How real is the Teal Deal?
Call it the Teal Deal.
The idea of a blue-green deal between the National and Green parties seems to be gaining traction – it is certainly gaining attention – but an air of unreality hangs over the whole thing.
It is not likely to happen: The Green Party membership would revolt.
Internally, the big backdrop to this in the Green Party is its members are about to pick a new co-leader.
Despite public speculation that this is most likely to be transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, it is understood Marama Davidson is the front-runner.
If Ms Davidson were to represent the Green Party membership’s willingness to be part of a National-led government, it would be an occasion like Satan opening an iceskating rink.
In fact, this is how most of the Green Party’s followers feel about such talk.
There is a blue-green constituency in New Zealand but it is probably not one the Green Party is going to access, at least for very long.
And it is not large.
You can make, as noted here a week ago, a principled case for the Greens being prepared to at least consider some sort of governing arrangement with National, to make faster progress on issues upon which the Green party points out there is little time: climate change and cleaning up waterways, primarily.
But the Green Party barely made it back to Parliament: The last thing it needs is anything which would cause it to lose more support.
Going in with National, in any form, would trigger a split.
National has historically been willing to consider unlikely coalitions or other arrangements: The Maori Party, in 2008, was the most recent. National, being a non-ideological conservative party, is less hung up about ideological purity than most other parties in much the same way Hugh Hefner was less hung up about monogamy than the Christian Coalition.
So perhaps at some level the National Party’s top table believe some sort of deal is possible, however unlikely it may seem.
More likely, though, the talk is serving other purposes.
The most obvious is to put pressure on New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, and to give him the impression National has other options.
Mr Peters certainly knows, perhaps better than most after the events of 1996-98, that National is quite prepared to do all sorts of deals to hang on to power.
But also, it sends messages to others.
Perhaps, to its own support base: that it had to offer the Green Party the deputy prime ministership and the finance role – as has been floated, ludicrously and unbelievably, on the weekend – because the stakes are so high.
That might make whatever National eventually offers Mr Peters more palatable to National Party supporters.
Talk of such a coalition has caused huge offence among Green Party activists and the wider New Zealand Left.
As usual, it is being put down to “dirty politics” – which, for a growing mind-set of left-wing activists, simply means any political tactic they do not like and have no real answer to.
There are also grizzles that some people are being paid to spruik the ideal of a Teal Deal.
Firstly, what National is doing here is hardly dirty – although it does strain the credulity of all but the most gullible.
It is basic negotiating.
On the second point: People are quite likely being paid to shop the idea but so what? People get paid to shop around pretty much every idea in politics, from trade unionists to business lobby groups.
And it's hardly an argument against the idea.
What is an argument against the idea is, as set out above, is the fact the Green Party members would mostly walk away from such a deal if it were to be placed before them.
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