Think National is cruising to a fourth term in Parliament? Have a look at this.
The most recent Colmar Brunton poll, which came out on 21 February 2016 shows a significant drop of four points for the Green Party. It showed New Zealand First potentially holding the balance of power, which puts its leader Winston Peters in the role of a potential king maker. But is the latest Colmar Brunton poll accurate? For the time being I believe it is probably a fairly accurate depiction of Parliament, though there are some major headaches on the horizon for both sides of the House:
- The support for a new flag is still quite low and ignoring such strong sentiment from both sides of the House could be seriously damaging to Prime Minister John Key
- How will the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement shape up? Whilst there is no doubt significant concern about what it might mean for our sovereignty as a nation, Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First need to acknowledge that there is equally significant support on the other side and review how they tackle those constituents
Failure to understand and tackle these appropriately has the potential to cause significant voter unrest, despite the election still being 18 months or more away. Concern about how the Government is dealing with the insurance issues that continue to afflict Christchurch in the post-earthquake environment, unease at the prospect of New Zealand being involved in a war it generally does not seem to want a part in and a stubbornly high unemployment rate is all very real.
I am not wholly surprised that the Greens have dropped as Labour’s tertiary education policy was a solid first effort to release meaningful policy. It targeted a section of New Zealand that is often quite sympathetic to the Green Party causes and appears to have taken them as much by surprise as it did everyone else.
Labour’s gain is in part because its Leader, Andrew Little, continues to perform solidly, though without flair and does not seem to be afflicted with internal rumblings like those that overtook his predecessors David Cunliffe and David Shearer. It is also an acknowledgement after all of this time that perhaps with its tertiary education policy, Labour can launch meaningful policy after all.
I would expect to see National and its support partners suffer if they come out in continued support for a new flag even though the public sentiment seems to be very much in favour of the current flag. Third term blues and a sort of fatigue that comes with being in office for so long can be a lethal combination as New Zealand political history shows. National and its partners would do well to remember that.