So where to for the next 3 years in New Zealand now that the sheep have spoken?
First up is Labour’s relationship with the Greens. Labour doesn’t need them but will be looking for a bit of good PR, so expect some small ministerial opportunities going the Greens way. The Greens should not accept anything and sit in opposition but of course they won’t. They will grab at any scraps that Labour toss them and call them small wins.
Moving forward, Labour is calling the victory a Mandate. To a degree it is, but unfortunately it is more of an ability to do what they please given their majority. We can already see unpopular decisions happening with Andrew Little set to start scrapping the 3 strikes law.
So, Labour has the kind of power that has not been available to a single party since the birth of MMP. Isn’t it ironic that in the 26 years of MMP that we are now with only 1 party wielding all the power? MMP was meant to stop this sort of one party governance, but in some respects this is a good thing.
What will Labour do with this so-called mandate? At best Labour will try and hold the central ground and not veer too much to the left. This is a good strategy for Labour as it will take away any ability for National to use the argument that Labour is too socialist. I hope they do this too as if the more left leaning section of the Labour party get too much of their way, it will be costly to the rebuild of our economy.
Labour will likely not get the same political opportunities provided by events such as the Christchurch shooting and the virus. In 3 years we will long be over worrying about Covid as a health issue, and assuming I am right here, people will be back to focusing on things like the economy, law and order etc. This is where it gets interesting as to where Labour position themselves.
If they see this 58% + vote for the left as an indication as to where New Zealanders want to go to, then we will see more and more socialist policies being adopted. With the pantry empty, it will mean more borrowing and potentially come at the cost of our credit rating. This will not be viewed as sensible fiscal stewardship by economists.
Robertson will want to hold on to the purse strings for as long as he can, so hopefully will be more conservative than a lot of his colleagues would like.
We still have the outcome of the art work fundraising sales that Labour continued with again this election, even though they are being investigated by the SFO about how these donations should be treated. And it will be interesting to see what scandals come out in the following months.
Karel Sroubek has been released from jail and will undoubtedly appeal his deportation order and win. If the media picks up on this it will be interesting times for Ardern. Having sacked the minister (Ian Lees-Galloway) involved in that decision, for arguably the much lesser offence of a consenting affair, one cannot help thinking that this was a bit of future proofing from Labour than anything else. Seems more logical than sacking the industrial relations minister for shagging one of his staff, that is for sure.
However, it seems that Labour are off on a bit of a clean slate with this election, it really comes down to how well they can keep their noses clean moving forward.
There are a lot of new MP’s coming on board and undoubtedly a few of them will not be able to help themselves in the coming months, and get themselves in some trouble.
If Kelvin Davis is deputy leader then that will lead to some good sport as he is not gifted with a sharp wit like some of his colleagues. He will be regularly ridiculed and this could be entertaining.
I also suspect the hubris levels will be at an all time high with such a vote of confidence in a team that, with the exception of Covid-19, made a meal of every other aspect of their leadership.
There was talk of the winter of discontent last year, all indications are that this winter is still coming. It will be 7 or 8 months away and may turn a lot of new hopeful Labour voters off the party that they so enthusiastically voted for this month.
If one of the Planet B team is anything to go on, there is nothing worse for Labour than a voter who feels duped. I suspect there may be a lot of them by 2023.
There will be no where for Labour to hide. The 9 years of neglect slogan will no longer work, they cannot blame the lack of support like National has done in the past. They have no one to blame but themselves if they do not deliver and this will hurt them. Given the social problems New Zealand faces, It will be very hard to deliver anything without more borrowing or printing of money. These factors will only increase the divide between the those that have and the those that have not.
I hope Labour do well for everyone’s sake, but given their track record and the promises they made when they came into power, it will be tough for them to do anything meaningful. I feel if National can get their house in order, we will see a very different election in 3 years time.
National really do need to show themselves as being ready to govern by the end of next year though, or else we will be looking at a much longer time of Ardern and her merry bunch.
The reason I think the First Past the Post style outcome for Labour is a good thing – they don’t have to rely on the greens to get things done. I just hope they occupy the centre of the political spectrum and be conservative. We need them to be.
Good Luck NZ!