Labour and Green alliance: tactical brilliance or colossal blunder?

Wwas that an marriage ceremony in Parliament of some sort between Labour and the Greens? And what are we supposed to call it? A media commentator whose name I forget suggested “Grabour”. Or was that a suicide note meekly acknowledging that Labour and the Greens might not get their collective act together in time for 2017? Hard to tell.

Some say that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Greens and Labour was in effect a suicide note. They point to its expiry on election day in 2017 as being the day the alliance will come unstuck and that the usual infighting will resume with a vengeance.

Others say that it is much needed recognition that Labour and the Greens need to co-operate if they are ever going to pull off a centre-left election victory. The reasons here are glaringly obvious: National has built an election machine that is frankly formidable even on its off days. On its best days it must seem like a rampaging monster to the centre-left.

But what do those who are neither centre-right or centre-left supporters think? My own thoughts are it may not matter too much if the two parties do not release some body policy that they are prepared to put their name to soon. There is a growing body of New Zealanders who are regrettably disenchanted with the entire electoral system and all that it does, who simply do not bother voting. Since nobody knows who they would have voted for had they made the effort – assuming they knew themselves – no one can claim to know how the election would have unfolded.

But there is one key player in the larger picture, who Labour and the Greens seem to have forgotten. He has political credentials like few others in New Zealand politics. He leads the only true centrist party in the country, and has had previous Cabinet experience. More critically he has also served as Deputy Prime Minister. To top all this off, whilst the Greens stagnated and Labour floundered in the 2014 election, New Zealand First was the only party to the left of National that grew.

The clock is ticking on Labour and the Greens. If they want to stop National rewriting the text book on third term peace time Governments, they need to up their game fast. If they want a grander alliance with New Zealand First, they need to make overtures to New Zealand First about how they might work together. Because the clock continues to tick towards 2017 and National seem to think the fourth term is there for them to take.

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