2014 was National’s year. It was a year when the centre-right of New Zealand politics triumphed against a disorganized, dishevelled centre-left. Even though the cracks were starting to show in Team John Key, with Spygate, Oravida and other controversies rocking the National Party, it was still a stellar year for National. But third terms are usually the twilight of New Zealand governments. So as we start the third term of this National-led Government in earnest, how is 2015 shaping up?
For Labour it can be summed up pretty simply. The party is at rock bottom. No Opposition entering a third term has been in a weaker position. Short of annihilation, it can only be upwards from here. The party has a list of things it needs to do to repair itself, not least:
- Grow a spine. Inability to articulate policies and positions in a unified voice cost them dearly.
- Unify behind Andrew Little. He was not everyone’s choice of leader, but he has been elected. Thus far he has called nearly all the right shots. The exception being not naming a Christchurch issues spokesperson
- Retire the dead wood. Trevor Mallard and Annette King have been around since the 1990’s. They might be great for their electorates, but it is time to put them out to pasture.
For the Greens, 2014 was a disappointment. Although its Parliamentary wing did not shrink, it did not grow in size either. Since it entered Parliament 1999, only in 2002 has it shrunk. Every other election year until 2014 it has been a growth Party. Their priorities are likely to be:
- Stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement or constantly delaying it
- Starting construction of a vision for 2017
For New Zealand First, 2014 was a year where the party remained firmly stuck in first gear. And yet it managed to grow by four Members of Parliament. One can only wonder how much bigger it would have got if it had managed to get into second gear. It’s priorities for 2015 in Parliament are likely to be:
- Stopping asset sales
- Resisting the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
- Blooding its new Members of Parliament, an exciting thing for any party to be doing
- Behind the scenes (i.e. outside of Parliament) start seriously addressing the frequently asked question, “Who will succeed Winston Peters?”
The demise of Mana through its doomed alliance with the Internet Party, the weakening of the Maori Party (beholden as it currently is to National)and the failure of the Parliamentary opposition to make inroads into National could be hugely damaging for the centre-left in the long term. Just how damaging will depend on how they all fare in 2015.