GUEST BLOG: Laila Harre – What Key’s resignation means for Labour + the Greens



John Key’s resignation just made the 2017 election a battleground that Labour and the Greens can win on. Forget the National Party spin that it’s business as usual. John Key just took a big breath and blew away the house of cards. As Labour’s post-Clark troubles showed, you can’t transfer your mana to a successor. None of the prospects for leadership have the everyman easiness that allowed John Key to “float from cloud to cloud” as National went about gutting state services while leaving our wellbeing in the hands of the old, extractive economy.

The Mt Roskill win (our first real two-horse major party race since MMP) and the many Labour and progressive victories in the local government elections have proved that there is a future in policy-driven campaigns and the mobilisation of heartland Labour voters. Anyone who stood on the side-lines with admiration but an abiding sense of hopelessness should take great heart from this.

Michelle Boag can emphasise the continuity of people and policy until she’s blue in the face, but that’s actually the problem for National. Those people have presided over a spiralling housing crisis with still no serious plan to build affordable homes or redirect speculative investment to the productive economy. They’ve carved $1.7 billion from the health budget and frozen public education funding. Hell, they haven’t even maintained community policing. The asset sales programme reaped less than their lower estimates, the TPPA was a flop and the flag referendum a complete fiasco. Tax cuts have been funded by borrowing, greenhouse gas emitters protected, and we are just as dependent on commodity prices as ever we were.

I like Bill English. When National blocked the introduction of paid parental leave by one vote in 1999 he had the grace to talk to me about it. When I led the National Distribution Union he’d come and talk to delegates and it took him a whole term to gut trade union education funding and to implement National’s union-weakening policies. But he got there in the end. He’s been the project leader for the asset sales, flag debacle, housing crisis and dismantling of core public services cloaked in the language of social investment (which is a nothing more than the creation of a for-profit market in social services).

Key’s departure is coincidental with a fair bit of media soul-searching about how elections are covered. They missed the looming landslide in Roskill while happily playing along with Key’s snide attacks on the Labour leader. They still amplify anything that Winston Peters says in a desperate search for a NZ Farage-Trump. But without Key the Government is going to have a lot more explaining to do. After all Key got away without explaining much at all – on Saudi sheep, SkyCity Convention Centre shenanigans, illegal spying, Jason Eade – all batted away by quoting the three words in the report that weren’t as damning as everything else or tuning the guns on the messenger.

It just isn’t going to be as easy for 5thNationalGovernment 2.0. Reinvention is off the cards. There can be no fourth term legacy project for Key that the public might be persuaded to back. An internal fight is already looming over tax cuts and superannuation. Meanwhile, National are looking down the barrel of total dependence on Peters. Key saw that destroy Clark’s third term and I’m betting he didn’t want to deal with it in his fourth. A Maori-Mana Party compact will push that block towards Labour and a Green-Labour deal in Ohariu knocks out Dunne.

All of this means Andrew Little can lead the next Government.  The job now is to maximise the combined Labour and Green vote. Labour’s attention should be unequivocally on core Labour issues – a fairer diversified economy, solving the housing crisis, reducing poverty, improving social services. The Greens must stop thinking about competing a weakened Labour Party and plan to be in Government. We need to hear James Shaw and Metiria Turei make it very clear that they are campaigning for Andrew Little to be PM. Campaign for the first Labour-Green government. National’s collapsing house of cards deals the left a completely new hand.

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  1. Bill English is a traitor of the first order, claiming hundreds of dollars per week in accommodation supplement for living in one of the multiple properties he owns, only paying the money back when word got out.

      • I remember hearing Bill English for the first time back in 1991 or 1992 -when I used to listen to NR- and thinking, as he driveled on with a load of nonsense: Who is that fuckwit?

        It never occurred to me at the time that Bill English would end up in a position to ruin the future of NZ.

        However, I now know that political success has nothing to do with competence, and everything to do with having one’s snout in the right feeding trough, alongside other trough-feeders. Indeed, competence and integrity are clearly barriers to political success in the corrupt system we endure.

  2. Of all the “vox populi” done by the media, especially in the Helensville electorate, lamenting Key’s departure, none have asked any families living in a garage of car.

    ‘Nuff said.

    • yep, NZ has indeed become a “Tale of two cities”, our glorious–soon to be ex–leader when it came down to it was a despicable enabler

      he made “ordinary hard working Nu Zilundas” feel it was “OK” to buy a flogged off state house, rent it, receive accomodation supplement, WFF and a tax free capital gain at the end; all the while putting the boot into the working poor and beneficiaries

    • That is crazy stuff, best to ask the nice white folks of Helensville out shopping! One even commented that Key was the most honest politician he had witnessed. Oh my God!

      Most if not all the the commercial media are reporting this terribly sensible orderly gathering of sensible white National Party candidates and an earnest Girl Guide like vote within the National Party for the most talented politician out of so many that ever walked the earth. Will the back benchers know what to do given they aren’t allowed an opinion or will they have their votes cast for them?

      There is no questions of factions or infighting or silliness, you know all the shit that would be thrown at Labour, rather an fictional almost religious meeting of the best and brightest to select a new leader for lucky ol’ NZ. I await the puff of white smoke from the little chimney at National Party HQ. And of course all this is intermingled with constant navel gazing the tragedy that is John Keys political passing.

      Of course this bunch of self serving crooks hate each other and even better don’t trust anyone. There must be so much dirt and skeletons in closets being threatened. There will be ugliness and back stabbing and disorder because the Nat’s don’t do spontaneity, everything has to be planned weeks in advance and choreographed to the nth degree.

      Please media, if you have any self respect left start asking the hard questions as to why the King Rat has abandoned ship because he has an almost genetic instinct for getting out of Dodge before the shit hits the fan.

  3. Bill is probably the fav ..but if Pullah Benefit & Crusha Collins go Head to Head? It’ll be a BloodBath! Bring on the popcorn!

    PS: Laila. You moving house? Hellensville!?

    • I would love for Laila to move house but this electorate (Helensville) just doesn’t deserve her. This electorate is not only right wing to the core, the people are stupid and ignorant. And they don’t seem to understand that they aren’t really wealthy enough to gain from nationals policies

      • Thanks for that. I did hear that veterinary business was a booming industry out there? A lot of deformed animals been born …. could be the polluted water ways though?

  4. Thank you for your insightful analysis Laila – especially valued given current roaring silence (in terms of meaningful commentary) from the mainstream media – John Commons

  5. John key has shown why he should never have been our prime minister he was in there for the wrong reasons. Did he ever care about us and our country I doubt it. For key to say he is tired well we are tired John that is part and parcel of the job you took knowing full well the consequences. And to say he is leaving because of his family well john what about the many NZ families you have destroyed because of your housing, employment, and immigration polices. Our national debt has increased ten fold under key. Key has divided our country and is now going to buggar of to Hawaii leaving others to fix his mess. He did not want to fight for the next election he wants to have a nice xmas with his family. Nice one John you have shown you are no different from all the rest of those Tory Politicians selfish and all about yourself and your own family forget the 4 million NZers who relied on you to look after us and our country you have flogged it of and now the claws will come out and people will see the true Tories fight to maintain their power and greed under neo liberalism.

    • Well said… heres hoping the neo liberal cat and dog fight gets vicious within the National party ranks.

      Enough to weaken each contender for the leadership and on into the months ahead.

      They deserve jack shit for what they under Key have done to this country, – jack bloody shit.

    • AND…
      WHY did jk get off Scott-free, with having paid Donations from the coffers, to the Clinton Foundation ?
      What happens to other citizens who steal $$$$ from ‘the boss ?’
      They go to jail.
      Him ! He simply ignores… and says
      “I walk away !”

  6. Memo to Labour Party: please note well what Laila has said:

    “Labour’s attention should be unequivocally on core Labour issues – a fairer diversified economy, solving the housing crisis, reducing poverty, improving social services.” and decent jobs.

    No distractions please like threats to legalise euthanasia or liberalise abortion.

  7. fair take Laila, one more thing though…however it is done, Hone Harawira at least has to be in the mix and returned as an MP, preferably along with a couple more from Mana

    the Labour Party has proven it cannot be trusted and needs the strictest scrutiny from the Greens and activists generally, the NZLP is significantly why we are this mess to begin with

  8. Key said his main regret was not succeeding with his flag referendum. Not to alleviate child poverty or solve people living in cars, but his effing flag referendum. Shows you where his head is at!

  9. I just hope that the loss of Key, does not make the left take their eyes off the ball and try to implement some unpopular policy in particular on raising taxes as an election policy.

    Labour and Greens should have done better last time, many thought they would win which is why it was such a crushing defeat.

    I don’t want Natz in for a fourth term because Labour and Greens screw it up.

    Housing and Super is a poisoned chalice that has the ability to leach votes and maybe the train wreck from the Natz has been set up by the Natz to be that chalice for Labour and Greens they seek to ‘solve the crisis’. Labour had a huge focus on housing and superannuation last election as their core policies and that was not popular. Still today many seem to think that did not cost the election.

    Above housing and social welfare is some fundamental issues about globalism, fairness, future of work, climate change, lifestyle, migration and so forth. If they get it wrong like last time, Labour could lose the election.

    The ‘I’m local’ success should be a signal of what people are looking for. That could mean local candidates, local food, local sustainability, local community, local jobs, etc

    The times of politicians walzing around the world’s golf courses, selling international trade deals, hob nobbing with Hollywood and celebrities, sweet tax deals for big business and running their affairs through tax havens seems to have hit a nerve for many voters around the world.

  10. Beautifully put, Laila.

    It’s a shame we can’t have someone with integrity LIKE YOU LAILA as our PM, instead of that manipulative, deceitful hound!

  11. My big fear in this is that Labour can now rely on National to lose the election and just will revert to the campaign style of saying as little as possible while watching National trip up. With Key still there they would have been forced to articulate a vision to get people interested but now they can just wait for power to fall in their laps and we’ll end up with another 3rd way government rather than something that looks to Corbyn in the UK for inspiration.

    Still maybe Labour members can make sure that the new intake of MPs are people with a bit of guts. I hope

  12. Now this write up is not only unessential and unhelpful but lacks any real in-depth insights. On the contrary, Harre is deluding Labour/Green voters/activists into a false sense of security at best. With the right person at the helm National stands a better chance at the next elections to achieve a fourth term than with Key. This was their plan all along, knowing all too well that Key’s expiration date had come and a change had to be made a year ahead to settle in for a smooth election campaign.

    • Good riddance to bad rubbish. Bring on the next election and a Green-led government and let’s deal with the problems confronting us! Child poverty, polluted rivers, greenhouse gas emissions, low wages, lack of decent housing and affordable housing.

  13. Well said
    we have the right person at the helm for s Labour Green and anyone else government
    we have shown we can do it with Roskill and Local Boads
    let us not deviate from the task at hand.let us not get side tracked.
    we must win this coming election, no ifs and buts Andrew Little is our man
    let the others throttle each other it is going to be very ugly

  14. Laila, your call for the Greens to campaign on the acceptance that Little will be PM is very generous towards a Labour Party machine that effectively screwed Mana/IP in the North in 2014. Very gracious of you.

  15. This is all very cozy. What an insightful little snapshot of how the Establishment works! One party throws thousands of Kiwi’s onto the streets, the other objects with a little mewl, but hey, win-some-lose-some! We can still be friends, we’re co-workers after all, not “Representatives of the People”!

    THIS is what is wrong with politics in New Zealand. THIS. This exclusive little Poker club of the same hereditary, professional Elites, who wile away their days trading innocuous jibes between themselves, while gambling away real Worker’s pay and conditions and access to services on every turn of a card. Winning or losing is nothing to them, they have inherited vast estates of political influence, and they exist in a world without consequences or pain.

    How very Fin de Siecle this sounds in light of what is going on around the world at present. I am astounded that Laila no longer even recognises the elitism of her own words. But she is far removed now from any risk of having to sleep in a car herself, or even encounter anyone who does, if she doesn’t want to.

    Personally, I can’t escape it; well-off as I may be relatively speaking, I don’t look through these people, I deliberately look at them – I force myself to see them, sleeping in their cars and huddled under blankets in doorways, to remind myself every day that their human suffering is REAL, it isn’t sport, and that this system MUST change.

  16. Laila i have always appreciated your input.

    I think the comments about Winston helping to destroy Helens government need clarification.

    In order to kill the Labour led government because it was working well with Winstons contribution and Helen still had reasonable support and in seemed well placed for a fourth term the right had to target Winston and discredit it him with allegations that proved to be totally baseless.

    It did not matter because it gave the impression that the government was dirty , just look at the Owen Glenn fiasco and these nasty protests from truckies on the road user charges going up and the ” Ditch the Bitch “campaign.

    It was an orchestrated campaign also by the media working for the National party and Key , Slater and others working out of sight in the background.

    Good to have your analysis and i hope you will write more posts next year or come back to the political process and fight for the left.

    We need all the help we can get.

  17. An interesting opinion piece Laila, however you appear to have created an elephant in the room by purposefully? not mentioning NZFirst. They polled well in the last election, and are a credible party that has a good chance of getting more votes then the Greens in this coming election. To the point where it is highly probably that this is why the Greens are adjusting their policies and relaxing their stance on legalising cannabis in an attempt to garner more votes. If you’re going to write these opinion pieces at least include all the pieces of the political puzzle, otherwise you come across as a bit one eyed, just saying.

  18. You’re not going to do your readers any favours if you continue editing out any and all comments regarding NZFirst. This makes a mockery of open journalism, and is creating an echo chamber for the far left, sort it out, or loose readers. And just for the record, I’m not a big fan of NZFirst, but I am a big fan of balanced reporting.

  19. Excellent article Laila. When I look at Bill English I think of the words “Double Dipper”.
    I have said this in another posting. For a long, long time the National govenrment has partaken of a sustained attack on the Labour Party. With the support of a number of journalists in the NZ Media and especially the NZ Herald the National government achieved the result of making the Leader of the Labour Party to look weak and gutless.
    Their actions resulted in me taking whatever Key and co and especially the Natonal Party supporting NZ media with cyncism and mistrust.
    Key’s recent resignaton opened up a can of worms within the government he was ‘leader’ of. Once he had announced his resignation there were ‘suddenly’ 5 contenders for his job and the job of Deputy PM. To me that shows all is not well in the National government.
    I am sure as time goes by the rest of the National government will be shuffling the deck chairs here and there as they try to find a position they can make money out of for themselves.
    I am so hoping the National government are in for a thrashing and a well deserved one at that. For too many years they have ignored(and denied there was a problem)alot of issues that concern many NZers especially low paid/low income NZers today.

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