Are you getting the feeling that tough talk from the Green Party is an empty threat? Because I am.
On first blush James Shaw sounds like he means business, like he’s prepared to walk away from a coalition with Labour if he doesn’t get a wealth tax.
But when you look closer at the language he’s using you realise he just wants you to think that, because that makes him look principled and tough to his voting base, but these are actually just empty threats.
James Shaw hasn’t actually said anything like what people think he’s said. He never said he will walk away. He actually said it’s "always a possibility". He never said wealth tax was a bottom line. He only said it was a ‘top priority’. There is heaps of wriggle room there.
Truth is the Greens will be lucky to get back into Government with Labour. The closer we get to the election, the more likely it seems Labour is going to be able to govern alone. That leaked UMR poll from last week, for example, puts Labour at 53% and feels about right.
Shaw’s threat makes it so much more likely that that is going to happen. Because he has just upped the incentive for centre, property-owning voters to make sure Labour doesn’t need the Greens, and isn’t forced to agree to that wealth tax. The incentive now, for a lot of voters including traditional National voters, is in fact to swing in behind Labour, get them in by themselves, and keep the Greens away from government next term.
I’m hearing this strategic thinking from a lot of traditional National voters .
I’m betting Labour Party strategists couldn’t believe their luck when James Shaw went public with his tough talk yesterday.
Yes, normally this doesn’t happen - we’ve never had one party hold government in the 24 years of MMP – but then, nothing’s normal right now is it?
In the end the Greens might not have to walk away from negotiations, after this, they might not have to be invited.