i've put up a post at the hand mirror, giving my thoughts on labour's leadership and in particular, supporting nanaia mahuta as deputy leader.
there's one other point i wanted to make while i'm talking politics. much has been said by many about the demise of the ACT, united and maori parties at the next election. it's mostly in the context of the national party losing coalition partners, and it's a valid point. banks might hang on in epsom but i don't think it will be with an ACT party that looks the same as it is now. united will be gone as soon as mr dunne goes, and i think it will be extremely difficult for him to win in 2014. the maori party is highly unlikely to survive the retirements of its co-leaders.
but the one thing no-one has been talking about is the demise of nz first. probably because everyone is still adjusting to the fact that they've come back in to parliament, and with 8 MPs (at this stage). but mr peters also can't last forever, and i'd be surprised if he has more than one election left in him. again, i can't see his party surviving after he leaves. most of his MPs that had profile are not in parliament this time around (i'm thinking ron marks and peter brown - and i am so extremely glad to see the back of both of them). none of the new crop looks able to build up the profile of mr peters (and probably won't be allowed to do so while he's still around) and so keep the party alive.
so where will his voters go? i'd say a good 2% of them will go back to the labour party, as there seem to be a significant number who voted strategically to get him over the line. but his core vote? they won't go back to national because they don't support national's core agenda. but they're also not likely to support another left-wing party because, how can i put this politely, they don't support diversity and inclusiveness.
and if the left can't pick up that vote, how can it win? it will be difficult. they'd have to pick up swing voters in other demographics, but still, it seems to me that labour + greens getting more than 50% of the party vote will be a very difficult task. there is the mana party, which will certainly have life as long as mr harawira is prepared to put himself forward for te tai tokerau. the question is whether it will have traction and whether it can get enough of the party vote to bring more than 1 MP into the house.
if it does, where will that vote come from? likely to come from green party voters, possibly with some of the maori party vote as the latter dies out. however, the maori party never did get much of the party vote anyway, and has been consistently responsible for the parliamentary overhang since it came into existence.
so it seems that the left also need to think about where its coalition partners are going to come from in the longer term as well. the situation for the left is not as dire as for the right - although i suspect national is thinking seriously about supporting the conservative party so that it can have at least one stable partner that can pull in a significant chunk of the vote. if it does so, and if the conservative party can avoid the extremist christian tagging (which mr craig seems keen to do) and maybe look towards centrist policy, they may pick up some of those nz first votes.
in the meantime, the left has to be looking towards winning the arguments on policy. it should have a reasonably good chance of doing that, particularly in terms of the financial crisis and economic recession that looks set to hit the world again. the only danger is that as income inequality and poverty rises, parties preaching hatred of a minority group who is supposedly responsible for all evils in the world also tend to do well. currently in nz, that group is beneficiaries - particularly solo-mums. it's so difficult to counter this sort of nasty targetting, but there is a point at which people start to feel bad about it (eg the reaction after a few years to dr brash's orewa speech).
if the left can offer a better narrative, with positive policy solutions and integrity, i think they can win back a significant chunk of the middle vote. people want hope, they want to inspired by good things. we saw it with the obama campaign. but the thing is to be able not just to promise but also to deliver.