Friday 10 June 2016

Red & Green Must Move Beyond Left & Right.

Sharp Focus: An alarming lack of spin-control by Labour and the Greens meant that for several days the story of their "understanding" went flapping-off in all directions – many of them extremely negative. It was only after Andrew Little had delivered his rip-roaring speech to the Greens’ AGM, and been eloquently seconded by the Green co-leader, James Shaw, that the virtues of the new relationship finally came into focus.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT LAST WEEK of an “understanding” between Labour and the Greens demonstrated the critical importance of spin-control. Given less than an hour’s notice that something big was in the offing, most – perhaps all – of the Parliamentary Press Gallery was left guessing.
Given that journalists, no less than Cabinet Ministers, hate surprises, this was remarkable. Worse still, it was the sort of behaviour that makes journalists wonder why they expend so much energy building relationships of trust and confidence with senior politicians and their spin-doctors.
If something big is looming, the expectation of the fourth estate is that it will be given slightly more than an hour’s warning. A little help in answering those five all-important questions – What? Who? When? Where? Why? – while not mandatory, is also appreciated.
The major consequence this curious deficiency in spin-control from Labour and the Greens is that for several days the story went flapping-off in all directions – many of them extremely negative. It was only on Saturday, after Andrew Little had delivered his rip-roaring speech to the Greens’ AGM, and been eloquently seconded by the Green co-leader, James Shaw, that the virtues of the Red-Green “understanding” finally came into focus.
Whatever the reason for Labour’s and the Greens’ initial failures in communication (and there are some intriguing explanations currently doing the rounds) the clear priority, now, is for the news media to continue debating the political meaning of this new Red-Green entente.
The most important question arising out of this debate is: Will the new relationship grow or shrink the combined Labour-Green Party Vote?
The current journalistic consensus holds that it will shrink.
Under the new relationship, runs this argument, the Greens can only increase their support at Labour’s expense; leaving Labour to grow its vote at the expense of National and NZ First. This strategy is unlikely to bear the required electoral fruit, however, because neither National nor NZ First voters will embrace a government-in-waiting which includes the ‘weird and wacky’, ‘Far Left’, Greens.
Those advancing this argument go further: insisting that not only will Labour be unable to attract the 5-10 percentage points it needs from National and NZ First if it and the Greens are to win a plurality of the Party Vote, but also that Labour’s more conservative supporters – alarmed by their party’s new relationship with the ‘weird and wacky’, ‘Far Left’, Greens – will desert Labour for the altogether more familiar fleshpots of Winston Peters and the Tories.
The alternative – much more optimistic – argument in favour of the new relationship takes as its starting-point an alleged majority of voters’ disquiet with the way New Zealand society is developing. This disquiet, it is claimed, extends right across the traditional political spectrum. It is fuelled by a deep concern that the nation has lost its way: that far too many New Zealanders are turning their faces from the demonstrable distress of their fellow citizens; and that unless there is an immediate and radical change of direction, then the country they grew up in, the country they love, will become unrecognisable.
For a change in voting behaviour on this scale to have the slightest hope of occurring, Labour and the Greens will have to convince the electorate that the 2017 election is not going to be a battle between Left and Right, but between simple human decency and self-centred social indifference.
The choice Labour-Green needs to be offering voters is: to start moving forward again as a nation; or, to continue the present downward slide into more inequality, more poverty.
Crucial to the success of this strategy will be the degree to which the Labour-Green alliance can convince the nation that it’s the Right – not the Left – who have become slaves to an ideology. Labour and the Greens must persuade voters that theirs are the policies offering practical, common-sense solutions; and that if New Zealanders want to be part of a progressive future, then they must reject the regressive policies of a ruthless, market-driven dogma that is demonstrably failing.
The great virtue of this argument is that it reserves for Winston Peters and his voters an honourable and influential role in the destruction of the present government, as well as in constructing the next.
John Key’s reign will not be ended by one party, or two. It’s going to take the whole Opposition.
UPDATE: Following the announcement of the Red-Green "understanding", Colmar-Brunton's pollsters registered a statistically significant shift towards Labour of approximately 5 percentage points. This additional support had, however, come at the expense of NZ First and the Greens. National's support hardly budged. It is, of course, early days, but this result suggests that the anti-Government vote is beginning to consolidate around the Labour Party, as those who had more-or-less given up on Labour ever getting its act together thankfully return to the fold. - C.T.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 10 June 2016.


peteswriteplace said...

NZ First is the political key. And NZ needs a strong Labour Party to influence others.

Anonymous said...

Chris, the jury is out and I believe will be out for some-time over whether the MOU will shrink or grow the labgreen vote. I generally support the views that you have expressed but my reservations about the Labgreens is they will emerge as a Labgreen 'alias' National lite combination.
The Labgreens need to develop coherent points of difference against National with economic abilities in support of their viewpoints spelled out. They must not shirk or try to camouflage tax increases if they are needed.
I have doubts about Grant Robertson as his nature is to deflect and duck the hard questions. That will not be good enough if the Labgreens are to impact deeply, he needs to be stronger or he should be changed.

Finally you cannot read two much into the latest Colmar Brunton as the MOU was announced two days into the four days that CB surveyed.

Anonymous said...

Sky and Vodafone merger had been thought through and all the experts agree it is beneficial for all, Labour and Greens MOU, and the experts can't agree if this is good for one or both of them and may even be a backward step!

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Mana Party will contest the next election.
They are the only true Left, party in this country.

If, and yes " that maybe a big if " they could get even two seats in Parliament, that would make the situation very interesting indeed given that the make up of parliament is likely to be much different to what it is today.

AB said...

" will have to convince the electorate that the 2017 election is not going to be a battle between Left and Right, but between simple human decency and self-centred social indifference"

Which is just the difference between Left and Right expressed in different words?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I have doubts about Grant Robertson as his nature is to deflect and duck the hard questions. "

Okay, just a matter of interest name me a politician that doesn't do this. Please don't say Winston Peters. :)

Anonymous said...

Winston Peters

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
I think the bit about " they must reject the regressive policies of a ruthless, market-driven dogma that is demonstrably failing." far outweighs "will not be ended by one party, or two" (Or three.) . I don't detect any such suggestion. Up until now, and possibly still, such rejection would have been political suicide , but sometime soon someone is going to have to find the courage, and the longer that baton is left on the ground the less convincing will be the act of picking it up. N Z First could do it with the least contradiction but they aren't all that clear. It may need something new coming out of left field.
Cheers David J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Winston Peters" I sincerely hope this was meant ironically, because Winston has a PhD in ducking hard questions. :)

Anonymous said...

GS: if Grant Robertson (Shadow Finance Minister; Labgreens) is to 'impact deeply' with the NZ electorate he needs to front strongly and truthfully on serious financial matters.

Winston's persona with the NZ voter is such that he can get-away with nonsense.

Grant Robertson does not have such a persona and he should not believe that he has, his nature is to deflect and duck, a Shadow Finance Minister in a NZ general election has to be seen to be honest and direct, I have my doubts about Grant Robertson.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Again I would ask. Give me the name of a politician who answers the hard questions honestly and directly. Or conversely, give me some examples of Grant Robertson avoiding the question.

jh said...

I see Labour and the Greens are on board with Hugh Pavletich

The alternative is much worse: limits to growth (and all that)

Dennis Frank said...

Re your critique of the media liaison deficiency, Chris, there's an upside to the kerfuffle caused by lack of professionalism. Much like the proverbial cowboy who leaps into the saddle and, guns a'blazing, gallops off in all directions, it tends to attract attention. "What's the story?" becomes the immediate focus of all the journalists, and since ignorance of the answer is ever-so paranoia-inducing, they are certain to show up!

Competing interpretations for several days helps generate media commentary too. Trump uses this strategy too: generate plenty of controversy because the media feeding frenzy creates free publicity.

I agree that a change of government is unlikely unless unity emerges in the opposition, so the question is whether NZF identifies as opposition. Time to get off the fence? Could Peters morph into a real centrist? Realising the center-left frame is likely to shift the swing-voters whereas the leftist tag will not, will those involved identify this crucial common-interest political position? I suspect they lack the political nous.

jh said...

I think parties ought to be clearer about what they stand for:
Lind has organized American political worldviews into five categories:
Green Malthusianism synthesizes mystical versions of environmentalism with alarm about population growth in the tradition of the Rev. Thomas Malthus
Libertarian Isolationism would abandon foreign alliances, dismantle most of its military, and return to a 19th-century pattern of decentralized government and an economy based on small businesses and small farms.
Neoliberal Globalism believes that at home governments should provide only basic public goods like infrastructure and security, and do so by market-friendly methods
Populist Nationalism tends to favor restriction of legal as well as illegal immigration to protect the core stock of the tribe-state from dilution by different races, ethnic groups or religions. Populist nationalism also tends to favor protectionist policies that shield workers and businesses, particularly small businesses, from foreign competition.
Social Democracy claims an economic safety net, protecting citizens from unemployment, sickness, poverty in old age and other disasters, is necessary if democratic government is to retain popular support.

Lind argues that even though not all people will fit neatly into only one category or the other, their core worldview shape how they frame their arguments.[34]
Parties should have to elucidate their world view. I see NZ as having past it's potential (on a per capita basis) we are heading towards Haiti (not Switzerland)That makes me Green Malthusian but I am also
Populist* nationalist
Social Democrat.

I can't see how our Greens are Green Malthusians when they see NZ as a lifeboat for migrants and refugees? I've always seen them as the Red Army advancing under brush.

*Populism is a political position which holds that the virtuous citizens are being mistreated by a small circle of elites, who can be overthrown if the people recognize the danger and work together. The elites are depicted as trampling in illegitimate fashion upon the rights, values, and voice of the legitimate people
In a NZ context globalists people who think that people should be able to migrate if it makes them better off - and beggar the consequences (they being soo superior to the masses - and unaffected).

Unknown said...

Labour isn't getting anywhere because it keeps dishing up refried beans: Cunliffe gets up on a bus and (trying to do a Richard Seddon) says "You want jobs. You want..." etc.
Today I was talking to a Japanese lady about life in Japan: how beige much of it was. I commented that I supposed people just get used to things, but I pointed out how a family visited and when (on returning) their toddler entered their apartment she cried (there being no space and no lawn to play on).
People know that people compete with people and it was Labour progressives who made the new reality. People like David Cunliffe. Most jobs for working people are getting harder, housing has become astronomical and Labour is offering either a mythical apartment utopia, the Hugh Pavletich solution and or masses of state houses (we're rich don't you see! - like when we built our last lot and had the 3rd highest standard of living in the world)

jh said...

The Forces of David Farrar suffer a defeat here
Viking2 (14,219 comments) says:

Actually if you bothered to read croaking cassandra you would soon learn how badly we have done and are still doing.

The mere fact that the Govt. needs to supply all these top ups tells us they (and previous govt.’s) are failing miserably in economic things.

Try following cassandra.

Viking2 is no lefty

"Viking2 (13,632 comments) says:
January 17th, 2016 at 8:39 am

Over the last couple of weeks we have wandered around the lower North Island, partly holiday and partly visiting customers and looking for some new ones."

Brickbats for Michael Reddell

I imagine the National Party machine will have it's software monitoring any replication in the media (and sniggering - thanks to media progressives who ignore Michael Reddell)

jh said...

I was shocked by the latest Roy Morgan poll but this comment from the Standard makes sense
srylands 3
22 July 2016 at 7:26 am
I am surprised that you are surprised.

The merger with the Greens was a death blow for Labour. And there is no use in engaging in semantics. It is a merger.

The other unfortunate problem is that there are more home owners than home seekers. The Auckland folk I know are insufferable. They do nothing but gloat about their 3 million dollar houses.

This poll is an outlier. But the trend is clear.
if the bad result reflects the merger that is good. I was kicked of the Standard for being a "bigot" however I see LPrent is now agreeing that migration is not so good. The leopard doesn't change it's spots (in the mind of the voter).