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What forming a Labour/Green government might look like

Written By: - Date published: 11:23 am, September 29th, 2020 - 44 comments
Categories: greens, labour - Tags: ,

The Colmar Brunton poll out last night has Labour on 47% and the Greens on 7%. NZ First on 1%. If those numbers roughly hold on election day, we are looking at a very good result for the left (all things considered, and obviously I’d prefer a higher Green vote).

Arden in response to the earlier Reid poll that had Labour on 51% said,

“I haven’t entertained this idea of governing alone or run through that hypothetical because that’s just not what MMP elections have delivered.”

“There’s no complacency on our side. We are seeking a strong mandate – that’s our view of how we will be able to deliver a strong recovery.”

I’m sure some of that is not counting Winston downfall chickens before they hatch (very wise), as well as acknowledging that Labour and the Greens have had a good working relationship since before the last election, and letting Labour’s pro MMP voters know what is what.

The Greens are likewise signalling their position. James Shaw on Morning Report, after the Colmar Brunton poll,

Green Party co-leader James Shaw told Morning Report any decisions abut what roles Green Party MPs could take in a future government depend on a number of factors.

“It depends on the numbers, it depends on the shape of the agreement that we’ve got, it depends on the extent to which we think it can help us to advance the programme of work that we have,” he said.

Good political work from the Greens in this interview. This is Shaw telling the country what we can expect from the Greens after the election, depending on the vote. It’s honest and open and means people know where they stand.

Key points,

A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led goverment (National are ruled out).

Corin Dann pushes on the leverage issue (don’t the Greens have less leverage if National is ruled out?) to which Shaw says if people see leverage as important then they should give their party vote to the Greens. He also points out that leverage is only a part of negotiations, that relationship matters, and the Greens and Labour have that.

What stands out for me here is that regarding concern about small parties having too much influence, the Green position here is an acknowledgement that it’s not about the tail wagging the dog, or holding a position of force and 3 years of secret bottom lines that the electorate isn’t aware of (side eye Winston Peters). This is the MMP New Zealand has been waiting for, one of co-operation rather than power manipulation, and of openness and honesty.

Hence the Greens having top priorities rather than bottom lines. I think it’s clear from the past weeks that the Greens aren’t going to be a pushover either, and it’s skillful to hold that both/and position.

The Deputy PM role is potentially on the table, but it’s a role like other Ministerial ones where the Greens would be looking at whether it would help them advance the overall programme of work that they agree to with Labour, acknowledging the benefits and the constraints of the position.

(Shaw doesn’t mention this here but there’s also the reality that the Greens’ coalition position has to be okayed by the members).

There’s an important bit about what is happening with Tiwai. Anyone who thinks that the Green Party are anti-worker or don’t care about the economy needs to listen to what Shaw says here, where he emphases the need for a Just Transition rather than crashing the Southland economy, and that any financial support from the government needs to go to the people of Southland not Rio Tinto, a very profitable company with a grim history of how it has treated NZ. This is core GP kaupapa and something the left should be supporting.

On polling, Shaw said that what he is hearing from people is they want Labour to have to talk to someone while in govt and not be able to make decisions by itself.

The question then becomes, how much does the left want Labour to be encouraged greenward and leftward? Do we want some tempering Green presence, but minimal? Or do we want a strong Labour/Green government that makes best use of the Green caucus talent and progressive policy platform?

44 comments on “What forming a Labour/Green government might look like ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    It depends on how much of a grasp of a sustainable economy the Green MPs actually have in their heads. The onus will be on them to provide a positive alternative to neoliberalism: Labour seem in denial of the necessity of transition.

    What I expect from the Green caucus post-election is a strategy towards a resilient, sustainable economy made explicit – both to Labour & to the public. Can't see any reason I would pay my membership sub later this year if it ain't evident by then…

    • weka 1.1

      "a strategy towards a resilient, sustainable economy made explicit"

      What did you have in mind?

      I'm not sure they can present something like that post-election if they haven't talked about it pre-election. But it could certainly be something that the party works on in the second term if they have the support via the election vote (more votes = more capacity to develop policy).

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.1

        Okay, first they need someone adept at getting from here to there via consensus politics, to conduct caucus process.

        If I was that person I'd challenge them by pointing out that here is neoliberalism (which will continue as default status quo adherence for Labour) and there is the destination the GP was established to achieve (spelt out in Green economic policy).

        Their challenge is to get from here to there via strategy. So I would issue them this task: co-create the strategy and timeline it, incorporating the electoral cycle. That will create a design, a plan, for achievable process. So they would then focus on what is likely to be achievable in the next electoral cycle.

        Factor in that a significant part of Labour is likely to be keen to make progress as long as they can be confident it can be presented to the public as sensible and likely to be endorsed. Green economists such as Rod Oram will become an essential part of this consensus building so James ought to suss out consultancy options for involving them.

  2. froggleblocks 2

    James Shaw also said the Greens don't have any "bottom lines" when it comes to negotiations, because it's not their kaupapa and never has been.

    So all of that hot air about going onto the cross benches if they don't get their wealth tax through (which they won't because it's incredibly stupid policy) was just bluster.

    I feel like they most they’d be able to negotiate is Labour’s policy of 39% rate kicking in at $150k instead of $180k, and even that would be a BIG concession on Labour’s part after the way they framed that policy.

    • weka 2.1

      Genter kind of said that in the heat of the moment, but she didn't specify the wealth tax. And Shaw then said she spoke out of turn, it wasn't GP policy. Afaik the welfare policy is a high priority (which is what the wealth tax was to fund) /shrug

      • froggleblocks 2.1.1

        I was referring to this: https://thestandard.org.nz/the-greens-sticking-to-their-guns-and-their-values/

        This was 2 days after Labour announced their 39% tax policy and said quite clearly they would not be implementing any other tax policy than that one. Clearly the Greens were suggesting that if they wouldn't compromise on tax and that Labour were making bottom lines ahead of the election, the Greens would go onto the cross benches.

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          yeah, nah, that's the Greens estabilishing leverage. Where do they say that the wealth tax is a bottom line?

          In fact Shaw is reported as saying "He wouldn’t say what the Greens’ bottom lines in those talks were, but said a “wealth tax” was a “top priority”."

          It's quite conceiveable that the Greens would choose the cross benches depending on the situation. But it's about the overall position and negotiation. I've not seen them say anywhere that if they don't get specific policy x, they will sit outside of govt. That would be daft.

          • froggleblocks 2.1.1.1.1

            The point is they came out saying that after Labour explicitly said they weren't going to implement the Greens' wealth tax at all and the only tax policy they would pass in a Labour government was the 39% rate at $180k bracket.

            Thus it was clearly a response to Labour putting out their own 'bottom lines'.

    • Bearded Git 2.2

      In 10 years time Labour will be supporting a wealth tax…..it just takes them a while to come to terms with truly transformational policies.

      Anyone who doesn't support a wealth tax is saying they are happy with the status quo where the top 5 per cent have most of the wealth and the bottom 20 per cent live in poverty.

  3. Frankly, I'd like a Greens government with Labour in support!

    Won't happen, I know, but one can dream!

    • Bearded Git 3.1

      Agree Veitchy….but maybe next time.

    • Scud 3.2

      You never know what the future may bring, if Labour keeps on being a NeoLib lite party, the masses may well go F**k you Labour. But on the same token I wish the NZ Greens would cut or stop this woke BS and understand that you govern all of NZ which is something that both Labour and "No Mates Party" have forgotten since 1984 with their BS Neo Con/Lib economic theory.

      If they NZ Greens cut, ease up or stop this woke BS, then the working class would see the NZ Greens as a viable alt to the Middle Class Toffs of the Political Class that have taken over my beloved NZ Labour Party.

      I would vote NZ Greens in a heart beat, if they didn't push hard on the woke crap, by treating everyone as an equal partner if want to going forward for a safer and a better NZ across all sectors of NZ Society including economic sectors as well in the long run. And my other pet hate with the Greens is their Defence Policy which i try to stimulate debate last week without much success.

      • I'm sorry, remiss of me I know, but wtf does 'woke' even mean?

        Please define the term for me.

        • Scud 3.2.1.2

          "Someone who is woke is keenly aware of the injustices of the world; a woke person demonstrates an understanding of the biases and unfairnesses of institutions, particularly as they affect disadvantaged and marginalized groups."

          To me it just not the disadvantaged and marginalized groups as the people such Gorlz on twitter keeps bumping fingers on about, but everyone who has been affected by 30 odd yrs of the BS Neo Con/Lib economic theory regardless of your age, skin colour, Sex, Sexuality, ethic background or work background weather its unskilled, semi skilled, trade, technical or tertiary etc, but also those who live poor socially economic areas due to industries closing down, those with disability, to those struggling to find a half decent to provide food on the table and or a roof over their roof heads in order to get a leg up in society without having to resort to a life of crime or like that poor lady who was deputy leader of the Greens last election had (I had to do a similar thing in the 90's) to IOT get a leg in society and got thrown under the bus by and sundry at the time.

          i fought tooth & nail to get where i'm now and i'm still fighting because of the current system i have to deal with where the top 5-10% are looked after, but also i'm wise enough that I had to squirreled away a good bit of my deployment money for a house and in savings/ investments for the future & not on toys such a flash car/ 4WD's, harley bikes etc or something equally as stupid. Because of my background of coming from a poor social economic area in the Hornby in CHCH as i didn't to be want to go back to a similar background that i faced in my youth.

          Thence i'm not a fan of this woke BS from the left because it effects everyone regardless of who you are. It's not in everyone's interest to have high levels of disadvantaged and marginalized people because it leads to other socially economic problems such as high crime rates, domestic violence, high prison rates an overloaded hospitals, education issues/ difficulties etc etc etc.

          • weka 3.2.1.2.1

            You get that the Greens do both though, right? Social justice and economic justice.

            • Scud 3.2.1.2.1.1

              Yes Weka, i do understand that the NZ Greens do both, it the delivery and the complete lack of understanding from the Greens Leadership Group who seem to think its a white male working class is at fault? When its actually a Government/ middle to upper classes issue by pushing the NeoCon/ Lib Yankee economic crap that is the leading cause of the of the current shit fight. See below https://thestandard.org.nz/what-forming-a-labour-green-government-might-look-like/#comment-1754752

              Somehow i'm a racist because i'm white working class male, somehow being a white working male i oppress all other genders, skin colour ethic background and im against immigration because it allows foreign workers in and thereby reduces wages, employment standards because the middle & upper classes want things on the cheap while at the same time slowly destroy NZ education system all the way up trade, technical or tertiary. Even those entry level jobs that i used to do after school have gone to immigrants. Yet the political classes refuse to address the underling issues that we are facing down on skid row.

              Leadership is not yelling at people and to scream at people to do the right thing or blaming them for the social & economic issues that NZ is facing like some of Green MPs like doing and they are almost as bad as the muppets from NZL or the Nats. Leadership is understanding where you come from compassion, humility, an understand at what is causing these underlining social & economic issues facing regardless of your age, skin colour, Sex, Sexuality, ethic background or work background weather its unskilled, semi skilled, trade, technical or tertiary etc, but also those who live poor in socially economic areas due to industries closing down, those with disability, to those struggling to find a half decent to provide food on the table and or a roof over their roof heads in order to get a leg up in society without having to resort to a life of crime.

              But also to guide and lead the way by inspiring us by insuring that they the Government in act the right policies to make sure no one is left behind and this will lead to a safer NZ as those who have been left behind in the pass. Can now contribute to NZ's society through work be it full time or part time without the various standdowns and penalising those on part time/ seasonal jobs if they have saved a bit of money or in the NZDF Reserves or the DoC's High Country Fire Teams etc.

              • weka

                NZ is pretty bad at socioeconomic class politics now. I understand some of what you are saying and didn't quite get other bits.

                Personally, I think the liberal left (identity politics) need to reassess what they are doing. The issues around sexism, racism and so on are real, and to my mind sit along side socioeconomic issues with no real conflict. But I think how we talk about those things has gone off track, and social media in particular means there is a lot of aggro and dismissal of people, sometimes unintentional but impacts nevertheless.

                The class analysis I have (not just socioeconomic) doesn't blame white working class men for oppressing others, it says that there are power imbalances that need addressing and some people do better within those power structures than others because of how that system operates. The fault is with the system. I see that system in a bigger picture sense rather than with socioeconomics as the most important (we solve the socioeconomic issues and racism and sexism can still exist), but see working class politics as just as important as the others. Too much of the liberal view no longer has a class analysis, and fails enormously to address socioeconomic class issues other than talking about poverty.

                It's a terrible thing that NZ lost the Labour Party as the party for working people. I don't think we have ever recovered from the 80s. The problem we have at the moment is that the Greens have the policies, but not the cultural fit for many. I do think the left needs to stop expecting them to step into the void left by Labour (GP are a green politics party not a trad left one), but in the meantime, they are who we've got.

              • weka

                I'm wondering if you could do me a favour. When you see the GP MPs doing the woke stuff that puts you off, can you please show it to me? (here or on twitter). I'd like to understand better specifically what you mean.

          • greywarshark 3.2.1.2.2

            It seems to me that the Greens have always reflected middle class people's interests so the way they look at things is from a relatively privileged, higher-education point of view. The woke thing is not coming from the lower-income women who have gone into prostitution at the tougher end of it, it's the ones who have had an education which included looking at sexual and racial divisions in society. On the male and gay side, it isn't mainly from the manly rugby lower income to skilled group so much rather those drawn to the arts etc which is more middle class.

            This is in general but gives my view of why the Greens were more environmentally than welfare oriented. Basically Metiria was a single mum following the dream of lower-middle class 70's feminists of mothers being able to make good on their own and look after their child, looking for a partner later. But that was welfare, and Green women chose the gender matters as being of more interest to them than living standards and opportunities for those not getting a share of the pie.

            I have often been surprised at how few middle class lefties appear with their time and expertise when there was a project to build a resilient NZ community. The ideas seems good, but presence to help the lesser well-off doesn't get the numbers. They will turn out to plant trees though. I think that is why welfare matters languish, or are captured by conservative christians, and without Maori pushing matters and the few dedicated academics and citizens, vulnerable people would be left to stew in their own juice I think.

          • Bearded Git 3.2.1.2.3

            If that is the definition of "woke" then count me in. But I was voting Green on Monday anyway.

        • Robert Guyton 3.2.1.3

          "Woke" means whatever Shaun Plunket wants it to mean.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2

        And my other pet hate with the Greens is their Defence Policy which i try to stimulate debate last week without much success.

        I always disliked the Greens defence policy. It was obviously based upon the delusional idea that the world was benign.

        Then their latest defence policy was put up on their web site which indicated that they were now looking at having a strong and capable defence force. Good enough that I rejoined the Greens.

        Then last night I heard from Golriz Ghahraman that they're still trying to get rid of the defence forces no matter what their stated policy is on their website. This makes the policy published on their website an outright lie and their actual policy completely non-viable.

        So, I will be leaving the Greens again and will be voting Labour.

        • weka 3.2.2.1

          Individual MPs don't get to change GP policy, it has to go through a process that involves the membership. Best way to get policy you want is to stay a member and get involved. I'd take the published policy as the stable thing, rather than what an MP has said at some point. But I'd be interested to know what Ghahraman said if you have a link.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2.1.1

            I'd take the published policy as the stable thing, rather than what an MP has said at some point.

            I would as well but Ghahraman seems to think the policy is still to get rid of the defence forces.

            it has to go through a process that involves the membership. Best way to get policy you want is to stay a member and get involved.

            Interestingly enough, the new published policy looks very much like I suggested it look like.

            But I'd be interested to know what Ghahraman said if you have a link.

            Personal chat so no link.

            • weka 3.2.2.1.1.1

              how did she justify that?

              • Draco T Bastard

                By cutting their teeth to make war.

                Making war is, of course, their purpose. As the saying goes:

                If you want peace, then prepare for war.

                • weka

                  I meant how does she justify saying the GP policy is to remove the defense forces?

                  • KJT

                    Or was it to have an approach to fairness and good Governance around the world which makes armed defence forces, ultimately unnecessary.

                    Which even the other parties acknowledge with our military commitment to "peace keeping" in the way that worked in East Timor.

                    Golriz' position is much more nuanced.

                    Also. unlike other parties, where the "members" are just to make up the numbers and do what the "leaders" tell them, the Greens develop policy by consensus. MP's really are representatives. A concept those who are used to be told how to think by the other parties leadership, find incomprehensible.

                    People seem to so often miss the nuances in Green policy. As they are so used to Crosby Textor "sound bites" from the other parties.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The Greens develop policy by consensus.

                      Yeah – not really.

                      Policy is asked about at the monthly meetings to which very few actually go. So you have the consensus of a few.

                      There's a policy committee that everyone can give feedback to but at no time have I been asked to vote on the final result.

                      So, even though they do make the effort for consensus, the end result is still very much top down. Hopefully that will change at some point.

                    • KJT

                      Not really how it works DTB.

                      Policy goes to policy committees first, which any member can join, meetings and party central. Then it is passed around all the members.

                      Votes if consensus cannot be obtained.

                      But. Every effort is made to get everyones input, who is interested.

                      Many cannot attend meetings. But the opportunity for input on forming the policies is still there.

                      Yes. Sometimes it is like “Herding Cats”. But the varied veiwpoints of everyone, makes for, on the whole, better thought out policy.

                      At least the party cannot be hijacked by a few MP’s like Labour was.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    She said that she had been working hard to cut defence spending. I asked her how that was compatible with the present policy of providing everything that the defence forces need to do their job to which she responded with the bit about cutting back the defence forces ability to make war.

                    It seems that she thinks that the defence forces can patrol our oceans and engage in peacekeeping without weapons or surveillance equipment. You know, the stuff needed to do their job.

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    I wish the title had been, "What might a Labour/Green government look like" because I wanted to write,

    "A line-up of Cheshire cats!".

  5. observer 5

    What I'd like (but sadly don't expect) is for Labour and the Greens to think fresh. Forget the usual negotiation process (tick boxes, give you A if you'll accept B, allocate a portfolio based on numbers more than talent). That's a trade negotiation, a peace deal. It leads – hopefully – to a functioning government, which is fine as far as it goes, but that's all.

    Instead, I'd like Ardern to say "OK, here are my big goals before I leave office, which I will one day, and I accept that could be in 3 years' time. I certainly accept we won't get this opportunity again. Pendulum swings. It's now or never. So … "

    Now, I don't know exactly what comes on that list. Judging by her previous statements, I'd say climate change, child poverty, for starters. But there must be 3 or 4 things, at least, where Labour and the Greens agree, and both want to be genuinely "transformational". (That list doesn't include tax and there's little point hoping it does. Ship sailed, unfortunately).

    Make that short list the overwhelming purpose, and just accept the inevitable bumps in the road that will also come on any other issue. They can be distracted by those, or not. When Stuart Nash pisses off Green MPs by saying something or other – and he will – they can take the bait and feed the headlines or stay focused, focused.

    I just hope they all have the foresight to imagine themselves in 3 or 6 years' time, out of power (out of Parliament?) and looking back. Who was Associate Minister of Something? Number 17 in the rankings? Nobody will care or remember. Only what they left behind – and National had to promise to keep, so they could win.

  6. Corey Humm 6

    If we're looking at last night's numbers if the greens are needed labour would form a minority govt and rely on confidence from the greens offer them ministerial roles outside of cabinet and if the greens didn't like that they'd let them sit in the cross benches and almost dare them to vote down the govt quite like Truedeu is doing with the NDP in Canada

    I can't see a labour govt on 47% letting the Greens in cabinet after the last three years of LAB/NZF coalition they'll be looking for a confidence agreement and they'll want their deputy leader to be deputy PM.

    I agree btw that labour doesn't deserve the welfare portfolio but labour can be quite arrogant.

  7. ScottGN 7

    It will be interesting to see what happens but I’m inclined to agree with Corey Humm.

    If Ardern is only a couple of seats short she may well prefer to run a minority government. Especially if the Māori Party are there too. National will probably be in all sorts of trouble and hoping to rebuild, they won’t be looking for an election any time soon. Seymour will have his hands full with a whole lot of novices.

    The Canadian situation is quite particular to their version of Westminster government (voters there don’t like coalition government) but Ardern may see an opportunity to adapt it to our Westminster variant. Worth thinking about anyway.

    • weka 7.1

      Doesn't a minority govt mean that Labour would have to negotiate each piece of legislation one at a time? Ardern may offer C/S and the Greens may say we'll take the cross benches thanks.

  8. I see one of the Greens wish's is to ban new fossil fuel cars and vans. As a tradesman who travels long distance's (2 Hrs oneway) inland pulling heavy loads I can see some problems with refueling. It is bad enough now as the distance between fuel stops is quite considerable. Do not forget our roads are not like those in other countries as tourists have found to their cost.

  9. ScottGN 9

    @weka 7.1

    Almost all of our MMP government’s have technically been minority governments.

    If Labour doesn’t come up with goods in any coalition negotiations the Greens might well choose to sit on the crossbenches and vote issue by issue but the point Corey is making is that with the Canadian experience, where minority governments are common, the prime minister still has a lot of leverage simply because he/she can threaten a snap election (usually via a confidence vote) if the crossbenches and the opposition say they won’t support a particular piece of legislation. Voters almost always tend to punish parties that have deliberately crashed the government.
    One of the downsides of this is that the minority government tends to bundle all sorts of disparate legislation into what are called omnibus bills, attach them to a budget measure, which makes them a confidence vote, and gets stuff through that way because the other parties in the House don’t want to bring down the government and face the voters.

    • Good point re the omnibus bills scott. That is why the Greens will have ministers and be part of a coalition in the next government.

      Perhaps this will be with Crusher and Rimmer (33+8+7) smileysmileysmiley

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