Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: December 12

Prime Minister John Key hongis with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples before their coalition talks at the Beehive. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key hongis with Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples before their coalition talks at the Beehive. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The final general election results are in, and all of John Key's deals are done. While the pacts with Act and United Future were foregone conclusions, the nature of the coalition arrangement with the Maori Party was up in the air. Morgan Godfery has a detailed analysis of the Maori Party deal - see: On the Maori Party deal with National. Although he highlights the doubling of rheumatic fever funding as a clear victory, the key point is the out-clause with regard to National's policy plan - especially asset sales. He gives it overall a 6 out of 10 but is doubtful the Maori Party will be able to sufficiently distance itself from National.

Tim Selwyn says the Maori Party consultation with its membership was with a much reduced, elderly rump compared to the 2008 hui. He also claims that the leadership issues between Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell are far from resolved, saying that Flavell remains evasive when questioned about the issue - see: Government resting on soft Maori Party cushion.

Gordon Campbell has a stinging attack on all the coalition deals labeling them 'shabby'. He is scathing of Key trying to blame MMP coalition politics for the charter schools and spending cap policies, pointing out they would never see the light of day unless National was a 'very willing participant'.

Campbell reserves most scorn for the Maori Party agreement, noting that the Ministerial Committee on Poverty will not even be chaired by either of the Maori Party leaders, but rather by Bill English. As David Farrar notes the Maori Party deal has no policies with any large price tags.

Of course the deals are not yet done in the Labour Party caucus, with less than 24 hours to go. Vernon Small (Labour leadership race goes to the wire) and Duncan Garner (Cunliffe vs Shearer: Who will win?) both provide good analysis of the race, with Garner saying that it has closed up considerably, but still giving Shearer a narrow win. He says Cunliffe is the 'ready now' candidate and Shearer, while not ready yet, will be soon enough.

Keith Ng - a Shearer supporter - is critical of Cunliffe's campaign, particularly his purported propensity for offering front bench places for votes see Dear Labour Caucus. He also identifies how severe Labour's internal problems are: 'Labour has been rewarding time-servers and party hacks over actual talent for as long as I can remember'. Unionist and commentator, Matt McCarten, also favours Shearer, but admits, that 'In policy terms, they don't have any major differences' - see: A battle between popularity and experience. On the right, Cathy Odgers, says that although Shearer will win, the Labour Party desperately needs Cunliffe to lead it - see: The Standard Call It For Cunliffe.

It's unclear whether either candidate has what it takes to turn things around for Labour. Yesterday's Herald on Sunday editorial put this most strongly pointing out both contenders 'just look old and stale' and that 'Neither man embodies the fundamental, generational change that is called for now' - see: Labour must make a real change. As Vernon Small says, the leadership contest is not one that reflects any significant differences of ideology or approach in the party, as the two leadership contender camps are based more on personalities than politics. It seems that Labour's left and right camps no longer structure differences within the caucus.

Derek Cheng speculates beyond the leadership contest to what the new Labour front bench would look like (Labour to broaden front bench make-up), but Phil Quin dismisses this as desperation from Cunliffe supporters attempting to save their seniority in the event of a Shearer victory. As always, Steven Braunias perceptively and humorously offers a different perspective in The secret diary of David Shearer and The secret diary of David Cunliffe.

With the final results in on Saturday, John Hartevelt has a good summary (Nats can govern by one vote) while Graeme Edgeler paints an interesting (if unlikely) legal scenario where the battle for Waitakere goes all the way to an electoral petition that results in Bennett ceasing to be an MP at all (Paula's Peril; or The (un)certain Scenario). Edgeler also makes some interesting observations in his blog post on the final election results - see: Election #11: Notings. And Deborah Coddington calls for a new libertarian party: Act's demise leaves gap for libertarian rebirth.

- NZ Herald

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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