Despite National’s attempts to paint the three-headed Government as uneasy bedfellows, the Labour, Greens & NZ First alliance has held up rather well… so far

Jacinda Ardern & Winston Peters by Jacky Carpenter.

By Jason Walls

“I give ‘em a year and a half.”

“That’s generous, I give this Government six months!”

The night Winston Peters sided with Labour to form the Government, this was one of many conversations I overheard Opposition MPs having.

There was a lot of resentment within National. That much was clear in the first few months of the Coalition Government’s time in office.

“If you look at the way this Government has come up in, this very unusual circumstance, people will generally say, and of course there is truth in this – Winston chose the Government,” National Leader Simon Bridges told me earlier this year.

Even now, many National MPs feel they were robbed of a fourth term by Peters.

But in its frustration, National found opportunity.

The tactic was simple: divide and conquer.

Bridges painted a picture of instability, of uneasy bedfellows. He actively led a campaign to drive a wedge between the parties.

And why wouldn’t he? In terms of political point scoring, this is an easy area to exploit.

Just two months before the election, the New Zealand First leader and then Greens Co-Leader Metiria Turei were in the midst of a very public feud.

She called him a racist and he hit back: “My warning to the Greens is don’t call NZ First racist – an allegation that is spurious – and think there won’t be consequences.”

Fast forward a few months and the two parties were sitting on the same side of the House, as members of a united Government – albeit with the Greens as supply and confidence partners.

Easy pickings for National to exploit, Bridges – and former Leader Bill English – must have thought.

All they needed to do was sit back and wait; after all, how long could it take for Peters to take a public swing at either the Greens or Labour?

But so far, Peters has been playing nice in front of the cameras and in the House. Any significant cracks that National would have been hoping to see have been practically non-existent.

The only real public instance of tension was when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Shane Jones he had gone “a step too far” in calling for the resignation of Air New Zealand’s chairman.

A slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket at most.

A solid bloc

The first poll of the year in February was not exactly good news for NZ First and the Greens, getting 5% and 3%, respectively.

Despite a rough couple of months for Labour – harassment at a young labour retreat and Clare Curran’s RNZ saga – the Coalition is holding together well.

Sure, there is undoubtedly some tension behind the scenes, but the face the Government is presenting to New Zealand is one of unity.

NZ First voters are happy – the Government is pouring billions of dollars into regional New Zealand. Green voters are happy – a ban on all future oil exploration is a huge win for the party.

Labour’s base is happy as it gradually ticks off more and more items on its pre-election to-do list.

The most recent One News Colmar Brunton poll has the Greens and NZ First up to 6% and 5%, respectively.

Labour was down 5% compared with February, but that poll was taken in the midst of Labour’s honeymoon period and a slide was widely expected.

The take away from Monday’s poll was the Government bloc is holding up strongly.

Half a year, it seems, was far too pessimistic. But in just a few weeks Ardern's due to go on maternity leave, leaving Peters at the helm of the Coalition Government.

If anything can test the three-way alliance, it will be that.

No doubt National will be watching very closely – its divide and conquer plan still may have legs yet.

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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47 Comments

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Don't you mean the MSM's divide and conquer strategy. I've lost track of the number of negative opinion pieces from Fran O'Sullivan, Mike Hosking and the like.

...edit .. here's another one, this time from Deborah Hill Cone attacking Clark Gayford. Zero content, absolutely zero content, just negative sentiment. Sickening when you consider how the Herald was fawning all over John Key for the duration of his tenure.

This Government is going to be a one-hit -wonder ............ when they're gone in just over 30 months and we wake up from this awful nightmare , we will be wondering WTF hit us .

What nightmare is this? the only 1 I see right now is the evidence of 9 years of neglect by National in the name of profit and self-aggrandisement.

I'd love to see a media studies student analyse the attitude of msm commentary towards govt before and after the elections.

The Herald and Stuff are failing miserably in their so called roll as the 4th Estate - since they lost Key they are behaving like kids who have had their toys taken off them. I feel they are a complete contrast to their attitude to the govt of the day prior election.

At least we have the options of this site, Newsroom etc. Far more informative.

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Well the offending Green MP self destructed and exited stage left, so that presented a convenient solution and way forward. Actually with what is coming out of the woodwork, For instance, Coleman’s delayed timing bombs, and particularly the outrageously destructive expensive fiasco created by EQC in Canterbury, National MP’s may well be feeling that this was a very good election in which to lose power. Let others face the music and then criticise them loudly for the mess that you yourself created. How cunning. Loud applause anyone.

More like a slow handclap

As the late great Terry McLean once wrote, “hollow laughter from the wings.”

The COL will hold together as long as the minor parties feel comfortable that their electoral support will return them in 2020. I can’t see the Greens having issues, but I suspect NZF will start to implode, especially if the rumours of the big C are true. An economic downturn and/or more natural disasters will hasten whatever the trend is at the time. An outside influence will be our probable loss at next years Rugby World Cup.

From what I have seen in commentary and MSM it’s about click bait and viewers/listeners with the same people saying the same things over and over again. One lot portray the COL as the Silver Ferns, the other as the Black Ferns. No surprises which one I pick ;)

We have abandoned TV One, watch the AM show on Three and occasionally listen to ‘Red’ National Radio for our news. The Herald and Stuff are increasingly tabloid fluff worthy only as something to read while undertaking ablutions. I can’t see the trend abating. Traditional media is toast. The scary part is the rise of things like Cambridge Analytica to play with public sentiment and the use of spin merchants. Mind you, it is gratifying to see that 44% of voters aren’t having a bar of the leftie spin. Maybe our biggest obstacle to progress is that there is little middle ground.

Cambridge Analytica have tried to stack things in favour of the right wing, in case you hadn't noticed. You should be cheering them.
Same people, same things over and over. You looking in a mirror there?

Labour and the Greens filled my FB timeline during the election even though I had blocked them. It’s the new way, CA are just hired guns. I would like to see a law that requires express consent to post to my social media accounts and the right for people to prosecute them for any breach. I’d also like to see political affiliations required on any media published articles, especially where spin merchants are pushing stories through media.

Breaking News. The "Coalition of Losers" have already disbanded.

Im not aware of one colleague that voted for the CoL. And the underlying theme is "damage control".

I have an enormous degree of respect for Fran O'Sullivan. She is a very successful woman. No mean feat in a male dominated field.

The jury is still out whether Jacinda will be an effective PM. She seems to have good weeks, followed by extremely bad weeks. The same could not be said of Key. National lost the election because they lost the plot with housing.

You're moving in the wrong circles

I reckon Winnie and NZF are actually more green than they owned up to in the past. That old war horse has always known exactly which way is up.
I am glad that someone is finally looking past next week in political terms.

Oh yes. And there is still that other card to be tabled. One civil, perhaps uncivil, court case that might expose more than a little skullduggery in the higher echelons of the National Party and filtering into the so called politically neutral public service. In that context, the word service is used lightly.

Ex-pat -we are doomed no room for positive comments, petrol will be $2.50 litre , taxing cinda will put on more unknown taxes ON US , we are miles away from Rugby world cup so your comment not wanted -dooms day Ex pat, the Media are so boring -Corin Dann gets all excited on Q and a

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We had nine years of a four headed coalition. National couldn't pass any laws on its own. Yet when labour is in power suddenly this is a problem wasn't a problem for Clark either. What is it with reporters these days and their allergy to MMP

It didn't go the "right" way?

In some cases that appears to be true. In others it's about attracting readers. HDP's article comparing Taxinda to Trump is a good example of the latter and she nails the sentiment as to where we are now i.e. a country divided along political allegiances. In general I'm an easy going person and save my more base emotional responses for sports losses to Australia but soporific articles on anything with the COL have me close to apoplectic. There's something more at play here than left vs right and 44% of voters appear to share the disease. Putting more spin articles about Taxinda is working against her. If she had leadership potential (I personally doubt it) she needs to show it rather than have spin doctors try and make it look like she does. Do some mahi and let the voters work it out for themselves. This could get ugly if the country has a major set back.

I think its cute how you signal each other with the special words and phrases that you fished from the kiwiblog gutter. COL!! Taxinda!! Wah wah!!

Though, if it brings you comfort who are we to judge?

It’s designed to demonstrate my lack of respect for her as PM (not as a person as I don’t know her) and her government. Its good to see that it annoys you enough in some way to post. In my mind it is truly weird that you mention the PM by her given first name as if you are her friend. To me, my use of derogatory monikers is no diffferent to the leftie posts over the last 9 years that couldn’t call National Party members by their correct title and name. I will continue to do it as long as the board rules tolerate it.

Why is it "good" that you think it annoys me?

Autistic screeching doesn't annoy me. I feel pity for those on the spectrum.

Ex Expat, another "Taxinda" based rant, different day. Spraying your distress over the various forums in such prosperous times just proves you have an empty head.

I'd suggest Jacinda would probably be stoked knowing she doesn't have your respect!

I only post here as the Left is strong here. There’s too much competition on Trademe etc so I only read what’s being posted there

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This forum represents a random cross section of this country's population. You are just dissing a popular and highly respected Leader. It's a pointless and self defeating mission for you as an individual. Majority wins, you lose.

Awww c'mon retired Poppy ........... Jacinda is fake as .

The Coalition of Losers is making policy up as it goes along , and Jacinda banning a whole industry without any consultation with the affected parties whatsoever , is her first BIG mistake .

It was a rushed job to appease the Greens , done without any thought as to the consequences , political expediency of the first order .

I have zero respect for her whatsoever , there is flip flopping every day , she is being manipulated by the Party leadership which is divided and under mining her , kept in the dark about ciritical issues , bumbling from one crisis to the next and no leadrership coming from her whatsoever .

Frankly , this administration is turning out to be a major disappointment

A decade is a rushed job now is it? Interesting....

Wasn't John Key using the Housing Crisis as one of his main campaign points? Then went on to deny it for the rest of his 9 years. If he had kept housing prices under control, I'd have a huge amount of respect for him. There's so many methods he could have gone about it, plus so many recommendations from experts. But nope, chose to ignore it instead.

Trade me commenters? Snort

I think we have underestimated here in nz the seriously successful diplomatic efforts of Ardern and Peters! Charm sells. I am extremely proud of them both.

They are a political power couple abroad NZ hasn't seen since Lange and his own good self at Oxford.

What a joke any discussion here of New Zealand somehow not alongside the Western allies! They respect us as a matter of principle at a level much much deeper than mere politics.

That trip overseas by PM and deputy was gold, pure and simple. And the two of them will be even more bonded to each other. Rock solid. Eat your heart out National. Sorry but there's no way any of them were capable of doing what we have just witnessed!

Are you paid by the word or the post?

LOL. Oh, I love NZ! What luck. Unbelievable.

Don’t think there is any need to get partisan about any of this. If it’s good for NZ then it’s good for all of us. John Key in his heyday impressed sufficiently to stay at Balmoral and play golf with The President. Ardern & Peters have too been well received and carried our flag. Foreign relations are important, make friends & influence people. When iniatives work out well we should be pleased for our country rather than just bagging the instrument(s) if they happen to be counter to ones political loyalty.

Where's Key now.? He'll never will fill the Elder Statesman role, a la McKinnon, Bolger, Palmer or Clark. Not about stripes on that.

Headline of the article says it like it is.

John Key was the best Prime Minister in the history of New Zealand ....

History will prove otherwise, I give it about the length of this government's term for John Key's halo to be tarnished and his legacy destroyed.

History has already proven he was the most competent

Most competent at hiding the faults and fractures, ignoring failing systems and excessive inequality, yes sure.

The state he and his party has left the public services in is nothing less than morally corrupt.

Yup he was very competent at doing nothing to fix the housing crises, even though he campaigned on it back in 2007.

Yes, Peters' skill in int'l diplomacy is superb and Ardern will have benefited tremendously from the joint exercise. CHOGM couldn't have come at a better time. Megan Woods was very good on Q+A this morning as well when put under strong criticism by Corin Dann. Good interviewer - good interviewee. I like that this new Executive seems to be more straight-talking/less non-committal and evasive than the past one. Hope it continues.

Yes, the straight talking with Woods, and Little (nice leading the families into Pike, genuine interest and compassion shown, a good man) and other less prominent Ministers is refreshing and a lot less frustrating.

Helen Clark was also a CHOGM. Jacinda Adern has stated she is a person who she looks up to. How much of what we see/hear of Jacinda is actually the guiding hand of Helen Clark?

I am fed up already with this Government ........... more lies and deceit than I have ever encountered from an elected Government in New Zealand ......... and its only been in office for around 100 days

Like that lies that Midddlemore Hospital had shit flowing through the wards , is a leaky building and the Health Minister did nothing about it for 9 years .

Turns out the whole story is was picked up by the new Government made into a propaganda story leading to media hysteria in the Herald that Josef Goebbels would have been proud of .

The story became so fantastical , that it developed a legend of its own .

Turns out the only shit running down Middlemore's wards was Labour's propaganda bullshit

Are you referring to this story? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12036681 if you are, our reading comprehension skills appear to differ a bit.

No, referring to an oped piece by some young lefty female journalist who went hysterical in the Herald on Saturday just after the fake news "story " broke .

If I was the editor , she would be shown the door

So because there wasn't sewage leaking everywhere, this in your head makes the entire Middlemore fiasco "fake news"? Despite the fact there's documentation outlining what happened when, where, what was reported to whom - the asbestos, the failed cladding, the rot etc etc..

Which bit of the above and below is fake?

"We can confirm that despite the dramatic language that has been used around sewage issues at Middlemore Hospital, the sewage leaks were small."

"A multitude of building issues at Middlemore Hospital and the extent of them have been revealed recently: Rot and toxic mould caused by leaking, asbestos, seismic and power supply issues – and sewage leaks."

fortunately for NZ you remain out of way of doing harm then.