Stunning poll lifts prospect of a change in government

By   /   September 1, 2017  /   12 Comments

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…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. 

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.
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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union


  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Yes “let’s do this”.

    The tired broken National facade is coming down a NZ voters can now see that 9 years of National have damaged our once beautiful land and we all need a change to the toxic direction national are sending us all into.

    Hope is in the air for a new start to our restoration of our land by removing the Government who have done so much harm to us all.

    Vote with your hearts for a new dawn people.


  2. Chris says:

    I agree Mike that Labour could and should go further. However, ending state house sales and starting to build more, building affordable homes, implementing the Living Wage, a return to free education, and a move back towards national awards (industry agreements) are significant changes towards the historic political goals of the labour movement, and a return towards the tradition of the first Labour Government. What happens post election will depend on our ability to effectively organise to achieve these goals.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Good comment.

      Though some may be in their early stage , these policy measures are something we as New Zealanders can run with , … and as time progresses, people will see they are not so earth shatteringly bad as National , ACT and their NZ Initiative mates have tried to lead us to believe. Their biggest fears once implemented will be that people will realize just how much they have been lied to all these decades.

      And when these policy’s are implemented, it will simply normalize what used to be , … our run of the mill standard social democratic fare ,… which is also something that National , ACT and their NZ Initiative mates don’t want to happen.

      The neo liberal foundation is starting to crack and topple…

  3. Darth smith says:

    With 3 weeks to go I be leave labour is going to creep bit higher canceling out the moari party you there is a lot young support for.labour and greens they don’t know what landlines is .I beleave the greens and labour percentages are 2 percent higher the the polls inducted we be looking at a labour greens government already

    • Danyl Strype says:

      In 2014 I believed that Internet-Mana would do much better than they were polling because their potential supporters were less likely to have landlines. Yet the result on the day was almost bang on what the last couple of polls predicted. Rick Falkvinge talks in his book ‘Swarmwise’ about holding the same theory, and being similarly disappointed, after the first Swedish election that the Pirate Party contested.

      I do wonder thoug, could the last couple of polls be self-fulfilling prophesies? If people assume that they indicate, for example, which parties have a realistic chance of getting to 5%, would this cause them to move their vote away from a small party that best represents their political aspirations on the basis of “strategic voting”? I’d love to see a law change banning the publication of polls during at least the last month of the election campaign, if not the whole of election year. That way people wouldn’t be able to obsess about theoretical percentages, and would have to actually vote based on policy.

  4. CLEANGREEN says:

    New Horizon poll shows Jacinda Ardern rising popularity as Prime minister.

    Now widening to a six point lead over Bill English.

    Ardern preferred Prime Minister with 6% lead

    1 Sep 17

    Credit: Newshub

    Ardern ahead among definite voters
    Jacinda Ardern has a 6% lead over Bill English as preferred Prime Minister among definite voters.

    Among the 860 adult respondents who are both registered to vote and 100% likely to vote, Ardern leads English by 43% to 37%.

    Among all of the 960 respondents to the August 11-15 Horizon Research poll Ardern leads 45% to 32%.

    Winston Peters is preferred Prime Minister by 15% of all respondents and 14% of definite voters.

    James Shaw, the Green Party leader, is preferred by 2%, and David Seymour of ACT and Te Ururoa Flavell of the Maori Party each by 1%.

  5. Jonathan Roe says:

    Nicely put Mike. All economics is ‘voodoo’, isn’t it? Just a crystal ball gazing profession, very rarely held to account for the statements or wacky decisions made by its disciples. Some great long reads in the Guardian recently about how economics, neo lib policies and big data have swooned the popular media and its audiences. Hopefully we’re seeing the tide turn.

  6. Louis says:

    But after 9 years being National’s poodle is exactly what the Maori party have shown themselves to be.

  7. Louis says:

    The Maori Party are conservatives and are not of the left.

    • mary_a says:

      True Louis and selfish with it as well.

      Very similar to Winston, in that they will sit at the table with the party that offers the most and best goodies to them personally.

      • Danyl Strype says:

        That’s not a fair analysis. The original Māori party was a united front of both left-leaning (eg Hone Harawira) and right-leaning forces (eg Te Ururoa Flavell), formed in response to Labour’s betrayal with the foreshore and seabed raupatu and the Operation 8 raids overkill in Tuhoe country. They had very good reasons not to see Labour as any better than National; at the time they weren’t.

        Like the Greens, the Māori party strategy has been to work with whichever party is in government to get as much of their policy as possible enacted. Unlike the Greens, they’ve done this from inside a formal coalition, rather than with a supply-and-confidence agreement (with Clark’s government), or from the opposition benches (with Key’s government).

        This was clearly bad strategy, as it resulted in the loss of most of their seats in their second election, and the departure of a large chunk of their flaxroots support to form Mana. But being guilty of bad strategy does not make them inherently “conservative” or “selfish”. I think they are definitely taking notice of the huge shift towards Labour candidates and left-leaning parties (in the party vote) in the Māori electorate, and the policies they are putting forward in this election are far to the left of National, and in some cases Labour. Assuming they have any MPs post-election, I think they would be relieved to be able to work with a Labour-Greens government that want to do the right thing for flaxroots Māori.

  8. Muttonbird says:

    I was in a room with Marama Fox on Wednesday and she reiterated that the Maori Party’s permanent strategy was to be ‘in the tent’, and also that National would form the next government.

    I think the Maori Party has Stockholm syndrome with the National Party because of the way Key brought them into government when they didn’t strictly need to.

    Given that, the Maori Party needs some counselling and they need to be made to look at the deteriorating stats for Maori during their time in government and ask themselves what the fuck they are doing.