published: 3:28 am, June 7th, 2016 - 64 comments
Categories: labour, national, nz first, Politics - Tags:

Reposted from boots theory

I’m a bit late to the party on the Labour/Greens M.O.U. but letting the dust clear a little before passing judgement is perhaps not such a bad thing.

The M.O.U. had to happen. And the sooner the better. Not because it means a lot in terms of the Green and Labour working more closely – they already were – but because that relationship is now publicly codified and it’s now very clear that there’s a forty-percent-plus block that balances out National’s vote.

Some in the commentariat have made a big deal about how this is Labour giving in.

It isn’t.

If anything it’s Labour getting stronger. It’s a given now that not only will Labour’s machine work to make Andrew Little the next Prime Minister, but the Greens’ machine will as well.

Effectively Little is now leading a voting block that is within striking distance of becoming Government.

And that’s something Winston Peters is now going to have to deal with.

Because despite the pundits claiming this makes Peters stronger, what it actually does is put him into a corner. When, for example, he dogwhistles against a minority such as Muslims, he’s whistling in the wind – because whatever argument he’s making goes nowhere if it’s not backed by either Labour/Greens or John Key’s National party.

A Labour party at 29% could feasibly kowtow to Peter’s cynicism (I don’t think they would, but desperation makes anything possible). But a Labour/Greens block at 43% doesn’t have the same pressure. When you represent nearly half of all New Zealanders it’s much easier to say no. And it carries a lot more weight.

That creates an uncomfortable situation for Key. The numbers are most likely going to mean a fourth term National Government will be a National/NZ First coalition – that’s received wisdom.

That means that if the Green/Labour block – particularly Andrew Little – knock back Peters’ headline grabbing, there’s going to be more and more pressure on Key to engage with it. That’s pressure Key doesn’t want or need – he’s busy enough trying to put some shine back on his ailing liberal brand without getting caught up in debates about Muslims, or Asians, or Māori or whatever drum Peters is banging for attention this week or next.

Now I know there’ll be some within Labour who are afraid of upsetting Peters by pushing back on him occasionally, but they need to get over themselves and start thinking like price makers instead of price takers. Headline-grabbing cynicism aside, New Zealand First’s policy platform aligns a lot more closely with Labour and the Greens’ platform than it does with National. And Peters is a professional – he’s been around and he’ll make the decision on who he goes with based on the numbers post 2017 and what leverage they give him to get what he wants.

Anyone who doubts that should remember that it was only a few years ago that John Key’s dirty politics team ran a rabid and personal attack campaign on Peters that saw him exit politics for a term. A campaign that presumably had the Nats’ sign off. Key’s people humiliated Peters yet Winston can’t and won’t rule out going with them – if he did he’d lose the illusory power he has.

Things have changed with the M.O.U. They’ve changed because Andrew Little has re-staked his claim as leader of the opposition and has brought together a power base that rivals the Prime Minister’s in terms of the number of New Zealanders it represents. Having watched Little throughout his time in the union movement and in politics, I’m expecting he’ll use that power well to create change – it’s something he’s always done.

What that all adds up to, despite what some pundits have claimed, is a harder time for Winston and bad news for Key.

Rob Egan is an ex-senior advisor to two Labour leaders and co-owner of public relations firm Piko Consulting

64 comments on “Boots Theory: On the M.O.U.”

  1. adam 1

    Interesting, but misses something about MMP we all missed in the rush. Electorates are up for grabs, and if Winston does it right, more than a few electorates might just change to NZ First. Rural NZ will decide nationals fate this time.

    • robegan 1.1

      Hi Adam – because the party vote determines how many seats a party gets and then tops up the allocation with list MPs winning electorates won’t actually change how many votes NZ First has or Peters’ bargaining position unless they somehow get to a point where they have more electorate seats than vote.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        There’s this thing called an overhang. It usually happens when a small party gets more electorate seats than their party vote entitles them to. That small party’s number of votes in parliament also goes up thus their influence in parliament and across the country.

        • robegan 1.1.1.1

          Yup. But I just can’t see NZF getting to a point where they won more electorate seats than party vote.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            That does seem to be a question of how many rural National voters decide to vote NZFirst. If Northland is being well looked after by Winston then other rural conservatives may be inclined to switch their electorate votes while still voting National or their party votes. Some may even switch both.

            So, yeah, it’s a possibility that NZ1st could be an overhang party this next election.

            • weka 1.1.1.1.1.1

              They’d have to get 7 or 8 electorates on current polling, or take a big dip in their party vote, right?

              • adam

                Yes, and from what I hear, they could do that. Many Rural conservatives are a bit beyond miffed with National, and it’s urban ways.

                • weka

                  hmm, seems a big vague. How would anyone know? I can see the NZF party vote going up. But getting 7 or 8 seats? I’d need to see someone pointing to the actual potential seats and doing some political analysis on voting patterns there, are they marginal etc.

  2. mickysavage 2

    Interesting post.

    I agree with the comment about the problems with a National – NZ First relationship. It will be like the attacks in 2008 and in 2014 never occurred. Key always presented himself who was above politics and would put principle ahead of expediency but shuffling up to Winston for support would have a major adverse effect on this.

    • dukeofurl 2.1

      Assuming that national does nothing in return ?

      Even as we write this stuff National will have a whole house of horrors row of ex NZF Mps to pull down Peters.
      Will be doing something similar for Greens who they will paint as more of a Dotcom bogeyman.
      They wont be sitting back thinking of new policies for increasing their vote, it will be a torrent of negativism.

      • WILD KATIPO 2.1.1

        Then there’s the housing bubble which we are being warned about as approaching … and the colossal amount of private debt….

        And Nationals being trapped by their own neo liberal impotency to do anything about it… when the proverbial hits the fan or when it approaches doing so… Winston will run a mile from Key.

        Nationals crumbling and the opposition can simply stand by and let them fall off the cliff of their own accord , no need to expend too much energy , just a gentle shove to see them on their way perhaps… at any rate… from here on in , the left block just got a whole new emphasis with the MOU.

        As for young Winfred… I don’t think he’d want a bar of it… he may even sit and just give confidence and supply to play it safe. And he’d still be able to smile and wave goodbye to Mr Key.

      • Jenny Kirk 2.1.2

        You don’t think they (Nats) would be cosying up to Winston, instead ? It looks to me that they’re going to need him so they won’t want to upset him too much, surely ?

  3. Olwyn 3

    One valuable aspect of the MoU, whatever Winston does in relation to it, is the spelling out of the aim “to change the government.” While it looks to be stating the obvious, it is actually an aim that is easily occluded by media blather and so on. Plainly stated, it gives a focus to activists and a straightforward answer to a range of questions.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Does the MOU really mean that Andrew Little is “effectively” leader of the Labour/Greens “voting block”?

    Is this what Green Party members and supporters understood was the upshot of the MOU?

    • adam 4.1

      I’m not reading that either.

      My guess, some greens may not be happy with that assessment.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        You know, the two sides signing the Treaty had quite different understandings of what the Treaty meant in practice…

        • robegan 4.1.1.1

          Hi Viper and Adam, my point was that this block will deliver Little as PM. I think in the public mind that effectively makes him the leader of that block. I realise that’s not a very nuanced opinion, but I think that lack of nuance is a fair assumption of more disengaged voters (and there are a lot of them).

          I guess to put it another way, I don’t think even the strongest Green supporter expects the MOU to deliver Met or James as PM, but that’s just a gut feeling – I’ve not polled on it or anything.

          • adam 4.1.1.1.1

            Both parties, let me correct that – all political parties have not engaged or even really tackled why people are not voting. My guess next election there will be even more people not voting, unless something radical happens.

            With so many people not engaged, I’m at the point of questioning the legitimacy of anything politicians, their advisers, and supporters – say and do. I’m also cynical about the professional class that is the labour party. Let alone what looks like a massive move to the right by the greens.

            Take into account, that when people give up on a system – they are left on the outside.

            To me this is a deal to make people feel more and more like they are on the outside.

            Just an observation…

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              It suits the elites in the parties to shrink the pool of those who participate

        • weka 4.1.1.2

          Good grief CV, can’t you just be happy, or at least let others be?

          I can’t say I’m particularly bothered by a single left wing commentator saying that Little is now effectively leading a left wing block. He will be PM after all, and the general public will be looking at him in that light (as potentially the next PM). I guess it depends on what you mean by leader though. I don’t see a suggestion that he will be dictating to the Greens on what they should be doing, or that suddenly he’s in charge. They will be campaigning separately, and then negotiating anew after the election. In the meantime they’ve agreed to work together to change the government.

          But hey, keep trying to pick holes in it, it’s probably good practice.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.1

            If Green supporters and members are happy with Andrew Little characterised as “leader” of the Labour/Greens “voting block” then I have no problem with it.

          • te reo putake 4.1.1.2.2

            Good call, weka, However, bear in mind that CV will not be voting for either the Greens or Labour (despite hypocritically remaining a member of the latter). He is not a left winger, by his own admission.

            Given his annoyance at how the party he belongs to keeps ignoring him, presumably only a National victory next election will temporarily sate his self loathing. Then, after a few days of ‘I told you so’, the process will likely resume again. Well, until he finally joins ACT or the Libertarians, who more closely represent his miserable, misanthropic world view.

            The more it turns out that Andrew Little is actually a pretty damn good leader, the shriller the moaners from the right will get.

            For ages we’ve had whinging about the need for Labour to move left, ignoring leader Little’s left wing credentials. We’ve had whinging about the caucus not being united, yet the evidence suggests the opposite under Little’s leadership. We’ve had whinging about the need for Labour to practically embrace MMP, and now that’s happened too.

            But whatever Labour does, it will never be enough for the saddos with plenty of criticisms, but no alternatives. The rest of us will just get on with the hard work of winning the election one vote at a time. Because that’s how it’s done.

            • Johan 4.1.1.2.2.1

              Great to see Andrew Little construct a workable platform between Labour and the Greens (MoU).
              Too many people are overly concerned about the pathway and obstacles that may exist in the development of such a union. Andrew Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw will be a success, I am certain, for they do not possess the overblown egos of past party leaders of their respective parties.

              • weka

                I think the lack of ego is going to be a big part of it too, and a big shift politically for NZ. I think it’s why some people are a bit confused about the whole thing and can’t understand how it will work.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.2.2

              TRP dedicates a couple of hundred words to yours truly, I’m moved lol

              Regardless: Labour 25% +/-3%, positive outlook remains.

              • Actually, only a few words were directed at hypocritical, misanthropic ol’ you, CV. The rest was about your fellow righties. Don’t worry, you’re still irrelevant in the real world.

            • Ffloyd 4.1.1.2.2.3

              I just got this great sense of relief when the announcement was made of Labour and Greens joining forces to categorically state their aim of ridding N Z of this abysmal National Govt. The way it was presented was sane, sober, sensible and done with solidarity. I looked up the meaning of phalanx, and it was “soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder to repel opposition” , paraphrasing a bit, but I loved the way they stood strong, and stayed on song against the media. No BS, no slogans, nothing but strength in unity. And most of all, they are there for ALL of N Z. Not just the chosen few. I have always voted Labour but the Green Party has some wonderful people who are in Parliament for the right reasons. I will support anyone who has the heart and soul and welfare of N Z as their purpose for being there.

              Unfortunately they seem to have ended up in a Punch and Judy Show

              It’s up to us to change that. We DESERVE so much more. ALL of us!

              • weka

                Nice one. I think many of use feel similarly. I felt relief too, and relief that we have something we can work with over the next 18 months too.

                • Jenny Kirk

                  I, too, felt huge relief. And like TRP points out above, Andrew Little is showing great leadership skills for Labour and Metiria and James Shaw ditto for the Greens. This move together is a mind-changer !

                  • weka

                    I’m feeling relief about Little too! I haven’t exactly been holding my breath, but it’s been a fair amount of time to see if he is doing what he has been implying he’s doing (eg getting the caucus inline, sorting out the internal issues, slowly rebuilding the party). It does look like that is what has been happening, and I reckon it’s important that this has been done in house. We don’t know what’s gone on, and that’s healthy considering how Labour used to operate. Now we are starting to see the change from the outside, and it’s not spin and whistle, it’s just a natural consequence of presumably the work that’s been done in house.

                    Long may they keep that up.

        • Doogs 4.1.1.3

          That was a treaty, not an MoU!

  5. Redlion Seratus 5

    Grand post from Boots. Johnkey has long since made a hash of cordial proceedings with Winnie, the Mou means he’ll be inclined to side with the red/green block but only if there’s a decent show on election day.. his age means in my view wrangling for PM won’t be part of the dog trading as some have suggested

    • Jenny 5.2

      In my opinion Winnie, as you call him, will only be inclined to side with the Red/Green block if he is challenged to take a stand against deep sea oil drilling in his Northland electorate, which if he did, would put him seriously offside with the Nacts, mine it, drill it, frack it, burn it, policy position.

      For this to happen, to draw Peters out, both Green Party and Labour would have to agree to oppose Peters on this issue. The threat being, that if Winston Peters persisted in his support for this extreme fossil fuel technology, that Labour and the Greens would both campaign against him on it in his electorate. Which would seriously threaten weaken Peters hold on this marginal Northland seat, (where this issue is a hot topic), possibly just enough to tip him out and let the Nats win this seat back.

  6. Incognito 6

    I think this is a pretty good analysis.

    I agree that Peters’ freedom to operate has been somewhat curtailed, which he’ll not appreciate. The old dog is starting to make some ‘funny’ jumps & barks in reaction in order to grab the headlines and the attention of the voters. Personally, I find his “drum beating” off-putting but if NZLP & GP can at least agree on principle with NZF then it becomes more National’s problem to reclaim the high ground and the perception that it is representing a supposed majority.

    Some clever cookie(s) figured out on how to use Sir Winston to their advantage and he took the bait as expected. I’m impressed and I fully expect some dirty tactics in return from the usual suspects & sources.

  7. Bill 7

    So Winston the Wanker dog-whistled on immigration and the Labour contingent of the Lab/Green ‘pact’ pushed back by….calling for a reduction in work permits which…oh yeah, makes Winston the Wanker appear reasonable and results in ‘nothing to worry about’ for John Key and National.

    Or am I missing something?

    Well yes, I missed this bit. Either the Greens jump on board that putrid anti-foreigner bandwagon or tacitly back John Key and National who, to their credit, appear to be refusing to deal themselves into the immigrant card game.

    And that makes ‘the coherent left’ look …how?

    • weka 7.1

      People concerned about jobs and housing see Labour saying that Peters is being an arse in his approach, but still acknowledging there is an issue which Labour would deal with by reducing immigration downwards for a while to help manage the situation while remaining a pro-immigrant party. The Greens want the immigration policy to be managed better to match immigration applications to the skills that are needed here. Sounds coherent to me. I can see this being one of the easier policies to negotiate on when forming govt.

      L/G aren’t a pact and they don’t have to say the same things. I think perception of Peters is going to be mostly influenced by Peters’ own actions. The way L and the Gs came across was on immigration (not Peters’ position), and it’s probably one that most NZers support (as opposed to Peters’).

      National on the other hand like the way things are because it enables their diary industry mates and it undercuts wages. Of course they’re not going to say or do anything and there is nothing particularly creditable to it. They’d be for reducing immigration if it suited them, it’s not like they actually care about the immigrants themselves.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        Yeah well, if most New Zealanders support ‘bagging the immigrant’, then fuck most New Zealanders.

        And echoing what Marty has kind of bust his gut trying to say elsewhere …immigrants are not the reason that fuck-wits offer low wages and shite conditions with bugger all accommodation.

        Sans immigrants, those same fuck-wits would just play the poorer and more desperate kiwi off against the poorer and more desperate kiwi and the end result would be essentially the same.

        And if the goal posts shift to suggest that tourists with work visas are the problem, I’ll just point out that the same argument as above holds. People looking to fuck people over, will look to fuck people over. Blaming immigrants or working tourists is very much a case of blaming the victim.

        And I’m gone. This kind of bullshit just fucks me off too much.

        • Johan 7.1.1.1

          Bill and Marty seem to be arguing from a similar political platform, lots of BS but never any real SUBSTANCE.

    • mickysavage 7.2

      I thought the response was appropriate. Strip the immigration issue out of it and talk about population levels. Do we want to have a surge in population in the next few years and what are the implications of this? Housing affordability, employment, infrastructure …

      Basically what Weka said.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        Auckland is crossing 2M population within 15 years.

        Every politician is avoiding this issue like the plague. Even Peters is only indirectly dealing with it by promising to reduce immigration by 90%.

        • mickysavage 7.2.1.1

          So how do we address the issue?

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1.1

            Well, that depends on who you regard as “we.”

            As a commentator on The Standard, I’ve pointed out many times that you can’t fit 1/3 of the country in 0.3% the land area.

            But few others seem to think its a problem.

            I haven’t heard Goff or any of the other crop of pretend and extend politicians make reference to the physical undesirability of further population growth in Auckland.

            • weka 7.2.1.1.1.1

              I definitely think it’s a problem, I just don’t want them all coming south 😉

              Zero growth is the obvious solution, but most people still think the sacrifices are worth the perpetual growth myth.

              • Colonial Viper

                Well, they can go south as far as the Cook Strait 😈

                A combination of zero growth and degrowth economic restructuring is definitely called for.

                • weka

                  lol.

                  I do agree that the left’s split over population is a big stumbling block, especially as it’s an ideological argument rather than a pragmatic one.

        • lprent 7.2.1.2

          Auckland is crossing 2M population within 15 years.

          It is unlikely. It’d require sustained net migration into Auckland of about 40k. That isn’t something that we have seen since the 1950s when the migrations from country to town were happening.

          Net migration from other parts of NZ has pretty much dried up over the last 20 years apart from blips like Christchurch earthquakes. Even the return diaspora of overseas kiwis from the last decade is rapidly diminishing.

          The only real source of migrant increase to Auckland comes from overseas. The current migration rate to Auckland is completely unsustainable and is something that can easily and should be definitely be getting constrained. We can’t expand the infrastructure fast enough.

          We’re starting in most IP industries I know of to hit the limits of being able to adsorb skilled immigrants. Indeed I’m noticing that we’re starting to (finally!) get enough graduates out of local tertiary sector who stick around NZ. Which is weird for an industry area that for the last 20 years has been about 80% recent migrants. It has been literally growing faster than the supply of skilled people. We’re still having to hunt for people with the right skills, but I think that we’re almost getting to parity between locally trained vs overseas trained.

          Besides from a standing start on building (ie pretty much what will happen form the building this year), it is going to take about 5 years to simply catch up on the missing buildings for the last 7 years.

          The biggest incentive to go overseas to live at present is the bloody terrible job the National government has been doing on housing. The council has been doing the work on intensification. Meanwhile National have been jerking off with their strange ideas that Aucklanders want to live more than 50km from work and want to spend several hours in traffic each day. Besides, Auckland ratepayers aren’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea of paying for city services to be installed that far out. Having a single city council makes the politics of that rather interesting.

          You can see just from that that National specialises in lazy arseholes who are unproductive and don’t work much.

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.2.1

            Indeed. As a counterpoint, Stats NZ said this in Feb 2015:

            Auckland will continue to be New Zealand’s fastest growing region, and account for three-fifths of the country’s population growth between 2013 and 2043. From an estimated population of 1.5 million in 2014, Auckland is projected to reach 2 million in the early 2030s. That means out of every 100 people in New Zealand, 34 currently live in Auckland, but this will increase to 37 in 2028 and 40 in 2043.

            40% of NZs population in Auckland by 2043.

            • lprent 7.2.1.2.1.1

              Stats works on the basis of previous movement, and there has bee virtually continuous sustained growth in Auckland since 1997. But stats simply don’t look at the constraints to growth, they just project forwards based on the past.

              But all projections of that type don’t take account of the typical S shape of population growth curves. The land area in Auckland within a reasonable distance of existing core facilities of Auckland city (things like sewerage, water, transport) is constrained. While the existing housing will intensify just like it did in the 1990s and early 2000s with infill, there is little of that left. It will have to go up, and that takes considerable time.

              BTW: on that type Malthusian projection basis we should all be starving and fighting over the remaining food.

              Offhand I can’t think of a single population projection that has survived 15 years. In Auckland, I can remember the projections from the early 1980s that said we’d hit 1.5 million here by the year 2000. 15 years after that date we are still heading there. The changes in birthrates did that as well as the export of kiwis offshore at a higher rate.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1.2.2

            Meanwhile National have been jerking off with their strange ideas that Aucklanders want to live more than 50km from work and want to spend several hours in traffic each day.

            My brother just bought a new house 100km north of Auckland and is commuting in every day. I think he may now be starting to realise that such commutes simply don’t work.

            He’s been a staunch supporter of the car culture and National for years.

    • Gabby 7.3

      What? They’re ‘backing’ nuttianal by supporting a view that nuttianal don’t? That makes no sense.

    • Bb8 7.4

      Nothing Little said yesterday is a dogwhistle. It’s a reasonable mainstream position that has been Labour policy for seberal years now.

  8. Redlion Seratus 8

    So what will become of NZF when the great whistler leaves the stage? Ron Mark one presumes, ex military man & rural mayor

  9. See my twitter clip of the Colmar Brunton analysis of their polling pre- and post-MOU signing https://twitter.com/Puddleglum11/status/740101936939044868.

    Or look at the report itself on pages 10 (percentage changes) and 14 (seat allocation changes).

  10. Observer Toke 10

    .
    . To : Flyintheointment

    . Okay so you are allowed to be smug. Tories like you combine smugness with incompentence. Hopeless.

    . You said that 93% of New Zealanders don’t want Andrew Little as Pm. And gave yourself a smug clap on the back. Are you related to Colonial Viper? His shoulder is sore from constantly patting his Tory smugness.

    . You omitted to say that an awful lot of people don’t want John Key. So for the record Diseased Fly, a mere 39% of NZ people like him. Even after 8 years of lying like a drunken lizard he has as the look and feel of a lead dead balloon descending.

    That’s not a very good stat for your Hero. He is never off TV. Never off screaming abuse. His percentage should be much higher. Shouldn’t it Fly? His wings are folding.

    Winston has 10% wanting him as PM – even though he has been very high profile for decades. Not a great number is it ? Given all that time in the spotlight. And he does weird things like hiding his so called colleagues. They could be dying like flies in a matchbox for all we know.

    Now the new chap has been hardly a year in Parliament and he has 9% wanting him as PM already.

    Effectively, Andrew Little and the Greens have done better than the golden oldies who have gained very little applause over the decades. Andrew Little is new. Mr Shaw is too. They are both honest. So is their good Asset Meturia. None of them is a fool. They are the complete opposite of your stumbling bumbling Key.

    The Public seems to have gone off Winston and Key with vengeance . I wonder why? Verbiage on loads of previous verbiage – I suppose.

    The stats actually say that loads of people don’t want a PM at all. They sure show that they don’t want a Key clone. I can only quote what Little said to Key in Parliament. “Cut the Crap prime minister”. It took New Zealand’s breath away. It will again.

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