National should be loving the 'teal deal' speculation around a Blue-Greens tie-up, Alex Tarrant writes. It could draw Peters closer in giving him another rural vote 'headline win' of stopping National going with the Greens

By Alex Tarrant

National appears to be loving the speculation over the ‘teal deal’ idea of a tie-up between them and the Greens.

Not because it represents a viable alternative to going with NZ First – it doesn’t at the moment – but because it provides Winston Peters with yet another excuse to claim that he’s entering coalition with National for ‘the good of the country’ by keeping Bill English’s lot honest and protecting the provinces.

Past performances mean Peters and New Zealand First need to enter coalition (or the cross-benches) already with a set game plan for the 2020 election campaign. In both 1999 and 2008, NZ First’s party vote dropped below 5% after being in coalition (National, then Labour) – 2008 being disastrous because Peters failed to win back Tauranga.

My hunch is NZ First will primarily aim in 2020 to win off National some of the provincial vote it was targeting this time around, which Bill English (and to some extent Labour) managed to grasp back in the final weeks of the campaign. Recall Peters’ winter ‘Campaign for the Regions’ bus tour – after which he was claiming 15-20% support in the polls, before the real campaign began.

Going with Labour and the Greens, and in doing so stopping the water tax and the Greens’ nitrogen fertiliser tax, represents key headline potential for New Zealand First if it turns Left. Outside of this, it could be that the policy fit between the three could starve Peters and NZ First of clear-cut policy wins (ie. headlines) despite the greater work load available.

On the other side, there is potential for Peters being seen to have forced National to change direction on a few of his bugbear policies, including provincial rail, skills (and hence – he’ll be able to argue – immigration), and perhaps a scoping study for moving Ports of Auckland.

Now, with all this speculation and comment – admittedly from outside the Green Party – you can add to that the ‘win’ of stopping National from going with the Greens. For National, talk of the teal deal could be drawing Peters in to their net. Labour, by all accounts, is a tad annoyed by all the speculation, which it doesn't think is a story.

Several former Green MPs have said recently that it would be political suicide for the party to consider going with National – this time around at least. Any coalition deal requires a 75% vote at a Green Party general meeting. It is assumed that the voting grass-roots just won’t allow a deal with National, no matter what is offered up on climate, rivers and poverty reduction.

Let’s take them at that, and acknowledge National accepts the argument. Bill English reckons time is required before the Greens can respond favourably to the public discourse around a Blue-Greens tie up. Basically, it might take a while before the Greens are in position to consider supporting National on some policies in exchange for getting a platform of some of their own ideas through. Alternatively, they might never agree to this. Either way, it doesn’t look like a near-term option.

The prospect of the Greens perhaps warming to the idea over a year or two – if everyone just keeps talking about it – might keep Peters from sitting on the cross benches. If he does sit in the middle, and National announces a work programme in year two of poverty reduction, river clean-up and climate change, then that might only serve to bring the Greens around to supporting certain policies. This will then take up Parliamentary time Peters had his eye on to support supply of Treasury funds for Nationals’ work stream in exchange for a bunch of regional infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, for all the talk of changes required on the Greens’ side, there would have to be a massive shift at the top of National for the party to entertain a formal coalition with the Greens – particularly from the pre-John Key generation which includes heavyweights English and Gerry Brownlee (and Joyce – he got involved after the 2002 loss). Teal deal supporters who would rather a National-Greens government than a National-NZ First one are watching out for a shift in sentiment from these names more than anything else. Having English just say ‘oh it’s possible’ hasn’t got them excited yet.

National’s grass-roots, too, would take a lot of persuading. Imagine seeing the Greens support National policies and vice versa. There would have to be a real campaign to convince them there was no hidden agenda. That would be just as tough a job for English as the one Shaw faces with his grass-roots.

The Greens, for their part, should know that it is much more likely National will enter coalition with New Zealand First, than themselves, in the next week or two. If this is the case, then I think James Shaw at some point needs to come out and say very strongly that he won’t be negotiating with Bill English, rather than allowing for ongoing speculation. (I admit he’s trying, but he needs to be firmer.)

(Update: Shaw spoke to media Tuesday morning. Video above.)

This would mean Peters doesn’t have the extra ammunition of arguing that, by going with National, he stopped National going with the Greens. This would effectively serve to improve the prospects of him taking the Labour-Greens option – going with the alternative headline potential of stopping the water and nitrogen taxes and bringing the Left around on 'appropriate' climate change policy.

If not, then National will be handed another ‘win’ that it can be seen being forced to grant to Peters (“we won’t work with the Greens if in coalition with NZ First”). For Peters, it could be a case of, better being seen to have done some work on a small number of policies than not being seen doing a lot of work helping somebody else’s policy platform through.

Particularly in the land of the three-year electoral cycle where coalition deals based on agreed policy platforms have not gone too well the next election.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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32 Comments

Wonder how much Nats paid Bolger to come out of mothballs to throw the Greens hand-grenade

English could not allow himself to be seen to do that dirty work

Far be it for anyone to have an opinion that they aren't paid for?

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19

The idea is being spun up by National backers to put pressure on Winston Peters to choose National and reduce his bargaining power position. There's approximately 0% chance of the Greens going with National. I'm one of their voters who would abandon them if they did.

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15

Same. I voted Green for the social, economic and environmental policies, all this be in Govt to change National's environment policies is a crock of shit. You only have to read the commentary, on any site prior to the election, from National supporters to see what they really think of the Greens - it's not exactly complimentary!

And this is sad IMO... I'm hoping for a environmentalist party to form in NZ that has its primary focus on the environment. The "Green" party appears to be somewhat focused on non-environmental policies as a primary agenda.

I'm one of the voters that would join the Greens if they decided to become a green party as their primary focus.

Absolutely the same as you.

I simply don't understand the Greens in their current incarnation.
They have ZERO leverage in this situation to get policy wins out of Labour.

Green supporters want environmental wins but seemingly are happy for their party to just sit in the cheap seats and deliver meek moralistic sermons.
Labour will tell them where to sit and to sit up straight.

Except clean waterways, pollution, intensified dairying, conservation all became focal points of this election - so yes they have had a massive impact on political discussion.

But what is going to be actually achieved on any of those if the Greens leave National and NZ First to run the Government?

It doesn't matter who stays or gets in Government, they're not going to be able to stop the Auckland housing market from declining for the long term. It's will be likely to drag us in to a recession either way.

Propped up by attracting migrants...

There are suggestions that some of the commentaries on social media have been paid for.

Listener political columnist Jane Clifton posted a tweet last Wednesday saying” “Some people are actually being paid to shop this scenario around.”

David Cormack, the former Communications and Policy director for the Greens, replied: "Yup, I was told this by someone who is doing exactly that.”

http://politik.co.nz/en/content/politics/1201/

A bunch of National public relations string pullers are pushing the talking point.

Reveals a lot about the National party and is reminiscent of the Dirty Politics story. Isn't one of Winston's "bottom lines" a full public enquiry into the issues raised by Dirty Politics. I don't imagine that he is fooled for one minute by all this rubbish and all it is really achieving is demonstrating how untrustworthy National are and what a fool he would be to have anything to do with them.
One thing that all this is doing however is making National look like a very unpalatable option and reducing Winston's bargaining power with Labour? Would they really be doing that deliberately? Unlikely, just plain old stupidity.

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If you have campaigned on the fact that the bulk of the population is stupid, why stop with that rhetoric after the election.
Their only mistake is tarring Winston with that same brush. I doubt he is at all worried about his position. The only ones that reek of desperation are the Nats, themselves.

I wonder if it is best for Shaw to publicly say it will never happen. Why decrease the chances of a Labour Green NZ First coalition just to keep a teal deal a very slim possibility?

Once he says it will never happen, he loses all leverage with Labour and NZ First. They can just stitch up a deal between them and take the Greens for granted.

Cash for Comment

It was crystal clear a number of the commentariat on this site were paid to propagate National's lies - some of them were so stupid

darn, I never got paid

Thats because everyone could see through your bias.

Oh bollocks. Noone here (left or right) was being paid to astroturf, the readership for comments is confined almost entirely to people who comment, too small to be worth it from an advertising point of view. Sure there was advocacy by people on both sides of the spectrum, but only for interest's sake.

But you illustrate the problem with political tribalism, religiously zealous in persecuting and ostracising anyone who doesn't share your views, demonising dissent ("so stupid") so that you can feel better about ignoring what they say and trying to harm them - like campaigns to remove Mike Hoskings as debate moderator etc. But that tribalism and desire to suppress dissent leaves you living in echo chambers where heretical ideas are no longer allowed to compete with tribal dogma, and it's ultimately harmful to societal and civilisational progress.

Hearing dissenting ideas is important, and the perspectives of others who have different assessments of what is most important, are worthy of consideration.

National's readiness to reach into the dirty tricks barrel, is limited only by the length of their arms. They must be quite long, though.

Updated with video of Shaw in there now

I trust the Greens to act now with regard to how they campaigned. That was to change the government, prioritise climate change measures, clean water , and ending child poverty.
I wish I could say the same of some other parties.

Some people have very short memories

Green Party lost 50% of its patronage after Mount Turei erupted covering the verdant lands for 100's of kilometres around with molten lava and volcanic ash

They could not now survive an act of ritual suicide by hari-kari

If the Nats can sucker the Greens into supporting Billy Boy, the Nats wont care what happens to the Greens afterwards - their promises will all be dated for implementation in 2037

What I believe would support NZfirst having a real crack at regaining Northland would be to offer serious funds to have the America's Cup run out of Whangerai.
This would especially also support the fledgling Marsden Cove boat building industry.

It's not going to happen, it would be political suicide for the Greens no matter what kind of deal they struck. It's a tactic for National to try ang gain leverage over NZF.

Floating the idea of a Blue-Green coalition is, quite simply, National spin trying to pressure on Peters who sits comfortably in Pole position. Most Green voters voted Green because they want to change the Govt and are concerned at attempts to emasculate our environmental safeguards. It would only be palatable to Green voters if the Nats offered very substantial environmental 'wins', which ain't going to happen.

After all the hype of the election right now New Zealand seems directionless. Anyone else feel a little bit ill?

.. for 21 years the Greens have collected their tax-payer funded salaries ... and done sweet f all to deserve it ...

Being Labour's permanent patsy just doesn't cut it !

.. do a deal with whoever you can , guys ... and start pushing hard on cleaning up the environment ... we got two little things which got bugger all air time during the election , but which some of us reckon are crucial :

1 : the state of the nation's freshwater systems ... and ...

2 : emissions ... air pollution ...

These are stuff that the Greens ought to be taking seriously , 'cos Wild Bill and the Gnats sure as heck-fire ain't ..

Have you got any evidence , or anything at all , that suggests green party MPs do less work than all the other MPs?

It's not how hard you work, it's what you achieve. What have green party MPs achieved for the environment through their presence in Parliament?

-Establishment of energy standards and the eeca.
- solar hot water subsidy and promotion(finished)
- home insulation promotion and grants
- cycleway promotion and construction
These are just a few off the top of my head, at least 1/2 in conjunction with National .

Now , what has ACT and united future achieved?