Brian Edwards scolds Cunliffe

My good friend Brian Edwards really has taken a break from his break in blogging and offered up some advice to David Cunliffe regarding cuddling the Green party.

This is essentially a rerun of the arguments against too close an association between Labour and the Alliance in 1999. But Labour won that election in a landslide.

And there?s a major difference between the Alliance then and the Greens today. ?The Alliance would? survive for only three years in Parliament. The Greens are today a major political force, currently with 14 seats in Parliament. And, under the Norman/Turei leadership, they have largely lost their image as environmental flakes.

In my submission, far from weakening Labour?s electoral chances, a formal pre-election coalition agreement with the Greens would have created a strong centre-left force, a blend of pragmatism and idealism, clearly differentiated from National? and with wide electoral appeal. And strength in numbers.

Cunliffe?s rejection of the Greens? pre-election engagement proposal has merely served to bolster the public view of a divided left, incapable of getting its act together, let alone running the country. ?

I?m not sure if he consulted Helen on this, but I very much doubt that she would have recommended snubbing your future coalition partner five? months out from an election when the latest political poll has you on 9% as preferred Prime Minister against John Key on 42.6% and your party on 31.2% ?against National?s 45.9%.

Were I David Cunliffe?s chief political strategist, which I am not, I might have recommended Polonius? advice to his son Laertes:

?Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.?

It?s not a particularly good analogy. In the play, Hamlet stabs Polonius who is hiding behind the arras. Political strategists rarely get their just deserts.