I’ve got a $5 bet with Matthew Beveridge, author of the Social Media & the 2014 Election blog, regarding the Greens’ vote share in comparison to Labour (High stakes, baby! That’s half of a possible 2017 tax cut – not to be sneezed at!). Matt is betting on the Greens getting at least 50% of what Labour gets; I’m betting they won’t. With the way the polls are running, I’m definitely not on a sure thing…
Last week, One News reported that the Greens were “discussing a change of strategy in light of their strengthening support”. The “change of strategy” was apparently evident in Russel Norman’s reminder during last week’s minor party leaders’ debate that the Greens could work on a case by case basis with National. The plan is apparently to tell voters that even if Labour can’t form a Government, a vote for the Greens won’t be wasted, as they’ll be able to still advance specific policies with National.
There’s nothing new about the Greens’ approach. They’ve previously worked with National on home insulation policy, as part of a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties, although the Memorandum wasn’t renewed in 2012.
I’ve previously criticised the Greens for painting themselves into an electoral corner, where they’re entirely reliant on Labour for any policy gains. It seems that the Greens are now trying to backtrack from that position. Whether they hope to actually work with National after the election, should the Left bloc be unsuccessful in forming a Government, remains to be seen. However, it’s certainly a ploy to further cannibalise Labour’s vote, by picking off those voters who hope for at least some environmental or social policy concessions from National.
Although John Key has said he could work with the Greens on a case by case basis, National has also confirmed there will be no Memorandum of Understanding. That not really a surprise. Given that National have spent months, even years, attempting to paint the Greens as dangerous fringe lunatics, the last thing they want to do at this stage is to suddenly agree that they’ll work with them on anything other than a sporadic single-issue basis.
In the meantime, Labour may be laughing off the Greens rhetoric about supplanting Labour as the largest party on the Left, but Labour may well be anxiously watching their poll results, hoping desperately that their vote doesn’t collapse further in a Greens-ward direction.