Labour has walked out of talks on the Emissions Trading Scheme because National now has the Maori Party’s support for it.
I think Labour may live to regret this move for two reasons.
The first is that any legislation which has as significant an impact as the ETS ought to have as widespread support as possible so it can endure when the government changes.
Labour steamrolled the existing scheme through in the dying days of their administration without trying to get National onside so they are standing on very shaky ground when they say National’s not playing fair now.
The second is that Labour’s petulance give the Maori Party another reason to ally itself with National rather than Labour at the next election.
The Maori Party were, understandably, furious at being called the last cab off the rank by Helen Clark before the 2005 election. John Key invited them into coalition although he didn’t need their votes to govern.
That not only gave him options, which have paid off now, it gave the Maori Party mana and power which they’ve used to stunning effect by making Labour look irrelevant.
Labour could have taken the principled approach and still tried to work out a grand coalition but they’ve let emotion and short term pique get in the way of the long term good of both the country and their own ambitions.