The Soap Box: Deal with Labour the Greens' biggest mistake

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 May 2017, 6:15AM
The deal with Labour is the Greens' biggest mistake, writes Barry Soper (Photo / NZ Herald)
The deal with Labour is the Greens' biggest mistake, writes Barry Soper (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Soap Box: Deal with Labour the Greens' biggest mistake

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 May 2017, 6:15AM

It was a year ago today that the Labour leadership stepped up to the podium with the Greens to mark the bond they'd formed to change the Government this year.

They did something that would have sent a shiver up Helen Clark's spine, embracing the Greens, saying after the election if they get to form a Government everything will be up for grabs, except for one job, finance, that would go to the man who came within a hair's breadth of beating Andrew Little to the leadership, Grant Robertson.

That was to appease those who cringe at the idea of the Greens pulling the economic purse strings. But of course finance would be there for Winston Peters' taking if he wanted his old job back.

As a first anniversary gift, the Greens breached their Memorandum of Understanding on Budget day by voting with the Government it has pledged to replace. Little told us he only knew they were crossing sides, when they started voting.

The MoU commits both parties to treat each other with integrity and openness with a no surprises policy which means they give each other prior notice and the details of any major announcements and speeches. The last clause in their agreement agrees they can have their differences but it acknowledges they have a responsibility to discuss their position with each other before public debate.

So it's a pretty obvious breach but the agreement's unlikely to be worth the paper it's written on with the Greens again facing the prospect of not even being the bridesmaid and certainly not the bride. If Winston Peters is the groom, and there's every indication he will be, there'll be no posies for them, they won't even be part of the congregation. Providing the numbers are there, the invitation list will be confined to Labour and New Zealand First.

The deal with Labour is the Greens' biggest mistake. They may think their association could attract some Labour votes for them, but if that's their thinking, they misunderstand the tribal nature of that party's followers. 

If they were free agents they could easily have hooked up with National, which given their Budget vote, they don't loathe as much as Labour does. Certainly National's been chortling at the suggestion but in reality knows it's too late for that to happen, given the commitment the Greens have publicly made to get rid of them.

Just think, without the MoU, the Greens could have relegated Peters to the outside looking in, rather than quite possibly the other way round.