Signs of a Labour-NZF government

POLITICAL ROUNDUP

Dr Bryce Edwards

Why should Winston Peters pick Jacinda Ardern? (photo: Jerry Yelich-O'Connor)

READ ALSO: Signs of a National-NZF government

Is Winston Peters about to announce a Labour-NZ First government? Yesterday I looked at arguments NZ First might be inclined to choose National. Below are recent items laying out the reasons a Labour-led government could be NZ First’s best choice.

1) On the most important policy issues, Labour can give NZ First what it wants
Newshub’s Lloyd Burr has put together an excellent list of NZ First’s supposed 25 “bottom lines” for negotiation, and he evaluates the likelihood of National and Labour yielding to each one – see: The comprehensive list of Winston Peters' bottom lines.

2) Winston Peters wants a legacy of change
Winston Peters “doesn't want to be remembered as the man who went with National twice, when the country, to a greater or lesser extent, wanted something else. He understands this is his last chance to genuinely put New Zealand first.” So says Chris Trotter, talking about Winston Peters' desire for a legacy on the AM Show – see: What does Winston Peters want as his legacy? Mr Trotter says "What he wants to be remembered for is the person who, in that last three-year period, brought together everything he has been as a politician since the late 1970s. If it's simply to keep in the National Party for another three years, that's not what he wants to be remembered for."

3) Winston Peters will want to hit back against the Establishment
Chris Trotter also writes this week about Winston Peters’ long history of battles with New Zealand’s “political class” or Establishment. He argues Peters needs to resist the pressure to put National back into power, and instead be the “grit” that enables a Labour and Greens government to make real and lasting change to “this country's economic and social direction” – see: 'Dear Winston' – an open letter to the leader of NZ First

4) NZ First should choose a brand-new government because voters want change
Finlay Macdonald argues “more than half the country” voted for change, and Peters could “play the role of elder statesman in a young, progressive government at a time when the need for economic, environmental and social reform has never been greater” – see: Which Winston will step up for coalition talks? Peters’ legacy won’t be secured with National, according to Macdonald: “there will be no great legacy available to him for propping up a government clearly past its use-by date, no matter what little wins (or baubles of office) he extracts in the process”

5) The economic nationalism of NZ First, Labour and the Greens is a unifying factor
According to Gordon Campbell, “Peters is a nationalist, more than anything else” and this binds him to the left parties – see: What does Winston Peters want his legacy to be? Campbell says: “Yes, Peters and many of his supporters certainly have their social and generational differences with Labour and the Greens but these pale in comparison with the similarities between them on the more basic issues to do with economic sovereignty.”

6) NZ First supporters prefer Labour-Greens
According to a Colmar Brunton survey earlier in the year, 65% of NZ First voters favoured Labour, rather than National, leading the new government. Toby Manhire therefore argues that NZ First’s caucus should be regarded as being split between the left and right blocs: “If we factor those responses in, the centre-left option nudges ahead … the Labour-Green side would get about six and a half seats, and National about two and a half… The point is, roughly speaking, if we assign those preferences, you’d finish up with Labour-NZF-Green at 62 seats versus National-NZF at 57 seats, with ACT’s one seat tallying up the 120” – see: After specials, it’s closer than ever – but what do Winston’s voters want?

7) NZ First policy is more aligned with the left
Simon Wilson says “NZ First and Labour policies align pretty well, and the Greens can be accommodated in much of that alignment too. But NZ First and National do not enjoy this luxury: From fiscal settings to immigration, regional development to welfare, their policy settings do not align with NZ First’s. That means Labour is the natural partner for NZ First” – see: The special votes swing left – here’s how the votes fell and what they mean.

8) NZ First still has profound differences of policy and ethos with National
RadioLive’s Mitch Harris says “National as the landowning, farming and big business party is less worried about housing costs and likes to have a plentiful supply of cheap labour. Labour, The Greens and NZ First want Government to have a greater hand in directing the economy. These are profound differences in outlook and no coalition agreement can ‘future-proof’ these sorts of differences three years into the future” – see: Common purpose more important than just 'wins'.

He is predicting a Labour-NZF-Green government, largely due to their similarities: “In 2017 Labour and The Greens have far more in common with NZ First than National does. Labour and NZ First want to cut back our high immigration numbers to give working people a better chance of earning a decent living. They also share a concern about wealthy foreigners bidding up the costs of land and housing.”

9) Bill English has made negotiation mistakes
Bill English was quite outspoken at the beginning of the coalition negotiations, according to Barry Soper, and this hasn’t served National well. For example, “The best he could say of Peters during the campaign was that he was a challenge to do business with, then on the Monday after the election he told the nation he called Peters the night before but he didn't pick up. That was designed to embarrass Peters, and it did, who told us he was out of cellphone range and when he got what would have been a most pleasant message from English it was too late to call him back” – see: Bill English doing little to endear himself to Winston Peters. Also, see Soper’s earlier column, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, don't rule it out

10) Luckily for Labour, the Greens ended up with fewer votes than NZ First
Winston Peters will be comfortable choosing a Labour-Greens arrangement because NZ First will still be the second-biggest party. David Cormack explains: “while the Greens’ total of 8 MPs is just under 60% of the number they had last time it was crucial to Winston’s ego that they had fewer MPs than him. If the Greens had managed to get two seats from the specials and draw level with NZFirst then it’s likely that he would have been a lot more inclined to go with the Nats. Wherever he goes, he’s got to be the second biggest party” – see: Winston and the predictable, boring, no clearer, very dull specials

11) Winston Peters will have more power in a Labour-led government
John Armstrong has explained that the NZ First leader will have learnt his lesson from the last time he went with National: “As Peters soon discovered, after reinstalling National in power after the 1996 election, the kingmaker becomes the target for discontent and dissatisfaction - not the king or queen. That would be best avoided by New Zealand First being a driving force in a first-term Labour-led administration. That would be far more preferable than being a cling-on to a fourth-term National-dominated one. Were Peters to opt for Labour, the ratio of that party's seats to New Zealand First's would be five to one. If his choice is National, the ratio edges closer to seven to one – and he has consequently less leverage” – see: Winston Peters' ultimate bottom line. Furthermore “If policy compatibility is the gauge, Labour is again the only realistic choice. Labour would be far more amenable to slashing immigrant numbers than is National, for example. Only Labour can make the changes in economic policy to satisfy Peters' demand for an alternative to the "failed experiment" of neo-liberalism. Opting for National would suggest he did not actually believe what he had been spouting on the campaign trail.”

12) Winston Peters holds a grudge against a National Party that tried to kill him off
Not only is Peters still seething at the idea senior National figures may have leaked his superannuation overpayment details, National also tried to cut him out of Parliament. North & South magazine’s Graham Adams explains how National has antagonised Peters: “English took even bigger gambles this election and he may be the bigger loser on account of it. He believed he could knock Peters out of the race altogether – by an aggressive campaign in Northland and an attempt to force NZ First’s vote under 5%” – see: Bill English: A gambling man

13) NZ First has better personal relations with Labour
Personal relationships matter in politics and Vernon Small explains that Labour “has the edge in terms of closer and warmer personal relationships. That is a legacy of the 2005-2008 period in Government together and the joint battles in opposition since then. And there is no doubt Peters has some serious issues with National on a number of fronts, and with its finance guru Steven Joyce in particular” – see: The game is everything Winston Peters wanted

Finally, a new song has emerged that satirises Winston Peters’ current position of power. Called “The Kingmaker”, the song by The Rekkidz is explained by the Herald – see: Rewi McLay and Nathan Judd write Winston Peters ‘kingmaker’ song.


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25 Comments & Questions

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My hubby reckins John Key taught us one thing....Heat the water slowly and the rats will keep swimming. Do it with a smile and they'll whistle your version of Dixie as well.

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John Key will go down as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, trader of all time from NZ, both for his time with Merrill and as a politician & PM.

Buy low, sell high - take the riches and run!

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The popular version of that story has a frog in it in lieu of rats. Rats are warm-blooded and can't adjust their body temperature.

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Thanks for that Phillip. I've kissed a lot of frogs in my time....maybe that's where I've been going wrong :(

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No it was Jonkey, the supposedly intelligent Auckland business community and blinkered right wing talk radio jocks Smalley, Leighton Smith and Hosking, who were being heated slowly like a sombulent frog, their credibility and power disappearing as they slowly melted into marshmallow ready to accept rule by the rural peasants and urban proletariat as the blowtourch flame was delicately applied by NZs white indigenous 'Peoples Party' government of English, Smith, Collins et all of course secret hard line supporters of Mao, Xi Jinping and probably Jong.

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NZ Communist State starts on Monday when everyone becomes equal and property rights are diminished until no one is allowed to own an asset.

Capital controls including capital gains Tax on the people to punish and subdue any tall poppy and success ideals will be snuffed out.

The State will control everyone equally until it gains absolute power.

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The sooner kiwis aspire to wealth creation through entrepreneurship (as opposed to lazily trading second-hand houses with each other) the better.

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Will that mean Putin and Russia have decided our election too?

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Dreadful forecast for New Zealand. We should all bolt our doors and windows and stay at home for the next 3 years - that's if we think you have any credibility Mr Cranston

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Hang on Ted Stanton, I think you'll find Jian Yang is an MP in the National party. You're calling National to be back in power, then?

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Look at Germany they hated foreign wealth and Hitler used this to his advantage to control the people.
Media depicting a certain race of being rich and owning property whilst the German people worked hard but could not afford.
Sounds very similar to what is portrayed in New Zealand so be very careful listening to the media and their so called housing crisis beat up pushing inequality and communist ideals.

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You and Paul and Ted should share your short-sighted views over a beer. You may all need a pass-out from the asylum, though; split personality disorder is a serious condition.

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Just remember, Understanding, won't you that 64% of New Zealanders didn't vote for the Labour party in the election just gone. That's right, that's 2/3rds of New Zealanders. It might be you who needs that pass out from the asylum after all don't that say that an inability to grasp reality is the first sign of madness?

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And remember Steve that 56% of New Zealanders didn't vote for continuing a National government.

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And just remember Steve won't you that 56% of New Zealanders didn't vote to continue a National Government. Your inability to grasp the reality of democracy in MMP coalitions may well see you going away for a while

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I'm well aware of the numbers, Steve - I'm one of the 2/3rds you speak of.

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Another person who struggles to grasp that the left vote is across two parties.

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I've always reckoned that WP would go with Labour

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Would it really matter who gets in but I do like labour

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Names mean something or at least have political currency, even if their orgin is pure coincidence. Could Mr Peters actually work with someone married to Mr Gaylord or have as a major minister Julie Ann Genter considering in NZ a right wing party seems to be defined as being hostile to the those perscribing to the trans gender or gay 'nonsense'. It seems to me Winstons decision to to with Clark in 2005 was due to the exceptional nature of the National Party at the time led by Brash an extreme pro marketer and Winston and Muldoon beit noir and also massively anti maori,.

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An interesting piece, Bryce. How indeed should one read the entrails? On the one hand, NZF has gone with the largest party in previous coalition or confidence and supply arrangements in the past- 1996 and 2005. However, the first MMP National/New Zealand First ended badly when Shipley was appointed National PM and the coalition relationship disintegrated in 1998. The 2005-2008 Labour/NZF coalition did last the distance, but Peters was adversely affected by the Owen Glen donations imbroglio in that context. Peters acted as a cuckoo in the nest when it came to the respective first-choice coalition partners in both contexts- ACT, when it came to National, and the Greens, when it came to Labour. However, things have changed on both fronts. Under Bil English, National is burnishing its social policy credentials, while the closeness of the election outcome means that he will have to deal with the Greens this time, especially given that there is only a single MMP voter share percentage point between both parties.

Precedent suggests a National/NZF coalition, but that would be fraught with peril for both sides. National would win a fourth term, which it has not managed to do since the days of Holyoake fifty years ago... but no New Zealand government has lasted longer than that. If he doesn't choose Labour, there's still the fact that it is clearly now a resurgent opposition, much like the British Labour Party and ALP across the Tasman.

He may very well decide that National has been in office long enough, and choose Labour and the Greens for that reason. In that case, there would probably be significant policy agreement when it came to both Labour and the Greens on one side and New Zealand First on the other. Much depends on what would happen to National's leadership in that context. Would Bill English stay or go if NZF chose Labour and the Greens? What would happen then? I suggest that there might be a replacement Stephen Joyce/Paula Bennett leadership team, which might last until 2020. At which point, one would have to see whether it would be able to unseat the putative three-way coalition.

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Can any one explain why a minority party gets to set the rules to form a new govt??
Why didn't the NZ Gov/ Gen not ask the party with the most votes National to try and form a govt as is done overseas
If they are unsuccessful it then moves to the party with the second most votes which would in this case would be The Labour Party
So we put up with 7 percent doing the selection!!!! @ board level !!!
Surprising that the system is such a shambles!!

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Winnie will pick Labour and Ardern will be a one short term PM, after which she and Labour will be cast out into the political wilderness with her big wide toothy smile .

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As I have previously posted vote Labour get Venezuela or Argentina if we are lucky and having voted for a chocolate coated turd the electors should not be surprised if it leaves a nasty taste in their mouths.

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I was not expecting this result. It appears that Mr Peters anti-neoliberalism is stronger than the social conservatism that he shares with Mr English and much of the National caucus.

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