Saturday 30 September 2017

The Last Thing Progressive New Zealand Needs Is A Coalition Of Contradictions.

Be Careful What You Wish For: For the past week Progressive New Zealand has been touting a Labour-NZ First-Green coalition as unequivocally "a good thing". Consequently, there is now a real danger of a coalition of contradictions being brought into existence: a forced parliamentary alliance with the potential to be as politically unedifying as it is electorally short-lived.

IT IS POSSIBLE to want something too much. The New Zealand progressive community’s hunger for power – so shamelessly on display since Election Night – has led it to treat Labour, the Greens and NZ First as unambiguously progressive entities capable of working together without fault or friction. That they know this assumption to be false has not prevented them from presenting a Labour-NZ First-Green Government as unequivocally “a good thing”. Consequently, there is now a real danger of a coalition of contradictions being brought into existence: a forced parliamentary alliance with the potential to be as politically unedifying as it is electorally short-lived.

As by far the most progressive member of the tripartite alliance in prospect, the Greens will be expected to make the most wrenching compromises and concessions. They will discover very rapidly just how vast the discrepancy is between NZ First’s and Labour’s pro-environmental rhetoric, and any willingness on their part to join with the Greens in rolling-out the practical policy measures necessary to give it effect.

The differences between the Greens: a party rooted in the most sophisticated layers of metropolitan New Zealand; and NZ First: a party drawing it most steadfast support from the country’s smallest towns and rural servicing centres; is unlikely to be limited to the best means of tackling climate change and cleaning up the rivers. The Greens and NZ First will find that they are not only at odds over what constitutes practical policy, but that, culturally, they have almost nothing in common. Metiria Turei spoke no more than the truth when she described NZ First as a “racist” party. Quite how the Greens will cope with the sexism and homophobia that is reportedly rife within their newfound ally’s ranks will be agonising to observe.

The Greens’ relationship with Labour is likely to be even more fraught. Disagreements are always sharpest between those who believed themselves to be in accord on the issues that matter most – only to discover that they aren’t. Jacinda’s promises about eliminating child poverty notwithstanding, Labour is not about to abandon its policy of keeping in place a regime of strong “incentives” to “encourage” beneficiaries to move “from welfare to work”. There will be no bonfire of MSD sanctions under Jacinda. Nor will there be a 20 percent increase in beneficiaries’ incomes.

The one election promise Labour will keep and, since the Greens foolishly signed up to it as well, the promise their junior partner will also be expected to honour, is the promise to abide by the self-imposed restrictions of the Labour-Green “Budget Responsibility Rules”. Since these amount to a guarantee that National’s undeclared austerity regime will remain in force across whole swathes of the public sector, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Budget Responsibility Rules will become an extraordinarily divisive force within any Labour-NZ First-Green coalition.

Having denied themselves the ability to raise income and company taxes before 2020, the Labour Party has effectively turned itself into a massive economic brake on its own, and its potential allies’, policy expectations. Unless the Greens and NZ First can persuade the likes of Grant Robertson and David Parker to avail themselves of hitherto out-of-bounds financial resources, this ‘progressive austerity’ will soon turn the coalition into a bitter collection of thwarted hopes and dreams.

Small wonder then, that, according to political journalists Richard Harman and Jane Clifton, there is a growing faction within both the National Caucus and the broader National Party to walk away from any deal with NZ First. Convinced that the coming together of Labour, NZ First and the Greens can only end in bitter disappointment and, ultimately, coalition-dissolving division, they are arguing that it is better to allow the “three-headed monster” to demonstrate its utter incapacity to provide “strong and stable” government for New Zealand. “Give them enough rope,” runs this argument, “and in three years – or less – they will have hanged themselves, and National will be back in the saddle and ready for another very long ride.”

It would be an enormous error for New Zealand’s progressive community to convince itself that the deep contradictions embedded in the manifestos of Labour, NZ First and the Greens can somehow be overcome. Far better for Labour and the Greens, the two parties who are, at least theoretically, ideologically compatible, to spend the next three years developing a suite of progressive policies capable of making a real difference to the lives of the many – not the few.

Right now, with the progressive community’s desire for political power so unreservedly on display, it should be very, very careful what it wishes for.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Saturday, 30 September 2017.


David Stone said...

There doesn't seem any reason why the Greens and NZF shouldn't give Labour confidence and supply , and argue everything else on it's merits. That should reduce the need for them to get too irked with each other and better democracy as fewer trade-offs of policy would be required. I'd like to see them have a go either way. What have we got to loose?
CheersD J S

Ben Dugdale said...

"Quite how the Greens will cope with the sexism and homophobia that is reportedly rife within their newfound ally’s ranks will be agonising to observe." Citation needed, otherwise you are chumming with the most odious of burley, Mr Trotter

peteswriteplace said...

All your opinions Chris. So you want the continuation of a National dominated govt - tell all the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, struggling seniors etc. Chris thinks a continuation of a fascist -like National govt will be best for you, because the Left alternative will be contradictory. I say give them a go and have another election in a year or two. By then the real truths of the Tories will be well known.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Citation needed"
Well, didn't Ron Mark tell someone to go home to Korea? And didn't the Law Lords – hardly the most progressive group – decide that it was racist? There's plenty of anecdotal evidence as well, including my own experiences of listening to NZ first voters whinge on about "Mairies".

Kat said...

Chris, you have obviously forgotten 1999 and the following nine years. I would say a parliamentary alliance of Labour/Greens/NZF in 2017 would galvanise, for self preservation if nothing else.

Polly said...

To all and sundry:
Tell the truth;
NZF, Labour and the Greens would be a absolute nightmare;
You know it.

If on the odd chance you do not know it, then get your head examined.

jh said...

Charles Murray: The Elites Cannot Empathize with the Working Class

Nor, in a globalist world, is anyone honored as a fellow-citizen, a status that the left now regards as just another undeserved privilege; the idea that states should privilege the welfare of their own citizens over the welfare of others is becoming anathema.

I get a bit riled up at Goody-Two Shoes types like Jeff Simmonds of the Morgan Foundation.

JanM said...

I think you seriously underestimate the ability of Jacinda Ardern, James Shaw and Winston Peters to play nice in the interests of the communities they serve. People's lives are at stake here - this isn't tiddlywinks.
I can see peter petterson's point, but I'd rather the disintegration of the Tory criminal element happened while they are in opposition - I'm sick of blood!

Anonymous said...

Funny thing... go back and look at the 1923 UK election. The Tories got the most seats, Labour (who had never governed) a distant second, with the Liberals close behind in third.

The Liberal leader Asquith decided to prop up a minority Labour Government (who, as you'll recall, got fewer seats than the Tories). Asquith's reasoning? Give Labour rope to hang itself - people would see them for what they were, and the Liberals would benefit.

Asquith's decision backfired, of course. It gave Labour legitimacy as a governing party, and destroyed the Liberals forever. In other words, one must be careful that if you are letting someone else govern on the "hanging rope" principle, that it is not you facing the gallows. In this case, a Labour/Greens/NZ First Government might well undo Tory scaremongering simply by existing.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am hoping for a National-Greens coalition. This would disempower
the smug Kingmaker; no more holding the country to ransom. Also, it would put the Greens into govt in NZ for the first time ever, and it would prove maturity from both sides. National have a big environmental platform anyway, so why not extend it. And the best plus of all, it would take much wind out of Labour's sails; Labour has never given the Greens anything. It would also be historical and real progress for both sides. Most of all, it would render the 7 per cent NZF party, with no electorate seat into the wilderness.
Also, get we just sell up MMP.

Mark Simpson said...

Who in NZ is happy with the current political situation? Perhaps some staunch, inward looking NZ First voters. It's all deja vu for seasoned voters: Monsieur Peters, we envision finds himself once again, "holding the balance of power," is "the kingmaker," is "holding the country to ransom." And once again we, of both Labour/National inclinations, fulminate that 7.5 per cent of the vote can have such seemingly inordinate power over policies and direction. Both major parties blanch but accept they have to swallow a rat when dealing with Peters. Is this what we envisaged when enthusiastically signing up to MMP? Would we now gladly return to FPP? Which is the lesser of two evils? Is a benevolent dictatorship better? (Lee Kwan Yew?)

And let's not scornfully pre-judge any party in feeling they have to succumb to selling some of their soul in order to secure the reins of power. How much admiration, particularly at the voting booth, has that stance benefited the Greens? Without sounding trite and forgive the paraphrase: Democracy is rife with flaws but it's way better than any alternative. Whatever happens, I'm afraid we're all just going to have to suck it up.

Victor said...

David Stone

You've actually delineated the only possibility that might allow Labour into power without diminishing its chances of a second term.

The problem with it is that Winston won't be able to claim a knighthood on the basis of services rendered from the cross benches.

sumsuch said...

You haven't convinced me in anyway on these arguments. Individual MPs in NZ First defecting is more my concern, on the basis of the doziness necessary to be a member of that party in the first place.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Everyone seems very keen to throw the epithets 'kingmaker'and'holding the country to ransom' at Peters, even before we know what he wants. I'm pretty sure Peters knows that he will get short shrift if he tries to do this. He will get concessions commensurate with the number of MPs he has, and I don't think his demands were particularly excessive the last time he was in a coalition, considering NZ first was a much larger party then.
Ah JH, back as usual with the RWNJ sources. The bell curve guy really? A prime example of politics getting in the way of science that one, and comprehensively debunked. So I didn't bother listening. And a magazine that suggests Stephen Jay Gould was some sort of Marxist? Jesus wept is there no low to which RWNJ's won't sink? I've read him extensively and actually met the guy. There was no one really less political than him. So I stopped right there. I usually read your sources to make sure that you've actually got to the end of them, because often, they say the complete opposite of what you think they say in their concluding paragraph. But this is the equivalent of watching Fox news or listening to Breitbart so..... nah.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mark Simpson: In recent polls the majority (if I recall, it was over 60%) of NZers said they were quite satisfied with their lot and how NZ was being run. This fact completely undermines the lunatic fringe of the Left who still think NZ is ripe for a Marxist revolution.

In fact NZ Inc is doing just fine, apart from a small number of self destructive individuals who inflict hell on their own kin, generation after generation.

Chris: Of course a Labour/Green/NZF coalition would be a three-ring circus but I do not agree that the clash would be with Labour's policies...BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T GOT ANY!

About the nearest we go to a Labour policy statement was "Let's do this!", whatever that means.

We've seen income tax rises come and go, 100,000 state houses come and go, capital gains come and go, the pensionable age rise and then go back to 65. Rivers cleaned but with no detail on the method (other than taxing farmers by some ill defined method at a rate which varied according to the phases of the moon).

Jacinda would be wise to walk away from negotiations and spend the next three years sorting out her team, assembling some practical and costed policies and re-defining the party brand. She has an awful lot of 'due diligence' to get through before she is fit for government.


Anna said...

But are any of them constrained from borrowing $60 billion by increasing the crown debt, as National did? The voters don't care about that.

thesorrowandthepity said...

So endeth the glorious revolution

Nick J said...

Andrew O, your last comment I can agree with, get the team and message in order.

On the 60% satisfied, that is a fact. It is one we should all be very wary of, but for the grace of God there go us all. "Rich" one day, "poor" the next. That 60% of us can countenance child poverty, relative poverty, in fact a total disregard for the welfare of our fellow citizens is a dreadful indictment on us as a nation. We are not alright Jack.

Anonymous said...

Helen Clark was of course a country girl and to some extent sympathetic to the rural interest and her MA thesis was on that farming issue. She was not really enthusiastic about many core green type issues and I suspect she might not even have minded nuclear power as many left and green types actually from my acquaintance actually favour nuclear power as a supposedly clean and really safe means of power generation. Her opposition to nuclear weapons and the US alliance and arsenal was probably heartfelt enough but mainly motivated by moral outrage at the US wars and coups in Vietnam and Chile and our own modest but significant defence spending on high tech toys Canberra, Skyhwawk's, Orions and and Leander frigates all of which seemed irrelevant to defending New Zealand or protecting convoys unless you concluded that the only way to defend New Zealand was to have tactical nuclear weapons and be prepared to actually use them against fast Russian submarines or even a Juliet or foxtrot about to throw a cruise missile at Sydney

Victor said...

I retain an open mind over whether Labour would be better off forming some variant of the "three headed monster" or sitting this one out. And I'm glad that it's not my decision to make.

So let’s review the pros and cons:

Assuming Labour has a choice, the main arguments for sitting tight would consist partially of the inherent unwieldiness of any conceivable tripartite arrangement and partially of Labour's (and its otherwise talented leader's) apparent unreadiness for government, as evidenced during the election campaign.

A brief period in opposition (and it might be a lot less than three years) would give Jacinda the opportunity to hone her strong but not un-flawed leadership skills, to sort out clear policy mangles, to bed down her talented new intake, to constantly hit the government's weak spots, to turn Labour into a centre of resistance to any moves to abolish the Maori seats etc. etc. It would also be an ideal time for her to have a sprog or two. But that's her business and not mine.

Meanwhile, Labour could reasonably expect any conceivable National/NZ First coalition to start eroding from Day One. Contrary to much current speculation, I don’t think that would primarily be because of any undue skulduggery on Winston's part (once a deal is done, he tends to stick to it).

It’s just that any conceivable deal would drag National leftwards in ways that would not please its funders or those who have influence in its inner circles, particularly in Auckland.

Imagine Mathew Hooten on the subject of a “pantomime horse” government. Imagine Fran O’Sullivan divining “what business thinks”. Imagine Whale Oil (no, don’t imagine Whale might give you indigestion).

Imagine, moreover, how the deal would go down at the Northern Club, the Tamaki Yacht Club or in largely Cantonese or Mandarin-speaking golf and social clubs. Imagine David Seymour’s gleeful attacks. Imagine “Crusher” pondering her best move. And then ponder the fate of the Shipley government and how much more swiftly it would have ended without Tau, Alamein et al to cling onto.

More to come......

Victor said...

Concluding previous post:

Meanwhile, take a look at how Labour’s party vote has waned in its one-time suburban Auckland heartland. This seems to have happened in approximate proportion to the strength of local immigrant communities, perhaps in belated response to Phil Twyford’s uncharacteristically ill-judged “Chinese name” gambit and because of Labour’s current calls for less immigration.

Personally, I believe there's a pressing need to scale down immigration, albeit not necessarily long-term. But consider the implication of the further erosion of Labour’s strength in immigrant-intensive areas. In effect, this might reduce the party’s territorial base to youth-infested inner cities, to a few less affluent provincial areas and to the Maori seats. Even mighty South Auckland might cease to be a Labour stronghold. So, OK, Labour could still, thanks to MMP, benefit from the support of a minority of voters in the rest of the country. But a minority is a minority, all the same.

And is there anything more likely to drive this erosion faster than Labour tying itself to a party that never stops dog-whistling over immigration? Conversely, is there anything from which Labour could gain more benefit amongst immigrant communities than from National losing its immigrant-friendly status through a tie-up with Winston?

So much for the arguments for staying put. It’s rather harder to find tactical arguments for Labour(if it has a chance) going with Winston, although one of them is probably the fact that the Greens are extremely unlikely to go with National this time round but might be more prepared to do so in three years time, thus weakening Labour’s future prospects.

But there’s one set of argument that might trump all others; viz. that politics is about winning, that “there’s a tide in the affairs of men” which really does need to be taken at the flood and that too long in opposition rots the soul and erodes the skills base of any incoming government, whilst making it ever harder to reset the nation’s agenda.

As I say, I’m glad it won’t be my decision.

jh said...

We have an elite that isn't subject to the consequences of the utopian dream

Charles E said...

Nick I agree with Andrew O but you make the good point we can do better in this country. But not by going backwards which the hard left want us to do. So those who complain that a Ardern (Mormon she is, not Socialist) government would be little different from a National one miss the glaringly obvious point in front of their faces. NZ does not need or want a markedly different governance or direction. It just needs and wants to extend more of the stunning success of the 60% to the rest. The evidence for this? Well 83% voted for National or Labour to carry on pretty much in the good governance direction of the last 18 years.
But I agree with Chris. If I was English or Ardern, I would tell Peters to pick just one or two of his moderate bottom lines only or get lost. Neither wants him so call his bluff. He'll then get very little from either, which one will find tolerable to ride out the next 3 years. Both will be quite happy to see the other have to put up with him.
For me this is a great position. We either get my preference, a sensible English led government or a very entertaining inexperienced unknown quantity that is likely to achieve little other than unpopularity and fewer votes at the next election.
Meanwhile we need to set up a TrueGreen Party to sit right in the centre and be able to govern with N or L. It would be in government in 3 years for sure I reckon.

David Stone said...

@ Charles E

The true Green party you describe would not be able to be in government, it would poll at about 1.5-2% and be irrelevant.
The National voters who are environmentally orientated are content with the environmental accommodation of their natural political entity and joining Forrest and Bird.


Kat said...

@Charles E

What pills are you taking Charles because the nonsense you put forward here belongs somewhere else. Try Whale Oil. Opinions are great things to have but yours are truly painful. Get it through your head that the Greens and National will NEVER work together in govt coalition.

Unless the National Party dies and is reborn again with values.


Anonymous said...

I see Greg Clydesadle has another book ot [tag: Ignore]
Over the last thirty years, political correctness has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It is not just annoying - it has undermined economic growth and the welfare of many New Zealanders.

The process has been so gradual and consistent that many New Zealanders have not noticed how previously unpopular views have become institutionalised. Ideology and mythology now shape government action. In the process, we have the lost the ability to question and debate. Genuine tolerance has been lost.

This book examines political correctness in a number of guises, from the arts, paternalism, diversity, immigration, to Pacific and Maori poverty.

Most important, Dr Clydesdale explains how political correctness has undermined information flows and policy advice, with the consequence that the economy has travelled a slow growth path. The Clark-Key governments were years of wasted opportunity.

Dr Clydesdale argues that unless we return to the real world, we will continue on this slow growth path, and our global rankings will decline as countries in Asia and Eastern Europe pass us by.

jh said...

Chapter Seven
A key feature of Clarks government policies was the creation of Auckland as the Country's economic driver. However, the Auckland led, agglomeration-immigration model has failed. Sadly, John Key's government adopted roughly the same policies, with similar results.
The Politically Correct Economy
Dr Greg Clydesdale

Get it cheap from RNZ's Waste bin.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

You know what anonymous 8.21 there is a lot of bullshit spoken by RWNJ's about political correctness. As far as I know, it was – and I may have said this before – a phrase conjured up by the left to describe those people who were so ideal logically pure that they forgot they were dealing with people. Of course conservatives only really being good at creating slogans decided to adopt this and change it to mean anything that stops them from being sexist or racist. But whatever just keep trotting it out because it's meaningless.

In fact – the author Neil Gaiman once said " Every time you see the words "political correctness” replace them with “treating people with respect and decency”.

Identity politics is another such phrase. Pretty much meaningless too.

“identity politics” – a phrase coined, seemingly, to dismiss or disregard anyone asking for their oppression, historical context or personal reality to be recognised and respected."

I can't remember who said that but it seems to fit.

Incidentally, I looked at the book. Your post is a cut-and-paste from the actual blurb. Christ if I'd known it was that easy......... anyway, it's self published, which means it's got bugger all academic standing, and by Greg Clydesdale, whose attitude towards lower class nonwhite people is reasonably well known.

Charles E said...

Kat so what percentage of the population do you think your opinions align with? I expect it was the loony left Greens who have achieved exactly what in the last 20 years? You're in the bottom of that 5% I expect.

But in Labour and National (the 83% who do not share your world of opinions) there are plenty of us who would support a centre green party which would rid us of the equally obnoxious NZF & RedGreens. Of course the latter would NEVER support a National led government. They'd rather die, which indeed they will, without achieving anything.

Hence the need for a completely new and real green party. That would be one that actually cares enough about the environment Kat, to actually get into a government and do something for a change!

Kat said...

You just don't get it Charles. Your comments just reinforce the reality that any notion of a National/Green coalition is all about preserving National in power. The greens in a National led govt would achieve nothing as the Green environment policy and Nationals dig it, mine it, sell it policies just don't mix.

Now Labour/Green get my support.

Charles E said...

No Kat it's the current idiot Greens who don't get it. They don't get anything done for the environment. That is because they are not green at all. They are a waste of space. Space that should be occupied by a real green party that could work with either side to actually achieve something for a change.
That you don't get that exactly proves my point. You are an example of them: so one eyed about your bogeyman National that you don't get it, so your views never count. You are vote fodder for the left.
Suits me.