Labour and National: A contrasting tale


After the 2014 election results became clear, many people including myself reminded ourselves that history does not generally favour four term Governments in peace time New Zealand. And that is true. With is  the notable exception of the Keith Holyoake Government of  1960-1972, no New Zealand Government has lasted more than 3 consecutive terms (9 years).

Although many on the left are still desperately trying to avoid having to admit it, New Zealand is only one year away from potentially witnessing the oblivion of the Labour Party. For Labour this has been a truly dreadful year. It is the year in which it might have possibly lost the last of its “everyman” appeal. It the year in which a decision to get into the proverbial bed with the Greens has turned out to be disastrous. It is the year where it stares down the possibility something no peace time Labour Government has done since the National-led Government of Keith Holyoake: a fourth term  in opposition.

The magnitude of this cannot and should not be underestimated. The Government of Mr Holyoake is the only Government in the history of peace time New Zealand where a political party has won 4 consecutive terms in power. More dispiritingly for Labour and the entire left wing of New Zealand politics, that was followed by a solitary Labour term in office between 1972 and 1975 before National were granted another 3 consecutive terms (9 years)in office by voters.

The magnitude is matched only by the contrast with National, serenely sailing through a third term in office. It has been a largely stellar year for Prime Minister John Key, whose common man image, despite his millions, despite the arrogance of many of his cabinet and Caucus members continues to attract New Zealanders to his cause. The media seem happy to ignore their duties of finding the news and report patsy incidents instead of keeping after National  over issues such as housing, the Resource Management Act reforms and the damage Hekia Parata is doing to the education sector.

Although Four Term Peak is a formidable mountain to climb by all stretches of the imagination when it comes to New Zealand politics, has any government been in such a good position to do so, as this Government one year out from the election? I cannot think of one. The previous Labour Government ended in 2008 because many New Zealanders were tiring of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Mr Key had had a very strong two years as Leader of the Opposition during which time the rough edges of the 2005 National led opposition were largely shorn off – women who were repulsed by Don Brash’s deep blue conservatism were happy with Mr Key’s more compromising approach on social issues; the Maori Party felt that it could do business with a man who was not bent on opening up racial divides.

Left wing New Zealand, you can howl with rage and scream and stamp your feet all you like, but unless your left wing heroes get their act together in the very near future, or somehow Mr Key comes massively unstuck, the fourth term is there for National to take.

Suck on it.

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