First posted at Your NZ.
It’s been a great few days for the opposition. The Mt Roskill by election was a stunning win for Labour, the Greens have picked up a media friendly new candidate in Hayley Holt and Winston Peters has, well, I don’t know what Winston’s been up to, but I’m sure he thinks it was great.
And now John Key’s resigned to spend more time with his money. Good news for Barack Obama, golf’s no fun playing by yourself.
John Key’s resignation opens the door for two, perhaps three new Prime Ministers in the next twelve months.
First, Bill English will take over, on Key’s recommendation. If the polls plummet, he’ll be shafted by Easter, to be replaced by whatever counts as budding talent in the National caucus.
It won’t matter, really, because whenever the election is called, early or late, Andrew Little will win.
Hold on, I hear you saying, what about the polls?
The numbers have been heading Little’s way for months. No, really. His task is to maximise Labour’s vote, but more importantly, build the numbers for both his party and the Greens. Most recent polls have had those two party’s combined vote just short or just above the point at which a coalition with NZ First could form a viable Government.
That’s how MMP works folks. If only Roy Morgan could work that out.
National can’t afford to lose even a couple of percentage points next election. If they drop even slightly, Winston is their only hope of staying in power.
It’s important to remember that National have scraped through three elections on the strength of their leader and the supine support of their mini me’s in Epsom and Ohariu.
ACT will be back, but Dunne’s done.
The maori party will not be back next election either. They’ll be swamped by Labour this time round. And a good job too. Bye bye, brown tories.
Without Key, National will almost certainly have to do a deal with NZ First to retain power.
Now, I don’t kid myself that Winston Peters can be relied on to do the right thing and back a Labour led Government.
Indeed, the resignation of Key takes away one of my favourite arguments, which was that Peters wanted to be the one who brought Key down. He hasn’t forgiven the Nats for forcing him out of Parliament in 2008 and I always fancied that if NZ First had the balance of power post election, he’d make Key dance a jig to his tune for a few weeks, then go with Labour anyway.
I’m still convinced that Peters sees more scope to get his ideas over the line as part of a Little led Government. Have you ever looked at NZ Firsts policies? The vast majority could have been remits at a Labour party conference. Ok, rejected remits, but, hey, you get the idea.
The fly in the ointment for that arrangement is the Greens. Winston doesn’t trust them. He once told me that they’d sell NZ out for a snail. I laughed at the time, but if he does opt for the Nats post election, that’ll be the reason.
And what of the Greens? What do they get out of Key’s quitting?
Well, probably not much. This doesn’t have the same potential impact on their vote as it does for Labour.
However, there may be some Blue Greens who will shift their party vote their way. It’s noticeable in the inner city electorates that there is strong tactical voting by conservatives who have an environmental conscience. Maybe that’ll get them an extra MP or two.
Ultimately, it will be Labour that is the big winner here.
Kiwis have traditionally let governments run for two or three terms, then let the other fullas have a go.That’ll be the outcome next year.
Andrew Little may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is a genuine guy, hard working and honest. He’s distressingly straight laced and painfully awkward in front of the cameras.
You know why?
He’s no show pony. He just wants to do the work.
I think voters will grudgingly accept he’s the right person to take the country forward for a term or two.
And with Key’s bitter legacy of growing inequality, poverty, underfunding of health, education and cops, and the apparent end of the Kiwi dream of owning our own home Little will have plenty of good issues to campaign on and plenty of problems to fix when he’s in the hot seat.
Barring some other seismic political shock, Andrew Little will find himself Prime Minister this time next year.
And I reckon you’ll be surprised at how good a job he does of it.