Sustainable NZ good in theory but

November 12, 2019

Ever since MMP was introduced, New Zealand has been in want of a party that stands for something and sits in the centre, able to coalesce with National to its right or Labour to its left.

The Maori Party could have been that party, but in spite of being the last cab off the rank when Helen Clark led Labour, and in government at National’s invitation its natural home was towards the left.

The many iterations of United Future rarely stood for anything more than keeping its leader, Peter Dunne, in parliament and government.

New Zealand First, similarly stands for keeping Winston Peters in power and his strong antipathy towards National now makes it a natural ally for Labour rather than a true centre party.

The Green Party could have been that centre party if it wasn’t so red. But its hardline social and economic agenda put it to the left of Labour.

Now a new player the Sustainable New Zealand Party has enterer centre stage:

. . .Sustainable New Zealand is neither left nor right wing but is focused on sustainability.  We are able to work with parties of the left or right to get the best deal for the environment. Sustainable New Zealand’s approach is to work with business to innovate and to correctly price ‘externalities’. We will be led by the science when finding solutions and developing policy. Our future will only be sustainable with technological and scientific innovation.

Sustainable New Zealand’s focus is on being ‘practical environmentalists.’ We will work with rather than against our farmers. We favour a regulatory light-touch where possible but with a willingness to act decisively on core issues. We will foster innovation to transition our economy from one that relies on chopping down, digging up, burning or milking something for economic growth to one that is environmentally-benign and makes us all richer. We know that nothing is free. We need to be prosperous to ensure that we can afford to look after our people and our environment. . . 

There’s a lot to like in that and an environmental party that sits in the middle is a good idea in theory, but will it be strong enough to get at least some MPs in to parliament?

One avenue would be to reach an agreement with either Labour or National to allow it to win a seat, the way Act does in Epsom.

But doing that would compromise its ability to work with left or right.

Besides Labour is very unlikely to sour its relationship with the Greens by throwing a seat to a rival and it would be a big risk for National.

Peter Dunne already held the seat when National voters were asked to back him. They did and had to endure three long terms of him supporting Labour governments before National got back into power. He stayed in cabinet and thwarted National’s agenda several times, most notably its attempts to improve the RMA.

Rodney Hide won Epsom by his own efforts, taking it from a sitting National MP who was trying to hold it. Voters have continued to back an Act candidate in the seat but a majority of them give their party vote to National.

Asking a sitting National MP to throw the seat for a Sustainable NZ candidate, or expecting a new National candidate to campaign only for the party vote is a very different and much riskier strategy.

So could Sustainable NZ make it to 5%?

History would say no.

The Progressive Green Party broke away from the red Greens and fielded 15 candidates in the 1996 election but could muster only .26% of the vote.

No new party has made it into parliament without a sitting MP.

However, small parties generally get punished for their performance in government and the Greens will have lost support from both those who think it’s been too left and those who think it hasn’t been left enough.

If enough of the former were joined by those disenchanted by Labour and NZ First and perhaps some of the blue-greens who’ve supported National it might, but the chances of it doing so are slight.

Sustainable NZ has had reasonable publicity since its weekend launch but that will be hard to sustain and it will need a lot of people power and the money they bring to have any hope of turning a good theory into practical electoral success.


National in drag difficult sell

May 30, 2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


Environment isn’t partisan

September 27, 2017

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger nails it:

He said the Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they should only link themselves to left-wing politics.

“The environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.” . .

If the Greens weren’t really reds they would be in a much stronger position than they are now.

They could sit in the middle, as the Maori Party did, able to go left or right.

It would be they, not New Zealand First, that would be being courted by the major parties.

The Green Party’s environmental policies were lost in the controversy over its radical left-wing social policy regarding welfare. It was delivered by Metiria Turei who lost her co-leadership and ultimately her seat because of it.

The environment isn’t partisan. A party which recognised that would be far more attractive to voters and in a much stronger position than the red Greens are.


It’s only another poll

September 20, 2017

This is a good boost for Prime Minister Bill English as he heads into the final leaders’ debate:


Bribe-o-meter

August 16, 2017

The Taxpayers’ Union has updated its Bribe-O-Meter which costs party policies;

Opposition parties appear to be spending up to the rafters with sets of policies many times more expensive than the last election. New Zealand First is pushing the boundaries of fiscal free-spiritedness, so far promising $22.9 billion in new spending over the next electoral term. Labour is close behind with $18.9 billion, followed by TOP at $10.7 billion and the Green Party with $8.1 billion.
 
The incumbent governing parties have been much more controlled. Somewhat surprisingly, given the size of the party, United Future has promised the most with $4.7 billion in new spending. The National Party are still keeping the powder dry, promising just $2.5 billion of new spending over the next Parliamentary term.
 
The Maori Party are still yet to release their manifesto, so the costings to date only include IwiRail – estimated at $1.6 billion. ACT is the only party who have promised a net cut in government spending. Its manifesto would see a reduction in spending of $5.4 billion over the next three years.

KEY FINDINGS (AS OF 14 AUGUST):

  • National has promised $2.5 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $1,453 per household.
  • Labour has promised $18.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $10,952 per household.
  • The Greens has promised $8.1 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $4,692 per household.
  • New Zealand First has promised $22.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $13,291 per household.
  • ACT has promised $5.4 billion in taxpayer savings over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $3,103 in savings per household.
  • United Future has promised $4.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $2,737 per household.
  • The Maori Party has promised $1.6 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $899 per household. Although this only includes one policy (the Maori party manifesto is yet to be released).
  • The Opportunities Party has promised  $10.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $6,199 per household. . . .

Labour’s own poll low?

July 12, 2017

Last month Labour released results of its own polling to show it was doing better than public polls.

There’s been no release of its own since the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll:

Since the last poll in late May, Mr Little has dropped to fourth behind Bill English, Winston Peters and deputy Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

Mr Little’s popularity fell by three points to five per cent while Mr Peters jumped four points to 11 per cent.

It’s the lowest result for a leader of the opposition since 2009. . .

National dropped two points to 47 per cent, while Labour dropped three points to 27 per cent.

The Green Party and New Zealand First are both up two points to 11 per cent.

The Maori Party is up one point to 2 per cent and The Opportunities Party is steady on 1 per cent. . .

 

This isn’t an optimal poll for National but it’s far worse for Labour which would only get to 61 seats in a 122 seat parliament with the Green Party and NZ First.

It would only get a majority with Maori Party support as well and that wouldn’t be a recipe for the political equivalent of happy families.

This is only one poll but it continues the trend of low levels of support for Labour and its leader.

That the party hasn’t released its own polling suggests that those results are at least as dismal for it.


Can’t run party, can’t run country

May 2, 2017

The release of a party list ought to be a well managed positive PR opportunity.

Labour’s was not.

The seeds of trouble were planted months ago with rumbling’s over leader Andrew Little’s promise of a winnable list position for Willie Jackson.

Another trouble sprouted a few days ago when sitting list MP Sue Maroney announced she would stand down at the election because she wouldn’t have a winnable list position.

This confirms my contention that Labour’s anti-employer sentiments are based on its own mishandling of its people.

On the heels of Maroney’s announcement, the release of the list was delayed because Jackson had a tantrum.

This raises more questions about Little’s judgement and leadership.

Ironically Jackson’s chances of winning will increase if Labour’s sitting MPs in Maori Electorates, who chose not to be on the list, lose their seats to the Maori or Mana Parties.

 Barry Soper sums it up:

 . . .The first public fallout from the current Labour list preparation was the paid parental leave campaigner, 12 year veteran MP Sue Moroney who was a Cunliffe supporter, who said she’d lost the support of the party’s ruling council who’d given her an unelectable position so she’s quitting.

One would have thought before Labour made public when it’d be announcing its list, it would have ironed out those who could have been disgruntled with it. Yet again they’re spilling their guts in public, being forced to delay their announcement until this morning to give them time to either placate Jackson or to send him up the political creek without his waka. . .

The list release debacle reflects poorly on Little and shows Labour still can’t run itself.

If it can’t be trusted to do that it can’t be trusted to run the county.


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