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From the Thick of It to Borgen

Written By: - Date published: 7:54 am, November 1st, 2013 - 109 comments
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The thick of it Malcolm Tucker
We are used to command and control politics here in New Zealand, First Past the Post cultures in an MMP reality. The West Wing, The Thick of It, etc.

But the lead-up to the Labour conference this weekend shows only a real coalition will get Labour back into government. So far, so obvious.

But it doesn’t appear so obvious. Labour has given no signal that it will give Greens accommodation in any electorate. Labour spokespeople like Shane Jones gleefully show their contempt for the Greens. Labour has replied very negatively to Green-Labour cabinet position proposals. Whereas National are far smarter than that and have a PM well schooled in sustaining coalitions no matter how smelly they get.

Has Cunliffe’s leadership just coated the cracks of Labour’s FPP culture with a thick white icing? Is Labour really capable of being as smart in pre-forming coalitions as National clearly is?

What is needed is a signal out of the Labour conference this weekend that Labour are truly ready for a deep, multi-term coalition with the Greens.

If Labour caucus can’t shift from the culture of The Thick of It to Borgen, National sure can. And with that goes the election, again.



109 comments on “From the Thick of It to Borgen”

  1. Te Reo Putake 1

    Um, what cabinet proposals? And given that the Greens are a list only party, what would an ‘accomodation’ provide? Apart from giving the Nats a better chance of taking an electorate seat back from Labour?

    • mickysavage 1.1

      The Greens stand electorate candidates. In 1999 there was an accommodation of sorts in Coromandel.

      Waitakere last time was screaming out for an accommodation and Sepuloni losing by 9 votes to Bennett when the Greens took 1,800 electorate votes and Mana took 300 electorate votes shows how vital some sort of cooperation can be.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        I asked my BF about this the other day. He doesn’t see any advantage to the greens winning an electorate.

        I note that your example is typically self-serving for Labour: all those green dummies who should have voted for Sepuloni!

        • mickysavage

          Um Lanth I made no such reference. I was merely pointing out the glaringly obvious that the slightest degree of cooperation would have resulted in a national Cabinet Minister losing her seat.

          It is strange that some decry the slightest hint of cooperation amongst the left but grudgingly accept the extreme examples of cooperation amongst those to the right.

          • Lanthanide

            So you were suggesting that Sepuloni shouldn’t have stood in Waitakere, so that a Green candidate could have won?

            • aerobubble

              How much is the Green vote down to people voting for them so they get over the 5% limit. Okay, well given they now are over 10%. I think sure it was necessary to get into parliament but now the Greens are regularly getting split votes. So I guess when their vote is close to the 5% it pays Greens not to do deals, and also not run in a constituency seat. But given how close some seats are, Greens could swing the deal to Labour but this assumes those votes are Labour sympathizers, it maybe the remain Green voters are actually a anti-conservative non-lefty vote.

      • Te Reo Putake 1.1.2

        Precisely, MS. So the accomodation should be that the Greens don’t put up candidates if it’s going to enable the Tories to win. While it doesn’t change the overall allocation of seats in Parliament, I think we all understand having a Tory as your local MP is not a progressive thing.

        • karol

          So the Greens should just lie down and do as Labour people tell them?

          • marty mars

            Leopards can change their spots but it takes generations and patience – I am so not looking forward to the machinations as we move towards the election – too much mind not enough heart for my liking – good luck Greens.

          • Te Reo Putake

            No, Karol, the Greens should work out for themselves that it’s counter-productive to stand in marginal seats they have no hope of winning. Labour have actually done the sums once in favour of the Greens (Coromandel); I’d like to see the Greens show some common sense so that we don’t have to endure another 3 years of Paula Bennett claiming legitimacy by representing an electorate that should be a left held seat.

            • Pascal's bookie

              So the Greens never stood there before Labour lost the seat then?

              Labour need to stop making excuses for themselves. Oh it all would have been different, bring back buck, whatevs.

              People don’t vote Labour for reasosn. Find out what they are, change their minds.

              Begging for help from the Greens is just laughable. Labour didn’t throw too many bones to the Greens when they were last in govt. If they want assists, they gonna need to earn them.

              Oh but wagh wagh you guys are stupid and you’re stealing our votes and give them back or don’t stand against us it’s not fair.

              • Lanthanide

                I generally agree with PB’s sentiment.

                I think Labour and the Greens *should* be coming to some sort of arrangement to benefit them both. But all too often we see people here suggesting that it is the Greens that are at fault and that they’re the ones standing in the way of Labour winning more electorate seats by splitting the vote (as TRP has said, and ms).

                • Pascal's bookie

                  It’s just weird as far as I’m concerned.

                  Sur Bardford got 300 odd votes. Why isn’t it Mana’s fault?

                  Nope it was that damn high profile Green candidate ‘TOLLESTRUP, Steve’. People couldn’t resist. And everyone knows that the Greens are great at their get out the vote campaign.

                • aerobubble

                  Labour gave us Goff and Shearer, and were close to giving us Robertson. Stands to reason there’s the reason why Labour isn’t getting over the line. Not the Greens.

            • karol

              So the Greens should work out for themselves to do what Labour tells them?

              • Te Reo Putake

                Diddums, Karol. Labour’s not telling them to do anything. I personally reckon the Greens should learn how MMP works, and vote tactically, but I don’t speak for the LP.

            • weka

              TRP: “No, Karol, the Greens should work out for themselves that it’s counter-productive to stand in marginal seats they have no hope of winning. Labour have actually done the sums once in favour of the Greens (Coromandel); I’d like to see the Greens show some common sense so that we don’t have to endure another 3 years of Paula Bennett claiming legitimacy by representing an electorate that should be a left held seat.”

              So says a Labour PR merchant. Silly GP, don’t know what they want or what they are doing. Here’s the thing TRP, the GP have boxed more clever than Labour in recent years. I don’t agree with no concession (and certainly think there should have been concessions all round on the left in the case of Waitakere), but as a GP voter I also understand why they are doing what they are doing. Having two ticks as standard raises the GP profile and garners list votes. They don’t have to win an electorate seat to benefit from that. I would have thought that was pretty self-evident. So when it comes to Waitakere, would the shame of Bennet losing her seat be worth the loss of votes and profile for the GP in that part of the country? I doubt it.

              btw, ‘concession’ implies that they get something in return. What would Labour offer exactly? Hence the usefulness of Ad’s post.

              • Te Reo Putake

                You’d make more sense if you got your head around MMP, weka. Any wasted electorate vote does nothing for the Greens and only helps the right. But your comment about the balance between Bennett keeping her seat and some vague profile gain for the Green candidate strongly suggests you just don’t see the damage that wasted vote does. Because it’s an entirely negative vote, it helps the National Party.

                And if you were right about the Green’s boxing clever, they wouldn’t be languishing down near single figures in the polls. Mind you, as I’ve said regularly, their branding seems designed to limit them to the low teens at best.

                Clearly, the fact that Bennett is the MP for Waitakere suggests that Greens voters, or the Green candidate, didn’t’t understand the unintended consequence of wasting their electorate vote. Which, actually, is to enable the National Party to win elecorate seats they really shouldn’t be winning and leaving the locals with no support in Parliament. As Ad notes in the post, the Nats get it. So why don’t Green voters?

                Still, the next time a Waitakere beneficiary with a problem gets laughed out of Bennett’s office, I suppose they can comfort themselves by knowing that weka’s cool with that. Grrrrr.

                On the plus side, there’s a reasonable chance that the LP can put together a minority Government with NZF, so if the Greens don’t get at least as smart as National, well, they can stay outside the cabinet room for yet another term. Happily, I don’t think the Green’s leadership are actually that dim or unambitious. They’re mature, they’re ready for Government. I really hope they directly instruct their candidates in marginal seats to big up the party vote and leave their egos behind.

                • karol

                  So, it’s all the Greens fault that Labour’s vote has been on the decline in the last couple of elections? It’s all the Greens fault that not enough people were inspired to give their electoral vote to the Labour candidate?

                  I’m glad the Greens don’t use National’s approach as their guide.

                  And Labour supporters trying to bully another party into using the strategies decided by Labour supporters, really isn’t a good look.

                  How about some negotiation and dialogue rather than presupposing the outcome?

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    “So, it’s all the Greens fault that Labour’s vote has been on the decline in the last couple of elections?”

                    Yeah, I didn’t say that, Karol. That’s the third time this post you’ve twisted my words and/or failed to comprehend my point. Putting words in my mouth does you no credit.

                    I’ve been banging on here for years about the need for pre-election blocs. But in the absence of that arrangement, there still needs to be a mature approach to the electorates.

                    The narrow loss of those marginal electorate seats is entirely down to votes wasted elesewhere on the left. Now, I don’t expect Mana to be bothered, but if the Greens want to be in partnership with Labour next year, then both parties need to talk about this issue.

                    Labour’s overall vote is entirely down to Labour. But Paula Bennett’s presence in Waitakere, and Kaye’s in Ak Central, and whoever the non-entity in Chch central is, are down to Green voters not voting in a way that maximises a positive left result under MMP. Like it or not, the Green leadership, in particular, needs to address the problem or else Green voters may again ensure that the people of those electorates are stuck with worse than useless MP’s.

                    Having said all that, I think there is room for Labour to do something similar up north. I think Mana, and Hone, are deserving of recognition for their good work in TTT and a wink and a nod there would be fine by me.

                    • karol

                      I’m not putting words in your mouth, TRP. It’s all there in the implications of your comments. You talk about dialogue and agreement with the Greens while presupposing that the Greens should agree to your strategies. You are dictating to the Greens.

                      that’s not dialogue and negotiations.

                      You also assume that Green List MPs are not available to people in electorates like Waitakere. As with many other electorates with National MPs.

                      It really is a side issue, because it is the List vote that really counts.

                      And Waitakere really isn’t crucial to the overall numbers of MPs – unlike the possibilities in Epsom and Dunne’s electorate.

                      You are overstating the case about the role of electorate MPs. I would prefer that Labour MPs everywhere take more of a stand against Bennett’s beneficiary bashing than they are doing now. That will do far more of a service to beneficiaries.

                    • Pascal's bookie


                      Look at the results TRP. Closely.

                      Compare the list and electorate votes and see who is vote splitting and who isn’t.

                      This is just tiresome horsehit that does nothing but piss Greens off.

                      Labour would have won if they’d turned out 20 more votes. End of.

                      or they would have won if just 10 Labour list voters hadn’t voted for Bennett.

                      Gosh. What fun.

                      And your implication that if voters elect a Nat mp then that’s the only person they’ll have fighting for them or representing them isn’t an idea I’ve ever heard coming from a Green. That’s well fucked up T.

                      Seriously, you need to stop lecturing people about how MMP works, and try and get your own head around it.

                      19 votes. That’s how much Labour fell short. Don’t fucking beg Greens to vote for you, or threaten them. just find the votes.

                    • tinfoilhat

                      Quite frankly Labour can go and get fucked, more of the same condescending attitude of entitlement to government after a couple of pathetic terms in opposition when the greens have done all the work.

                      Come on all you people thinking the Cunliffe is the answer, party vote green and we’ll have a Green led green/labour coalition and finally see some change for the failed neolib experiment of the last thirty years of national and labour governments.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Implications, Karol? Or,as they say in the real world, putting words in people’s mouths.

                      I did have a look at the results, P’s B. And that was before my first comment, not just after yours. I like to do my homework 😉 Like it or not, Paula Bennett won that seat because of the immaturity of Green voters. One less good MP in Parliament, thanks to people who didn’t think it through.

                      Anyway, it’s no biggie. The tail ain’t gonna wag the dog and teh Greens need Labour a lot more than the other way round. A Labour/NZF minority Goverment will be a lot easier to manage than L/Greens and a lot less scary to swing voters. Be careful what you wish for, fullah.

                    • felix

                      “teh Greens need Labour a lot more than the other way round.”

                      Yeah, I suppose Labour do always have the option of just winning a majority on their own.

                      Maybe they should.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      There are other options, felix. But, happily, the Greens leadership have a good grip on reality, so I think a Lab/Green Government is still the go.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Lol trp.

                      If you look at those results and whinge that it’s the Greens fault for not vote splitting then you need math tutoring.

                      Fuck sake. Your mates in NZF didn’t even run a candidate, and if the 2000 odd of them voted for Sepuloni then Labour voters must have been voting for Bennett.

                      Simple obvious fact is that Sepuloni benefited most from the net split voting (+1877), and the Green candidate suffered most (-1453).

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Say what? What point do you think you’re making, bookie? You’ve just proved me right, ho ho!

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      The Greens are already giving you a hand out TRP, to the tune of nearly 1500 votes. And you think the problem is they aren’t gifting you enough.

                      Sort out your own campaign. Try and get Labour voters to not vote for Bennett would be a start. You only needed to convince ten of them mate.

                • mikesh

                  If the Greens don’t stand in electorates it is harder for them to “get their message across” and attract party votes. It’s the voters themselves who should be “boxing clever”, not the Green Party. The Greens do their best to stress the fact that it is party votes they want, not electorate votes.

                  • felix

                    “If the Greens don’t stand in electorates it is harder for them to “get their message across” and attract party votes. “

                    Maybe. But if that’s what it’s all about then surely they could still have a specific person in each electorate as the face of the Greens, doing all the meetings and messaging and canvasing and hustling that the candidates do now, and do everything except put their name on the ballot.

          • David H

            Karol, what is needed is some calm heads to sit down and work this out. It could be the difference in having another round of Paula, or with a little deal, said Paula is kicked back to the list. And maybe this could pave the way for the first Green seat in Parliament.

            Oh and Key probably buggers off back to Hawaii, and becomes a currency trader with the specialty of upsetting the NZ dollar,

            • karol

              To me this is a side issue, and looks mainly like some Labour people trying to blame the Greens for their own shortcomings. Let the strategists do their thing, but I see elections as mainly about policies, and principles, rather than as a game to be won one way or another.

              Policies and principles are the key things I’d like to see discussed and promoted – with the public and between potentially allied parties.

              • greywarbler

                I think the Greens have saved Labour. If it wasn’t for them people would have entirely forgotten what a principled left wing party should look like.

                So don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg Labour. Or another hack saying, -Don’t be the hangers-on that wanted to harvest the goodies that The Little ‘Green’ Hen had nurtured and worked for, and claim it as from their own labour.

        • Auto_Immune

          I wouldn’t assume that all potential Green electorate votes would automatically become Labour electorate votes if a Green candidate didn’t stand.

          The Greens have, so far, only ever campaigned for the party vote (Coromandel aside) and yet candidate votes still flow their way. It could just be that voters rather vote for someone they liked, even if their chances of winning were slim, rather than hold their noses for someone they didn’t like… regardless of the overall outcome.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Exactly. With 19 votes, the obvious solution is getting out the vote.

          • weka

            “The Greens have, so far, only ever campaigned for the party vote (Coromandel aside) and yet candidate votes still flow their way.”

            The GP campaigned for two ticks last election. I can’t remember how overt that was, but have heard Norman say so in a meeting. The fact that they put up electorate candidates suggests they want two ticks.

      • Jim Nald 1.1.3

        In addition to or besides accommodation, overtly inclusive and non-adversarial policy conversations between Labour and other potential coalition party members/MPs are vital to keeping the door open as well as sharing the space for policy development or alignment.

        Will there be a session or two at this weekend’s Labour conference inviting a Green/Mana/NZ First party member/MP who will participate, lead or chair a discussion about a particular policy or set of policies? If not, will there be such kind of a session at the next conference?

      • McFlock 1.1.4

        what would it have changed if bennett lost the seat? She was number 14 on the party list. Would it have changed labour or green lists?

        Frankly, saying that the refusal of two >5% parties to divvy up electorate seats has something to do with “FPP culture” is to hoist yourself with your own petard.

  2. millsy 2

    We have to give credit where credit is due here…

    National know how to play the game better than Labour. ACT wouldnt have had Epsom otherwise, likewise UF Ohuariu-Belomt. Not to mention the fact that it gave its partners some substantial policy gains — ie charter schools, etc.

  3. richard 3

    Why would the greens want to be in a coalition with labour? Apart from the gratifying the egos of those MPs who get to be ministers, I can’t see any advantage for the party. That is, unless they have a masochistic desire to shoulder the blame for every bit of bad news and bad policy from the government and consign themselves to political oblivion.

    • weka 3.1

      I can see your view makes sense if you think that the only reason for becoming a Cabinet Minister is to feed one’s ego.

    • Ad 3.2

      Absolutely reasonable quation to ask.
      The New Zealand Greens are the globally strongest Green Party in the world right now.
      Going into coalition government in Germany, for example, cost the Greens branding and political standing for many years.
      Going into coalition can be highly corrosive.

      And Labour, arguably, cannot conceive of attaining power again without the Greens as part of a coalition. In that sense, Labour need the Greens a whole lot more than the other way round.

      The question for the Greens is whether they want to be in power enough to risk their brand and standing.

      The question for Labour is to make it sufficiently worth their while, and to say so early enough to clarify the electoral picture.

      • MrSmith 3.2.1

        Exactly Ad, Labour need the Greens more than the Greens need Labour, so Labour better start kissing some ass, the Greens are going to won’t a lot out of an coalition with Labour and rightly so, because they have more to lose.

      • karol 3.2.2

        And Labour, arguably, cannot conceive of attaining power again without the Greens as part of a coalition. In that sense, Labour need the Greens a whole lot more than the other way round.

        Agreed. There needs to be dialogue and negotiation rather than one party dictating to another.

        The question for the Greens is whether they want to be in power enough to risk their brand and standing.

        To me it’s more about principles and policies. “Branding” is the language of “neoliberal” marketing.

        • yabby

          Karol – principles will default to the Groucho Marx school – that is the “those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”.
          That is the real politiks of being in a coalition government and the price to be paid for selling your soul to the middle. However you spin it, the nuts and bolts of government will degrade your brand.

  4. Philgwellington Wellington 4

    Wasn’t the SUPERCITY accommodation another policy from ACT that National were happy to enAct?

  5. karol 5

    I haven’t ever noticed the two headlined programmes on Free-to-Air TV in NZ. I have never seen the programmes and so don’t understand the references.

    • mickysavage 5.1

      Hi Karol.

      The Thick of it is a UK comedy where the central figure Malcolm Tucker is a OTT swearing tantrum throwing political fixer, sort of like Trevor Mallard with tourettes!

      Borgen is a Danish drama about Birgitte Nyborg, a leader of a minor party who unexpectedly becomes the first female PM of Denmark after the leaders of the two major parties have major personal crises. The series is in part about the stitching together of a coalition and the continuous deal making she has to achieve to keep her administration afloat.

      • karol 5.1.1

        Thanks, micky for the info.

        My point, though is that the heading makes references to programmes, that as far as I know, don’t show on NZ Free-to-Air TV and are thus not known to the majority of Kiwis.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

          Let’s agree that all popular culture references that karol doesn’t understand should be banned.

          • karol

            It’s about using references relevant to NZ that will get wide understanding from the general population, and in a way that would be fairly widely understood, rather than ones known to a few politically-tuned to overseas popular culture. It might be popular culture, but seems a bit elitist to me.

            • richard

              As an aside, I didn’t realise Borgen has been on the telly here but I do recommend getting a copy from the video shop.

            • Populuxe1

              “It might be popular culture, but seems a bit elitist to me.”

              Hahahahahahahahahahaha *snort* hahahahahaha *snort snort* hahahahaha

              Please don’t pretend you have any interest in the pop cultural tastes of the general NZ population – it’s almost certainly too masculinist and patriarchal for your standards with an extra helping of organised sport and frivolous neoliberal glamour. You don’t even like Breaking Bad – I dread to think of the scorn you’d pour on people who liked Desperate Housewives or Devious Maids.

              And there is this thing called the internet by which means vast numbers of New Zealanders are continually learning about pop culture outside of New Zealand and downloading it. It’s actually very common, even among older people who just want to be up to date with Coronation Street. Just because you personally have failed to access these things by readily available means, does not make it elitist. Elitism is saying that they don’t matter because you personally don’t care about them and that somehow your opinion is more valid.

              • Rogue Trooper


              • karol

                *yawn* – and I said this:

                and in a way that would be fairly widely understood

                The post does not clarify how these programmes are relevant to the ideas in the post. It implies we all have an assumed knowledge of them. Which is far from the case.

                Yes, yes – I know about the internet and downloading. I’ve downloaded a few in my time from various countries. That’s not the point. I don’t assume that other people know anything about them.

                Whether I would like the programmes or not is also not the point. I may well do. I made no criticism of the content of the programmes.

                A lot of people still only watch stuff that’s showing on NZ TV (including young people), or don’t watch at all.

                • Populuxe1

                  ” or don’t watch at all.”

                  Guess why? They’re watching it on line as part of a globalised peer group.

                  • karol

                    Nope – some don’t do that either. And it is a pretty fragmented globalised peer group. That’s part of the way it works – as you indicate by the variety of programmes you mention.

                    How many Kiwis watch the programmes referred to in the post?

                    These days I largely watch what comes through my TV. I have no burning desire to see the latest US (or on occasions UK) dramas as soon as they hit overseas screens. If they are good, they’ll still be good when they get here. The things I have watched online tend to be largely foreign language shows that would never get shown here.

                    But, these days, I am also keen to see more focus on what is produced here for Kiwis – whether it’s public broadcasting, NZ made films and videos, NZ radio, NZ music, or what Kiwis deliver online.

                    Too much of the globalised online is merely a vehicle for US cultural imperialism. (though probably not true of the 2 programmes mentioned in the post).

                    But that’s all beside the point – it wouldn’t have mattered if the relevance of the programme had been mentioned in the post, rather than knowledge of them assumed.

                    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                      Hey, karol. You didn’t get the reference in the title to the post. So fucking what? Maybe this isn’t a problem that is crying out for a solution.

                      Fucking socialists.

                    • karol

                      Maybe not, TGFfkaO. But it does probably mean not understanding the full meaning of the post, other than it has something to do with an FPP comparison with MMP. IT doesn’t really explain how National has been more media savvy about alliance-forming. Shane Jones is an outlier in this issue, and not so relevant, I would have thought. And I don’t think Cunliffe has been negative about proposals for Green cabinet positions.

                    • ghostrider888

                      Consideration of the extensive tapestry of human social history and development and the tenacity with which capitalist power opposes socialist thought and government suggests to many of us on the ‘left’ that subscription to other socio-economic paradigms than socialism is a form of false consciousness , or unconsciousness, whichever position is more convenient for your partner. 😉

            • Lloyd

              I agree karol. I just didn’t understand the headline at all.

              This is a demonstration that any communications with large numbers of people needs to be multifaceted. We don’t have just one TV channel any more.

              Similarly the left vote will not all go to one party. A party which doesn’t have candidates in most seats will not generally be regarded as a serious party, unless of course its mates own the media.

              The Greens need to have candidates in electorates. Labour needs candidates in electorates. This will split votes. I suggest a cup of tea to discuss these issues would be a good solution.

        • Disraeli Gladstone

          Did Yes, Minister ever air in NZ Free-to-Air TV. Because I’m not willing to let go of the still very relevant treasure trove of political references just because of some alleged cultural elitism.

          That would be very -courageous-.

      • chris73 5.1.2

        Trevor Mallard with cunning, intelligence and charisma…

  6. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6

    But I thought the deal the Nats did with Banks in Epsom was grubby and sordid and shows how cynical they are. I thought this was to be derided.

    Instructions, please.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Yes, seems like cognitive dissonance to me as well.

      I guess the difference here is that the Greens are supported by more than a few thousand people in one electorate.

  7. BM 7

    I think Cunliffe’s in a tough position.

    Currently 33% of voters would vote for Labour
    How many of those 33% would vote for a Labour/Greens government?

    I have a sneaking feeling if Cunliffe came out and unequivocally stated that the Greens are going to be part of the next government and they’re going to get cabinet positions and be involved in all the major decisions that shape our country, Labours share of the vote would drop like a stone.

    Which is why he’s being all vague and noncommittal.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      two words.

      Colin. Craig.

      • BM 7.1.1

        I agree, it’s the danger the main parties face when they have to deal with the nutbars out on the fringes.

        Here be dragons.

        • Jim Nald

          Can’t argue against the main parties like Labour and Greens having the stomach to deal with nutbars out on the fringes such as Colin Craig, that’s for sure.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.2

      “He sees a role for a senior Green MP to being part of a future coalition Government’s economic team”.

      Good luck finding a better strawman next time.

    • weka 7.3

      “How many of those 33% would vote for a Labour/Greens government?”

      I would think the number is significantly higher then the number of Labour voters who think that Labour can govern alone with 33% of the vote 🙄

      Try better logic next time.

    • Ad 7.4

      If that logic of contamination worked National would have dropped like a stone long ago. National are doing fine.

  8. marsman 8

    Ohariu-Belmont might have been taken from Peter Dunne if EITHER Labour or the Greens had indicated to voters to vote a certain way. That is what Bolger did in Wellington Central when Prebble first reared his ugly Act head, he told Nat supporters to vote for the arsehole so as not to split the vote and let Labour win the seat.

    • RedBaronCV 8.1

      The Greens did. I was at a meeting where they indicated the candidate vote should go to Charles

  9. northshoreguynz 9

    To broaden the argument a little. Would it be in the realms of possibility to form some sort of Grand Alliance to include NZ First as well. If sustainable it could lock out the right wing for some 3/4 elections.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      Except Winston is likely to retire in 2017, and when he goes, so does the rest of the party.

      • weka 9.1.1

        But one term of a 3 or 4 way coalition, IF it worked, would be encouraging for those NZF voters to stay voting left once NZF dies.

  10. Sable 10

    This speaks to comments I have made many times on this site regarding Labour’s inability to “play well” with others. There is something very anti social about Labour’s attitude to alliance partners. They are akin to the greedy child who wants all the toys for themselves and see’s no reason in the concept of sharing.

    People demanded MMP because they desired more inclusive, truly representative government. Failing to acknowledge this desire is dangerous for Labour.

    National are indeed very good at sustaining alliances and Labour need to learn from this or face not one but two probable outcomes. In the short term they will face election defeat. In the long term their already shrinking voter base will become even smaller.

    Voters are slowly moving away from Labour much as children tend to spurn selfish children. People are looking to parties such as the Greens and yes, NZ First who can work together and as a result stand a good chance of being elected to office.

    It well be in years to come that Labour becomes the smaller partner in alliance with a more dominant Greens/NZ First. Given we have an aging population Peters pro retiree policies will become increasingly more attractive to many voters, such as the baby boomers, the most affluent section of the NZ population. Climate change is also of growing concern so its likely that the Greens will attract more support as the outcome of climate change becomes more pronounced.

    If Labour want to be a part of the political landscape in New Zealand over the longer term they best learn not just to share power but also ideas. Failure to do so will see them rendered irrelevant.

    • Ad 10.1

      Who knows whether the Green share of the vote has plateaued now, but it’s growing slowly but consistently for a while.

      Were it just those two parties that were abole to form a coaltion together, we would face a government in which the coalition partner was far stronger as a percentage of Cabinet seats than we have ever seen in New Zealand.

      So far National has been able to get by with a few minor tack-ons for Confidence and Supply. What I am signalling is a whole new style of political management is required of Labour in order to deal with this kind of government.

      • Sable 10.1.1

        Agreed Ad. I think Labors attitude is a hang over the from the dictatorial and often naive arrogance of the Clarke years. Time to grow up Labour.

    • Rogue Trooper 10.2

      well put Sable and Ad (looking like Cunliffe “knows when to hold ’em”).

  11. George D 11

    When I talk to people ‘outside-the-bubble’, they’re big on things like the ‘living wage’ and housing affordability. If either party make what’s important to New Zealanders their focus, and continue to promote themselves positively as an alternative to a government which is failing to deliver the quality of life we want – then we’ll succeed.

    This isn’t, and can’t be a zero sum game for Labour and the Greens.

  12. Pete 12

    The Greens don’t need any such accommodation. They’re not limping along needing an electorate seat to prop up the party. What left bloc voters need to do is vote smart. E.g. if Labour and Green voters had held their noses and voted for Paul Goldsmith in Epsom in 2011, they would have kept Banks out.

    Does anyone think Dunedin North would flip from David Clark to Metiria Turei?

    • tamati 12.1

      Doubt it. David Clark is a former university hostel rector, so has a pretty good personal image on campus. Also quite a working class socially conservative area outside the student area, Labour heartland really.

      Greens best chance for an electorate seat is probably Auckland central, depending where the new boundaries are.

      • bad12 12.1.1

        I would suggest that Russell Norman is likely to take the Rongatai seat after the retirement of Labour’s Annette King,(whenever that is)…

  13. ak 13

    If no Green leader addresses the conference, it’s a massive opportunity missed at a crucial time.

    The Jim/Hels hug gave us three terms. Labgreen, not Labled, is the accepted govt-in-waiting. Face reality or infight to oblivion.

  14. Philgwellington Wellington 14

    If you don’t have your greens you’ll never get your just deserts! 😉

  15. red blooded 15

    If Labour shuffles sideways and leaves the Greens out of government yet again ( especially after supposedly redefining itself with a more openly left wing philosophy) then I and many others will take our votes back to the Greens, partly as a punishment to Labour, who have given explicit indications that they and the Freens will be buddying up in the next term of government, and party to strengthen the Green position to the extent that they simply cannot be excluded again. Labour needs to think tactically, including a longer term view in their thinking.

    • weka 15.1

      Maybe voters like yourself could consider voting GP one last time as a way of ensuring accountability for Labour instead of taking the risk this election?

  16. red blooded 16

    A decision to make closer to the date.

  17. Rich 17

    The only place where an electorate accommodation might help is Ohariu-Belmont.

    Apart from that, the Greens are polling two or three times the threshold and don’t need electorates, nor do Labour. If Labour lose electorate seats in three way contests, they’ll be compensated by the list.

    The Greens run for electorates to boost awareness (you can’t appear at candidate meetings unless you’re a candidate – although I think some allow regional list candidates).

    It’s only if you think that electorate MPs are more *worthy* (because they got votes from one small area rather than the whole country) that electorates matter at all.

    • bad12 17.1

      Funnily enough i agree with you, Electorate Seats are simply fossils from the First Past the Post era, a party like the Green Party should put all it’s effort into securing the Party Vote deliberately leaving the Labour Party the chore of fighting with National over the electorate seats…

      • Lloyd 17.1.1

        Electorate seats are not list seats. List seats are selected in order by the PARTY. When you vote your party list vote you don’t quite know who you are getting (its like a box of chocolates).

        An electorate vote is for a PERSON who represents the party. If you don’t like the person you may not vote for them, even if you agree with the party’s policies. This can be a matter of morality over logic. Further, in the past persons of principal have jumped waka, and that is appropriate for an electorate representative. They were elected as a person first, party second.

        A list candidate is only there as a representative of the party, selected by the party alone and a vote for the party was not a specific vote for a specific person. Waka jumping by list candidates should be grounds for immediate removal from Parliament and a new list candidate replacement.

  18. Tracey 18


    surely the average labour voters knows the greens are the likely partner. I think you have this wrong.

  19. Tracey 19


    to a large extent they did tht in epsom but most national voted act.

  20. Ed 20

    “National are far smarter than that and have a PM well schooled in sustaining coalitions no matter how smelly they get.”

    I don’t see it. Trader John doesn’t play well with anyone. He will trade anything for power though, and what is notable is that every party that thought they had deal has found themselves helped to oblivion. In contrast, the Clarke governments were notable for cooperation and smaller parties being allowed their ‘day in the sun”, including the Green party even when it had no formal agreement. The relationship with Jim Anderton is the closest to that of National with Banks and Dunne – I don’t see any lower capacity for Labour to ‘play nicely’ either during an election campaign or in government – if anything Labour comes out better from any comparison.

    Their are perception advantages for holding electorate seats but it does not affect whether Labour or National lead a coalition in government. Any accommodation between Labour and Green for an electorate needs to be based on who the electorate will vote for – on Coromandel the Greens had a candidate that deserved support, and it was tacitly given. It is nuts to imply that Sepuloni should have stood aside for a Green candidate, but if the Green party developed a candidate – probably over more than one election, who gained a reasonable level of support, it maybe suitable for Labour to concentrate on the party vote; I would hope they would do that if it would otherwise mean a National list MP.

    Where National have gained is through promoting ‘satellite’ parties that are too small to get into parliament without an electorate seat. In Te Tai Tokerau Labour came second to Mana ahead of the Maori party – no accomodation would have helped defeat National. In Waiariki, the Maori party won by less than a thousand from Mana, with Labour third but picking up the highest number of party votes. With hindsight, perhaps it would have been better to have supported Mana for the electorate in exchange for the Mana candidate encouraging more to give the party vote to Labour, but I don’t think that was obvious pre-election, or will necessarily be appropriate for 2014.

    As for public pronouncements, there is no advantage to either party beyond what has already happened – some policies are well aligned; the joint announcement about electricity was well handled. It woul not surprise me however to find that this conference recognises the reality of coalition requirements by leaving caucus a little freer on policy detail, and concentrating on principles and priorities.

    New Zealand is still not used to coalition governments; Australia had years of Liberal / Country governments, thankfully we do not have their complexity of senate and state governments. Coalitions are not helped by strong public positioning on matters best left for private negotiation (beyond saying that Labour will work with other parties as necessary to form a stable and progressive government, its not clear what signal Ad is looking for. Certainly having supporters of potential coalition parties looking for blame in potential allies is not helpful; publicly both Labour and Green parties have significantly toned sown comment on each others policies in favour of fighting the common enemy – is that not all is needed?

  21. red blooded 21

    What’s needed on top of this is genuine good will after the election. Assuming that Labour has the chance to lead the next government (& let’s remember that this is still a hope, not an inevitability), they need to look for genuine allies who are likely to be an ongoing force on the NZ political landscape. NZ First has sold out Labour and more importantly the people elected them based on their assertions that the only way to get rid of the Nats (in the 90s) was to vote for them (remember the wait before they decided to prop up their avowed enemy in the first MMP coalition?) and later embarrassed Labour in the most recent coalition. If Labour were to sign them up again and push the Greens aside it would demonstrate poor tactical thinking and a shallow commitment to what should be core social and environmental policies. One sure way to push people like me out if the party and towards the Greens is to leave suspicion that Cunliffe and the new team would deal with Winnie and his mates before the Greens, especially if the two were mutually exclusive. In that situation I would do everything I could to strengthen the Greens’ bargaining position, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone.

  22. outofbed 22

    I reckon we (the Greens ) could do a deal in Ohariu
    Get rid of Dunne
    Maybe Labour should just ask?

    • Jim Nald 22.1

      It would be nice to see an agreement and arrangement crystallise in Ohariu, as well as seeing that reciprocated.

    • Sable 22.2

      I’d be amazed if anyone wanted to vote for Dung after his shenanigans. He has all the political appeal of a rotten egg. I think the Greens stand an excellent chance of knocking him off his rather pungent perch.

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