When this column is translated into political terms for New Zealand, commentators are already pointing to the Green Party as the natural point of contact for media comment. This commentariat view will translate into consistently higher media profile for them.
Witness the Genesis decision to can the Lammamoor project. On National Radio this morning, Greens were given good airplay even though they stated from the outset that they had never had a position on the matter. Labour was absent.
Witness also the most recent Roy Morgan poll of the year – Green are significantly up again, Labour is static.
It may well be that there is a test for the Greens in this Parliament as the Greens track towards 20% and are hence attacked by Labour’s Mallard, Jones etc. But the best response the Greens have had to that is to respond with the same kind of calm and dignity that Jeanette Fitzsimmons displayed in Parliament.
The real question is whether the Greens and Labour can unite against the Government, start operating like that in the House, and appear as if they are ready to be the government. It would take the meshing of two vastly different political cultures to be able to achieve that, and it is the single greatest difficulty to a progressive government next time, not whether National can get partners to form a further government.
Imagine if Labour simply ceded to the Greens its Environment and Conservation and perhaps even Transport portfolios. After all that is what a Coalition government would probably look like. In reality Labour are never going to outcompete the Greens in these areas. It is what any alternative-government politics needs.
It could also be efficient for Labour to cede some of its Select Committee slots to the Greens – to just let the Greens have the running on some bills, and in turn for the Greens to cede some of theirs. This will again be good practise for actually having to form a common legislative agenda as a government and to cooperate.
Possibly this shift will occur in the media anyway as the Greens start to hire more media and research staff with their greater parliamentary funding, and Labour in turn has less. Default media commentary will shift perceptibly more to the Greens.
Previous practise is that the Greens are utterly shut out of Labour coalitions. That’s simply no longer an option next time.
National has shown that it responds adequately – just adequately – to the general disasters of being in government. It also remains very, very popular.
Unless the Greens and Labour show in Parliament that they can work together with substantial cooperation, then there is little reason for the electorate to be persuaded that they can operate together as a government.
A testbed for all of this is of course The Standard. Can Green and Labour supporters look like they are united on issues and stand together in the broader political market of live discourse.
And so a challenge for The Standard: which site will be the natural home for any petition against asset sales? With that petition will come of course huge traffic and profile. Is The Standard ready? Because a common Green-Labour site is what a progressive government will have to operate as well.
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