Written By: - Date published: 3:29 pm, August 1st, 2017 - 50 comments
Categories: election 2017, elections, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, liberalism, Metiria Turei, Politics - Tags: election, greens, labour, strategy
I guess the next few days or more will be filled with rampant speculation on what NZ Labour will do next, and that speculation will come alongside some gushing praise for Jacinda Ardern ,as well as whatever amount of condemnation.
But whatever happens, NZ Labour has a policy platform that many have found underwhelming. And unless I’m missing something, the current NZ Labour caucus constructed that platform, mounted that platform, and will have no option but to remain standing on that platform. Now sure, Ardern offers up a more appealing shiny wrapper for NZ Labour’s sales pitch. And we all know that a salesperson can sometimes make a decisive impact on potential buyers.
And if the question was to be between two political brands of the same product (ie – National’s liberalism or NZ Labour’s liberalism), then I’d say Ardern’s potential impact on voters might be fruitful. But NZ no longer has to choose between two competing brands of the same product – the Green Party have somewhat broken that constrictive mould.
NZ Labour will have known that Metiria’s “calling out” of NZs social security system has resonated. And they will know their winter fuel allowance, welcome though it was, just pales away to nothing next to the Green Party’s commitment to raise benefit levels, extend eligibility of WFF to the unemployed and rid WINZ of a punative culture that particularly, though by means way solely, demonises women on the DPB and even presumes to determine their relationships.
So, given what everybody knows, can we expect NZ Labour to suddenly expand or re-cast their already announced policies to encompass aspects of Green Party policy where those policies would have been a natural fit for any pre-’84 Labour Party? Well, no. Of course not. They have to rein things in.
Much more likely then, while still adhering to the letter of the MoU they have with the Green Party, they will be more inclined to throw wee dry sticks into the likes of the flames of moral condemnation that some tried to fan around Meriria’s truthfulness of what it means to be on the DPB. Ardern already kind of did that by insisting in an interview about Metiria’s revelations, that an MP can’t condone breaking the law, given that an MP is charged with forming the law. The fact that Metiria hasn’t condoned breaking the law and has merely said she understands why people break the law with regards WINZ while condemning the system that forces them into untenable positions was, it seems, by the by.
Then there was the nonsense Willie Jackson threw up about how the Green Party should endorse NZ Labour candidates in the Maori seats. Andrew Little was clear that wasn’t going to happen –
Jackson was rebuffed by Labour leader Andrew Little soon after, who said the two parties had already agreed not to enter deals on seats and the focus was on ensuring the campaign was respectful and they did not “trip each other up”.
– but he’s gone.
In short, I expect to see a fair bit of “Oops! Very sorry, didn’t mean to trip you there.” stuff to be coming from NZ Labour now. (Christ knows, their caucus has enough of a track record on that front towards their own, never mind towards politicians of other parties.) NZ Labour has nowhere left to go. It has hemmed itself in. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that it’s now fighting for its future political survival. So if the Green Party doesn’t step up anew and very soon on another policy front, such as education or whatever other bigger policy they haven’t announced yet, then the ‘re-set’ that I’m picking to be under way within NZ Labour is likely to result in a damaging low level ‘beat up’ on the Greens from a smiling, caring NZ Labour between now and the election.
And that could yield results if the Greens present themselves as a sitting target – because the marginalised and others could quite easily disengage if the political environment becomes viewed as hostile or irrelevant again. And that could leave what remains of a potential Green/Labour voting bloc to drift from a bruised Green Party that’s become snagged in the polls towards, and however however reluctantly, the somewhat dull and grey prospects of NZ Labour’s policy platform. In other words, NZ Labour will have successfully pulled off what it needs to pull off for its own political survival, and repaired the constrictive ‘liberal us or liberal them’ mould of NZ politics.
So the way I see it, the Greens need to ‘tool up’ and step up to prevent our electoral option being taken back to a choice between two brands of the same product yet again.
They need to keep front stepping and calling things for what they are. They need to be colourful. They need to be bold. And they need to be tireless. They need to keep pushing forwards in ways that appeal to those who have had enough; those who want something more than a different flavoured sauce on some liberal fayre; those who have become marginalised; those who have become disengaged; those who demand hope.