Monday, 14 April 2014

Entrails of chickens

In the good old days, if you wanted to foretell the future you disembowelled a chicken and tried to make predictions based on the shape of its liver and whatnot.  Now, we have polling companies, which is possibly more scientific but a lot less fun, even for the chicken.

I don't know if Roy Morgan are trying to Do Their Bit by recycling polls, but they seem to be producing the same one over and over again.  You could basically pick any poll released over the last 6 months and the same questions will almost certainly apply:

  • Does Labour get more than 33%?
  • Does the 'Labour-Green bloc' (a curious entity that exists only in the mind of desperate lefties) beat National?
  • Does NZ First get more than 5%?
Last week's poll was no exception, with Labour polling a deadly 32% - though given the way the party has been flirting with the sub-30 Fatal Boundary, that is something to be pleased about, the 'Labour-Green bloc' just out polling National and Winston looking chipper on 5.5%.

Given every poll is pretty much irrelevant in itself, what can we say about the longer term blah blah blah?

Next to nothing, that has not been said a thousand times.  Labour are dead in the water, but may enjoy a slight improvement when the campaign proper gets under way.  Meanwhile, there is the continual talk of the 'Labour-Green bloc.'  Think about the history of the 'Labour-Green bloc' for a moment.  1999 - excluded from the coalition.  2002 - excluded from the coalition.  2005 - excluded from the coalition. 

That's not a 'bloc.'

History shows the Greens have been perpetually excluded in favour of NZ First and United Future.  Only once - 1999 - did Labour turn left and coalesce with the Alliance.  Which in itself might serve as a warning to the Greens.

The Greens are victims of a phenomenon whereby they make every correct tactical decision, resulting in strategic ruination.  They have, time after time, done the right thing - arranging confidence and supply agreements, conducting grown up negotiations and the like - and it has got them no-where.

Meanwhile, a man-child like Peters throws his toys and stamps his foot and is rewarded, time and again, by fresh shiny baubles.

What is the likelihood of this happening again?  Pretty good and pretty much impossible, is my less than helpful answer.

Pretty good because Labour appear quite happy with the idea of shutting out the Greens if possible.  Cunliffe's recent comments about Labour trying to maximise its vote suggest a degree of hubris - he appears to be intent on eating up enough of the Greens to get Labour within a Winston of victory, without having to draw on the Greens.

Saying the Greens might not be the first party addressed in coalition talks is a clear signal they know Winston is going to have some pretty hefty demands and will want dibs on ministerial folios for himself and his hangers-on.  One of his demmands might even be not working with the Greens - more baubles for him.  hence Cunliffe's comments about maximising the vote.

Pretty much impossible because, I suspect, such a campaign will be unsuccessful.  Labour can no hope to gobble up 10% of the Green vote.  They aren't appealing enough a brand, and the dreams of Standardistas for Cunliffe leading them above the 40% mark have proven to be more than a little bit fanciful.  The party is stuck where it was a year ago, two years ago ... Even seizing 5% of the Green vote - a difficult proposition - will probably leave a putative Labour-NZ First government short.  And Winston has previously refused to work with the Greens.

And, crucially, he has no need to now.  He can always 'Heed the will of the people' and go with National

Which leaves us us no further forward, really.  Last week's Roy Morgan puts the 'Labour-Green bloc' and National pretty much neck on neck (if you add the Green's neck onto Labour's) and Winston as the kingmaker. Wo'dathunkedit?

National will have more baubles to offer Winston and his hangers on, as Labour will already have given a basketful to the Greens.

Robertson or Ardern in 2017?

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