I am pleased for Labour and the Greens. Truly I am. They have tied the knot. They have announced they're together. They have made public what we long suspected - they don't like National in power. And they agree they'd both prefer it was them. Together.

(Well, they would prefer power all to themselves individually but accept that it's going to take at least two to tango.)

The only unsettling thing is that despite their ballyhoo they don't agree on much. The leader, deputy leader and two co-leaders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

Item one is their "Purpose": "to work co-operatively in order to change the Government at the 2017 election".


That makes sense. But MPs and parties co-operate all the time. That's hardly news. It feels a little like they don't trust each other unless they have signed up with us as witnesses.

Item two is "Working Together". There are six sub-headings.

The first is "we commit to treat each other with integrity and openness". That's nice. But weren't they doing that already? It makes me think there's dark stuff in their history they want to put behind them. It has clearly not all been Morris dancing and group hugs.

The second is to "co-operate where appropriate in Parliament". Surprisingly, that's how Parliament works. All parties co-operate. And they do so with total trust. Certainly, there's no need for a signature. An MP's word should be enough.

Third they will "investigate a joint policy and/or campaign". That's good and smart but why not just announce the policy and/or campaign? Why does it take a formal document and leaders, deputy leaders and co-leaders signing to "agree to investigate"?

Fourth, "no surprises". That is an advance. Parties typically don't tell each other what they're about to do and that can catch each other out. A journalist can ask a party leader what they think of a particular policy, the leader declares it nuts only to be told that very policy has just been announced by their would-be coalition party.

Fifth, "consider ways that we can co-operate in the 2016 Local Government elections". That's a Green and Labour thing. They involve themselves in local politics. National tries to stay clear. It makes sense for the two to "consider" co-operating. But again, I would have thought it wiser to announce the co-operation rather than that we are considering it. What if the consideration comes to nothing much?

And sixth, they are going to "meet at least monthly". Nice. Meetings are always good.


And Item Three is that they "Agree to Disagree" but in "a collegial and respectful manner". Has that not been the case in the past? The memorandum is all good stuff. But why not just do it rather than agree to try?