Trotter on the effects of Northland on Labour and National

Chris Trotter has always been a keen observer of Winston Peters and in his blog he comments on what the victory in Northland means for Labour and for National.

To hold Northland will NZ First be required to veer to the Right ? thereby alienating the thousands of Labour supporters whose votes provided the foundation for Mr Peters? upset win?

Will the National Government, looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, begin to re-position itself as NZ First?s future coalition partner?

How will Mr Peters? Northland victory influence Labour?s political positioning ? especially its relationship with the Greens?

Good questions which Trotter goes some way to explaining.

Labour, if it is wise, will seize the opportunity provided by Mr Peters? victory to put even more distance between itself and the Greens. In his continuing effort to ?re-connect? Labour with its traditional constituencies, Andrew Little must already have marked the numerous ideological affinities that draw non-National provincial voters towards one another. These are conservative people, whose personal morals and political values often place them at odds with the more ?progressive? voters of metropolitan New Zealand.

The extent to which Labour?s Northland voters defected to Mr Peters indicates that, at the very least, the NZ First leader?s political values presented no insurmountable barrier to Labour?s people following their own leader?s tactical advice. Indeed, just about all the insurmountable barriers to the re-connections Labour must make if it is to regain the status of a ?40 percent party? have been raised in the cities ? not the provinces.

Even in the cities these obstacles persist. Labour?s traditional urban working-class supporters have more in common with their provincial brothers and sisters than many Labour Party activists are willing to admit.

Shunting-off their social revolutionaries to the Greens might decimate the ranks of Labour?s membership, but it could, equally, swell the ranks of those willing to vote for the party in 2017. Shorn of its radical fringe, Labour not only becomes a much more comfortable fit for NZ First ? but also for working-class New Zealanders generally.

Unfortunately Andrew Little has scotched that idea, talking about how as the great leader he is it is his role to bring everyone together. Labour’s candidate in Northland just possibly is the first candidate in more than 70 years to lose their deposit for lack of votes.

National?s strategists will not have overlooked this potentially decisive strategic opening for the Centre Left. So long as the voters continue to bracket Labour and the Greens as indispensable components of any future alternative government, National?s dominant position on the political chess-board will remain unchecked. There are simply too many voters ready to believe that a Labour-Green Government must involve a ruinously radical shift to the left. A re-positioning towards NZ First would, however, allow Labour to present itself as an eminently electable party of the moderate centre.

Winston Peters will never work with the Greens, he will shank them like he did the last time he did anything with Labour.

To forestall such an eventuality, National?s strategists would also have to give serious consideration to re-positioning their party towards the moderate centre. Prime Minister John Key?s highly successful strategy of ?radical incrementalism? (as close advisers, Crosby|Textor call it) would have to become a lot less radical and considerably more incremental, but the party would, almost certainly, regard slowing down the pace of economic and social reform as an option to be preferred well ahead of losing the Treasury benches altogether.

It is paragraphs like that one what let Trotter down. Calling National to the right of the moderate centre shows how far left he is warped in his thinking.

National already is at the moderate centre and clearly to the left of centre….that is why it continues to enjoy massive support.

Winston Peters won’t have much of a strategy, he never does. Winston looks for the best deal he can get for him and his constituents. The bottom line is this, there is no deal possible with Labour, they are in opposition, still don’t have any numbers to do anything and at best can only delay and oppose. That isn’t helpful to Winston Peters who will now be looking to cement a legacy and delivering on promises.

The only way that can happen is if he cuts a deal with National who in reality are the only ones who can deliver anything for Winston Peters.

He will be laughing in Andrew littles face inside a week.


– Bowalley road