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Logical move for Labour and Greens to team up for election

Opinion Piece

The announcement of a memorandum of understanding between Labour and the Greens to work together towards the 2017 election should lift their chances of becoming the government, but it is not a without some problems.

Going on recent polls, the two need to merge their support. Some have their combined figure only 5 or 6 percentage points behind National. Labour rejected such a merger in 2014, which then leader David Cunliffe later admitted was a mistake.

As Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said, the MOU makes it crystal clear what a Labour-Greens government would look like. The whole object of course is to steadily project the two as a government-in-waiting.

In that respect some senior Greens will help strengthen a potential post-election Cabinet. Labour leader Andrew Little says Grant Robertson will be finance minister, which must be a disappointment for Greens co-leader James Shaw, but he would not discuss other posts.

Obviously Turei will occupy a senior position in the social field.

It was telling that Little stressed the new combination was not monogamous, causing Turei to blink and smile. He added that the deal ended on election night and “this is MMP” where the voters decide combinations, although realistically the Greens are his major hope of taking power.

In some ways this strengthens the hand of Winston Peters who, if National and its existing partners do not win a majority, would probably find himself kingmaker.

Peters will also try to tempt conservative, working-class Labour supporters who do not share the more left-wing philosophies of the Greens.

Some commentators believe the MOU actually helps National, which will stress even further its attack on what it called a two-headed beast at the last election.

There are clear differences between the two parties and in the past there has been antagonism between some of the MPs. It is however a common-sense decision and something that had to be done to give the parties of the left a real chance of winning in 2017.