It’s been a whirlwind election campaign as Labour Party supporters and the wider electorate sense a dramatic mood change on the back of Jacinda Ardern’s personal appeal.
Lots of progressive-minded people have been excited and enthused and in a rush of blood to the head have flocked to support Labour. Starved of decent government for nine years and, just a month ago, facing the near certainty of another three years of government by a smug, arrogant, born-to-rule National Party has intensified the feeling.
Labour’s poll numbers have not only caught National – unthinkable just a few weeks ago – but have now surpassed it.
After Ardern’s elevation to lead the Labour Party I wondered out loud if she and Kelvin Davis would be able to breathe new life into Labour’s neo-liberal corpse. They have. It looks like capitalism’s B team, the Labour Party, may well lead the government after the election.
It’s time for cool heads to think about what that government will look like.
On past evidence Labour will choose to go with New Zealand First ahead of the Greens. In their three terms from 1999 to 2008 that was the pattern.
Labour has always had less tolerance for those to their left than those to their right.
The lack of Green Party influence was sorely felt and after those nine long years of strong economic performance Labour left 175,000 children living in poverty while, in the words of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Michael Cullen, “company profits rose twice as fast as workers’ wages”.
And remember how Ardern was only too happy to throw Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei under a bus declaring she would never be a cabinet minister in a Labour-led government after admissions of lying to WINZ to enable her to do the best for her child two decades ago.
The memorandum of understanding Labour has with the Greens means Ardern will be make a courtesy phone call to James Shaw before negotiating with Winston Peters. Unless!!!!!!
Unless progressive voters maximise Green Party support. In the current political situation only the Green Party has a realistic chance of dragging the neo-liberal Labour Party significantly to the left in a post-election government. Without the Greens Labour will tinker here and tinker there while leaving the free market to run a country bitterly divided by poverty and inequality.
All indications so far in this campaign confirm Labour’s priority is looking after the children of the middle-class. The Green Party has a wider political view and in government would be able to insist on some more progressive policies be it workers’ rights, the living wage, state housing, education or healthcare.
But only if progressive-minded people build the Green vote to a point it can’t be set aside.
Former Green MP Sue Bradford used to say if you want a centre-left government you vote left, not centre.