The Colmar Brunton poll Thursday night had Labour ahead of National in the preferred party vote for the first time in 12 yearsin that poll.
With 43% support labour is up another 6% compared to the previous poll of 37% which was itself up from 24% before Jacinda Adern took the leadership reigns just four weeks ago. National slipped 3 points to 41%. New Zealand First is down 2% at 8%. The Greens are up 1 % to 5% and there for back in Parliament.
If this poll was repeated at the election it would almost certainly lead to the formation of a Labour-led government. The only issue would be whether it was a Labour and NZ First government or a Labour/Green/NZ First government.
NZ First leader Winston Peters always said he would talk to the party that got the most votes first on forming a government. That is now Labour.
Labour has committed to talking to the Green’s first about forming a government but on current polling, they would get 52 seats themselves and seven for the Greens, which is two short of the 61 needed for a simple majority in a 120 seat parliament.
Labour would still need NZ First. But with 10 seats and therefore the ability to form a majority government without the Greens, Winston Peters would probably try to keep the Greens outside of the government.
However, if the Maori Party were to get two seats like now, which is certainly possible, then that would theoretically be enough to forms a Labour/Greens/Maori Party government. I believe the Maori Party would be desperate to form a government with Labour to prove they can go with either party – that they aren’t National’s poodle.
NZ First leader Winston Peters has previously said he will not form a government with the Maori Party or ACT. That makes it impossible for National to form a government on this polling. National and NZ First would have 60 between them and still need at least one more.
The previous Labour leader had also ruled out forming a government with the Maori Party. It didn’t make sense to me at the time. I suspect it was more to do with placating his own Maori MPs in caucus who went off the list to try and face off the Maori Party in what will probably be some tight electorate races. They didn’t want the Maori Party to have the option of arguing that Labour supporters could get two for one by voting for the Maori Party in the electorate and Labour on the list. None of the Maori electorate MPs are on the list except for the deputy leader Kelvin Davis who is automatically number 2. Hone Harawira is running the same two for one argument in Te Tai Tokerau but I suspect the mana associated with Kelvin’s elevation to deputy will outweigh that argument.
It would make sense for Jacinda Adern to revisit that policy of ruling out the Maori Party as a possible partner if only to have a negotiating card that can be played if Winston wants to force Labour to dump the Greens.
Those are the numbers at least as presented in this poll. As a unionist I’m pleased as Labour, the Greens NZ First and the Maori Party have all promised a $20 an hour minimum wage pretty quickly. I suspect we will have to keep fighting for it, like we did when Labour was elected last time, but it will be much easier to hold them to account for promises clearly made.
What has been disappointing though is that Jacinda hasn’t been more ambitious in terms of implementing progressive policies much sooner than currently being promised. 1000 more state houses a year won’t cut it. One year of free tertiary education each three-year term doesn’t excite people. Promising to abide by a fiscal responsibility accord with economic targets set by right-wing neoliberal economists is just voodoo economics, not science.
At the moment people are simply breathing a sigh of relief that the new leader has an attractive personality and represents change more by virtue of her youth than what is actually being said.
“When” they become the government – how easy that sounds compared to four weeks ago – the broader Labour movement needs to have a deep-going discussion of political fundamentals that guide our movement if we are going to achieve real change.