Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First.

‘Change’ was not a candidate on the voting paper I saw.

People voted for parties. Those parties need to sort out a coalition / governing arrangement.

Realistically, National are in the stronger position. Winston dislikes the Greens and Labour would have to divide the baubles of office between themselves, NZ 1st and the Greens.

People trying to convince themselves that Lab-Green-NZ 1st is just around the corner are setting themselves up for disappointment. Another one. Gluttons for punishment.

Second, let's be honest about Labour's success.  The Labour-Green bloc is sitting at 41.5%.  This represents a very modest improvement on its performance on 2011 and 2008 (putting aside the disaster of 2014).  Jacindamania didn't really happen, unless something very odd is lurking in the special votes.

Where did Labour's support come from?  Mostly from the Greens and New Zealand 1st, and probably an increase in turnout amongst Labour voters, certainly compared to 2014 ... but it was hardly the tsunami that was needed.

Ardern has, however, done very well.  She deserves the chance to give it a proper go.  The muddled message on tax was damaging.  Her performance in the debates was not as good as her fans think - she resorted to shouting "Who agrees with you?" at Bill English when the tax issue came up, when English was clearly talking about the zero growth in key areas, not Joyce's mythical hole.  It played well with Labour supporters - sock it to him, Jacinda! - but to everyone else it made it look like she was trying to drown the debate on an issue she didn't want to talk about, which, in fairness, she probably was.

There has to be a bit of honest self-examination on the left.

Labour has to look at it why - after nine years of pretty rubbish National government - they are still struggling.  This is not a fundamentally leftwing country that occasionally loses its marbles and votes for National.  It's a right wing country with a bit of a social conscience.  I'm worried that the radicals will start the usual chant that Labour was not bold enough, and would have won if it had been more left wing.  Those are the sort of people who think 2014's disaster was down to 'the media.'  Like I said before, gluttons for punishment.

The Greens have to face up to a very long process of rebuilding.  The demise of the Maori Party and Mana might open up an interesting opportunity for them, particularly if Marama Davidson is confirmed as co-leader.  Will they remain on the left, as the radical wing of the Labour Party or (bearing in mind how Labour has treated them in the past, particularly in 2005) adopt a more centrist position?  The idea is poisonous to a lot of Green voters - but some of them are really Labour voters who want to push Labour left.

I think the Greens supporting National will be too much this time.  But James Shaw is on my radio right now, talking about how Bill English is welcome to call him - perhaps a hint of where Shaw see the Greens in the future.  Their job isn't to deliver disgruntled Labour voters to Labour; their job is to protect the environment.  They can't do that at all from the opposition benches.  They can do something in government.

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