Over on the Standard (whippersnapper!) they are getting a bit excited about the latest Roy Morgan poll, which suggests a Labour (32%) and the Greens (14%) coalition might just edge the nefarious forces of the Right (foully coalesced at 44.5%).
Well, maybe. But even if the numbers are accurate, and were realised at a General Election, I think it would be difficult for such a bloc to be formed. When one party thrashes another by 44% to 32%, I think the former has the moral right to form a government, and it is incumbent on the minor parties to support (or at least not undermine) its efforts. If the gap were narrower, this wouldn't be an issue, but with such a gulf between them, it would be strategically disastrous - both parties would be smashed in the subsequent election. It might even re-ignite the whole "MMP vs FPTP" argument. Not worth it.
The bottom line for Labour is that they are still less popular than when the Clark government was ejected in 2008. That was after three cycles of government, years of scheming and bad press, monumental policy screw-ups and with a leader who was pretty obviously tired of the job.
Labour need to close the gap if they are going to form a government. That simple. The problem isn't the leader as such - Shearer and Cunliffe would be in the mix either way, and, bluntly, they're both pretty banal. The talent pool from which the leader is drawn is a part of the problem, as is the issue about the disconnect between the parliamentary party and the party at large. But the main problem, to my mind, is the lack of vision. They need a credible alternative platform that manages to be popular, accessible and practical. People aren't interested in voting for Labour because Labour - as it stands - is about as appealing as a three day dead possum. In summer: "We're a bit like National, but crap, riven and without the charismatic [sic] leader! We offer nothing much, but the prospect of being a conduit for Green policies! So vote for us!"
New Zealand says, "Fuck that!" - and quite right too. New Zealanders aren't so stupidly pedestrian as all that. They'd rather have Key and National than a crap imitation. I think, however, they'd probably rather have a proper leftwing alternative.
They need to get urgent, and get thinking, rather than scheming. Otherwise, another stint of Key and Co. is pretty much inevitable. And if Labour allow that to happen, they should be tried for treason.