It’s revealing that James Shaw has looked weak and sidelined in this Labour-Greens MOU. Shaw believes defeat is inevitable in 2017 and then the Greens will have to change strategy on the grounds of never having been part of government despite being in parliament since 1996. They will need to become more middling, and able to work with either side of politics.
But obviously the Greens have to believe something is on the table for them from yesterday’s deal. They have given up the ability to chase disaffected Labour votes at a time when Labour’s support looks like it is falling again, and they have given up finance. What do they gain in exchange?
Metiria Turei says the MOU helps to build a bloc that will get rid of National. One can debate whether it really will make a change of government more likely but even if you accept this MOU somehow makes the whole bigger than the parts, that still leaves out what the Greens specifically get out of it.
The other point Metiria has made publicly is that the Greens have been under pressure from their own members over their coalition positions. At the last election they claimed it was ‘highly unlikely’ they would work with National, as if they were in some way leaving the door open a smidgeon. In 2011 they said Labour was a ‘preferred but not exclusive’ partner, which was confusing because it implied National was a possibility but then everyone assumed the Greens had ruled National out. And after 2008 they went ahead and signed a (post-election) cooperation deal with National that delivered the cycleway and home insulation, before they withdrew from cooperation. Green activists believe those positions cost Labour votes (though maybe not the Greens), because it made an alternative government look less stable. But still – responding to pressure from activists doesn’t really win the Greens anything in exchange for giving up finance and affirming Little’s status as Opposition leader to whom they will need to defer. Read more »